Sunday, August 02, 2009

Let the Moon FIGHTING begin!

Any Islamic month starts the night of the first visible crescent moon. What's "visible" remains an open question and when we start Ramadan fasting, and celebrate Eid at the completion of the month can be a point of some conflict.

For this year anyway the beginning of Ramadan should be pretty clear. On the evening of August 20, almost everywhere in the world, the Moon will not yet be far enough from the Sun to be visible... only 10 degrees when it sets over San Francisco. By the next evening, the 21st, it will be easily visible wherever the sky of the Western horizon is clear. Fasting begins on August 22.

Eid is celebrated at the beginning of the next month and then the visibility of the moon is less certain. September 19th it MAY be visible in parts of the American southwest, setting Eid celebrations on the 20th. Or it may not be visible anywhere in America that evening, so perhaps we should celebrate Eid on the 21st. A group of sheikhs somewhere will have already decided. It's not worth fighting over. I may disagree with ruling councils on matters of principle, but there's no point in arguing over one day more or less of fasting. Besides, if you don't go with your mosque on this one, you just miss a party -- and gain nothing for it.

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