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Eid-ul-Fitr 2011! Or is It? Yes, it Is. Or it Was.

Eid Mubarak from your friendly Internet neighborhood Muslims.

Just look at those smiles.


So, yesterday was Eid-ul-Fitr, unanimously agreed amongst Muslims as the biggest day of the year.  The significance of the day is simply the end of Ramadan, the month in which we fast for various reasons.

Eid-ul-Fitr basically means "Festival of the Fast."  It falls on the first day of Shawwal, the month after Ramadan, both of which are months in the Islamic lunar calendar.  Like Eid ul Adha, Eid actually begins after sunset because it depends on the moon.

More on that in a minute.

We celebrate Eid-ul-Fitr by doing the things most other religious communities do when they have a holiday... eat food, visit family, eat more food, visit more family... and give gifts.




Anyway.  Back to multicultural education.

The funny thing about Eid-ul-Fitr is that it's always kind of a guessing game.  See, the end of the lunar month for Muslims depends on the sighting of a new moon.

And this is where it gets confusing.

What, in 2011, constitutes a "moon sighting"?

Furthermore, with the advent of connectivity all over the world, do you celebrate when the moon is sighted in your country, in Mecca (the spiritual epicenter of Islam), or anywhere on Earth?

And, wow, if we end up populating Mars, what would Muslims who live THERE do ...

Some Islamic scholars, particularly those in Saudi Arabia, insist that the sighting must be an actual sighting with the naked eye while others are okay with using a telescope.  Either way, a person has to actually see the new moon for it to be Eid.

Others, specifically associations in North America, have postulated that since a new moon can be scientifically calculated, we can determine the occurrence of Eid-ul-Fitr through that.

And then in South Asia, they generally celebrate Eid-ul-Fitr a day later than whenever Saudi does because... honestly, I don't know why.

Something about geographic location and the sighting being off due to that.  Or just being ornery.  And also because desis are always late to everything.  I made that last part up, but it's highly logical if you think about it.

And THEN there are people all over the world that don't care whether they see the moon in their country or not, only if people in Saudi Arabia were able to see the moon and they celebrate when Saudis celebrate.

The point being that not every Muslim in the world celebrates Eid-ul-Fitr on the same day and that the reasons for that are different.

That's because we are a diverse community.  With different opinions.

Who knew?  Apparently, less people than I wish.

I only tell you all this to illustrate one point.

You know how people think "we" are trying to take over in some secret Muslim ninja plot to institute Sharia Law in the United States?

People, we can't even seem to figure out how to celebrate Eid, a holiday that has been around since the inception of our religion, on the same day as each other.

I don't think you have anything to worry about, Ms. Coulter.


I bet you want to know when I celebrated Eid.

Of course you do.

I, personally, don't think there's anything wrong with the scientific calculation.


I happen to be part of a local community that follows when Eid occurs in Saudi Arabia.  So we celebrate, as a family, when they celebrate in Saudi.

So, anyway, Tuesday was Eid-ul-Fitr.

For me.

In India and Pakistan, it's today.

I think.


Eid Mubarak!

(Belated for North America & the Middle East).

Reader Comments (25)

From what I remember of my relatives in Alabama, they have said that the new moon must be spotted by the naked eye. And knowing them they would celebrate it, when the new moon is visible in Mecca. But I could be wrong. I am overdue for a phone call to them and this a perfect reason to call them.

Eid Mubarek! (Hmmm. Also reminds me that I should resume my studies of Arabic.)

August 31, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterKailyn

Haha! I remember those days of great confusion (and scandal) when everyone would cluck and argue about when Eid should be. It was during my days with Muslims in a University town, so you can imagine the diversity of opinions with folks being from every part of the world.

Eid Mubarak, Faiqa!

Happy Eid! :-)

August 31, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterDave2

Eid Mubarak!

August 31, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterSybil Law

It rained in Chicago last night and I was worried that Ramadan was going to linger. Glad to hear that it be calculated in other ways.

Eid Mubarak!

August 31, 2011 | Unregistered Commentermaman

Eid Mubarak!

As the Jewish calendar also revolves around lunar cycles, this has also become an issue for many centuries for us as well. Today there are more scientific calculations in place to be able to determine the exact lunar cycles, but thousands of years ago it was just what was explained above: a physical sighting using one's eyes.

In fact -- there were, in effect, "spotters" whose job it was to look for the new moon. When one would find the new moon, he would rush to the courts of Jerusalem and describe it to the elders of the court. With two (or maybe three?) independent reports which appeared to correctly identify the new month, word went out that it was, indeed, the correct day.

In order to spread the word to those outside of Jerusalem, it became a bit trickier: messengers would ascend hilltops and mountains and light fires which could be seen on other mountaintops. And those who were observing would light their own fires to spread the message. Simple message -- it was their version of texting.

The speed for which the message would travel became an issue: What about the Jews who lived outside of the land of Israel? There was a window of uncertainty. The news might travel an extra day to get to them. Thus -- a custom was started outside of Israel for Jews to celebrate TWO days of each of the major holidays rather than just one -- to be sure that the holiday is actually observed on the intended day. Hence -- two holy days at the beginning and two holy days at the end of Passover. (Rather than just one at each end when observing in Israel.) The Orthodox and Conservative Jewish movements outside of Israel still hold to this custom.

There should totally be a podcast dedicated to these things. Or something...

August 31, 2011 | Unregistered Commentershiny

[...] has a wonderful post about Eid-al-Fitr at her blog. She also discusses the ongoing issues with determining exactly when the calendar date [...]

Eid Mubarek!

My father lost his job two days before the start of Ramadan - a software engineering job he's held for the past 26 years with that company. He's *this close* to retirement age but when he was recovering from a rare form of liver cancer last year he was out on disability for 5 months, which ate into my parents' retirement plans. He needs to continue working for a few more years yet.

He spent the month of Ramadan fasting and praying, and the last 10 at the mosque in prayer around the clock. Yesterday he was offered a job with more flexibility and growth opportunities. Alhamdulilah!

I hope your moving plans are going well for you.

I love learning about other cultures, religions and traditions.

August 31, 2011 | Unregistered Commenterannabelle

Ha! Islam is just as complicated as Judaism in this respect. We are always looking to Israel for when holidays start, which is why we usually throw in an extra day, for safety's sake. :) My son was born on 12/4 which was the first night of Chanukah that year, although it often falls much closer to Christmas. Typically I can count on Yom Kippur falling very close to my birthday, though. Eid Mubarak!

August 31, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterElita

@Heather @CritterChronicles, I don't know you, but I am so happy for your father! alhamdulilah!!!!

August 31, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterNancy

Eid Mubarak, Faiqa! I hope you guys had a wonderful Eid! Also, I'm sending you lots of luck for your big move. Nice to see you both in your photo! :)

August 31, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterNancy

Eid Mubarak :)

August 31, 2011 | Unregistered Commenteraisha

@Heather @CritterChronicles, wow...that's a fantastic story. congratulations!!!

August 31, 2011 | Unregistered Commentertariq

Confusing holidays are confusing.

Eid Mubarak!

August 31, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterPoppy

Eid Mubarak everyone. Faiqa, I am glad you liked your gift.

August 31, 2011 | Unregistered Commentertariq

Eid Mubarak!

As a Jew, we have the same "confusion" because holidays begin and end at sundown. On Yom Kippur it used to get really dicey knowing when we could break our 24 hour fast, as my grandfather used to wait for the sun to set in Israel!

The modern complications of old religions!

August 31, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterLara

@Lara, the cool thing is that the sun sets in Israel a good 6 hours before it does here on the East Coast, so I'd certainly hold by your grandfather's tradition. :)

August 31, 2011 | Unregistered Commentershiny

why don't I celebrate Eid day?

August 31, 2011 | Unregistered Commentersonia like honey

i feel alone :(

August 31, 2011 | Unregistered Commentersonia like honey

im getting boured :(

August 31, 2011 | Unregistered Commentersonia like honey

You got a DSLR?!?!?!?! That's awesome!

And by awesome I mean "it will be interesting to see if you use it."

The combination of desis always being late (TRUE!!!!) and not being able to agree makes me feel much better about Muslims being in my country.


(miss you)

September 1, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterMiss Britt

Ah, that's why my calendar said it was the 31st. Got it. I think.

A DSLR? Really? I want to see some pictures, woman!

September 1, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterMegan

but, but, but...but what if it is cloudy?

i love that photo of you two. such joy in those faces. MISS YOU!

now that you have a new big girl camera i am so curious to see if your pictures will get better and better. you know, if equipment really matters. (i know it does, but trying to justify the expense!)

September 2, 2011 | Unregistered Commenterhello haha narf

Assalam Aliykum,

As per Makkah Calendar announcement, Eid Al Fitr 2012 should be celebrated on Sunday, 19th August 2012. Following is the detailed announcement about same.

Eid Al Fitr 2012
Eid Al Fitr 2012 – Which country should celebrate when?
Eid Al Fitr 2012 – Why on 19-August-2012?
Eid Al Fitr 2012 - Date?

- Aman

August 8, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterAman

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