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Significance of the Moon in Eid Celebrations

Art and Culture

Significance of the Moon in Eid Celebrations

We take a look at the important role the lunar cycle plays during Eid.

By Noorulain Sayed 05th Jul, 2016 03:08 pm

Every year, confusion lurks among Muslims across the world about the exact date of Eid celebrations. Just like the Gregorian calendar follows the Sun, the Islamic calendar follows the Moon. A lunar calendar is based on the cycles of the phases of the Moon. As is common knowledge, the various phases of the Moon right from the New Moon till the Full Moon are visible to all on the Earth. Only when the Crescent Moon is sighted on the 29th night of Ramzaan, Eid is declared; otherwise, Muslims fast for 30 days and the next day is celebrated as Eid by default.

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The lunar phases change cyclically as the Moon orbits the Earth. They depend on the changing positions of the Sun, the Earth and the Moon. One-half of the lunar surface is always illuminated by the Sun (except during lunar eclipses) and hence is bright, but the portion of the illuminated hemisphere visible to an observer can vary from 100% (Full Moon) to 0% (New Moon).

Factors affecting the sighting of the Crescent Moon:

1) Distance of the Moon from the Earth

2) Local or geographical conditions (height of the observer above sea level)

3) Character of the surrounding surface and the height of the horizon relative to the observer

4) Variations in the clarity of the atmosphere and wind direction

5) Quality of eyesight of the observer

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