Mumbai: As Muslims across India, Pakistan, Bangladesh and other South Asian countries prepare to look for the Crescent - the new moon to mark the end of Ramadan Tuesday, they are also contemplating if they will get a chance, a rarest of rare case, to celebrate this year's Eid al Fitr with their Muslim brethrens in Saudi Arabia, UAE, Qatar and other Gulf States.
Saudi Supreme Court and the moon sighting committees in the UAE, Qatar and other Arab states have already announced that Muslims in these countries will celebrate Eid al Fitr on Wednesday July 06, 2016. As the United States, United Kingdom, Canada and Euoropean countries rely on moon announcement by Saudi Arabia Royal Court, Muslims here also will celebrate Eid al Fitr with Arab states.
Elsewhere in the world, Singapore, Indonesia, Malaysia, Philippines, Japan, New Zealand and Australia have also declared Wednesday July 06 as the first day of Eid al Fitr.
The announcements were made by the moon sighting committees in the respective countries after they could not confirm sighting of the new moon in any part.
Since the Islamic Calendar is Lunar based, a new month in the system is calculated by sighting of the crescent on 29th day of the ongoing month. If the crescent is sighted, the following day is counted as the first day of the new month. Else, it is treated as 30th day of the ongoing month and new month begins thereafter.
Following this system, Muslims in India, Pakistan, Bangladesh and other South Asian countries will try to spot the new moon today i.e. Tuesday July 05, 2016 corresponding to 29th day of Ramadan.
If the Crescent appears over the horizon today after the sunset, Eid al Fitr in India, Pakistan, Bangladesh and other South Asian countries will also be celebrated on Wednesday July 06, 2016.
If it happens, it will be a rarest of rare case when Eid al Fitr will fall on the same day in almost all parts of the world.
However, experts are divided if it can happen. Some meteorologists are of the view that if Saudi Arabia celebrates Eid after observing 30 days of Ramadan, India, Pakistan, Bangladesh and other South Asian countries can do it after 29 days of Ramadan, meaning Muslims in these countries can observe Eid on the same day.
Others say Eid day falling on the same day in South Asian countries as in Arab states is highly impossible due to the geographical reasons, and for the fact that they have many hours of difference in sunset time.
"For example, India and Saudi Arabia have about two and half hour time difference. The new moon if is spotted in Saudi Arabia today will not be visible in South Asian countries as it remains visible on the first day only for about half an hour", they said.
"According to the latest data, Moon rise time in Mumbai on July 04 was 05:51 and Moon set time was 19:13. So, when senset time in Mumbai is 19:25 on Tuesday, the new moon could not be visible today", experts said.
"Bihar capital Patna is closest. Here Sun set time and Moon set time have a good difference. So if at all it is possible to spot the new moon today, it could be in Patna or adjoining areas", they added.
According to the websites which maintain the moon phases, there is just 1% chance of the new moon to be spotted today in India.
Historically, about two decades ago Eid al-Adha was celebrated in India and Saudi Arabia on the same day. But, those who were present at that time recall that it was due to a mistake. It is also said that Eid at that time was celebrated on two different days.
Interestingly, Kerala is the state in India which normally begins and ends Ramadan with Saudi Arabia, and celebrate Eid days with Arab states.
The difference of opinions notwithstanding, it will be cleared in few hours time if Muslims in South Asian countries will celebrate Eid al Fitr with their brethrens in Saudi Arabia, UAE, Qatar and other Gulf States or will have to wait for another day, complete 30 days of Ramadan and celebrate Eid on Thursday July 07, 2016.
Meanwhile, Rooyat-e-Hilal Committees in India, Pakistan and Bangladesh have issued appeals to Muslims to spot the new moon today after sunset and testify to the Hilal Committees in their areas.
The moon committees in the respective countries will meet after Maghrib prayers today and a formal announcement about the first day of Eid will be made shortly afterwards.