Last Update 22:17
Friday, 15 November 2019

Is next Sunday off or not in Egypt?

The start of the new Islamic Hijri year is yet to be determined by astronomical observations undertaken by Dar Al-Ifta, the authority in charge of issuing religious edicts

Ahram Online , Thursday 29 Aug 2019
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File Photo: The crescent moon is seen near mosques in old Cairo (Photo: Reuters)
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Many Egyptians are puzzled as to whether next Sunday is a public holiday to mark the beginning of the new Hijri year or not, or whether they should brace themselves for yet another long weekend.

Some thought Sunday is not a holiday and went on to lament their misfortune online. They were misled by inaccurate reporting of a cabinet statement on the matter.

So, what has caused the confusion?

Officials said the first day of the new Islamic Hijri year 1441, which marks the beginning of Muharram — the first month of the Islamic calendar — will be a public holiday in Egypt.

But the exact date of the start of the month is yet to be determined by astronomical observations undertaken by Dar Al-Ifta, the authority in charge of issuing religious edicts.

It is expected to fall either on Saturday or Sunday.

With the Egyptian government usually compensating employees with another day as a paid holiday when a national holiday falls on the weekend, many took it for granted that Sunday will be off.

But the cabinet shattered their hopes when it said in a statement earlier this week that Sunday will not off, provided that the beginning of the new Hijri year falls on Saturday. It said only the exact corresponding day in the Western calendar will be a holiday.

Many news websites ran the news that the cabinet was announcing that Sunday will not be off, adding to the confusion.

The Hijri calendar, which began in AD 622, is used by Muslims around the world to determine annual fasting during the holy month of Ramadan, as well as the Hajj pilgrimage and Muslim festivals. It is 11-12 days shorter than the Gregorian calendar.

Dar El-Ifta will settle the debate on Friday, meaning that until then there is still some home for one extra day off.

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