Nigeria is the only country in the world whose Muslim faithful are celebrating Eid-El-Fitri (the end of Ramadan festivities) today following the controversial announcement by the Sultan of Sokoto, Abubakar Sa’ad, on Saturday night that the new moon of Shawwal was sighted in some cities across the country, PREMIUM TIMES can report today.
This newspaper gathered, through extensive investigations and interviews with leading Islamic clerics, that the Ramadan fast in other parts of the world would only end today (Sunday), with the Eid-El-Fitri celebrations holding on Monday.
The Chairman of the Nigerian National Moonsighting Committee, Hafiz Wali, as well as a member, Sheikh Habeebullahi Al-Ilory, told PREMIUM TIMES that in no other country was the sighting of the moon reported by anyone.
“It will interest you to know that Nigeria is the only country celebrating Eid-El-Fitri today,” Dr. Wali said. “That is because it is the only country where people claimed they sighted the moon.”
Dr. Wali said his committee advised the Sultan that it was impossible for the moon to be sighted on Saturday but that the Sokoto monarch came under pressure from people who claimed they sighted the moon.
“By the estimation and calculation of our committee, the moon could not have been sighted and we did not sight it,” the moon sighting committee chairman said.
“We gave a report that the moon was not sighted but the Sultan received a lot of messages from people who said they sighted the moon. The Sultan could not tell them they lied. He made his announcement which is the right thing to do.”
Mr. Wali said he and his committee would however continue the search for the new moon on Sunday night and that the Sultan and other NSCIA officials would be briefed on the outcome of the exercise.
In his own comment, another member of the moon-sighting committee, Sheikh Al-Ilory, the Rector of the Marcaz Institute of Arabic and Islamic Studies, said the Sultan’s announcement misled Muslim faithful in the country and made Nigeria the only country on earth observing the Eid celebration on Sunday.
“The moon was not sighted anywhere in the world,” Sheikh Al-Ilory said. “As at 11:00 p.m. on Saturday, our committee advised that the moon was not sighted but the Sultan still went ahead to announce the end of Ramadan. I’m just wondering why we have to do this to Islam. Is our own moon different from the rest of the world?
“As far as we are concerned, tomorrow (Monday) is Eid-El-Fitri.”
Sultan Sa’ad, who is also the President of the Nigerian Supreme Council for Islamic Affairs, NSCIA, had around midnight on Saturday announced the sighting of the new moon and therefore the end of Ramadan.
“The new month of Shawwal was sighted in different places within Nigeria and therefore tomorrow (Sunday) is the first day of Shawwal equivalent to 27 July 2014,” the Sultan said in an announcement aired on the Nigerian Television Authority [NTA].
The well-regarded moonsighting website, www.moonsighting.com, also indicated that the celebration of Eid by Nigerian Muslims on Sunday was “based on mistaken claims of sighting” the moon.
Another globally respected Saudi Arabian timing website, http://makkahcalendar.org, which provides very accurate prayer times for all countries around the world, said the Ramadan Eid ought to be celebrated on July 28 in most parts of the world as crescent visibility can be extended to the whole world.
“We are very pleased to announce that North, Central and South America, all of Africa, all of Europe, and almost all of Asia except Japan & North Korea and few countries of Oceania will be able to celebrate Eid Al-Fitr 2014 (1435) on Monday, 28th July 2014,” the website announced on Sunday afternoon.
“The other countries in the world, mainly in Oceania, but also Japan and North Korea as well as some parts of Russia & China will be able to celebrate Eid Al-Fitr on Tuesday, 29th July 2014.”
The Sultan made the Nigerian moonsighting announcement despite receiving the report of Mr. Wali’s Moon-Sighting Committee that the moon was not sighted.
But when contacted after the Sultan’s announcement, the Secretary-General of the organisation, Is-haq Oloyede, a professor of Islamic Studies, said he was not aware that the moon had been sighted.
“I spoke to the Sultan about four times tonight and he did not tell me that the moon has been sighted,” Mr. Oloyede told PREMIUM TIMES. “In any case, any such claim is ridiculous and unscientific. It cannot be right.
“The National Moonsighting Committee has not informed us of any credible sighting of the moon. Rather, they said the moon wasn’t sighted. The new moon was only born at 11:45 P.M. tonight (Saturday) and it will take several hours for it to be sighted.
“Is our own sky different? Is our own moon manufactured in Nigeria?”