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Divided we celebrate

October 24, 2006


KARACHI, Oct 23: United the Muslim world stands – or so it at least believes. But divided it celebrates Eidul Fitr. Few among the 57 Muslim countries and Muslim diaspora celebrate what has been described as the fragrance-imbued occasion by the secretary-general of the Organisation of Islamic Conference the same day.

In Pakistan alone, three Eids are being celebrated this year. People in most areas of the NWFP celebrated Eid on Monday; those of Upper and Lower Dir are celebrating it on Tuesday; and rest of the country will celebrate it on Wednesday.

Religious scholars insist that an Islamic month begins with the actual sighting of the moon. Those who sight the Shawwal moon first, celebrate Eid ahead of those who do not.

Indonesia, which has the world’s largest Muslim population, is celebrating two Eids this year.

The followers of Muhammadiyah, the second largest Muslim organisation in Indonesia, set Monday as their Eid day, but the Nahdlatul Ulama, the largest Muslim organisation in the country, together with the government decided that Eid would fall on Tuesday.

Neighbouring Malaysia is also celebrating Eid on Tuesday.

India, home to over 174 million Muslims, is also hit by the moon-sighting controversy. In Bihar, Karnatka, Tamil Nadu and Orissa the festival will be celebrate on Tuesday. But Eid in Jammu and Kashmir, Delhi and Uttar Pradesh will be celebrated on Wednesday.

Saudi Arabia, home to the holiest sites in Islam, celebrated Eid on Monday. So did the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain, Afghanistan, Qatar, Yemen, Tunis, Libya, Palestine, Lebanon, Iraq, Sudan and Mauritania.

But Egypt, Jordan, Syria, Morocco, Algeria and Oman are celebrating Eid on Tuesday.

Muslims in Britain, including the self-exiled political leaders from Pakistan, celebrated Eid on Monday. So did the Muslims of the United States.