A report on how the date for Eid ul Fitr 2011 was determined by Mosques in USA.
Based on survey conducted by the Islamic Circle of North America.
JAMAICA, New York (October 25, 2011) – Almost an equal percentage of American mosques decided the day of Eid ul Fitr either on the basis of local moon-sighting (40%) or according to the Fiqh Council of North America’s prepared Islamic calendar (39%).

The remaining one fifth (21%) of American mosques made their decision according to the global or overseas moon-sighting reports. These findings were revealed in a nationwide survey conducted by ICNA during the month of September 2011. Eid ul Fitr was celebrated on Tuesday August 30th or Wednesday August 31st depending on these three different methods. According to Shaykh Abdool Rahman Khan, Chairman ICNA Shariah Council and Executive Member of the Fiqh Council of North America, these methods are acceptable as they are supported by evidences from Islamic sources. They are within the boundaries of the Fiqhi (juristic) principles of interpretation and the maqasid (greater objectives) of Shari’ah.
More than two-thirds of American mosques celebrated Eid on Tuesday, August 30, while less than one-third celebrated on Wednesday, August 31 (69% and 31%, respectively). The apparent reason for this disparity is that one fourth (9% of 40%) of those who follow local moon-sighting accepted moon-sighting reports from South America and celebrated on August 30 along with those who follow the prepared Islamic calendar/overseas moon sighting. The majority of mosques that follow local moon sighting in the USA offered Eid prayer on Wednesday, August 31, 2011.
Less than half percent of mosques also reported that they offered Eid prayers on both August 30 and August 31. One mosque in Villanova, PA celebrated Eid ul Fitr on Monday, August 29.
Many religions, including both the Muslim and Jewish faiths, follow the lunar calendar and determine their holy days based on this calendar. The tradition of moon sighting can be found in the teachings of Prophet Muhammad, peace and blessings be upon him, who said, “Fast when you see it [the new moon] and break your fast when you see it, and if it is cloudy then complete the number [of days – i.e., assume the month is thirty days].” The “moon sighting controversy” among the Muslim community comes from the different methods by which the moon is sighted. Some believe the moon must be sighted with the naked eye, while others employ calculations or other forms of technology to determine the dates of Eid, Ramadan, Hajj, etc.
Due to the different but valid methods of determining the holidays, ICNA has always been of the opinion that it is better that the local community celebrates Eid and Islamic holidays in a unified way. In 2009, ICNA decided that instead of making a national moon sighting decision it would encourage its members and the American Muslim community to celebrate Islamic holidays with their local mosques and Islamic centers. ICNA’s purpose was to promote unity and harmony among the community at the local level. See ICNA’s Position on Moon Sighting.
Survey methodology
ICNA received information from 624 mosques, almost 30% of total mosques in the USA. These mosques were from 43 US states, representing a proportionate statewide distribution of total mosques. The survey was conducted by the ICNA IT Department online via ICNA’s email list and social media profiles. The survey respondents’ relationship with the mosque was as follows: Mosque attendees, 53%; Imams/mosque leaders, 29%; mosque volunteers, 18%.

Table 1: What day did your mosque pray Eid ul Fitr?

Monday, August 29, 2011 1 .16%
Tuesday, August 30, 2011 429 68.75%
Wednesday, August 31, 2011 191 30.61%
Both days, Aug. 30 & 31, 2011 3 .48%
Total 624 100%

Table 2: Basis of your Mosque’s decision on Eid ul Fitr

Following Islamic calendar/ISNA/calculation/Fiqh Council 244 39.10%
Accepting moon sighting report from any part of the world 130 20.83%
Local moon sighting, i.e. accepting S. American moon sighting report 55 08.81%
Local moon sighting, (Wednesday, August 31, 2011) 191 30.61%
Others (Monday or both on Tuesday and Wednesday) 4 .64%
Total 624 100%

Table 3: Respondents’ affiliation with the mosques

Attendees 328 52.56%
Volunteers 115 18.43%
Imams/mosque leaders 181 29.01%
Total 624 100%

This report is copyrighted by the Islamic Circle of North America. You are welcome to reproduce it for non commercial purposes giving due credit and reference to ICNA.

29 Responses

  1. Assalam O Alaykum
    Isn’t it sad that only 624 Centers responded out of about 2700 listed by Riad Ali of http://www.Muslimguide.com.
    It is even sadder that only 181 were the Imams or the leaders of the Centers or Mosques?
    May Allah help us all.
    Jazak Allah Khayr for your work, I do really apprevciate it.
    Khaliq Baig, M.D.
    Islamic Information Center / Masjid Al Noor
    Las Vegas, NV

  2. This is a survey not an election. You don’t need 100% participation. You only need a sample which is usually a small fraction. For example during elections, surveys are made for the whole nation based on response from a couple of thousand among the population of Millions.
    This survey got response regarding almost 30% mosques. This is HUGE and considered extremely accurate.

  3. ICNA has done a good effort in creating and preseting this survey. Hopefully in the future we will see more similar surveys that will bring a better prespective of how we approach such issues and guide us towards a unified resolution.
    Jazal Allah

  4. Assalam-o-alaikum:
    I have reservations about this survey. The day survey was announced it had a question about which method was used to make decision. But survey form had issue and would allow only one method to be chosen (calculation). So I wrote back and next day that question disappeared. I checked survey link (http://www.surveygizmo.com/s3/html/632535/839813ab5fa3) even now and it does not have that question (Interestingly it has question #1, 2, & 4 but no #3). It does have question about which day but not which method. So without that question I don’t know where the statistics about method (“Table 2: Basis of your Mosque’s decision on Eid ul Fitr”) came from. Perhaps there was some other means of collecting information also used other than online survey but if it was then it should be mentioned.

  5. Assalamu Alaikum,
    The survey was wonderful! I was quite surprised that 30% of US Masjids responded. That is a huge number.
    Dr. Khalid,
    I don’t think ICNA contacted every single Masjid in the US for this survey so it’s not fair to be so critical towards the masjids or the Imams. In the future, ICNA might want to send the survey through snail mail and also give people the option to fill it out online.
    Whatever the case, Jazakumullah for the survey. I’m quite surprised that such a high percentage of Masjids go with calculations. Our Masjid most likely will be switching to calculations/ISNA because it is much more convenient for people and for other reasons. Local sighting decisions at times are made at midnight.
    I’m surprised that a Masjid did Eid on Monday. Surely that must be a mistake. 🙂
    An Imam

  6. @Khalid Akhtar
    Question #3 appears only if you select Tuesday as the day of Eid ul Fitr 2011.
    Because any method could be used to observe Eid on Tuesday.
    But if you select Wednesday then there is no need for question #3 as it is certainly not due to calculation.
    I think this is quite a valid survey form.

  7. When will we all be one and make decisions as one and show the unity that is clearly lacking?
    If it does not matter (either calculations are valid apparently) which method is chosen, what stops us from choosing one method so we all can enjoy Eid together?
    Why can’t the Imam of the mosque in Mecca/Kaaba make the call?
    1.3Billion and counting Muslims and disparate methods.
    Irony is we have differences even when it comes to Eid-Al-Adha which is 10 days into the month.
    What comes first, unity among Muslims or following different interpretations of Sunnah and Hadith?
    I wonder if a community in India experienced night of power on the 25th night of Ramadan, will I miss out (it would be 24th day for me) on the blessings? Or vice-versa? Or are there multiple nights of power?
    Allah knows best. May we all be rightly guided. Ameen.

  8. “Masha Allah”.
    Excellent unbiased work.
    Puts the issue in perspective. Because of the survey being user fiendly and to the point, you got an excellent (% rate) response.
    Very informative.

  9. Very good effort for collecting data!
    May be in future we could have a common web portal used by all Masjids in US and it will send notification when the main organization like ISNA or ICNA make Eid announcements. This way the Masjids can make local announcements and Eid would be observed on same day in US. Just an idea…

  10. Thanks Br. Shaikh for clarifying. Since I had issues with original survey form, probably I did not try all options after it was fixed. I had written to ICNA twice pointing out mistakes. They never responded to either one. Based upon form change, I thought that they took action on only my first email. But based upon your explanation seems like either they took action on my 2nd email also or perhaps it was corrected along with Ist one. Thanks again. Now I know where the data came from.

  11. Assalaamo alaikum,
    Thank you for the survey results. According to Table 1, 68.75% or 69% mosques celebrated eid on Tuesday, as announced by ISNA, 30.61% or 31% mosques celebrated eid on Wednesday.
    A proper headline would be something like, “More Than Twice As Many Mosques Celebrated Eid Following Islamic calendar/ISNA/calculation/Fiqh Council”.
    Regardless how they decided, most mosques in this survey offered eid prayers on Tuesday.
    As more Muslims understand that sighting the moon is not necessary and sufficient condition, more will opt to celebrate eid according to the Islamic calendar/calculation method, hence, bringing more conformity and harmony.
    Allah Hafiz,
    Mahmood Sabri

  12. Apparently, no one in favor of the method of moon sighting, is proactive to commend on the survey report. Two thirds of the communities decided to celebrate the Eid-ul-Fitr on Tuesday, the 30th August by the method of calculation. It does not mean that they were correct to make the decision absolutely. Allah knows the best. Islam does not go with popularity. Islam goes by Allah’s order and the Sunnah of the Prophet (peace be upon him). The prophet (pbuh) used to see the moon locally and never supported any astronomical calculation regarding this. Creating a calendar by calculation, and follow it firmly without moonsighting, is a deviation from the path of the Prophet (pbuh). It is done so for worldly matters. The number of the followers of the Prophet (pbuh) was very low at the beginning, it increased to a large number, and again will fall to a minimum before the day of judgment. Out of 73 sects of muslims, only one will be successful. So, let us try to be within the one of seventy thirds. May Allah accept it.

  13. Assalam Alaikum,
    Br. Anwarul
    One brotherly advice to you and all the readers..please refrain from passing a judgement and making decisions based on our limited knowledge and understanding of the Deen. At the time of our Prophet (pbuh) there were no skyrises and no pollution, and it was easy to do moon sighting. Also it was not easy to communicate with the broader communities in other regions. Now the world has shrunk to a single community. You can reach out to your family across the globe in seconds. Could you even imagine that in those early times? I am not saying that we should not follow moon-sighting. Moon-sighting is sunnah and there are special dua’s when sighting the moon. All I am saying is that we should be open minded and dont’ make it a big deal. Islam is a broad minded religion and Allah (swt) wants us to be broad minded people. So please, please don’t be narrow minded. Be open to new ideas, and use logical reasoning within the boundaries of Islam to understand the given situations.
    Jazakallah Khair
    Your Humble Brother

  14. Assalamu Alykoum,
    How dare you use a clock to calculate the Asar salat time when we have clear hadith that we are supposed to pray when the shadow is X times the length of an object?
    You also use pre-calculated times for the entire year without checking the shadows, even for your own location.
    Did you forget how the Ulemas opposed the clock unanimously when it was first used to calculate prayer times?
    Now we are all sold out! Blasphemy!

  15. Assalam o alaikum,
    This was our first Eid in USA but can u imagine my surprise when both the mosques of same area (Carrollton) announced Eid on separate dates. We were so confused but finally after quite a research we decided to follow the “moon-sighting” method. As br. Anwarul Huq pointed out Islam does not go with popularity, Islam goes by Allah’s order and the Sunnah of the Prophet (peace be upon him). Its my belief that the reason Allah completed the Deen on Prophet MUhammad PBUH and Quran is the miracle of their teachings being valid till the end of this world.
    Calculation methods did exist in the times of Prophet Muhammad PBUH yet he insisted on seeing the moon with naked eye so why not today?
    That was my personal opinion based on my limited knowledge, i am not trying to question your judgement.My main point is cant we make a united decision atleast at a local level(as a newbie i have noticed that most of the people consider “their” masjid to be right and other wrong without even knowing which method is actually being implemented, this is very disturbing as i have been literally asked to choose sides!), after all Islam is all about unity and communism.
    I request ICNA to help sort out this problem because many of the masjids follow ICNA and might agree to come to common terms with each other.

  16. In response to brother Syed,IA, November 8, 2011.
    I was surprised to see such a harsh language in an open forum. This also reflects that neither you have a knowledge nor understanding. I bet you’re the one who never uses watch and stand outside at Shur time to see if fasting has started or watch horizon with the Dates in hand to see if Sun has been set.
    All the Islamic calendar calculating prayer times are usually done using modern techniques available including all the various Islamic method of calculating prayer times. It is up to you, which method or Fiqh you like to calculate. You don’t have followed exactly but it will give general idea when a prayer time starts. Please go to http://www.islamicfinder.org/index.php and get a print out of your location and don’t stand outside in cold weather to find out Shur time.

  17. Logical reason for not to follow Calculated Moon Birth:
    The Quran and Sunnah of Prophet (S) specify Moon Sighting, not Moon Birth. Sighting is related to fitness of eyes, cloud, dust, etc and above all the timing of sunset and moon position. Moon birth is far ahead of possible moon sighting, because, approximately 8 hours has to be elapsed for visualizing. Moon sighting is the Islamic way of starting the Islamic month, which is required for Ramadan fasting etc., which are Ibadaat. So, finding the right time or day is also Ibadah. Regarding Ibadah, the Prophet (S) was the best in mankind. No one can exceed him. Any deviation in any aspect of Ibadah is Bidah. So, any method other than moonsighting to start the month of Ramadan etc. is Bidah. So, this method is logically inappropriate.
    Scientific reason for not to follow Calculated Moon Birth:
    Say, the new moon is born at 10 pm GMT on 7th of July (it will not be seen anywhere before about 8 hours is elapsed). The first day of Islamic month will be declared to be on 8th of July. The Local Standard Time at Tokey is 7 am on 8th of July at 10 pm GMT. The people of Tokey will not get chance to eat Suhoor, and pray salah in the night before. So, their month will start on 9th of July. If the “man made” prime meridian were at different location, the situation would completely different. So, this method is scientifically inappropriate.
    Regarding the use of clock for prayer times, actually we are not following clock times. Our office follows a clock time, e.g., 8 am. The trains follow certain clock times. But, the prayer times does not go with certain fixed clock times. It varies with the change of sunrise and sunset. If the asr time today is 3:32, tomorrow it is 3:33. Rather, we are using clock as a tool to find the prayer times which are related to sunrise and sunset. As muslim it is fard upon us to know how to calculate prayer times from sunrise and sunset. If all the clocks go wrong today, we will be able to pray salah at its almost correct time. Similarly it is fard upon us to know when every luner month starts. Do we know how to calculate to find the luner month? How many us know how to calculate that? If calculation was the basis of finding luner month, it would be Fard upon all of us and would be a big burden on us. Allah and his messenger showed us the easiest path to find those by moonsighting. It is easy for so called learned people, the villagers of Africa where there is no food and some of them never saw a clock in their life.

  18. I just saw this. Nobody seems to have mentioned or compared how many followed *actual sighting of the Crescent* VS how many followed *calculations*. So here is the math: 20.83+8.81+30.61 = 60.25% followed actual sighting VS only 39.1% followed ISNA calculations! Out of the 39.1% I am sure there are many who were forced to follow “their local masjid” for the sake of “unity”. They had no other option either.

  19. Why we do not want to follow our beloved Prophet
    MUHAMMAD (pbuh) Sunnah.
    Is there any one superior than Him (pbuh).
    It is know many years past on this topic.
    If ‘ EJTIHAAD’ is not possible then we should

  20. Assalamualaikum,
    We don’t pray our five time salat based on sun’s locations anymore. Everything
    based on clock or scientific calculation. Yes, Prophet (PUH) lamented once in
    this regard, saying he didn’t have any literate among his people then like that
    exist in the Jews community. Alhamdulilah, we have enough of them in the ummah,
    now. Let’s unite. Let’s pray that our religious and social leaders would come together for the sake of unity of the umah. Unity should be given priority as commanded by Allah in the holy quran and prophet’s sayings. May Allah forgive me for saying anything contrary to the quran and sunnah. JazakAllah Khair.
    ~ Rezaul Karim, Boston, USA

  21. Assalamualaikum,
    We don’t pray our five time salat based on sun’s locations anymore. Everything
    based on clock or scientific calculation. Yes, Prophet (PUH) lamented once in
    this regard, saying he didn’t have any literate among his people then like that
    exist in the Jews community. Alhamdulilah, we have enough of them in the ummah,
    now. Let’s unite. Let’s pray that our religious and social leaders would come together for the sake of unity of the umah. Unity should be given priority as commanded by Allah in the holy quran and prophet’s sayings. May Allah forgive me for saying anything contrary to the quran and sunnah. JazakAllah Khair.
    ~ Rezaul Karim, Boston, USA

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Islamic Circle of North America
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