Ilford mosque criticised over Ramadan start date decision urges unity

A gathering of faith leaders at the Ilford Islamic Centre, in Albert Road, in 2017. Picture: Ken Mea

A gathering of faith leaders at the Ilford Islamic Centre, in Albert Road, in 2017. Picture: Ken Mears - Credit: Archant

An Ilford mosque is urging unity among the borough’s Muslim community amid criticism over its decision to announce the start of the holy month of Ramadan on Monday (May 6).

Ramadan, observed by Muslims worldwide as the month of fasting, is the ninth month of the Islamic calendar.

The holy month's start date varies each year depending on the observance of the new moon, which is influenced by numerous factors.

The Ilford Islamic Centre's imams and management committee took to Facebook today (May 7) to refute "somewhat lazy assumptions" and criticisms it simply followed Saudi Arabia's guidance.

"We as a masjid [mosque] have tried to follow various methods taking into consideration our congregation and the unity with the Masaajid [mosques] in our locality so there is a sense of togetherness," the post reads.

It adds: "If anyone wishes not to follow our decision they can follow the other one for commencing month of Ramadan on May 7, which is also valid."

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It highlights that no overall leader for the global Muslim community currently exists to determine and impose an official start date.

In the absence of such a leader, it adds: "Every city, locality and masjid has the discretion to make their decision and follow a valid opinion or school of thought."

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The Islamic centre said that, on this occasion, it decided its start date according to principles set out in the "Hanafi School of global sighting" and by reaching consensus with neighbouring mosques.

Ramadan begins when the first new moon sighting is reported to faith group the Jamaat Ahlus Sunnah UK by a Muslim country or Muslim moon sighting board according to this criteria, it added.

"It's absolutely fair to criticise, there is no problem with that but we request that it is done in a civil and dignified manner," the post continued.

"We appreciate that emotions can run high and that can be a positive thing especially when channelled towards causes effecting Muslims on far more important issues.

"For example, the plight of Muslims in Gaza, Kashmir, Myanmar, Yemen, Syria, China etc and more close to home, Islamophobia."

"Let's not divide but rather unite."

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