The Supreme Court of Saudi Arabia has announced that Wednesday, August 7, is the 29th day of Ramadan as the Shawwal crescent was not sighted in the Kingdom on Tuesday.
The court will meet again on Wednesday night to see whether anybody had sighted the new moon in order to determine Eid Al Fitr, the celebration that marks the end of Ramadan fasting.
The Saudi Supreme Court had earlier urged the public to search for the crescent moon on Tuesday night (Ramadan 28) in a move that caused much confusion.
“Those who witness the moon should inform the nearest court. If the moon was not sighted on Tuesday, they should look for it on Wednesday evening,” the statement said.
If the moon is sighted on Tuesday night, this would mean Ramadan this year will end in 28 days, one day short of the minimum cycle. Islam follows a lunar calendar in which months are either 29 or 30 days.
However in neighbouring Gulf countries UAE and Bahrain, officials announced they would meet on Wednesday, August 7 to sight the moon.
According to Gulf News, the last time a similar incident occurred was in 1984, when the Saudi Supreme Court admitted their mistake.
At the time, authorities made the announcement that Eid would fall on what was thought to be Ramadan 29, admitting the holy month began one day late. Clerics said Muslims would need to fast for one day after Eid to make up for the fast that was missed.
The latest Saudi announcement has sparked confusion amidst the public with many voicing surprise.
Saudi calls on people to sight the moon for Tuesday. Ramadan could be 28 days for SA. Am I dreaming?— Nadeem Gulam (@nhgulam) August 6, 2013
Eid may apparently be on wednesday as the sighting of the moon for eid ul fitr is already starting to show, saudi have done it again— Ghuraba (@MohammedKhan_x) August 6, 2013
Incredible/ridiculous “Saudi asks people to try seeing the moon Tue night? That would make Ramadan 28 days for them? http://t.co/R7oajzDALU”— Yasir Billoo (@yasirbilloo) August 6, 2013