Did Saudi Arabia Make a Mistake In the Announcement of Eid al Fitr?

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A video (see links) has been making rounds over the weekend on Facebook and WhatsApp with claims that Saudi Arabia made a mistake in the announcement of Eid al Fitr, which was celebrated on Monday.

From the video, this allegedly happened after Saudi Arabia’s astronomical association suggested that what was spotted was most likely planet Saturn and not the crescent moon.

It goes on to say that Saudi Arabia will pay 1.6 billion rials to the poor as a Kafarrah for the mistake. Kaffarah is an Islamic fine, which is sometimes used by Muslims as compensation for missing a day of fasting.

Background

This year, Islam’s holiest month, Ramadan, has been affected by the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic due to closure of places of worship as a measure to curb the spread of the virus. The World Health Organization gave some safe Ramadan practices and dietary recommendations in the context of COVID-19

The holy month of Ramadan is the 9th month of the Islamic calendar, observed by Muslims worldwide as a month of fasting, prayer, reflection and community. The annual observance of this month is one of the five pillars of Islam. It lasts 29-30 days from one sighting of the crescent moon to the next. Muslims hold that all scripture was revealed during Ramadan.

The first and last dates of Ramadan are determined by the lunar Islamic calendar. The beginning is estimated by observation of the crescent moon, Hilal. The Laylat al Qadr is considered the holiest night of the year and is believed to occur on an odd-numbered night during the last 10 days of Ramadan.

Eid al Fitr holiday (Feast of Fast Breaking), which marks the end of Ramadan and the beginning of Shawwal (the next lunar month), is declared after sighting of the crescent new moon or after completion of the 30 days of fasting with no possible sighting of the moon.

Verification

A frame-by-frame analysis of the video followed by reverse searches shows that the video in circulation is actually an old one and has been repeated in several claims over the years.

A report dated June 4, 2019 addresses the controversy. It is titled:

Saudis cause controversy in the Muslim world for celebrating the end of Ramadan a day earlier

Arab Urdu News also reported on the issue in June 8, 2019, in this video captioned:

Is It True That Saudi Arabia Paid 1.6 Billion Riyals Expiation Because Of The Crescent Of Eid ?

The same video is on YouTube on an upload dated July 22, 2015. It is captioned:

Saudi Arabia’s mistake in announcing Eid al Fitrangers Muslims worldwide

This 2015 claim was dismissed as a hoax and a ‘non-substantiated rumor’.

Further YouTube searches of the keywords “Saudi Arabia Mistakes Eid” reveal that the controversy actually started way earlier, in a different video dated September 4, 2011. It is captioned:

Saudi Arabia Did eid wrong 30 august 2011

Also, note that no reliable Saudi news outlet has reported the news on the mistake of the sighting of the moon.

Verdict

The claim that Saudi Arabia made a mistake in the announcement of Eid al Fitr is based on an old video, making the claim FALSE.

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Peris Gachahi

Peris Gachahi is a reporter at Africa Uncensored.She is passionate about human interest stories told through in-depth documentaries, data stories and digital storytelling.