Three Eids Celebrated in North America
By Abdus Sattar Ghazali
Modesto Muslim community celebrated Eid al Adha on December 19. Picture shows the Eid congregation at the City Hall in downtown Modesto, CA
After an attempt to introduce a unified Islamic or Hijra calendar in North America, the Islamic Society of North America (ISNA) attempted this year to introduce a unified date for Eid al Adha. But the attempt did not bring the desired results as Eid al Adha was celebrated in North America on three different dates, i.e.19th, 20th and 21st December!
Celebration of Eid al Fitr on two different dates is not uncommon because of interpretations on the sighting of the new moon and beginning of the month of Shawwal. However, there is hardly any dispute on Eid al Adha which is celebrated on the 10th of Zil Hijj and people know well in advance about the beginning of the month.
Earlier this month ISNA disseminated a fatwa from the Fiqh Council of North America that Eid al-Adha will follow the Day of Hajj as announced in Makkah. The ISNA announcement said: that it was officially announced in Makkah that Monday, December 10th, 2007 is the 1st day of Zil Hijj. Therefore, Hajj will be on December 18th and Eid al-Adha will be on December 19th.
Interestingly, ISNA’s five year Hijjra calendar announced in 2006 shows Ist of Zil Hijj on 11th December and 10th of Zil Hajj, the date when Eid al-Adha is celebrated.
While announcing its decision on Eid al-Adha celebration the Fiqh Council said that Muslims in America as well as in many other parts of the world hold two different opinions about the observance of Eid al-Adha. Some observe it on the 10th of Zil Hijj according to their local lunar date and others follow the announcement of Hajj by the authorities in Makkah and celebrate this Eid after the day of Arafah (Hajj).
The Fiqah Council argued: “Haj is an expression of Muslim unity in addition to being a source of many spiritual reminders. It has political as well social dimensions. This aspect can be fulfilled only if the Muslim Ummah is united in observing it especially once it has become possible to know through rapid means of communication when the Hajj is going to be performed. In our present circumstance there is no justification, under any rules of fiqh, to go against the Day of Haj. Currently, going with Hajj is more beneficial than celebrating Eid al-Adha independent of Haj.”
After careful study and consideration, the Fiqh Council of North America has reached the conclusion that Eid al-Adha will follow the Day of Hajj as announced in Makkah. This is also the conclusion of the European Council of Fatwa and Research (EFCR).
The Fiqh Council said that it is encouraging all Muslims throughout North America to consider using the new methodology for the sake of unity and to avoid the confusion and disputes that have occurred in the past.
However, the Fiqah Council appeal did not convince many people. Consequently, many mosques and Islamic centers accepted ISNA’s decision and celebrated Eid Al Adha on December 19th. However, many mosques opted not to go with the ISNA decision.
A survey of mosques and Islamic centers in California, New York, Connecticut, Florida, Texas, Virginia and Toronto indicates that majority of them celebrated Eid on 21st December while some mosques celebrated it on 20th December.
In 2006, ISNA announced a five-year Hijra calendar to unify dates for the beginning of the month of Ramadan and Islamic celebrations like Eid al Fitr and Eid al Adha. As a matter of fact the Muslim community here never cares about the Islamic calendar except on the beginning of Ramadan or Eid al Fitr and Eid al Adha celebrations. Often there is confusion about the date of Islamic celebrations up to the last moment that creates problem in arranging holidays from work to celebrate the occasion. Apparently, ISNA’s effort is aimed at providing celebration dates in advance. But so far its efforts have made little headway.