Tuesday, June 20, 2023

Eid ul-Adha Moon Sighting in Saudi Arabia: A Guide to the Sacred Festival


Eid ul-Adha, also known as the Festival of Sacrifice, holds immense significance for Muslims around the world. It commemorates the willingness of Prophet Ibrahim (Abraham) to sacrifice his son as an act of obedience to God. The festival is celebrated with great joy and devotion, and the sighting of the moon marks the beginning of this auspicious occasion. In Saudi Arabia, being the birthplace of Islam and home to the two holiest cities, Mecca and Medina, the moon sighting plays a crucial role in determining the start of Eid ul-Adha. This article delves into the process and significance of the moon sighting in Saudi Arabia.

Eid ul-Adha Moon Sighting in Saudi Arabia

Eid ul-Adha Moon Sighting in Saudi Arabia: A Guide to the Sacred Festival

Eid ul-Adha is one of the most significant festivals celebrated by Muslims across the globe. Its observance is marked by the sighting of the new moon, which determines the exact date of the festival. In Saudi Arabia, a country deeply rooted in Islamic traditions, the process of moon sighting holds great importance.

Understanding the Significance of Moon Sighting

Historical and Religious Context

The practice of moon sighting to determine the beginning of Islamic months has its roots in the time of the Prophet Muhammad. It is based on the lunar calendar, which follows the natural cycles of the moon. Moon sighting holds a deep religious significance as it signifies the start of sacred occasions such as Ramadan and Eid ul-Adha.

The Lunar Calendar in Islam

The Islamic lunar calendar consists of 12 months, with each month lasting either 29 or 30 days, depending on the sighting of the crescent moon. This calendar is distinct from the Gregorian calendar commonly used in the Western world. The reliance on the lunar calendar highlights the importance of the moon sighting in determining the start of various Islamic festivals.

The Saudi Arabia Moon Sighting Committee

Role and Responsibility

In Saudi Arabia, the Supreme Court forms the Moon Sighting Committee responsible for confirming the sighting of the new moon. The committee consists of experts and scholars who carefully observe the sky and collect testimonies from witnesses to ascertain the visibility of the crescent moon.

Moon Sighting Methodology

The Moon Sighting Committee employs traditional methods, relying on visual sightings using the naked eye or telescopes. Witnesses who claim to have sighted the moon are interviewed to ensure authenticity. The committee takes into account multiple factors such as atmospheric conditions, astronomical calculations, and the possibility of human error.

The Complexity of Moon Sighting

Factors Affecting Visibility

The visibility of the moon depends on various factors, including the age of the moon, its altitude, and the angular separation between the sun and the moon. Additionally, atmospheric conditions, such as cloud cover and pollution, can hinder the visibility of the crescent. These complexities make accurate moon sighting a challenging task.

Meteorological Conditions

Saudi Arabia's diverse geographical landscape presents varying meteorological conditions, further complicating the moon sighting process. Regions with high mountains or dense cloud cover may face difficulties in sighting the moon. The committee must carefully consider these factors while making the final determination.

Preparations for Moon Sighting

Announcements and Public Awareness

Leading up to Eid ul-Adha, the Saudi Arabian authorities and religious institutions make announcements to inform the public about the importance of moon sighting. They educate individuals about the process, emphasizing the need for accurate testimonies and collaboration with the committee.

Observatories and Experts' Involvement

To aid the moon sighting process, Saudi Arabia has established observatories equipped with advanced astronomical instruments. Experts and astronomers actively participate in the observations and provide technical support to the Moon Sighting Committee. Their expertise ensures a comprehensive and meticulous evaluation of the sighting reports.

The Moon Sighting Process

Determining the Hilal (Crescent)

The primary objective of the Moon Sighting Committee is to determine the sighting of the Hilal, the crescent moon that marks the beginning of the new month. Observers scan the sky at sunset, focusing on the western horizon. Once a valid sighting is confirmed, the committee proceeds to announce the start of Eid ul-Adha.

Witnesses and Confirmation

The committee relies on trustworthy testimonies from witnesses who claim to have seen the crescent moon. These witnesses are thoroughly interviewed to ensure their credibility. If multiple reliable sightings are reported, the committee proceeds with the announcement. However, in the absence of reliable sightings, the committee may extend the ongoing month to complete the required 30 days.

The Impact of Moon Sighting on Eid ul-Adha

Celebrations and Festivities

The moon sighting in Saudi Arabia sets in motion a wave of joy and anticipation among Muslims worldwide. Once the announcement of Eid ul-Adha is made, preparations begin for the festival. Families gather, special prayers are held, and acts of charity and sacrifice are performed as an expression of gratitude and devotion.

Global Unity and Solidarity

The unified observance of Eid ul-Adha, facilitated by the moon sighting process, creates a sense of global unity among Muslims. Regardless of geographical location, Muslims come together to celebrate this sacred occasion. The shared experience fosters a sense of solidarity and strengthens the bonds of the global Muslim community.

Challenges and Controversies

Regional Differences and Opinions

Moon sighting methods and opinions on the visibility criteria can vary across different regions, leading to occasional disagreements among scholars and communities. These differences, rooted in diverse interpretations, can sometimes create challenges and controversies regarding the start of Eid ul-Adha.

Technological Advancements and Astronomical Calculations

Advancements in technology and astronomical calculations have led to the development of precise moon visibility predictions. While some argue for the adoption of scientific calculations, others believe in adhering to the traditional method of visual sighting. Balancing tradition and technological advancements remains a subject of ongoing debate.

Promoting Harmony and Understanding

Interfaith Dialogue and Cooperation

The process of moon sighting presents an opportunity for interfaith dialogue and cooperation. By engaging in constructive conversations with individuals from different faiths, Muslims can share their beliefs and practices surrounding the moon sighting process. This fosters mutual understanding, respect, and harmony among diverse religious communities.

Embracing Diversity within Islam

Within the Islamic world, the diversity of moon sighting methods and opinions is an acknowledgment of the vastness and richness of the Muslim community. Embracing this diversity promotes a spirit of tolerance and inclusivity, where different practices and interpretations are respected as valid expressions of faith.


The moon sighting in Saudi Arabia holds immense significance as it marks the beginning of Eid ul-Adha, a cherished festival for Muslims worldwide. The Moon Sighting Committee, through its meticulous observations and testimonies, plays a vital role in determining the start of this sacred occasion. The process is not without challenges and controversies, but it serves as a unifying force, promoting global unity and solidarity within the Muslim community.

FAQs (Frequently Asked Questions)

How is the moon sighting committee formed in Saudi Arabia?

The Supreme Court forms the Moon Sighting Committee consisting of experts and scholars.

Are there any alternative methods used to determine the start of Eid ul-Adha?

Some Muslims rely on astronomical calculations or follow moon sightings in other countries.

What happens if the moon is not sighted on the expected date?

If the moon is not sighted, the ongoing month will be extended to complete the required 30 days.

How do Muslims worldwide celebrate Eid ul-Adha?

Muslims celebrate Eid ul-Adha by performing special prayers, sacrificing animals, and sharing meals with family and the less fortunate.

Is the moon sighting process the same in all Muslim countries?

No, moon sighting methods and opinions can vary across different Muslim countries due to regional differences and interpretations.

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