The Presidency of Religious Affairs (DİB), a state-run religious authority, will host an event that will bring together academics, experts and dignitaries on a much disputed issue in the Muslim world: Calendar unity. Sabah newspaper reported that a congress was scheduled to be held this weekend on the matter.
When to observe religious holidays and prayer times has been a thorny issue among Muslim scholars for years. This is especially the case for the observation of Kurban Bayram, or festival of sacrifice, which is also a culmination of the annual hajj pilgrimage. Differences stem from various scholarly interpretations of Islamic law regarding the sighting of the new moon on which the date is based and can render prayers, such as fasting, invalid if observed at different times.
To end the long-standing dispute, DİB will host scientists, astronomers and experts on Islamic calendars from around the world for "The International Hijri Calendar Unity Congress." It is actually the latest edition of a congress initially held in 1966 and last hosted by Turkey in 1979. Though participants of the earlier conventions agreed upon setting a common date for the observation of Eid, their decision was never implemented.
The congress will be a culmination of a preparatory work by a "Science Board" composed of scholars and scientists from Turkey, Qatar, Jordan, the United States, European and several Muslim countries. The board whichstarted work last year discussed proposals for common dates and the congress is expected to conclude the dispute over calendar unity.
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