During an Isbat meeting, the government decided that the first Syawal (the month after Ramadan) falls on Friday, July 17.
"We received four reports on the sightings of the crescent moon in four places. As the crescent moon was visible, we will enter the first day of Syawal tonight. We will perform Eid al-Fitr prayers tomorrow morning," Minister of Religious Affairs Lukman Hakim Saifuddin noted during a press conference after the meeting at his office.
Of the several places from where the moon is observed, the crescent moon was sighted in four locations. It was on the basis of this information that the government arrived at a decision to celebrate Eid al-Fitr on Friday, July 17.
Following the decision, the people thronged mosques and other places set for Eid prayers to conduct the rite.
President Joko Widodo and First Lady Iriana performed Eid prayers along with several community members at Baiturrahman Grand Mosque in Aceh.
President Widodo expressed his intentions of starting a new tradition of celebrating Eid along with the people in the regions from this year.
"Why do I celebrate Eid in Aceh (it is because I want to start a new tradition)? Indonesia stretches from Sabang (Aceh) to Merauke (Papua), and therefore, I start from Aceh or the west," he remarked during a visit to West Aceh district on Thursday.
He noted that as the president, he aimed to give equal attention to all people across the country.
"God willing, I will be in West Sumatra next year and in West Nusa Tenggara the following year and later to Maluku, so that we all feel that we are Indonesians. Indonesia does not belong to Jakarta only," he stated.
Vice President Jusuf Kalla offered Eid prayer at the Istiqlal Mosque in Jakarta.
Congregation members started arriving at the mosque at around 4:30 a.m. local time to offer prayers.
In his sermon, Khatib Madani called to optimally manage the diversity of the country to strengthen "ukhuwah wathaniyah," or national brotherhood.
He also shed light on the sufferings of Muslims in the Middle East and Africa who were still living in terror due to insurgencies and wars while expressing hope that peace could immediately prevail there.
He stated that Indonesia as a country has had a long history of strengthening its unity with regard to threats from home and abroad.
"The nation is aware that its diversity is vulnerable to conflicts unless it is managed well," he pointed out.
In view of this, he emphasized the importance of practicing the national principle of unity in diversity that was developed by the founding fathers.
He said that there are three types of ukhuwah (brotherhood): brotherhood between citizens, between Muslims, and between human beings.
He explained that the Al Quran clearly states that nations were created to know each other, work, build, and fight together to create peace, justice, prosperity, and welfare without having to infringe upon the rights of other nations.
"It takes moderation and tolerance for it. And with this spirit, there will be no room for radicalism to develop to disturb religious adherents," he affirmed.
Indonesian Muslims are glad to be able to celebrate Eid together this year regardless of being part of different organizations.
"It is good. So, we Muslims could unite and celebrate Lebaran (Eid) together," Ahmad Yon (47) remarked in the courtyard of Al Furqan mosque in Kramat, Central Jakarta, on Friday.
Yon is one of the members of "Dewan Dakwah Islamiyah Indonesia" (the Indonesia Islamic Propagation Council -DDII), an Islamic mass organization holding an Eid prayer at the mosque.
He affirmed that by celebrating Eid together, Muslims demonstrated their unity and cohesion.
"I hope this will continue. (We are) united. NU, Muhammadiyah, and Persis conduct Eid prayers together. It gives us a sense of pride to witness it," he remarked.
Heru (28), a Muhammadiyah member who performed Eid prayer on the road beside the DDII office, seconded Yons view.
"We used to do it on different days, but now, we are doing it on the same day. It is nice. We feel the sense of togetherness," he stated.
He hoped that the unity among Muslims celebrating Eid could strengthen their cohesiveness.
The government declared the fall of Eid on Friday based on moon sightings in four different locations.
"Of the several teams in charge of conducting moon sightings across Indonesia, four reported sighting the crescent moon from four locations, and based on this information, we declared that we entered the 1 Syawal 1436 tonight, and tomorrow, we can perform Eid prayers," Religious Affairs Minister Lukman Hakim Saifuddin noted during a press conference on Thursday evening following a meeting to determine the date of Eid.
The sightings were monitored in Gresik, Lamongang and Bojonegoro in East Java, and Kepulauan Seribu (Jakarta).
The minister expressed gratitude that Eid could be celebrated simultaneously on the same day this year.
General Chairman of the Indonesian Council of Ulemas (MUI) Din Syamsuddin stated here on Friday that a global Islamic calendar was urgently needed to unify the perceptions of several Islamic mass organizations regarding the start of Ramadhan and Syawal.
"We hope the government could understand this aspiration of the Muslims and immediately issue an Islamic calendar that is global," he noted after leading an Eid prayer.
He remarked that the controversy over determining the first day of Ramadhan and Syawal still continued to surface every year among Islamic mass organizations in the country and across the world and hence had to be stopped.
"One of the ways of ending this controversy is to create an Islamic calendar that is global and acceptable to all parties. We continue to urge the government and to propose the creation of a global Islamic calendar," he affirmed.
He remarked that determining the start of the Islamic calendar could be carried out from Mecca, as the center of the Islamic civilization in the world.
"The difference in the first day of Ramadhan and Syawal has an economic and social impact on the people," he noted.
Din affirmed that although it was not an easy task, it was an important issue that should be addressed together by all Islamic organizations in order to find a viable solution.