Saudi Ramadan rift: Eid likely on Thursday

But Kingdom to sight moon on Tuesday, implying wrong start of Ramadan

Muslim scholars in Saudi Arabia appeared split on Tuesday on whether the end-of-Ramadan moon should be sighted on Tuesday, which marks 28 days of the fasting month.

But a top scholar said it is almost impossible to sight the moon tonight and that Eid Al Fitr is likely to fall on Thursday.

The scholars were reacting to a call by the Supreme Court in Saudi Arabia, home to Islam’s holiest shrines, to the public to sight the moon on Tuesday night.

The call has caught many Muslims off guard as the moon is normally sighted on Ramadan 29.

The statement by the Supreme Court implied that there was an error in the date of the beginning of Ramadan on July 10 and that it could have begun on July 9.

“Sighting the moon tonight is very unlikely and I expect Eid Al Fitr to start on Thursday,” said Sheikh Saad Al Khathlan, a member of the seven-man Supreme Scholars Committee, the Kingdom’s top Islamic authority created by King Abdullah.

“I disagree with those who say there was a mistake in the start date of Ramadan. The crescent was not sighted on Monday night July 8 so this means Shaaban was 30 days and Ramadan started on July 10. I agree with astronomical calculations which confirmed that Ramadan began on Wednesday July 10.”

On Monday, Saudi newspapers quoted a Supreme Court statement urging the public to sight the Eid moon on Tuesday night. It added that in case the moon was not sighted, then it could be sighted on Wednesday night.

“It is not acceptable that we sight the moon on Tuesday night as today is Ramadan 28. Determining the beginning and end of the fasting month must be subject to Sharia (Islamic law),” said Sheikh Adel al Kalbani, former Imam of the Grand Mosque. “The Supreme Court statement makes me wonder whether we have fasted in line with Sharia. If the answer is yes, then the moon should not be sighted tonight.”
 

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