Newspaper article The Record (Bergen County, NJ)

Bergen Mosques Declare Beginning of Eid Al-Fitr

Newspaper article The Record (Bergen County, NJ)

Bergen Mosques Declare Beginning of Eid Al-Fitr

Article excerpt

Phone calls, email blasts, text messages and social media alerts went out around 1 a.m. Friday letting people know: Eid is on.

The start of the Eid al-Fitr holiday, when Muslims mark the end of Ramadan, was uncertain until late into the night as the decision makers for Bergen County's three big mosques waited for word of moon sightings that would determine when it would begin.

This made for a late night for worshipers but thousands still came to Overpeck County Park for Eid prayers Friday morning.

"I didn't sleep last night. But I am relaxed and happy. This was very successful with a good turnout," said Khaja Khateeb, a Paramus resident and member of the Eid Committee of New Jersey that decided the start of the holiday.

The lunar cycle is the guide by which Muslims determine their months and holidays, although mosques use different approaches in deciding which moon-sighting methods to follow and where the sightings must happen. Those differences mean some Muslims will celebrate on different days or that some will decide much earlier when the holiday will begin.

The sight of the crescent moon marks the beginning of Eid celebrations and the end of Islamic holy month of Ramadan, when Muslims believe the Quran was revealed to the Prophet Muhammad.

But due to a lack of local sightings, the Eid holiday was harder to pin down this year for Muslims in Bergen County and led to some confusion. The nine-member Eid Committee of New Jersey relies on a "local" method, although they in fact consider moon sightings from throughout the Western Hemisphere.

At 11:45 p.m., the committee let people know that there had been no moon sightings and the holiday would be on Saturday. More than an hour later, they sent out corrected information, when word came from California that the crescent moon was spotted.

There was no such mix-up for Passaic County's largest mosque, which uses a scientific method that relies on astronomical calculations to decide when the holiday will begin. Using that method, the date is set a month earlier at the start of Ramadan.

Omar Awad, president of the Islamic Center of Passaic County, said people were thrilled to hear that their friends and family in Bergen County would celebrate the same day. …

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