I guess I should not have opened my mouth so soon. Apparently, the Saudis have changed their minds. They initially announced that Eid-ul-Adha was on Friday, January 21. ISNA followed suit so that American Muslims can celebrate in tandem with the pilgrims in Mecca. But, as reported by the Saudi English language daily Arab News, “A statement by the Supreme Judiciary Council carried by the Saudi Press Agency yesterday said two men have come forward declaring they have sighted the new moon after sunset on Monday, Jan. 10, and notified the judge who recommended them to the council as trustworthy.” So, the Saudis announced Eid will be on Thursday January 20.
ISNA, however, stuck to its guns: “Moon sighting on January 10 was astronomically ruled out in Saudi Arabia. The new moon was born at 12:03 Universal Time on January 10 and was only 3 hours old in Saudi Arabia. It set 3 minutes before the sunset. Therefore, sightability on January 10 was totally incredible. ISNA stands by its earlier decision that Eid ul Adha in North America will, insha’Allah, be on Friday, January 21, as announced earlier.”
Wow. So, even though the pilgrims will be long gone from the plain of Arafat on January 20, American Muslims will be fasting in commemoration of the pilgrims’ stand on Arafat on that day. Is something wrong with this picture? I guess I should not have expressed my happiness so soon.
Yes, this about face in the announcement of the day of Eid is silly. Yet, celebrating Eid-ul-Adha, a holiday intricately linked to the Hajj, out of sync with the pilgrims is sillier in my mind. So, I am going to fast on Wednesday January 19, the real day of Arafat. What about Eid? I will probably celebrate it “officially” on Friday January 21 because: (1) everyone else will be celebrating it on that day, (2) it will be even sillier for me to pray the Eid prayer on Thursday Jan 20 with no one else but my wife and two daughters, and (3) I already told my job that Friday is my religious holiday and have secured a doctor to cover me on that day. I will not tell them that the holiday is actually Thursday because two guys in the Saudi Arabian desert said so…
Oh well, it was nice while it lasted. May Allah (swt) bless the Muslim ummah, wherever it may be and whatever day it celebrates Eid-ul-Adha.