قبل حلول العيد.. دعوة للتأمل، وتوقعات هلال شوال ١٤٣٧ هجرية In the Name of Allah,…
Predicting Eid with Tolerance
(Be sure to read our Predictions of the Crescent Moon of Shawwal 1438 AH at the end of this post)
As the Holy Month of Ramadhan comes to a close, so does the month-long effort of millions of Muslims across the world, as they busy themselves in worshiping God and seeking His pleasure. It was also during this month that the faithful increased their efforts in recitation of the Holy Qur’an and attended gatherings in their mosques, supplicating the Almighty, culminating in the Nights of Destiny (Laylat al-Qadr). And as Shawwal draws near, so also commences the preparation for God’s joyous gift, the day of Eid al-Fitr.
This is a day intended to be one of happiness, however, as this day approaches, the discussion of unification of the Eid day and the subsequent conversation of who is right and who is wrong tend to overshadow the greatest attributes of this month, which are forgiveness, tolerance and respecting our differences.
Diversity Makes us Stronger
Islam is a religion that is rich with the diversity of its followers and their opinions. It is no secret that there are various religious rulings with regard to identifying the end of the month of Ramadhan and hence, the start of Shawwal. This is regardless of whether done through moon-sighting or using astronomy. Diversity is a good thing and so are differing opinions. Differing opinions enable inclusiveness with all Muslims as opposed to rigidity, which may alienate others. As such, the faithful should respect the diversity of our community and the different methods each group uses to mark the Eid and celebrate this joyous holiday.
We are indeed blessed to have access to great jurists among us to provide us with guidance and set forth examples of tolerance and mutual respect. Take for instance, Ayatollah Shaykh al-Fayyadh, Ayatollah Sayyid al-Hakim, and Ayatollah Basheer al-Najafi. These are three grand jurists in the Holy City of Najaf, and they differ in their verdicts on the unity of sighting horizons with Grand Ayatollah Sayyid Sistani. It has been noted that on more than one occasion, out of respect for the grand jurist and to unify their followers, they called upon their followers to delay the public announcement of Eid and performed the Eid prayer the next day.
It is a tremendous hope that our community will work to emulate these great scholars, accept each other’s differences, educate others on tolerance and acceptance and focus on celebrating Eid.
The Jurist’s Opinion
With the Greater Occultation of Imam Mahdi, may God hasten his appearance, come several challenges. One of these challenges is the absence of the ability to ascertain the actuality of the Islamic verdict on moon-sighting. Therefore, no one other than the infallible Imam (p) knows the actual reality, in its entirety, such that they can claim that one opinion is correct while the others are wrong. Therefore, we must be accepting of other juristic opinions that are rooted in the knowledge of the Holy Household of Prophet Muhammad (p).
The jurists are the ones that have the ability to derive Islamic laws. Without a doubt, the very nature of the derivation of Islamic laws means a diversity of juristic opinions and verdicts. Proving the sighting of the crescent moon is one such issue that has been subject to diverse juristic opinions during the period of the greater occultation. Therefore, we must be accepting of other juristic opinions that are rooted in the knowledge of the Holy Household of Prophet Muhammad (pbut).
The offices of the grand jurists have web sites through which one can communicate directly if one wants to know a religious ruling. This can also be done through their dependable agents across the world. Therefore, there is no reason to disseminate the opinion of a jurist without checking with the proper resources.
The sighting of the crescent moon is proven through the sighting of the moon by two just witnesses. The term “just” means a Muslim who is of the Twelver (Ithna ‘Ashari) school of thought who is consistent in fulfilling his religious obligations (al-wajibat) and who refrains from performing the forbidden acts (al-maharamat). The sighting of the crescent moon is NOT proven through the news of a “trustworthy” individual who has not actually sighted the moon. Therefore, it is important to know the religious ruling for the actual witnessing of the crescent moon.
Contentment, in the religious context, is personal and others may not be bound by one’s personal contentment with the witnessing of the crescent moon. Therefore, contentment is not proof upon others and others are not bound by it.
The jurists do not disagree with the astronomical data, in as much as they are concerned with it providing “knowledge” and “contentment” in the actual sighting of the crescent moon. There is no doubt that the astronomers are the experts in providing accurate calculations, however, they make it clear that their calculations are mathematical predictions and do not give certainty of the actual time and location that the crescent moon can be sighted. Therefore, the predictions of the scientists of astronomy are not binding, except if they give contentment.
In the period of the Greater Occultation, the Eid prayer is recommended (not obligatory) and performing it on the following day is acceptable according to the jurists, with the intention of having a wish for its acceptance (rajaa’). Therefore, there is a religious allowance to do so.
Parents should make a sacrifice by taking a two-day vacation from work to provide joy and happiness to every member of the family. Such a sacrifice will be rewarded by increased wealth and blessings for the entire household because one brought happiness into the lives of the believers. Therefore, that which we do outside of Eid should be done on this occasion too.
It is important to show understanding of the difficulty in unifying the day of Eid, which will not occur as long as the Imam (p) is in occultation and the door to juristic derivation of Islamic law stands. We should show transparency and tolerance by accepting such diversity and educating others and ourselves. Are we not accepting of diversity in other facets of our lives? Why not do the same when it comes to Eid? Therefore, there should be no reason not to open our Islamic centers to all, without bias to one group over another.
Predictions of the Crescent Moon of Shawwal 1438 AH
A number of the providers of astronomical data expect a low possibility of sighting the crescent moon for the month of Shawwal 1438 on Saturday at sunset on the 24th of June, 2017 in southern parts of the United States whose visibility curve stretches from Miami, FL, through San Antonio, TX, to San Diego, CA. Based on this information, and the opinion of Sayyid Sistani regarding Multiplicity of Horizons, the possibility of Eid al-Fitr will be as follows:
- If the sighting of the crescent moon does NOT occur in accordance with the Islamic rulings, as described above, at the sunset of Saturday, June 24th, then the first day of Shawwal (Eid al-Fitr) will be Monday, June 26, 2017 for the entire North American region.
- If the sighting of the crescent moon occurs in accordance with the Islamic rulings, as described above, at the sunset of Saturday, June 24th, then the first day of Shawwal (Eid al-Fitr) will be Sunday, June 25, 2017 for all the areas under the horizon visibility curve from Orlando, FL, through New Orleans, LA, Phoenix, AZ, to Los Angeles, CA; including all areas in close proximity to this visibility curve. The rest of the North American region will be completing the 30 days of the month of Ramadhan through Sunday June 24th, making Eid al-Fitr Monday, June 26, 2017, by the grace of the Almighty.
Look for the official announcement by the Crescent Moon Committee of The Council of Shia Muslim Scholars of North America late Saturday, June 24, 2017.