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When consensus eluded India, Mumbai Muslims planned 'Two Eids', and with perfect timing

Sunday June 17, 2018 1:13 PM, Aneeka Sabahat,

Mumbai CST on Eid

[A view of CST station illuminated in green light ahead of Eid in Mumbai]

Mumbai: As Muslims in India passionately waited for whole of Thursday and the following night for the Moon Sighting Committees to arrive at consensus and celebrate Eid al Fitr – together and on the same day, about 3,500 kms from Mumbai, some of the city Muslims in Madinatul Munawara were confirming with their travel agents to catch the first flight after offering Eid prayers at the Prophet’s Mosque on Friday and join another in Mumbai on Saturday.

“Many pilgrims told us months in advance that they want to celebrate Eid in Makkah or Madinatul Munawara and then in Mumbai.  We booked them on the flights which will enable them to reach the city in time for Eid celebrations here,” Yusuf Ahmed Khereda of Al Khalid Tours and Travels is quoted as saying by The Times of India.

Since Mumbai has direct flight to Jeddah and Madinah, several Umrah performers planned their pilgrimage such that they get to celebrate Eid twice. Many tour operators also admitted that the demand for booking seats on the first flight from Jeddah and Madinah to Mumbai on the Eid day in Saudi Arabia has increased over the years.

“I have celebrated two Eids for the last five years”, Andheri resident Sameer Chunawala who has been going for Umrah during the month of Ramadan for over a decade, said.

“Eid is Muslims’ biggest festival. So, I try to celebrate the festivities both at one of the holiest cities (Makkah or Madinh) and with the extended family in Mumbai,” he added.

Eid al Fitr is celebrated in whole of the world to mark end of Ramadan – the Holy Month of fasting when Muslims observe fast for 30 days.

Though Sameer and a number of others from Mumbai were successful in their plan to celebrate “Two Eids” - one in Madinah or in Makkah and the other in Mumbai - quite peacefully and maintaining a perfect timing, others in the city were not so lucky and they could not celebrate even one without a controversy.

In fact controversy in Mumbai began with sighting of Ramadan moon itself. Muslims in rest of India began fasting of Ramadan on Thursday May 17, 2018. However, Muslims in Mumbai refused to be part of this consensus and decided to fast a day later from Friday May 18. Hence, when whole of India was sighting the Eid moon on Thursday June 14, 2018, Mumbai Muslims were in a fix as Thursday for them was 28th of Ramadan and new moon could be sighted either on 29th or 30th of a month, not on 28th.

The misery of Muslims in Mumbai did not end here. On Thursday June 14, 2018 almost unanimously all leading organsiations and Hilal Committees announced that Eid will be celebrated on Saturday June 16, 2018. But, at around 02:30 am, a section led by Subayee Jamiat Ahle Hadees started making announcements and circulating messages on social media that the moon was sighted on Thursday and hence Friday June 15 will be 1st Shawwal.

The announcement by Subayee Jamiat Ahle Hadees Mumbai led to utter confusion, especially in Mumbai and other parts of Maharashtra, as the decision to celebrate Eid on Saturday June 16 was already made. Some people tried to persuade the Subayee Jamiat Ahle Hadees Mumbai with a request to reconsider its decision. The Jamiat however remained adamant. A little later some organisations in East Uttar Pradesh aslod decided to celebrate Eid on Friday, as Kerala, Bhatkal and some in Gujarat and Madhya Pradesh had already decided to do so.

“It’s a pity that Muslims in India were not able to arrive at consensus even on their most important religious festival”, Altaf Ameen, a businessman, said.  

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