The Saudi Hajj Decision

Category: Faith & Spirituality, Life & Society, Middle East Topics: Hajj, Moon Views: 10751

According to Arab News (Jeddah, January 15, 2005), Sheikh Abdul Rahman Al-Sudais, the imam of the Grand Mosque in Makkah has urged Muslims to unite to alleviate suffering of Muslims worldwide. I appreciate this call as it speaks to the hearts and minds of Muslims everywhere. Unfortunately, however, his country's decisions are inadvertently doing just the opposite-dividing Muslims even on the matters of worship in which there is universal agreement.

I am referring the recent Saudi decision to change the Day of Arafat (the main day of the Hajj) as well as the day of Eid ul Adha (Festival of Sacrifice) and the rift and pain it has caused among Muslims who desperately want to unite, specially on the main days of worship. 

Here in the USA, based on reports from the Saudi Hajj authority and the Moon Sighting Committee of the Islamic Society of North America, it was declared that January 12, 2005, would be the beginning of the Zul Hijjah (12th month of the Hijri calendar), and accordingly, Eid ul Adha would be celebrated on January 21, 2005 (Friday). 

On January 14, however, the Saudi authority surprised everyone by announcing that the Day of Arafat would be January 19 and the Eid ul Adha on January 20. The Saudi authority reportedly advanced the Eid celebration by one day based on moon sighting claims by two persons on January 10. But astronomical data make their claims clearly incorrect.

As reported in, on January 10 it was impossible for anyone to see the new moon anywhere on earth except possibly in Chile and Polynesian islands. The new moon was born at 12:03 Universal Time on that day and was barely 3 hours old in Saudi Arabia where it set 3 minutes before the sunset.

Put simply, if a trace of the new moon is sighted in Saudi Arabia, we in the North and the West coasts of the U.S. should be able to have a better view of that moon because we are ahead of the Saudis in its growth trajectory. Nobody has reported sighting the moon on January 10, 2005 anywhere on earth. So, ISNA has found the Saudi moon sighting report erroneous and stuck to its earlier decision to celebrate the Eid on January 21. 

But many American mosques are ignoring the ISNA decision and following the Saudi decision ironically in the name of global Muslim unity.

I have noticed since the early 1990s how decisions on Ramadan and the Hajj dates taken in Makkah divide and create conflict among Muslims in the U.S. A few years ago we celebrated the Eid ul Fitr over three days during which we experienced an unnecessary cold war within the community. After that, for several recent years, ISNA followed the Saudi decision in the interest of unity among Muslims. Later on, ISNA realized the imprudence of that decision.

The imprudence is that those who claim to have sighted the moon well ahead of its astronomical visibility (established by credible astronomers) are either lying or making a mistake. This is what an eminent Egyptian-American Muslim astronomer pointed out at a Southern California MAYA (Muslim Arab Youth Association) conference a few years ago, after demonstrating the scientific determinism with which astronomers can predict the movement cycle of the moon.

This is not the first time the Saudi authorities have unilaterally declared the date of the Yaomul Arafah (the Day of Arafat) and the day of Eid based on astronomically incorrect reports of sighting the moon. In fact the Saudis are almost always one day ahead in declaring the Ramadan, Eid ul Fitr, or Eid ul Adha.

Those who accept the Saudi decision without critical reflection argue that the Eid has to be celebrated worldwide on the day after the Day of Arafat. But throughout the fourteen hundred years, until the late 20th century, Muslims in the rest of the world, even those who lived just a couple of hundred miles away in Medina, did not hear from the Makkans about the exact day of Arafat or the Eid. They determined that day and celebrated the Eid, as the Prophet (SA) instructed, based on their own local sighting of the crescent moon. This tradition of the Eid celebration is still in place in the many Muslim countries. Muslims in Bangladesh, for example, are celebrating this Eid on January 22, 2005 (Saturday), two days following the Saudi celebration.

Today technology has brought us physically closer together. We watch the performance of the rites of the Hajj as they take place in Makkah on live video feeds and feel inspired to synchronize our celebration with the Makkans'.

The Saudi authorities who make the key decisions and those who follow them have to keep in mind that their actions are drifting the already fractured Muslim community further apart. 

There is a way out of this mess we are in, and that is called shura or consultation in Islam. The Saudi authorities have to consult the voices of reason-international Muslim scholars and scientists-before repeating these mistakes and thus further creating discord among Muslims.


Mohammad Auwal is associate professor of Communication Studies at California State University, Los Angeles

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  84 Comments   Comment

  1. Marwa Latif from USA

    Dear Prof. Auwal,

    I would like to know if you could assist me in some projects

    which i'm working on. Im a host for a satelite live Tv station

    called Ariana Afghanistan Tv. Please email me back and

    inshAllah I can give you more details.

    May Allah bless you for all your efforts in his cause, inshAllah.


  2. S Amin from USA

    Assalamu Alaikum. Eid-al-Adha is only to be

    celebrated on 10th of D.Hijjah (which in many parts of the world may or may not

    necessarily be the day after Arafat in Mekkah because crescent sighting is

    dependent on many factors including age, angle, visibility, and time window





  3. Hudd D'Alhamd from Canada

    Whatever is decided should be universally accepted by all Muslims. Here in Toronto Canada we have up to three different celebrations of Eid which is downright ridiculous! As concerning the moon spotting it appears to me clearly; why in the world would we rely on somebody's confirmation of spotting of the moon? Do you think that if this technology would have been available in the time of the prophet he wouldn't have prevailed of it? Think about, Muslims and Islam are for progress not for regression and atavism! It is like sticking to the camel when we have cars! Instead of waiting for the news that some Muslim dude saw or he thought he saw the moon in some remote and unknown place of our planet, wouldn't it be easier and more worry-free to have this technologically monitored and thus very precise and confirmed by all countries in the same time and, voila, problem solved and unity is established and we look like one umah and not like a company of quarrelling lunatics! Muslims, please!

    Peace out!

  4. Usaamah Deevey from USA

    The question here isn't really about unity. Our problems are with lack of iman. Properly executed moonsightings are the issue here, at least with calculating Islamic dates. Muhammad (S) was compulsively precise in his calculations of moonsightings. From Hadith, we see he (S) would be extra careful in sighting the moon at least a month before Ramadan. The same is probably true for Dhil-Hijja, yet I've seen no Hadith to support this. If a group of (non-traveling) people decided to pray Asr prayer during the dhuhr prayer time should we pray with them for the sake of unity? Being content with someone's bad decisions isn't part of Islam. It is true that any one west of a legitimate moon sighting would see the crescent larger and brighter. Allah has built this check for our benefit. Following one country destroys this check. Medinah and Mecca used to have different bodies of people in charge of moonsightings as well as many other cities and regions. Telephone and internet can't help us sight the moon. If people actually do this then most of the world would celebrate the same day by default. Many countries base their "sighting" on no sighting at all! They rely on complicated formulas or calculations based on the western new moon. The Islamic new moon is the crescent moon. Throughout history scientists have found it to be completely impossible to sight the moon 14 or so hours before its "birth". Anyone who claims they did see it during this time is either lying or saw something else. We should assume the latter when dealing with fellow Muslims. Muhammad (S) himself discounted several witnesses of moon sightings because of impossibilities. Why he did this the various hadith do not say, but we do know from Hadith that he did pay special attention to moonsightings. The question is more of education and learning some basic astronomy which the early muslims both young and old knew very well. Inshallah, we do unify - but our problems are far larger than Eid celebrations.

  5. I. Hasan from Canada

    I suggest to the professor to research & islamically acquire the authentitic means of moonsighting. I also urge him to study & understand the authentic ahadith of the Prophet (pbuh)& saying of Ali (ra) on the subject of logic & calculation. May Allah guide us all to see the right as the right.

  6. Mazher from U.S.A / INDIA

    I do not blame to Saudi or any organization. It is Allah's decision. If he wants, all ummah will celebrate the Eid same day. May allah accept the prayer of all hajjaj and Imam Abdul Rahman Al-Sudais and unite all ummah. I pray 'O Allah give Hidaya to all ummah" Ameen.

  7. california muslim from USA

    AA-Eid Mubarak--

    Muslims Wake Up! So, the Saudi Authorities changed the calendar....and so what. Insha Allah all who made hajj will have it accepted. Meanwhile, there are muslims being slaughtered all over the muslim world. There are muslim orphans being taken from indonesia to be raised as non-muslims. The third holies site in Islam "Al-Quds", is slipping further and further away. Muslims absue each other, fornication and alcohol use in Muslim countries is increasing. The hadith and sunnah is being trampled upon every day we don't follow them. Muslims are still fighting the Sunni-Shia battles...etc.

    The issue will be just another action that the leaders of the country will have to answer on the day of judgement.

    Muslims Wake Up...there is a lot of other more important issues that are harming us much more than this one.


  8. Mohammed Ahmed from USA

    I agree that the two late witness were inadvertantly mistaken (if not liars). Saudi authorities should stop paying rewards to first report(s). There should be some better method of confirmation of claims than simple than a mere Affidavit or sworn-in words.

  9. abdul from USA

    I read some reports that two persons sighted the moon and they are trustworthy, cannot release the names or details.(this is per saudis).

    I wonder those two persons are not Bush and Busharraf(I mean Musharraf).

    Saudi leaders has made hajis and other muslim brothers difficult. I heard the people (flights) going for 3-day Hajj was returned because of thei stupid decision.

    May Allah guide all muslims and give correct Hidaya. AAMEEN.

  10. Mohammed from USA/INDIA

    Nice opinions from all. We should all be patient and trusting enough to be able to witstand a totally reverse opinion if it has proper proofs(daleel).

    I agree with authors opinions on all the matters except that the decision by saudi's is dividing muslims.

    Muslims should be knowledgeable enough to understand that these kind of things can happen. we are just humans and are not perfect.

    we cannot say for sure what is going on is saudi's mind's, therefore as a muslim we should trust and have positive thoughts about each other, that will bring more unity inshallah.

  11. Daoud Ali from US

    As-Salaamu Alaikum wa Eid Mubarak. I would not frame this as an issue of unity versus disunity. This promotes a pessimistic attitude among Muslims. Let's be tolerant of each others' opinions and assume the best intentions from one another, not the best. Let's cover our brothers' faults, as we surely have our own.

    If some of our Ummah celebrate on one day with the intention of pleasing Allah and others on a different day, also with good intentions, then are we not united in pleasing Allah? Our ummah is blessed not to have a rigid hierarchical structure where someone assumes the role of being closer to Allah and hands down edicts to the masses. Rather, we seek guidance from Qur'an and Sunnah and act with the best information we have and the best of intentions. And surely Allah knows who has the best intentions.

    Let's not confuse difference of opinion with disunity.

  12. Akbar Khan from Canada

    Did Any of you who disagree with this article actually take the time to see on, that the new moon is absolutely not visible on January 10th or 11th all over the world? Do me a favour and just look at the scientific data that regardless of whether you THINK you saw the moon or BELIEVE that you saw the moon, the fact remains that it is scientifically IMPOSSIBLE for anyone to have seen the moon on LAND...maybe if they were on a ship traveling in the oceans then maybe it's possible...otherwise if you are a type of human being who lives on land, then you did not see the moon, you saw something else. Besides, the Prophet (saaw), did not celebrate Eid if someone saw the moon in Makkah while he was in Madinah. If he was in Madinah, then they 1st day of Dhul-Hijjah would begin. Thanks to all those who posted excellent comments here, and "think again" to those who disagreed...and make up your minds to those who are under the undecided classification, haha...


  13. Abubakar from Canada

    Assalaam Alaikum Warahmatullah.

    May you, your loved ones and all Muslims have a happy and joyful Eid, Aamen.

    It is not time to point fingers of blame as to why a confusion came to existence with regards to the day of Eid. As the article below would attest, everyone was expecting Eid to be on Friday. But unfortunately, the Saudi government suddenly changed things around. It decied to celebrate Eid on Thursday instead of Friday. As a result, the joy of the festival was not seen in the Muslim community as some people celebrated on Thursday while others will celebrate on Friday.

    This is not the time to create division and confusion. It is enough of where we are at. We don't need more problems. But truth must be said and made clear. The Saudi Arabia does little good to bring the Muslims together. It has devided Muslims into two: Salafis, those who agree with its philosophy and way of thinking and Sufis, who are more open minded and don't agree with everything the Saudis have to promote.

    I hope they would re-shape their teachings which have devided people into sects and groups. We are not Sufis or Salafis but we are all Muslims insha-Allah.

    Please read the article below. Eid Mubarak to you and your family. May Allah unite our hearts and make us a nation of dignity and respect, Aamen.

  14. abdo from canada

    shura or consultation in Islam. The Saudi authorities have to consult the hole world for the onenes of the UOma

  15. mohammad arshad from USA


  16. Mohammed Hanif Vandal from Canada

    The Saudi decisions about Ramadhan and Eid are causing more disunity in tje Muslim Ummah. They have to review this policy very seriouly and rectify it for the sake of Muslim Ummah as our beloved prophet Mohammed (SWT) streesed unity among Muslim Ummah.

  17. Zinedine from Morocco


    Allah not Rafida & not Khawarij knows what Umar & Abu bakr intentions were but we Sunnis need to admit that Umar & Abu Bakr committed sins against the family of our beloved prophet without insulting them. I can at least say based on Islamic SUNNI sources that the great warrior Khaled Ibnu alwaleed was without a doubt a war criminal. I can add to this that Muawiya is a Taliq & a criminal & definitely NOT a sahabi. So the former is a war criminal Sahabi, the latter is a power freak Taliq!

    Take for example this authentic hadith: "Tunquado ural islami urwata urwa, awluha lhukm wa akhiruha salaat". It shows the Alfitna Alkubra, Great Discorde did in fact start with governance at the hands of Wali Sham, Muawiya bnu abi Sufian, the equivalent of St Paul in the Muslim World. The man that tried to pervert Islam & caused a great deal of ordeal. that it will end up with Muslims leaving their obligatory prayers. Take another hadith as a second example: " Wayha ammaar taqutulu lfia lbaghia". Ammaar Ibn Yasir was in fact killed by the deviant party of Muawiya. Now do you need a genius to tell you that Mu'awiya who killed Ali's son Imam Alhassan & Muawiya's son killed Imam Alhussain son Yazid is a deviant Muslim does not deserve the title sahabi, do you need a genuis that the other war criminal that killed Imam Hussain does not deserve the title sahabi either & does not deserve Rida Allah so why say radia Allahu anhu when we know & why think that he is a sahabi ?

    Please don't hold the grudge against our Salaf because Allah stated in the Holy Quraan " That was a people that hath passed away. They shall reap the fruit of what they did, and ye of what ye do! Of their merits there is no question in your"

    To be continued insha Allah

  18. Zinedine from Morocco


    Why is Shia Ithna Ashria are considered to be an outsider madhab & not a fifth madhab? If the story of ghadir Qum is untrue & it may be rightfully so for me as a Sunni Muslim, why then sahabi Umar Ibn Alkhatab destroyed wasiat alwada'a? Why he & Abu Bakr refused to obey the messenger of Allah's order & did not go fight under Usama's army when he ordered them to go under this 17 year old military leader? I was 15 when I found out about this true story & I am bewildered by their disobediance? I am not going to insult Abu Bakr & Umaar because the good they did for the Muslim community outweighs the bad although they mistreated Fatima Zahraaa (RAA). I just don't believe that they are walking engels. They are way better than us for sure but they are below the moral standards of Imam Ali. It bothered me as a teenager to hear the Imam in the Halaqa speak more about these two sahabas & less about Ali, the man that I consider to be & that is to Mohammed the equivalent of Harun to Musa. " Ana madinatu Lilm wa Aliun Babuha" Hadith Sahih. "I am the city of knowledge & Ali is its gate" Authentic Hadith. That's a fact whether you 're Shia or Sunni, you need to know that Khalifa Umar (RAA) said: " Lawla Aliun la halaka Umar" "If it wasn't for Ali, Umar (I) could be in (big trouble)".

    Umar admits to his sins here including his mistreatment of Fatima. Don't forget he threatned to burn the house of Ali & Fatima if they don't come out & give Bay'a "vote" to the fresh Khalifa Abu Bakr.They did againt their wish & that wasn't enough fatima Zahraa (RAA) was denied the little that she inherited from her father Rassoolu Allah (pbuh). Some scholars say that they misintrepreted Hadith Alirth, inheritance; others say that the messenger of Allah said:" Inni U'tikum ma yurzikum la ma yuzrikum" meaning your huge responsabities, a big burden from me not wordly goods.

  19. Zinedine from Morocco

    Part I

    To understand the difference between the spirit of Islam & its conflict with some elites in the KSA & its ministry of Hajj & religious affairs, one needs to read the history of the Hijaz & the deeply rooted die hard Jahilia traditions of the Arabian Peninsula & its elites power struggles & the propaganda tools they use to stay in power. Before you do so please- remember that these people are still Muslims- consult good history books, read the six hadith books (Kutub Alahadith Sitta) from a historical perspective & don't forget to read Imam Ali's Nahjul Balagha & buy yourself Lissan Alarab dictionary because it is probably the best in the market. Stay away from all books, newspapers, magazines & website that have an Orientalist smell in them. It will just poison your faith & cloud your judgement.

    Most of us Muslims need to use our intellect & stop following man habba wa dhaba kal ghawgha' whatever imams like buble heads. We need to go back to our sources, the Quraan (tanzil & Asbab Atanzil & the Sunna & Asbab sunna. Some of us in this panel badly need to find out for themselves how Islam's fitan have started after the death of habibullah, the messenger of Allah, Mohammed (pbuh). For instance those of you who went to Hajj, have you ever asked the Saudi government official scholars where is the grave of the blessed Fatima Zahraa? Why they don't know where it is located? Was she satisfied whith khalifa Abu Bakr & Umar Ibn alkhattab? are some of our prophet's Sahabas, i.e Khaled Ibn Al waleed aka the Sword of Allah, are they truly walking engels as we are taught to believe it to be the case? Did he rape a married woman during a battle after he killed her husband? Knowing that Muawiya became Muslims after the Opening of Makkah, does he deserve the title Sahabi or Taliq? If Jaafar Sadiq is the father of all Fuqaha, why Jaafari school of fiqh is not the fifth Sunni madhab? Why is Shia Ithna Ashria are considered to be an outsider madhab & not a fifth madhab?

  20. Concern about differences of scholars. from u.s.a

    I do not have any trust on our subcontinent scholars. Since, when muslim army killed 3 million muslims in bangladesh . our scholars in subcontinent never protested and surely they never had as oppressive goverment as saudis. Beside, all that we should learn arabic, since quran was not revealed in Hindi, urdu or beangali.otherwise we will be as good as donkey.

    Hadith, yes sir our beloved prophet(peace be upon him)spoke in Arabic.

  21. ahmed from usa

    Whin, Whin, Whin ........ it seems that everyone likes to whin and complain about anything the Saudis do nowdays. I never see any so-called Muslim writers write anything good about the Saudis with all the good things they have done for the Muslims and the Muslim world.

    This writer is complaining about the "disunity" that the Saudis are causing while he himself is advovating a disunity by not listening to the Saudis. What a crap of hypocrisy!!!!

    I never understand what is the BIG DEAL if Eid is on this day or that day ???? Whats wrong with following what the Saudis say regarding the Muslim holidays, since they are guardians of the two Harams ?? Whether ISNA,ICNA, and what ever other so-called Islamic organizations are right or wrong in determining these days is not the issue. If we truly want Muslim Unity, we need to follow the Saudis in determining the matter of holidays, SINCE IT IS THE HOME OF MAKKAH MUKARAMAH AND MADINAH MUNAWARAH. Whether they are right or wrong is NO BIG DEAL!!! It is ONLY A HOLIDAY !!!!!!!!!!!

    Not all the Sahabahs were right in all matters but they always followed the leader.



  22. Yahya Bergum from USA

    My understanding is that Prophet Muhammad (sallallahu alaihi wassalam) encouraged his followers to increase their understanding of many things. His followers, for instance, have made substantial contributions to the science of astronomy - for which I praise Allah subhanahu wa ta'ala.

    Offhand, what might seem to be the point of striving to attain such understanding? If such understanding is one of Allah's blessings, should the Muslim perhaps be looking for some sign of it among those who by Allah's permission are in a position to lead?


  23. Umair from USA

    Great article. Loved to see an intelligent and thoughtful perspective on the whole issue. I lose sleep thinking "Saudi is wrong?" Where will we be in the eyes of Allah if millions of muslims sacrifice so much only to be misguided at one of the most important events in thier lives. Like showing up at a function a day early. No doubt the Saudi govt will be held responsible on qiyamat - but what to say of the loss that will be dealt to so many millions of hajis and the effect that will verberate throughout the world. Ya Allah guide us.

  24. munzilmax-al-still-muslim-non-arabi from USA

    I suppose this is finally a moment of reckoning for all muslims who have until this day blamed rift making events - such as this one - upon a jewish conspiracy. Excuse the crass reference here but I hope this - once and for all - answers the longstanding question "Who's your daddy?"

  25. Akram from USA

    You are right, the Saudis are promoting division in the Islamic world rather than helping to unite us.


  26. Burhan

    I agree with the author to the point that the Saudu authorities and their supporters harm Islamic world by their decisions and attitudes.

  27. ala alolean from uk

    The quastion did any muslim had seen the start of the moon and report it? and I don't mean by calculation it has to be reported by visual.

    so if the answer is yes , it has been seen either in saudi arabia or usa the discution end and the saudi goverment did what it suposed.

    if the answer is no nobody seen the start of the moon that day how can any body challange it was not there.

    what I want to say by the end if you didn't see it that dosn't mean no body saw it even if you had better chance.

    Beside what the saudi arabian hase in advantage to claime it is one day early I can't get it specially if every one complain relay on calculation and visual covrmation.

    Best regards.

  28. Rashad Abdul-Azeem from USA

    I agree totally with the writer. The abrupt decision to change the day of Arafah, not only places an undue strain on Masajids that have booked or reserved Hotels and Halls, it is also not correct from an astromonical stand.

    Many Muslims in North America believe that anything that comes from Saudi Arabia is the final word, not matter how stupid the claim. I'm very happy the ISNA decided to stay with their original stand.

  29. muslim from UK

    Assalmau alaikum,

    Subhana'allah to my amazing the writer comments on something that is based upon Quraan and hadiths and he doesn't make any refrence to it.

    if this shows something , it shows that the Saudie's haven't contradict any Quran verse or Hadith narrated.

    Rather the writer depends on mere 'studies' that we may regard it to 'be' correct.

    by this i am not saying that we should neglect what sciences teaches us,rather that we should use it as SECOND source when it comes to something islamiclly and put forth the Quran and Sunnah.

    And Allah knows best......

  30. jaimel from amerikkka

    to make changes that effect millions without proper consent and authority is in my understanding against the sunnah. making false assumptions can cause a grave injustice. the unity of the muslims is beeing tested when one group dictates, producing discord, and we say we unify to fallow? to fallow what? a half believing government or the sunnah of rasoolulla set by allah the most high. unity should have been against the change that occured without evidence. ask ourselves who and what is our leadership?

  31. Khaja Salauddin from Sweden

    Assalamualaikum, Well your article is very good indeed and I agree with your opinion and support your cloumn writing in voicing out the feelings of what muslims feel worldwide. In this present day world of advanced communications and scientific breakthroughs, muslims definitely have very many tools at hand to take united decisions. I think more awareness is needed among the community world wide so as to create an atmosphere of united decisions taking place and building a common ground for all the muslims worldwide.

    As Raulullah Muhamamd Mustafa sallallahu ta'la alaihi wa sallam mentioned in Hadees at " the near of Qiyamah muslims will have more benefits " and that was the reason rasulullah sallallahu ta'la alaihi wa sallam was deeply sad as the ummah will go adrift. What we can extract from this hadees is we can use this benefits in a positive way but I too am sad , we are doing quite opposite of that, involved in faster communication of non-united decisions.

    So lets use the benefits (technology) as Rasulullah Muhamamd Mustafa sallallahu ta'la alaihi wa sallam professed 1400 years ago to bind the community and celebrate every Eid a manner of Life time experience.

  32. Muayid from USA

    We need to follow the Sunnah, the Sunnah is what will unite us and go astray from the SUNNAH will divide us

    Brother and Sisters stop all this hate you have for the Kingdom. No it is not perfect but I see many of Allahs laws being put into effect there UNLIKE MANY OF THE PLACES YOU LIVE. Be reasonable do you really think the "kings" as one poster said just jumped up and decided to change the date for no reason, come on!! No doubt the Mashaikh of the Sunnah made this decission, and another thing PLEASE STOP BACK BITING THEM!!!

  33. Sohail from United Kingdom

    It is sad to see that this writer (as most Muslim writers in the West today) fails to understand that Islam is very clear about moon sightings and I understand there is precedence in the life of our Prophet (PBUH) where upon the testimony of solid witnesses, the dates were changed. Hence, I would request the Professor not try to further divide the Ummah.

    Whilst I do belive that one should use science and knowledge to one's advantage, I am against the use of astronomy per se to overrule eye witnesses. Technically, what the writer is doing is using scientific date to prove the witnesses wrong. This is just sooooo common of the mentality of most Western Muslim academics who have a frame of mind that they have to be in control. Remember - if Hajj is celebrated in the House of Allah on any day, it IS by the Will of Allah only, NOT the Saudi Government. Lets not forget that we are mere pawns and have very little control over our lives. We should therefore follow what has been announced and not try to create more divisions amongst the Muslims. IF there is a sinister human act behind this, or the witnesses have lied, then let Allah deal with them. A haidth clearly says DO NOT DOUBT THE WORD OF A MAN WHO SWEARS ON ALLAH. So WHY are we going againt this Hadith???

    If I had it my way, I would rather that ALL muslims the world over are synchronised with the center of Islam - i.e. Hejaz (today called Saudi Arabia). This would be UNITY.

    Finally, one must remember that there is a Hadith that says (words to the effect that..) it is MORE pleasing to Allah that one should do actions which UNITE the Ummah, even if they vary slightly from one's perception/understanding of a belief.

    I guess this moonsighting issue is yet another TEST from Allah - that we sadly fail time and again!

  34. Omar Rakeeb from United States


    In this age of tecnological advances,the sighting of the new cresent can be accurately predicted.This method should be considered,which would make it easy to arrange time off from work and school for observance of our Islamic Holidays in unity.

  35. Mohammad Saqib from USA

    I agree with the writer at one point that the Saudi's should consult more people from outside when making religious decissions that effect everyone.

    But I Disagree with him when he says because they made a change in moonsighting some how they devided the ummah. As he says in his article that they changed the date because of two people who claim to have seen the moon, THis complies with Prophet PBUH's hadeeth. If these people are laying let it be between them and Allah, we cannot judge a muslims character and nor shoud we try to ( Allah is alone the judge of character ), As per the questions about they might have made a mistake, well we still follow the Hadeeth where you the Prophet PBUH asked two people if they had seen the moon, so we have two witnesses, they might be wrong, they might be mistaken, but they are willing to stand up and say they are Muslim and they saw the moon, that is good enough for me because it was good enough for our Prophet PBUH. And the rest I leave to Allah.


    Aslamu Alikum.





  37. Mohammed Mustafa Khan from India

    I concur with the views of the author. It appears that we are not making use of the knowledge that we already have in astronomy. Remember that Arabs were the leaders in this field.

    May Allah (swt) guide us to UNITE - Ameen


  38. Mohammed Khan from UK

    I totally agree with the brother's opinion in his article, the true Sharia way to decide the day of Eid, beginning of Ramadan and so on is through your own local moon sightings as stated by the Prophet (PBUH), 1000 of years ago when there were no telephones or the Internet how did people all the way in Indonesia or Spain know what day Eid was in Makkah? They didn't, they had to go by the Prophet's (PBUH) Sunnah and decide with their own local moon sighting. This idea of celebrating the same day as Saudi Arabia is pointless, why must we go by another country's moon sighting when we are 1000's of miles away. I understand some people say that Makkah is where Islam began and they want Muslims to be united in celebration, but how can you say you wish to celebrate Eid in Saudi, when you are all the way in the UK or the States?

  39. qasim from USA

    BUT it would be great show of strength if we follow EID on the same day all over the world. If Hajj is changed, then we should agree to one date. Afterall the EID is related to ARAFA

  40. MUZ from MALAYSIA

    If this writer care about unity... just folow it because Saudis and other country having great people with great knowledge on this matter. If they lie and heading to wrong way (as you say)... just pray to ALLAH we not one of them.

    STOP blaming each other.

  41. Mohammad I. Tabassum from Belgium

    The Saudi society or the authorities don't care what happens to Ummah. Remember, last year a lot of Hajis died because of imcompetence of the the authorities. The Hujj Minister (probably some Prince) labeled it a will of Allah (SWT)i.e it was time for them to die. Now, 15 Saudi highjackers have made life miserable for us living in the west and they are not even appologising it. So much for our so called Arab brothers.

  42. imam from usa

    what is going on with islam right now, may god bless us all. ok brothers in islam, i agree with this article and want to blame saudi's decision because saudi based their decision on those two brothers who reside in saudi who claimed that they had seen the moon on january 10, 2005. and the article also mentioned that the only possible way for someone to see the moon is if they reside in chile or polynesian island. do they reside in one of those places? i would celebrate eid on thursday if any person in chile or polynesian claimed to see the moon. and also isn't there has to be atleast three people seeing the moon not only two?

    i'm all for unity of muslim ummah but isn't it our duty to use our maximum effort including technology and all to choose our decision. if we keep doing like this, then there is no use of making our own calendar. thank you and may alloh shows us the right path. amien.

  43. Zohra Sharief from USA

    I completely agree with the auther of this article. We as a Muslim Community are already drifting appart and decisions like this does not make us any closer.

  44. Abdul from Germany

    Technology should be used to assist moon sighting and not to nullify a real new-moon sighting. In the same way a new-moon that was never seen cannot be said to have been sighted simply because calculations tell so. Human calculations are prone to error how much ever minimal that might be. Now assuming the Saudi decision is truthfull, I still do not accept the comments here by many brothers who cite a Hadith where the word "land" is used and interpret it to be the whole world. This reasoning simply contradicts to the fact that we do our prayers accoring to the local sun rise and sun set and not according to the sun rise and sun set in Saudi. I find nothing wrong if in a country quite far away from Saudi, the Eid falls on the next day.

    If in each country Muslims can be united and celebrate on one same day based on local sighting, I consider the Muslim world still as united.

    But disunity arises when Muslims living in a country far away from Saudi, insist on follwing Saudi, or their neigbouring countries of origin, disregarding the local lunar calendar. Like mentioned above and in other comments, these Muslims don't realise that they don't pray 5 times a day based on Saudi timings. They put their personal happiness of celebrating with their far away families in front of Muslim brotherhood, which means, that they have not yet accepted the rest of local Muslims as brothers and sisters.

  45. Amjid Hussain from UK`

    Assalaam-a-laykum. Yes the Ummah is in trouble and the problem seems to stem from those who wish to play politics with religion. The same problem was encountered bt muslims only a few weeks ago with Eid-ul-Fitr.

    It was proved then that the Saudis did Eid one day ahead of the correct day and now we have a similar problem. Familes get split, muslims take different days off work and basically we look rather stupid.

    Why cant we use the technology we have nowadays and get it 100% right?

    Islam is a beutiful and simple relgion, its people who make it complicated

  46. Faisal Farooq from Pakistan

    I heard a statement (I don't believe it) that "Eid on Friday is burden for the ruler of the country". Some people believe this statement in Pakistan. Do Saudi kings also believe in this statment?

  47. Yahya Bergum from USA

    In any number of situations, I wouldn't really be sure what "vicegerents on earth" ought to be doing. I do think that what often gets done seems fairly silly. Waiting until the very last week to inform millions of people of the date on which they can do something they have waited years to do seems more likely to inspire indecision in the face of a threat to the community than submission to some sort of authority. Putting it another way, is that the best the ummah can expect - from those who have seemingly been given any number of opportunities to act as a sort of guide?


  48. Aziz B from maroc/USA

    I thank you for a good insight into the problems of the Uma. I just feel pity for those who lie about such crucial things, namely the dates of Ramadan and Eid. I will follow what my local mosque dictates as far as the Eid prayer. Keeping unity sometimes surpasses the notions of right or wrong. May Allah have mercy on us all.

  49. huma from Canada

    you said it brother. Its not about tribal allegiance, its about the moon!

  50. Saif from USA

    Excellent article. It seems to me that from a Sharaee, scientific, logical, rational and popular basis Eid-al-Adha falls on Friday the 21st. But NOT from the Saudi viewpoint. It is therefore up to the Ummah to follow either the rules of religion, science, logic and reason or to follow the whims of the Monarchical authorities who seem to care little about Muslim unity. The choice for me is obvious. How about you?

  51. syam from singapore

    we still celebrate on Friday based on the decision by our mufti and the MABIMS( islamic congregration of South East Asia).

  52. Fausa Aliu from USA

    I have heard many Muslim brothers and sisters express similar views regarding the need for universally agreed dates for the celebration of our Eids. In retrospect, I think a solution can be found in the guidelines passed on to us by Prophet Muhammad (SAW)regarding when Muslims all over the world should celebrate Eid. Are Muslims, irrespective of where we live, to celebrate Eid when once the moon has been sighted in Saudi Arabi? If yes, then we should go ahead and do just that. But if, on the other hand, we are to celebrate Eid when we sight the moon in our countries of residence, doing so would not be in violation of the guidelines. And this should not been seen, in any way, as an instrument of disunity among Muslims.

    May this Hajj usher in peace, love and harmony all over the world.


  53. abdul from USA

    Dear Saudis or Mid-Easteners:

    DO YOU want to follow saudi leader or sunnah and Quran?

    If you want to follow KSA-Calender and times, here is my free advice to you that MAY make sense for such people, Pray:

    Fajr when they pray fajr(Mon.5AM-KSA=Sun.9PM-USA)

    Zohar when they pray Zohr(Mon.1PM-KSA=5AM-USA)

    Asr when they Pray Asr(Mon.5PM-KSA=9AM-USA)

    Magrib when they Pray Magrb(Mon.7PM-KSA=11AM-USA)

    Ishaan when they Pray Ishan(Mon.8PM-KSA=12N-USA)

    Get up from bed when they get up

    Go to work when they go to work

    Go to bed when they go to bed

    Take holidays when they have holidays (Ramadan, Fridays, hajj season and so on...)

    Do everything according to KSA calender and timings, dont have to follow local calender and timings.

    No wonder almost all prophets were sent by ALLAH to the middle East, because those people are so ....

    May ALLAH give them HIDAYAH as no more prophets are going to be there to correct. except EeSAA(Jesus-pbuh).

    Brother in ISLAM.

  54. salman from canada

    the author speaks like the saudi view is wrong. he speaks as if the saudis dont care or even know about astro calculations. it's as if the saudis just make up the date whenever and however they want. according to astro calculations, the moon could be seen in chile. the saudis based their decision on the sound hadeeth: one viewing anywhere on the world is good for the whole world. they did not wait to see the moon in their own land. the author however as well as ISNA and other organisations want to see the moon on their land themselves.

    seems they're the ones who are arrogant. according to fiqh both views are credible but if the people wanted unity, they would have no problem following saudi arabia cause they're view is sound also.

    it seems that people who have agreed to this article did so based on a lack of fiqh knowledge and/or a biased view towards saudi arabia.

    no offense this is an honest analysis of the situation

  55. imran ali from USA

    There are very good points made in this article. I agree that the moonsighing technology should be used to enhance our ability to accurately predict two of the important days for Muslims. However, the day of Arafat and comcomitant Eid Ul Adha should be used to help show and unite Muslims across the world. If the Saudis chose to accept the sighting of two brothers against astronmical data then they responsibility is theirs. At times we need to look at the bigger picture of unity and strive to achieve it despite having our own opinions especially when they are no clear decisions. ISNA's ruling creates just as much confusion as the Saudis did.

    We should use the sciences to enhance our ability to create unity not create disunity.

    May Allah guide us all

  56. Nasim Siddiqui from USA

    This article speaks the mind of so many muslims around the globe, I 100% agree that Saudis have always made Islam as a joke.They always put their political motives first than Islam and never wants to get united.I don't know when they will realize that we now live in science age.

  57. Momen from Canada

    Agreed, but how can we convince our brothers from middle east who blindly follow those KINGS.

  58. Abdul Hadi from USA

    I appreciated Dear Brother Mohammad Auwal's helpful input, but I disagree with his support of ISNA's decision to hold the Eid on a different day. Majority of Muslims in the world and the USA are observing the first day of Eid ul Adha on this Thursday. A sign of unity would have been agreeing with the same decision, and not being hard headed. This hard headedness is what is creating all the divisions among Muslims. Each group is saying "we are better and more knowledgeable than the rest, therefore, we don't need to follow the others." While it is true that shura or consultation is important in Islam, it is also very important to have unity.

    It is true that science has significantly advanced our understanding on universe and lunar dates, but unity and having compromise in the community is essential. After all, during the time of Profit Mohammad (PBUH), and his companions there was not sattelite system and as advanced knowledge of lunar system, but people agreed on one decision. The bottom line is whole science is important, it should not superceed our desire to compromise and keep the unity.

    Abdul Hadi Firoz

  59. Niaz Khan from Canada

    I totally agree with your point of view. If we can use the technology in other means like transportation and other in other fields why can't we can't we celebrate Eid on one day. I believe if Mohammed(saw) would have been among us he would be more happier to see Ummah celebrating together rather individually. We are forgetting the balancing act and our priorities.

    May Allah Unite all us and give us the Right understading of Islam(ameen). Ullema should work on to make a central world Hilal commitee and every country should abide them.

  60. sheryl siddiqui from USA

    I wholeheartedly agree with this author. How often we hear Muslim scholars refer to Islam's strength as unifying the "self"- the spiritual, emotional and intellectual aspects. Every time the Saudis defy scientifically proven facts they undermine the psyche of individual Muslims and the reputation of Islam as a source of rational, intellectual thinking.

  61. Saman from USA

    Excellent article Masha'Allaah. During my 5 year stay in Saudi Arabia where I met Ulema and Astronomers, I tried to analyze the reasons for the hilaal sighting errors there and possible solutions. My paper is at website.

  62. S13 from canada

    his stories about the celebrations 1400 years are based on what?? strong, weak or just made up hadith to support his argument?

    according to mohammad awaul's theory, 2 million people are performing hajj on the wrong day.

    when would the author perform hajj? if th authorities do make a mistake, they will be in fault. tha hajj will be accepted. so for muslim unity just follow saudi arabia world wide. then, if they do a mistake it will be their problem.

    when would the author perform the hajj? a day after everybody else?

    the website he referes to says it studied moon sightings for 150 years. it bases its calculations on records of the lunar calandar which was based on visual moon sightings by people that they themselves disregard now cause of the scientific approach. seems contradictory.

    Actually, there is a authentic hadith that says if someone sees the moon anywhere in the land, then celebrate. according to the moon sighting website he referred to, people in chile saw the moon. so in a way the saudi officials are correct. they interpret the land as anywhere on the planet and not just arabia.

  63. Rafee from USA

    When will the Muslims in the USA stop following the bedouins ?

  64. Eyad from USA

    You are nothing but a piquet hiding behind your fancy scientific position. Is this the time for this article??? Or, your hatred (towards Arabs and Saudis) is what's keeping you away from seeing the big picture?

    Sir, you are creating discord among Muslims.

  65. Syed Husainy from Canada

    Brother Auwal has taken the words out of my mouth!

    I am sure that there are millions like me who surely support what he says. It certainly makes sense. There are statements by eminent scholars who say that astronomical calculations for the birth of the new moon which are very accurate can be considered. Physical sighting by individuals will only complement the calculations. But totally relying on physical sighting could lead to erroneous judgments!

    I hope that the Ulema of Saudi Arabia, the land of our beloved Prophet (s.a.w) will follow their master's Sunnah of shura which he practised widely, and consult other scholars of the Ummah beyond Saudi Arabia, to resolve this thorny and divisive issue once and for all, inshallah!

    Ours is ONE Ummah and we HAVE to be one!

  66. Mir from USA

    Agreed Brother Auwal. We must use common sense and reasoning also.You have pointed the root cause of problem.

  67. Wasim from USA

    As salamu aliakum Br. Mohammad. May Allah SWT bless you for bringing out this crucial issue.

    Since there is no Muslim Khalifa, the only way to decide key issues like this is through Shura or consultation. I hope and pray that Saudis will learn to consult with prominent International Muslim scholars and scientists-before repeating these mistakes and thus further creating fractions among Muslims.

    In this age of technology also if we can't decide unanimously on a issue like this then it tells rest of the world where we are.

  68. Azeez from USA

    No external force needed to work on dividing muslims. We muslims do that job better than others. We divide ourselves very well even for a petty things. They just sit and watch how we make blunder after blunder.

    Anyway now i have two options. Choose between Thursday and Friday. I chose Friday because taking one day off on friday will give me a long weekend. What a convenience. This is how most of the people choose their Eid here in US. It's really pathetic.

    1. During last Ramadhan i had to miss one day of fasting and had to celebrate eid one day early because i traveled from Maryland to Connecticut.

    2. Two years back i missed the Eid salah by 15 minutes due to heavey snow. Most of the people left the masjid by the time i reached there. I was almost in tears because i thougth i missed the prayer. Knowing that i missed the salah, one brother pacified me saying "You don't worry brother. There are some GROUPS of people who are celebrating EID tomorrow in Washington DC and if you wish join them tomorrow".

    WHAT A CONVENIENCE????????????.

  69. iman from usa

    salaam alaikum,

    br. khalid , did you make up your mind before or after you read the article. It seems you missed the most important point of the article which is that the day of arafat is based on a local moon sighting and not on a day that some goverment authority anounces. Astronomical data was not used in lieu of a moon sighting by isna. it is simply a tool to help make moon sighting more accurate. The quran repeatedly tell us to look at and comtemplate the moon , stars, etc. Is that not enough of an endorsement of astronomy.

    I face a dilemma also on whiich day to fast. I'd like to fast on the day the pilgrims are at Arafat, but i believe the true day of arafat should be thursday, so I'll fast both days. how about you?






  71. Shakeel from USA

    I think our problem lies in holding FAST the rope of race and ethnicity rather than Islam.

    If Saudi Arabia declares something, does it mean that the rest of the Islamic world can't question the validity of the claim and declaration of the monarchy of Saudia. Sure we can and we must. Why? Because it's not an issue of Saudis alone, it's a very important matter for those 2 million Hujjaj too who went for Hajj this year. Majority of them are those who hardly could pile up huge sum, which they collected after years of saving, to fulfil this final commandment of Allah. But due to the controversial decision of Saudi authorities, their Hajj is at stake now.

    Responsible authorities in Saudia declared 20 Jan as Day of Arafa and how come it got changed to 19 Jan after two days? Those who are following them should and must question the validity of unilateral claims and delcaration of the monarchy of Saudia.

  72. brother in islam from usa

    Assalamo Alaykum & Eid Mubarak to all muslims

    Brother khalid do you think islam is democracy where majority rules. No islam is the middle way where we unite behind Allah n His Beloved prophet Mohammed (pbuh).Brother khalid we cannot change the law allah and his prophet just because arafat in makkah on wednesday. Yes you must fast on ararfat on Thursday because there is a hadith the close meaning of which says and this is rasul of allah (pbuh) said when you see moon start fasting n when you see moon stop fasting.

    Hadith is clear that see the moon n begin the month n there was no moon in the sky even according to the technological reports to have the day of ararat on Wed.

    Let us unite with the law of allah & his prophet n let go of all of our intelligence n technological advancemen in the matter which is already decided by the law of allah.

    Allah gave us technology to improve our physical life not to interfere in the law of allah and his prophet (pbuh).

    So let us unite to follow the tradition of the prophet (pbuh)

    Brother in Islam

  73. M H Rahman from Bangladesh

    Saudi government should consider the opinion of the scholars from all over the muslims world

  74. Abdul Razak from Malaysia

    If we are still bickering on the moon sighting of

    Ramadhan, syawwal...zulhijah, how can we stand united against major issues confronting the ummah

    of our time? At one side of the earth, your brothers and sisters are being slaughtered, while the other side of the earth, they are crawling to survive at the mercy of infidels.

    THEY have gathered strength and strategise.

    We are chaotic and struggling even to make a proper saf during salat at Al haram. Allah knows best.

  75. abdulaziz from usa

    Moon is an universal object. If it is sighted in KSA it must be sighted in arround the world based on geographical location of each country. However if is scientifically impossible to sight the moon how ironic is that our brothers in KSA seem to have monopoly in sighting the moon. Science is a compementary source in Quraan. Our brothers from middle eastern countries without any reasons wait for the news og moon sighting from their native country or KSA. Brothers and sisters in order to be united we must be out of ignorance and follow the Quraan and Sunnah not KSA.


  76. saif from UK

    Totally agree with the article, caused more harm than good! If Saudi do the Athan for Fajr do we read Salat at the same time as them?

  77. Akbar Khan from Canada

    Naudzubillah...brothers and sisters please pray for all the pilgrims making the hajj. It is very unfortunate that this saudia government could do such a thing in re-making the landscape of the islamic calendar, and DIRECTLY inflicting shame upon the pilgrims by ruining their HAJJ. As Allah knows best, no matter what they do, they will fail in stealing their hajj from them. barak Allah wa fi eman Allah brothers and sisters.

    I have been talking about this deviation on this website for a VERY LONG TIME, this is what causes problems in our societies. As Sunni and Shi'a labels, we, Al-Mu'mineen will bind together in this struggle against injustice being committed against our soon to be hajji's making the great pilgrimage to Bayt-Allah, al-Haram, the house built by Abraham Khalil-Allah.

    Allah bless, and remember the Prophet Sal-Allahu Alaiyhi wa salam and his progeny, his Ahlul-bayt in your prayers and du'as.






  79. Najib Azhar from USA

    What is even more surprising is the change of date by the Saudis came 3-4 days into the month of Zil Hijjah. Do they offer any explanation for this? I sense a power struggle caused this delay, which makes it even more disturbing as it indicates the Saudis make these decisions based on other than even what they deem to be the truth.

  80. Hesham Hassaballa from U.S.A.

    Like it or not, the Hajj is in Saudi Arabia. If each and every one of us were to make Hajj this year, we would celebrate the Day of Arafat on January 19. Precisely because we can watch the Hajj live on video, it makes absolutely NO sense to celebrate Eid on January 21. If the Saudis are wrong, which they probably are, then they shall face Allah (swt) on Judgment Day. It just makes no sense to fast for Arafah on the day when the plain of Arafah will be COMPLETELY EMPTY.

  81. Khalid from USA

    I will appreciate if Muhammad Auwal also mentioned Hadiths in the artical to support the use of astronomical data or whatever in the article in order to decide the Eid/Hajj. Traditions were the main hurdle in Makkans to accept the Islam.

    Be bold and say whatever Islamic rules say.