Afghanistan, Niger and Mali are celebrating Eid al-Fitr today

Blue Mosque in Kabul - Afghanistan Markus Stappen

Afghanistan was the first Muslim nation to declare Eid al Fitr last night and Afghans are celebrating the festival today across all provinces.

The Supreme Court announced late on Saturday night that Sunday would be the first day of Eid ul-Fitr in Afghanistan.

The head of the committee deciding Eid, Mawlawi Abdul Hakim, told the media that the crescent moon for the month of Shawwal had been sighted by 27 people in Kandahar, Farah, Zabul, Helmand and Ghor provinces.

Acting Government Spokesperson Zabihullah Mujahid tweeted late last night to confirm the announcement.

In Africa, Mali and Niger also declared May 1 as the first day of Shawwal.

On the other hand, Saudi Arabia announced that the crescent moon for the month of Shawwal had not been observed in Saudi Arabia. They declared Sunday the last day of Ramadan and Monday as the first day of Eid ul-Fitr.

The UAE, Bahrain, Qatar, Kuwait and Yemen, among other Islamic countries, will celebrate the first day of Eid on Monday.

Meanwhile, the New Crescent Society, which says it celebrates the relationship between Islam, Astronomy and faith, called Afghanistan’s announcement a mistake and “absolutely astonishing and shocking news.”

In a post on Facebook last night they said: “As we have mentioned in our previous post – the moon is currently in its waning phase, the astronomical new moon has not yet occurred yet, the moon was BELOW the horizon. THIS IS A TOTAL MISTAKE FROM AFGHANISTAN What’s more, we are scheduled for an eclipse in about an hour.

“A crescent moon can NEVER be sighted before an eclipse – only after (normally a day or two after the eclipse). This is because an eclipse always coincides with the invisible new moon phase, and the crescent, or hilal, always occurs after this. So there will be a very visual proof for Afghanistan’s mistake soon…

“Even Saudi Arabia announced today that the moonsighting was impossible. They announced that any moonsighting reports today would be unacceptable, in terms of both scientific data and for their shariah courts.

“Again this highlights the importance of rigorous verification of moonsighting reports – otherwise you will end up starting Eid way too early, and totally out of synch with the moon.”

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