The Jakarta Post
The government announced on Friday that the first day of Syawal month, which marks the Idul Fitri celebration, would fall on Sunday.
All the major Islamic organizations in the country have endorsed the decision made during a limited isbat (confirmation) meeting held by the Religious Affairs Ministry with the Indonesian Ulema Council (MUI) and other related institutions in Jakarta.
Several Islamic organizations attended Friday's meeting via video conference.
“After combining both the hisab [astronomical calculation] and rukyat [lunar movement observation] methods, we have concluded that Idul Fitri this year will fall on Sunday,” Religious Affairs Minister Fachrul Razi said.
He added that Saudi Arabia would also celebrate the holy day on Sunday.
The minister said that none of the observation teams deployed in 80 locations across the country had spotted the hilal (crescent moon) as of Friday evening.
Prior to the announcement, the ministry’s astronomy expert, Cecep Nurwendaya, explained his calculation. “Based on the astronomical calculation, the moon sighted on Friday evening has yet to meet the criteria of a hilal,” he said.
The head of House of Representatives Commission VIII overseeing religious and social affairs, Yandri Susanto, expressed his relief that the results of both the hisab and rukyat methods were aligned.
“The Islamic organizations have also agreed to strengthen communication in the future so that we will consistently agree on the date of Idul Fitri,” he said.
For years, the second-largest Islamic organization in the country, Muhammadiyah, had set different dates both for the start of the fasting month and for Idul Fitri.
This year, however, Muhammadiyah had already announced in February that Idul Fitri would fall on May 24 based on their hisab calculation.
As the moon was still below the horizon on Friday evening, the fasting month of Ramadan will be rounded up to 30 days.
This means Ramadan will end on Saturday, when Muslims are no longer fasting and performing tarawih (evening Ramadan prayers), and will celebrate Idul Fitri the next morning.
However, due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the MUI has advised Muslims in the country not to hold Idul Fitri prayers at mosques and other open spaces that involve a large mass of people.
On May 13, the MUI issued a fatwa that allows Idul Fitri prayers to be performed at homes in the so-called COVID-19 red zones, or areas where the outbreak has spread uncontrollably. In areas where the virus is largely contained, prayers can be done normally.
“However, we still strongly appeal to Muslims in green zones to pray at home to curb the spread of COVID-19. Even so, Idul Fitri prayer is sunnah [not obligatory],” MUI Fatwa Council chair Hasanuddin said, also pointing to the fact that even obligatory prayers such as Friday prayers had been avoided during the pandemic.
Istiqlal Grand Mosque in Jakarta has decided to celebrate the eve of Idul Fitri virtually, with only five people attending the takbir (chants and praises) procession at the mosque while adhering to the COVID-19 precautions.
“The takbir will be broadcast via the Istiqlal Mosque YouTube channel and [state-run television network] TVRI,” Istiqlal Mosque spokesperson Abu Hurairah said.
After all, this year’s Ramadan has been embraced in a more tranquil manner than ever before, as the Religious Affairs Minister called on Muslims to avoid performing tarawih in congregations as well as visiting relatives’ graves (ziarah) and returning to their hometown for the mudik (exodus) tradition.