Rock, Paper, Scissors, Eid; A Politically Correct Holiday

DISCLAIMER: The following post is totally a rumor. I usually don’t believe in rumors, especially of Jordanian origin, but I’m inclined to believe this one for various reasons. This disclaimer is by way of asking you to please read at your own discretion.

A fellow Jordanian blogger pointed out a few days ago, the political correctness of Jordan’s decision to have Eid on Friday instead of Saturday, even though the former day was celebrated by most Islamic nations.

So earlier today I heard ‘the story’ from a source who was actually part of the “committee”, headed by Chief Islamic Justice and Imam of the Hashemite Court Ahmad Hilayel, that made the decision. Again, I want to underline the fact that this is a rumor, or more specifically, a story told to me by an eye-witness. The accuracy of this account cannot be guaranteed by the author of this blog.

According to the source, the moon (hilal) was never actually seen, and instead (as in most years) the decision came down to a political one. Egypt announced that Eid was Saturday shortly after Saudi Arabia announced it was Friday. Hence there seems to have been pressure, if not confusion, over which country to side with this year.

Apparently Hilayel was of the opinion that we should go with Egypt but there was tremendous support to side with Saudi Arabia. Why? Who knows. I’m guessing the politics runs deep, especially with Saudi Arabia positioning itself as the new leader of the Arab world. But apparently Hilayel was very annoyed, and preferred we go with Egypt.

So how did the committee decide to settle the dispute?

How did a group of people at the highest level, decide when an entire population of Muslims should celebrate a constantly changing religious holiday?

They tore two scraps of paper.

Wrote “Egypt” on one.

Wrote “Saudi Arabia” on the other.

They crumpled.

They shook.

They threw.

They picked.

I kid you not.

The photographic evidence above however shows Hilayel looking for the Eid hilal in daylight, which may be another explanation as to why Eid was on Friday. Ok, that last sentence was a joke but the rest of this post was not.

NB: This is my last Eid-related post I swear.


  • Well Nas. That even happened here. At our local mosque the Pakistani majority won over the Saudi, hence Eid was announced to be Saturday πŸ˜€

  • In London, the Central Mosque called Eid on Friday. The Muslim Council of Britain and the Birmingham Central Mosque (which I think is England’s second largest) called it on Saturday.

    It’s politics, not religion.

    Love your post. I wouldn’t be surprised! Now when did Syria call Eid… Ah yes, Saturday.

  • How utterly sad. Another ‘rumor’ that one of my relatives heard from someone on the committee is that they meet and wait for a call from KSA and just go with that without bothering to look for the moon. He’s been on the committee for a long time.

    Last year, Jordan didn’t go with KSA on the Eid decision, so I’m thinking maybe KSA didn’t give Jordan as much oil/$$$ so the Jordanians wanted to ‘take revenge’.

  • Why is this still debatable ?? is NASA not good enough ?

    Nas…why are you spreading rumors? the real story is that Jordan is Anti-semitic and didn’t want to celebrate Eid on Saturday. Hilayel is obviously a 3ameel isra2eely

  • My initial impression was the same as Maha’s.

    But I guess a further question is this: since the Eid is determined by a visual citerion shouldn’t the average Muslim be able to determine it on his own without some national council? And also: is Islam is as united as it is in theory–one Umma–then why not have one council that determines this instead of dozens (hundreds?) of them around the world?

  • Nas,
    They saw the Eid Hilal on the Red Crescent emergency car, I’m sure of that πŸ™‚

    Why we’re debating this anyway ? why we always assume that something going on the in background, someone is cheating, bribing or it’s a political reason ?

    Are we as qualified as Helayel ? why we always assume that we know better than the one who has been doing this for years and is actually getting paid to do it.

    allah yer7amna bera7mito

  • Salaams:

    Abu Daoud: The reason that doesn’t work is that there is legitimate basis for both global and local sightings. Some madhahib go with global, some local. I don’t see it as a unity issue, per se, I see it as a weasley issue. (Although it is a unity thing in the West, b/c there is no Shari’i basis for “Doing what they’re doing back home.”) Like the time Ramadan was declared even though there was an eclipse that prevented the hilal from being seen. But within global vs. local, there needs to be consensus. Hence, Bob can’t say “I saw it, so I’m making ‘Eid tomorrow by myself.”

    Maha: LOL at your first comment. Re: NASA (or rather, calculations): aren’t they already used for prayer times and such? But the Sunnah of the beginning of the months is for the moon to be sighted. I don’t think this is a Sunnah we should abandon, even as we consult calculations to get an idea of when it will happen. Besides, Allah can say “Be!” and it is. It is entirely within His Power to command the hilal to appear the day before or after NASA says it will. Unusual? Yes, but then so is the fact that Sayiduna ‘Isa was born without a father.

    Dave: It matters b/c if it is declared too early, then there is a day of obligatory fasting that has to be made up. In a country like Jordan, we (the ‘awwam) are not responsible for a wrongly declared ‘Eid, the mufti is. That is why we hope these guys have more taqwa — they would not want to bear the responsibility of millions of us missing a day of Ramadan because of political games…

Your Two Piasters: