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881 Pretty much every year, there is always a difference in the start of an Islamic month with Saudi Arabia (and those communities that follow them) with those who do not follow Saudi Arabia. We are always told that Saudi are starting the months one day early.

I would like to know, what is the benefit to Saudi for deliberately starting it a day early? What is the point of doing this? Clearly they are not doing this by mistake because as you know this happens year after year.

I heard that the pre-planned dates are set so it some how helps their economy, but I don’t know if this is true.
The Saudis use what they call the Umm al-Qura Calendar. This is the calendar employed for both religious purposes and political/social purposes.

In Egypt for example, the Islamic calendar is only used for religious events. To determine the beginning of Muharram for instance, the religious calendar will be consulted. If there is an important political event (like the opening of Parliament, for example), they will use the Gregorian calendar.

In Saudi, they use the Islamic calendar for all events. So if there is an event happening in two months time, the date will be given in the Islamic method, even if it is a non-religious event.

The problem is that because the Islamic calendar is dependant on the moon-sighting each and every month, a meeting in two months time can be in 60 days time, 59 days time or 58 days time. When it comes to planning a major event, this – as you can imagine – can be very problematic. How can a person arrange book a restaurant for a meeting in advance when he is not sure which day it will be?

Partly because of this, the Umm al-Qura Calendar of Saudi Arabia tries to pre-determine when the 28th Shabaan, Ramadan, Shawwal etc. will be. It is an Islamic calendar predicted in advance. Or to re-word it, it is a forged calendar which is not based on real, lunar sighting.

(Answered by: Alims at Islamic Centre, Leicester, UK.)
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