‘Id al-Fitr is observed at a particular day of the Islamic Calendar,
which is based on the movements of the moon. According to this calendar, the
beginning of each month is marked by the appearance of the moon above the
horizon. This appearance can be observed by the naked eye. If accurate
mathematical calculations can help in this sighting, physically observation is
not required. Consequently, just as clocks have helped man in accurately
determining the time of the five prayers and one no longer needs to measure
one’s shadow for this, if at some point of time (if not already) scientific
advancement is able to determine the exact time of the appearance of the moon,
then, on similar grounds, one can benefit from this.
The lunar calendar was followed by the Arabs more out of necessity than
choice. In the absence of clocks, the easiest way to measure time was through
stars and the moon. The Arabs like their contemporary nations were well versed
in finding out time through the passage of the heavenly bodies. Moreover, since
the lunar calendar falls on different dates of the solar calendar, the lunar
months fall in different weathers each year making the inhabitants of the earth
experience ‘id and other religious rituals (like hajj) in different seasons.
This of course is a great advantage.
Because ‘id is dependent on moon sighting, which is at different dates in
different areas, ‘id day at Makkah and other places is likely to be different.