Jakarta (ANTARA) - Coordinating Minister of Political, Legal, and Security Affairs Mahfud MD appealed for harmony to be maintained in society amid potential differences in the date of Eid al-Fitr.

He also urged regional authorities to allow all Muslim communities to use public facilities to perform the Eid al-Fitr prayer, customarily conducted in open space.

"The government urges public facilities, such as city squares managed by regional authorities, to be opened for Eid al-Fitr prayer for any public organizations or communities seeking to use it. We also need to maintain harmony despite the difference in our Eid al-Fitr date," Mahfud said on his Twitter account @mohmahfudmd on Tuesday.

The coordinating minister underscored that despite differences in the Eid date, celebrated on the first day of the Shawwal month in the Islamic calendar, prevailing methods to determine the date are based on hadith (words of Prophet Muhammad).

Mahfud also quoted the Prophet's hadith, which reads, "Fast when you see the moon (Ramadan) and break your fast when you see the moon (Shawwal)," noting that there are two methods to determine the new moons.

The first method, rukyatul hilal, is conducted by observing the moon with bare eyes aided by telescopes, as what has been done since Muhammad's time.

The second method, hisab, is conducted by calculating the emergence of the new moon with scientific and astronomic approaches. He added that this process always precedes the rukyatul hilal method for visual verification of the moon.

"NU (Nahdlatul Ulama) and Muhammadiyah celebrate Eid al-Fitr on the first day of Shawwal. Their only difference is in determining the moon's degrees of altitude," Mahfud emphasized while referring to two major Muslim organizations in Indonesia.

The coordinating minister's remarks were conveyed in response to several regional authorities that decided against allowing the use of public areas for the Eid prayer on Friday (April 21), which several Muslim organizations have determined as the first day of Shawwal, hence, Eid al-Fitr.

On Monday (April 17), General Secretary of the Muhammadiyah executive board Abdul Mu'ti said that West Java's Sukabumi Mayor Achmad Fahmi rejected the organization's request to use a public square in the city for the Eid prayer on April 21.

The mayor, in his letter, stated that the city would allow Eid prayer at the city's Merdeka Square to take place only on the Eid date determined by the central government, Mu'ti remarked.

"After Pekalongan (in Central Java), now is Sukabumi. After this, which other cities (will restrict us)?" Mu'ti made the statement on his Twitter account @Abe_Mukti, with the Sukabumi mayor's letter attached.

However, on Monday evening, the Muhammadiyah official said that the mayors of Sukabumi and Pekalongan have relented and allowed the use of their facilities for the Eid prayer on Friday.

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Translator: Gilang Galiartha, Nabil Ihsan
Editor: Tia Mutiasari
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