19 Apr, 2023 04:37 AM4 mins to read
Muslims will gather at Mt Smart Stadium to celebrate the end of Ramadan this year. Photo / Dean Purcell
As the fasting month of Ramadan comes to a close, Muslims could be celebrating the start of Eid al-Fitr or the “festival of breaking the fast” on different days.
This is due to the two major schools of thought on the methods in determining the first day of Syawal that marks the end of Ramadan, the Federation of the Islamic Associations of NZ says.
Muslim scholars use mainly two primary criteria, a calculation based on astronomy and the sighting of the crescent moon to determine the start of Eid.
Federation president Ibrar Sheikh said New Zealand uses the sighting of the moon, or Ru’yah, based on research and discussions with many scholars and religious bodies in other countries.
However some Muslims from migrant communities, such as Singapore, may follow a pre-determined date this Saturday for the festival – also known as Hari Raya – regardless of whether the moon is sighted.
“It should be noted that both methods are accepted by the majority of scholars throughout the Muslim world and are considered to be in accordance with the guidelines outlined in the holy Quran and the practice of the Prophet Muhammad,” Shiekh said.
Here, the federation’s Hilal Committee, consisting of religious scholars, a scientist, an engineer, and a technology specialist, is responsible for the decision and for announcing the sighting of the new moon.
The committee will begin the moon sighting on Friday evening, and when the sighting has been verified, Eid is declared – with Muslim communities being sent a text on their mobile phones, and the sighting announced at mosques.
If the moon is not sighted then Eid will start on Sunday, April 23.
“The process starts with us gathering data from within NZ and overseas and providing information on visibility to help anyone look for the new moon,” Sheikh said.
“While it is true that in most years we would sight the new crescent one day after most countries, we can and do sight it in some years on the same day.
“In this case, we would be the first in the world to see the crescent because we are the first to pray Maghrib, or after-sunset prayer, in the world, then we would be the first in the world to celebrate Eid.”
Shiekh said this has happened more than once in the last 40 years.
“While relatively small in population, the Muslim community of NZ numbers approximately 65,000, there is a high degree of diversity with members from over 68 different ethnic groups including Māori, Pasifika and Pākehā,” he said.
“These many cultures all bring their own ways of celebrating and acknowledging this very special time of the year, which makes Ramadan in NZ a unique and vibrant experience.”
New Zealand’s 900-strong Ahmadiyya Muslim community, a minority sect that mainstream Muslims do not regard as Muslims because they regard their founder Mirza Gulam Ahmad to be the promised Messiah, also partakes in Eid celebrations.
“As Ahmadi Muslims, we follow the practise of Prophet Muhammad, who is our role model. He taught us how to pray on Eid, and we adhere to the same practice as other Muslims around the world,” said Ahmadi Imam Asif Munir.
“This is a time for us to come together in unity, celebrating the end of Ramadan and the blessings that have been bestowed upon us. In addition to the prayers, Eid al-Fitr is a time of feasting and celebration.”
Asif said as part of the celebrations, members of the community will be cooking delicious food and inviting friends and neighbours to share in the festivities.
“It is a time to spread joy, love, and compassion to all those around us,” he added.
Muslims traditionally begin Eid by partaking in a prayer service just after dawn, and it is customary to eat something sweet before the prayer.
In Auckland, the community will gather at Mt Smart Stadium for the NZ Eid Day when Eid is declared for a day of festive food stalls, games and cultural performances to celebrate the joyous occasion.
The most greeting is “Eid Mubarak”, or “Selamat Hari Raya” for Muslims from Malaysia and Singapore.
Categories: Ahmadis, Ahmadiyyat: True Islam, Fasting, New Zealand, New Zealand, Ramadan
and that is why it is difficult to ask host countries for a public holiday, if Muslims cannot agree on a single date.