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US Mosques Used 3 Different Methods to Decide Eid ul Fitr

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A report on how the date for Eid ul Fitr 2011 was determined by Mosques in USA.


Based on survey conducted by the Islamic Circle of North America.


JAMAICA, New York (October 25, 2011) – Almost an equal percentage of American mosques decided the day of Eid ul Fitr either on the basis of local moon-sighting (40%) or according to the Fiqh Council of North America’s prepared Islamic calendar (39%).


The remaining one fifth (21%) of American mosques made their decision according to the global or overseas moon-sighting reports. These findings were revealed in a nationwide survey conducted by ICNA during the month of September 2011. Eid ul Fitr was celebrated on Tuesday August 30th or Wednesday August 31st depending on these three different methods. According to Shaykh Abdool Rahman Khan, Chairman ICNA Shariah Council and Executive Member of the Fiqh Council of North America, these methods are acceptable as they are supported by evidences from Islamic sources. They are within the boundaries of the Fiqhi (juristic) principles of interpretation and the maqasid (greater objectives) of Shari’ah.


More than two-thirds of American mosques celebrated Eid on Tuesday, August 30, while less than one-third celebrated on Wednesday, August 31 (69% and 31%, respectively). The apparent reason for this disparity is that one fourth (9% of 40%) of those who follow local moon-sighting accepted moon-sighting reports from South America and celebrated on August 30 along with those who follow the prepared Islamic calendar/overseas moon sighting. The majority of mosques that follow local moon sighting in the USA offered Eid prayer on Wednesday, August 31, 2011.


Less than half percent of mosques also reported that they offered Eid prayers on both August 30 and August 31. One mosque in Villanova, PA celebrated Eid ul Fitr on Monday, August 29.


Many religions, including both the Muslim and Jewish faiths, follow the lunar calendar and determine their holy days based on this calendar. The tradition of moon sighting can be found in the teachings of Prophet Muhammad, peace and blessings be upon him, who said, “Fast when you see it [the new moon] and break your fast when you see it, and if it is cloudy then complete the number [of days – i.e., assume the month is thirty days].” The “moon sighting controversy” among the Muslim community comes from the different methods by which the moon is sighted. Some believe the moon must be sighted with the naked eye, while others employ calculations or other forms of technology to determine the dates of Eid, Ramadan, Hajj, etc.


Due to the different but valid methods of determining the holidays, ICNA has always been of the opinion that it is better that the local community celebrates Eid and Islamic holidays in a unified way. In 2009, ICNA decided that instead of making a national moon sighting decision it would encourage its members and the American Muslim community to celebrate Islamic holidays with their local mosques and Islamic centers. ICNA’s purpose was to promote unity and harmony among the community at the local level. See ICNA’s Position on Moon Sighting.


Survey methodology
ICNA received information from 624 mosques, almost 30% of total mosques in the USA. These mosques were from 43 US states, representing a proportionate statewide distribution of total mosques. The survey was conducted by the ICNA IT Department online via ICNA’s email list and social media profiles. The survey respondents’ relationship with the mosque was as follows: Mosque attendees, 53%; Imams/mosque leaders, 29%; mosque volunteers, 18%.


Table 1: What day did your mosque pray Eid ul Fitr?

Monday, August 29, 2011 1 .16%
Tuesday, August 30, 2011 429 68.75%
Wednesday, August 31, 2011 191 30.61%
Both days, Aug. 30 & 31, 2011 3 .48%
Total 624 100%


Table 2: Basis of your Mosque’s decision on Eid ul Fitr

Following Islamic calendar/ISNA/calculation/Fiqh Council 244 39.10%
Accepting moon sighting report from any part of the world 130 20.83%
Local moon sighting, i.e. accepting S. American moon sighting report 55 08.81%
Local moon sighting, (Wednesday, August 31, 2011) 191 30.61%
Others (Monday or both on Tuesday and Wednesday) 4 .64%
Total 624 100%


Table 3: Respondents’ affiliation with the mosques

Attendees 328 52.56%
Volunteers 115 18.43%
Imams/mosque leaders 181 29.01%
Total 624 100%




This report is copyrighted by the Islamic Circle of North America. You are welcome to reproduce it for non commercial purposes giving due credit and reference to ICNA.