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Muslim Scholars Campaign for Local Moonsighting to Decide `Eid Day

The date for `Eid celebrations in Britain should be based on local moonsighting, rather than Saudi Arabia to ensure all British Muslims mark the festival on the same day, a group of Blackburn Muslim scholars have urged.

The Blackburn Moonsighting Working Group (BMWG), which comprises of eight scholars, raised concerns that Muslims in Britain were ‘blindly following’ the announcements made by Saudi Arabia.

This resulted in having British `Eid celebrations on different days, causing division within the community, Asian Image reported.

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“All the scholars unanimously agree that there is nothing at all wrong with that. Saudi Arabia was only used for convenience purposes. That reason does not exist anymore,” the statement read.

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“First and foremost, every effort must be made in the UK on the 29th of every Islamic month to try and sight the moon with the naked eye.

“Once all efforts are exhausted, then we will take the moonsighting reports from the nearest Muslim countries like Morocco that are in the same or similar time zone and have a very rigorous moonsighting system in place.

“Saudi Arabia is very blessed, as it houses the holy cities of Makkah Mukarramah and Madinah Munawwarah. There is no denying that fact.

“However, when it comes to the issue of moonsighting, our Shari`ah advises us to look for the moon locally and if not sighted, then to follow the nearest Islamic country, which has a robust reliable system as regards moonsighting.”

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Local Moonsighting

The group said they had the full support of prominent Muftis and scholars, and a further 32 scholars have supported the cause from within Blackburn.

They said the ‘lowest common denominator was to follow local UK only or Morocco moonsighting’.

They also raised concerns that the news received from Saudi Arabia would at times ‘contradict astronomical calculations and observation charts’.

The group said: “Our Shari`ah does not allow us to base our Islamic months on astronomical calculations or observation charts. The teachings are very clear. The moon must be sighted every month with the naked eye.

“Having said that, there is no harm at all in taking assistance from the astronomical predictions when ascertaining if a sighting claim is credible.

“Saudi Arabia’s sighting reports do not take this point into consideration and accept the testimony from a handful of individuals even when it is contradictory to astronomical calculations that state it is impossible for the moon to be visible to the naked eye for that certain day.

“Because of this stance, Saudi Arabia’s moonsighting becomes doubtful.

“In matters of doubt, our Shari’ah advises us to leave the doubtful in favor of the un-doubtful. Hence, we err on the side of caution and do not follow the sighting news from Saudi Arabia.”

`Eid Al-Adha starts on June 28, after Saudi officials confirmed seeing the moon of Dhul-Hijjah on Sunday, June 18.

Eid Al-Adha will also start on June 28, in Egypt, Qatar, Kuwait, the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain, and Jordan which follow the country of the ritual, i.e. Saudi Arabia.