Mon, 13 Mar 2000

Muslim organizations split on sacrifice day

JAKARTA (JP): Muslims will celebrate Idul Adha (the Islamic day of sacrifice) on two separate days as the country's two leading Islamic organizations have decided upon different dates for the holiday.

Nahdlatul Ulama, the largest Muslim organization with 35 million followers, announced on Saturday that the start of Dzulhijjah month in the Islamic calendar this year fell on March 8 and, therefore, Idul Ahda would fall on Friday, April 17, 2000.

The two dates are based on reports by the NU's rukyatul team, which looks out for the moon's appearance from Pelabuhan Ratu beach in West Java, Semarang beach in Central Java and the East Java town of Gresik, NU said in a press statement signed by chairman Hasyim Muzadi.

"The team did not see the moon, so based on law the previous month lasted 30 days, one day longer than expected," Hasyim said.

On the same day, Muhammadiyah, the second largest Muslim organization, announced that the sacrifice day would fall on Thursday, April 16, the date in the 2000 official calendar, arguing the Dzulhijjah month began on March 6.

The national date for the holiday will be announced after a joint meeting on Tuesday.

NU's deputy secretary general Masdluki Baidlawi said he welcomed the difference and believed that President Abdurrahman Wahid, despite the fact that he is a former NU chairman, would take the same stance.

Meanwhile, the Indonesian Ulemas Council (MUI) entrusted the celebration of the holiday to Muslim people's beliefs. (emf/rms)