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Bahrain’s lead astronomer Dr Waheeb Al Nasser said he expected all Muslim countries to celebrate Eid ul Fitr on Friday, regardless of when they started their fast.
“Even if the crescent is not seen with the naked eye on Thursday due to heavy clouds or to dust, it will be sighted easily after sunset in several other countries,” he said.
“This means that Muslims will celebrate Eid on Friday, whether they started their fast on Wednesday, May 16, such as in Turkey, Baltic states and some Muslims in North and South America, or on Thursday May 17, like the majority of the countries, or on Friday May 18, like some Muslims.”
Al Nasser said in remarks published by Bahraini daily Akhbar Al Khaleej that the crescent that would mean the end of Ramadan, the month of fasting, would be sighted across the Arab world on Thursday, making Friday the first day of Eid.
He said that it would be visible in Bahrain for 39 minutes, 45 minutes in Nouakchott, 49 minutes in Rabat, 46 minutes in Mogadishu, Khartoum, Tripoli and Algiers, 45 minutes in Djibouti and Tunis, 44 minutes in Sana’a, 43 minutes in Cairo, 42 minutes in Riyadh, Amman and occupied Jerusalem, 41 minutes in Beirut, Damascus, Doha and Abu Dhabi and 40 minutes in Baghdad, Kuwait and Muscat.
Ramadan is the ninth month of Islamic calendar, which is a lunar calendar.
The sighting of the crescent marking the start or the end of Ramadan has often been a point of debate among Muslims, resulting in countries announcing the start and end of the sacred month on different days.
The clash is mainly between conservatives who insist on seeing the crescent with the naked eye, in line with a literal interpretation of Islamic principles, and those who call for the use of astronomical calculations to predict the start of the month.
For the naked-eye sightings, varying geographical and weather conditions mean people in some locations cannot see the appearance of the crescent, resulting in Muslims around the world starting their fast on different days.
However, the strict interpretation of the visibility stipulation is increasingly becoming a source of national and social divisions, defeating the call for unity preached by Islam during the sacred month.
(This news report appeared first on Gulf News)