Eid al Fitr moon sighting: Has the Shawwal moon been sighted in Saudi Arabia? When is Eid?

The holiday of Eid al-Fitr – also known as the festival of breaking the fast – commemorates the end of Ramadan and the beginning of the month of Shawwal. Shawwal is the tenth month in the Islamic lunar calendar, and Eid brings a period of celebration after a month of fasting.

The exact date Eid begins is dependent on the sighting of the crescent moon or Shawwal moon, which indicates the new month is beginning.

This year celebrations may feel different to many, with lockdown conditions and social distancing in place amid the coronavirus outbreak.

In the UK, Muslims were urged to abide by the social distancing guidelines in place and were praised by Chief Medical Officer Professor Chris Whitty for sticking to the rules during Ramadan.

During the daily coronavirus press briefing, Professor Whitty said religious celebrations for all faiths will have to continue to be adapted to meet social distancing rules.

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He said: “The clear answer for all faiths is people will have to adapt the celebrations, the joyful celebrations, around current social distancing rules.

“And everybody knows what those rules are and they remain the same for every community.

“And the reason we must all do that is, this is to protect the whole community, all communities and all of us must find ways around this, of whatever faith.”

Prayers have been taking place online throughout Ramadan after social gatherings were banned to curb the spread of coronavirus. 

Has the Shawwal moon been sighted in Saudi Arabia? When is Eid 2020?

The Shawwal moon has not yet been sighted in Saudi Arabia as of Thursday, May 21, and Express.co.uk will update this page as and when it has been.

In Saudi Arabia, the UAE moon sighting committee will meet remotely on the evening of May 22, in an attempt to see the new crescent moon.

The Saudi Supreme Court will also issue an announcement on Friday regarding the sighting of the moon.

According to a report by The National, if the new moon is spotted, then Eid al-Fitr will follow on Saturday, May 23.

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If the moon has not been seen, Eid will be celebrated a day later on Sunday, May 24.

Astronomers from the International Astronomical Centre, which is located in Abu Dhabi, said they expected Eid al-Fitr would fall on Sunday, May 24, as per the report.

How is Eid al-Fitr celebrated?

Typically, Eid al-Fitr is celebrated with feasts, sharing gifts and spending time with loved ones.

However, this year celebrations will move online for many – with lockdown measures still in place.

Social gatherings have been banned, meaning video calls and virtual celebrations may be the way forward.

Families will have to use video calling apps and phone calls to wish one another well during Eid.

To send gifts, online delivery services can be used and charitable donations can also be done online.

Great British Bake-Off winner Nadiya Hussain and Citizen Khan creator Adil Ray have urged Muslims celebrating Eid this weekend to follow the guidance on social distancing.

The religious festival marking the end of Ramadan is normally a time when families and friends get together but this year due to coronavirus people are being reminded not to gather.

In a video shared online and featuring others including former Blue Peter presenter Konnie Huq and comic Abdullah Afzal, Muslims are encouraged to stay at home, celebrate with families online and not to gather in large groups at mosques or in parks to pray.

Ms Hussain says this “could not be a better time to put others first”, while Ms Huq told viewers: “By following the guidance we are helping to protect not just ourselves but also our families.”

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