A special Eid, London-style

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Eid is coming. And the excitement is building. And like Ramadan, it will bring its joys as well as its own challenges. Foremost among these are the “moonsighting wars”, which are felt particularly acutely in Muslim minority countries. As Muslims follow a lunar calendar, and Eid is the first day of the month that immediately follows Ramadan, we can only know when Eid is when the crescent moon is seen at night. But the crescent appears at different times in different places.

Some people will accept that the crescent has been seen in a faraway country; some even if it is only scientifically possible (but not seen by the human eye); and others are happy to use telescopes; some the human eye, and sometimes moons are accepted as seen even if scientific data means it wouldn’t even have been possible. It is a rite of passage of Eid night, excruciating debate, which leads to one of the most blessed and celebratory days of the year for Muslims.

In the UK, Eid is celebrated by different communities, mosques and even families on different days, as they follow moon sightings from places like the Indian subcontinent, from Saudi Arabia and Morocco. From my side I have advocated a “supersized Eid” of three days, coupled with a healthy tolerance for people fasting or not fasting according to their own decisions about moonsighting and Eid. But the disputes continue, much to the despair of practicing Muslims.