Happy Eid to all of our Muslim readers and to Muslims around the world. I pray this is a joyous time for you and your loved ones.
For our non-Muslims readers, few festivals are anticipated with greater delight than Eid el-Fitr. It is this festival that marks the end of the holy month of Ramadan, the annual assertion of 'the spirit over the flesh' with prayers, sawm (fasting), charity and self-accountability.
Ramadan ends with the sighting of the first crescent of a new moon, heralding the beginning of a new month in the lunar calendar. Of course, different religious authorities apparently see different things when they gaze up into the night sky, which leads one Iraqi blogger in Europe to pose the question: Whom to Follow?
MixMode writes (Oct. 12): "As it's always the case on every year, not all Muslim countries announced today as the first day of the Eid. Some countries are celebrating that today, though, such as Saudi Arabia, Qatar, United Arab Emirates, Libya, and Muslims in non-Arab countries such as those in China, Afghanistan and Philippine followed along. While Egypt, Syria and Oman announced that Saturday is the first day of the Eid! It has been the case for years, and every year I see on TV the endless discussions about how to put an end to such a dilemma. However, there is none and it seems that even if one Muslim climb the roof of his house in the middle of the night and see the sign in the sky (a crescent), he will not be able to celebrate the joyful days because the country did not announce through its official religious channels!"
"The chaotic situation, in my opinion, is when someone like me living in Europe, do I have to celebrate the Eid on the same as in Iraq, because I am an Iraqi? The Sunnis are celebrating today and it looks like the Shiite are going to do that tomorrow! But I don't believe in this Sunni and Shiite concept!"
"A little bit of simple thinking provided me with more than one solution, in fact: we should count the days of the month of Ramadan and accordingly decide which day to start celebrating the Eid. The other solution is to follow suit on one religious figure in the Netherlands (for sure there is one, or not?) who would watch the sky at night for a clear sighting of the crescent then declare the next day as the first day of the Eid. Simple, especially if we take into the consideration that the Ramadan rituals (fasting) are based on the local time in the country where I live i.e. The Netherlands, not local time in Jakarta!"
Thanks for that wisdom MixMode. So whether you're a Muslim living somewhere in the Diaspora or in the Muslim world, all of us here at the Education for Peace in Iraq Center (EPIC) wish you and your family the happiest of Eids. May it mark a new beginning for peace in Iraq and the Middle East.