Muslims are being encouraged to follow ‘localised’ moonsighting criteria ahead of Eid celebrations this week, by a group of leading imams and scholars.

The move comes after one group of imams and scholars said they will follow the sighting of the moon in Morocco rather than Saudi Arabia.

This year, those following the sighting of the moon in Saudi Arabia will celebrate Eid on Wednesday whilst others will celebrate on Thursday. 

In Blackburn and surrounding towns around 60 per cent of mosques already celebrate Eid according to local and Morocco moon sighting, whilst the rest celebrate according to the Saudi Arabian moon sighting criteria.

The almost yearly disagreements and controversies have led to neighbours and families celebrating Eid and beginning Ramadan on different days.

A group of Imams and scholars who would have normally followed the Saudi Arabian sighting said wanted to bring clarity to the annual confusions.

On Thursday (June 29) the group will host prayers at the Ivy Venue on Newton Street. 

It is not the first time this has happened and earlier this year over 350 people turned out at three different venues for Eid-ul-Fitr prayers, to mark the end of Ramadan a day after the Saudi Arabian announcement.

The prayers at the Ivy Venue will take place at 5.30am and 9am and all are welcome to attend.

The Blackburn Moonsighting Working Group (BMWG) which comprises of eight scholars from Blackburn said their aim was to educate the wider Muslim community on ‘why local moonsighting mattered’.

They also said they wanted to ‘unite the Muslims of the UK’ by encouraging people to follow localised moonsighting criteria.

The group said they had the full support from prominent Muftis and scholars and over 50 more scholars have supported the cause from within Blackburn.

The BMWG is made up of Moulana Hashim Limbada, Moulana Sulaiman Palanpuri, Moulana Shabbir Limbada, Moulana Yusufali Makda, Moulana Hanif Dudhwala, Moulana Rafiq Sufi, Moulana Saeed Nagori, and Moulana Master Shakil Patel. 

On Sunday 18 June during a ‘Moon Sighting’ night in UK the moon could not be sighted, said the group. There were also negative sightings from the nearest Islamic country Morocco so according to ‘Islamic tradition’ Eid would fall on Thursday and not Wednesday.

The official Ministry of Endowments and Islamic Affairs in Morocco has announced Eid will be Thursday.

However, in Saudi Arabia which hosts the annual Hajj, Eid would be celebrated on Wednesday.

In a personal message shared on social media not on behalf of the group Moulana Hanif Dudhwala said: “The purpose of my message is to guide you towards the correct day, to the best of my knowledge. 

“Having researched the issue for over 10 years now, I am fully confident, without a shadow of doubt, that we should all be following the local/regional moon sighting criteria. It is my religious obligation to share this information with you.

“Therefore, please try your utmost best to celebrate Eid on Thursday, 29 June. At the same time, my very humble request is, please do not split your immediate family over this issue. Explain to them nicely and if there is no consensus, then please remain with the criteria you are following at the moment.

“My intention is not to create family rifts. Please bear this in mind. For those who will celebrate on Thursday, provisions are being made for two 'Eid Ṣalāhs. 

“Finally, I was following Saudi Arabia, for 37 years. Last 'Eid ul-Fiṭr, the sighting claim was just not acceptable. Hence, I changed. 

“Last Sunday, four British citizens from the UK, were present at the location in Saudi Arabia, from where the Moon Sighting news was taken. From a crowd of 40, only 2 people claimed that they saw the moon.

“The remaining 38 couldn't see a thing. This incident, in the presence of our four British citizens, adds to the mounting evidence against the reliability of Saudi sighting reports. There is no need to follow your local Masjid anymore.

“May The Almighty guide us all to observe 'Eid ul-Aḍḥā on the correct day, Āmeen.”

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