RIYADH: Saudi Arabia announced the sighting of the Zilhaj moon on Sunday, marking the start of the Islamic month of Zilhaj from Monday, June 19, and setting the stage for the observance of Eidul Azha on Wednesday, June 28.
According to the announcement by the Kingdom’s Supreme Court, the day of Arafah, one of the most significant days in Islam, will be observed on Tuesday, June 27. Traditionally, the Arafah day, known for its profound spiritual significance, precedes the celebration of Eidul Azha.
In the United Arab Emirates (UAE), officials are expected to make a similar announcement. The UAE, Saudi Arabia, and several other Gulf nations usually celebrate Eidul Fitr and Eidul Azha simultaneously.
This is the first Hajj free of all Covid-19 restrictions. “The operational plan for this year’s Hajj season is the largest in history, after the end of the pandemic and the announcement of the return of Hajj pilgrims in the millions,” said Sheikh Dr Abdulrahman bin Abdulaziz Al Sudais, general president of the affairs of the Grand Holy Mosque and Prophet’s Holy Mosque.
In Pakistan, the Pakistan Meteorological Department (PMD) has predicted the new moon to be born on June 18 at 9:37 pm local time, with the sighting expected on June 19. This suggests that the first Zilhaj will likely be observed on Tuesday, June 20, with Eidul Azha following on Thursday, June 29.
The Central Ruet-e-Hilal Committee will convene a meeting in Karachi on Monday to sight the Zilhaj crescent. Maulana Abdul Khabir Azad, Chairman of the committee, will preside over the meeting.
Additional meetings of the zonal and district Ruet-e-Hilal committees will take place simultaneously at their respective headquarters in various cities. The Central Ruet-e-Hilal Committee convenes on the 29th of each Islamic month and officially declares the sighting of the moon.
Earlier this week, the International Astronomical Centre (IAC) said the first Zilhaj in Pakistan is expected to fall on Tuesday, June 20 or Wednesday, June 21. Consequently, Eidul Azha in the country may occur on Thursday, June 29, or Friday, June 30.
Eidul Azha commemorates the Quranic tale of the Prophet Ibrahim’s (PBUH) willingness to sacrifice his son as an act of obedience to Allah, before the Almighty replaced the son with a ram to be sacrificed instead.
It marks the end of an annual Hajj, or pilgrimage to Makkah, which is one of the five pillars of Islam, and should be undertaken by every Muslim who can afford to do so.