Saudi and UAE religious authorities have reported the sighting of the crescent moon of Shawwal, meaning Eid al-Fitr will start on Sunday May 24.
Moroccan astronomers and Morocco’s Ministry of Islamic Affairs have said the North African country expects to sight the crescent moon on Saturday evening and celebrate Eid al-Fitr on Sunday.
Religious authorities in Indonesia, Singapore, Turkey, Japan, Malaysia, Thailand, and Australia have already announced that Muslims in those countries will also celebrate Eid al-Fitr on May 24, based on astronomical calculations.
There remains some conjecture in the Muslim world about whether astronomical calculations or actual moon sightings should be used to decide the end of Ramadan and the beginning of the fast-breaking holiday.
Regardless of how officials and astronomers calculate the date of Eid al-Fitr, one thing is certain this year: Eid al-Fitr celebrations will be much quieter than usual as COVID-19 restrictions remain in place around the world.
After an unusual Ramadan devoid of the festive evening atmosphere and ftour feasts with friends and family, Muslims in the Middle East and North Africa are preparing for a somber Eid.
Governments across the MENA region, many of which had begun easing coronavirus cubs, have reintroduced or strengthened measures by adding 24-hour curfews and travel bans to existing regulations in order to prevent holiday activity that could exacerbate the spread of COVID-19.
Eid a-Fitr, the usually joyful celebration that brings people together to break the month-long Ramadan fast, will undoubtedly be unique this year. Given the scale of the coronavirus crisis and associated restrictions, many Muslims are turning to increased charity to mark Eid in 2020.
In Saudi Arabia, the home of Islam’s two holiest sites, Mecca and Medina, the government increased its Ramadan Iftar giving program budget to $5 million riyals ($1.33 million) for 2020 in light of the pandemic.
During Eid al-Fitr, when Mecca and Medina would normally be full of people, the mosques and streets across the kingdom will be empty, with citizens subject to a 24-hour “complete curfew.”
Muslims in the neighboring United Arab Emirates, one of the region’s biggest aid donors, have also been told to stay and pray at home during the religious holiday. The country’s moon-sighting committee is expected to convene soon to announce the beginning of Eid al-Fitr.
“As per the Emirates Fatwa Council, Eid Al-Fitr prayers should be performed at home. Taking all precautionary measures to protect yourself and your family is a religious and national commitment,” General Authority of Islamic Affairs and Endowments Sheikh Abdul Rahman Al Shamsi said on Friday.