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When Does Eid-al-Fitr Begin in 2023?

© AP Photo / Mukhtar KhanKashmiri Muslims shop ahead of Eid al-Fitr in Srinagar, Indian controlled Kashmir, Tuesday, April 18, 2023.
Kashmiri Muslims shop ahead of Eid al-Fitr in Srinagar, Indian controlled Kashmir, Tuesday, April 18, 2023. - Sputnik India, 1920, 21.04.2023
Eid-al-Fitr (or Uraza-Bairam) is one of the two main holidays in Islam, established by the Prophet Muhammad in the year 624.
Most Arab countries, led by Saudi Arabia, where the main Muslim holy sites are located, announced the end of the month of Ramadan on Thursday, with the Eid-al-Fitr holiday beginning on Friday.
This conclusion was reached by special committees on Islamic affairs after they sighted the emergence of the New Moon in the sky on Thursday.
The decision on the end of the Ramadan fasting in Saudi Arabia was made by the Supreme Court after observing the appearance of the Crescent Moon, which marks the beginning of the new month of the Islamic lunar calendar, Shawwal.
However, the neighboring Sultanate of Oman, following Iran’s lead, has decided to extend the fast for one more day. Unlike other Arab countries, the celebration of Eid-al-Fitr will fall on Saturday, April 22.

Why is Eid-al-Fitr Celebrated Differently?

These differences in approaches to Moon observation are linked to different renditions of Islamic scholars on the matter. Some Islamic scholars believe that each country should conduct their own Moon observations, leading to variations in the start of lunar months across different regions.
However, scholars of others Islamic movements believe that the difference in lunar observations is negligible and once one country confirms the sighting of the new moon, the same conclusion must be reached by all the others countries.
Moreover, religious and political affiliations come into play in Moon observations in the Arab world. Shiite populations in Arab countries, particularly in Lebanon, Yemen, and Bahrain, tend to rely on the opinion of Iran’s spiritual leaders regarding the lunar calendar and religious dates, whereas in countries with majority Sunni populations, Saudi Arabia’s position is the determining factor.
Yemeni journalist Lamees Mohammed told Sputnik that Yemenis divided by a civil conflict between Shiite group Ansar Allah* ruling in the north and central parts of the country and the Sunni government, have stopped trusting official statements regarding the start and end of Ramadan by both sides.

“Now Yemenis try to go to mountainous areas or high places away from cities and observe the emergence of the new moon independently, in order to ensure the correctness of the authorities, who make decisions regarding the fasting dates, based not on reality but on political expediency,” she explains. “If their observations do not match with the official version, they fast according to what they have seen with their own eyes.“

Eid-al-Fitr not only symbolizes they joy of completing a difficult fast, during which Muslims are required to avoid food and drink and fast from dawn till sunset, but also work on spiritual improvement. Prior to the holiday, it is important to forgive one another and attempt to visit loved ones and ask for forgiveness.
*banned in Russia
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