Moonsighting or Moonfighting?
How the annual conflict to determine Ramadan inspires my art.
As someone working on my own sci-fantasy anime I spend a lot of my time thinking about imaginary worlds, the characters that live in these places and the conflicts in their lives.
But sometimes I realize I just need to look at the realities of being Muslim, and that real life is the best author.
Take for instance the fact that as I write this is it’s 6 am in the morning on Friday April 1 2022, in Toronto, Canada where I live. Around the world Muslims are about to start Ramadan as soon as the sun sets and start fasting on Sat April 2 (the Muslim day starts at sunset). They have calculated the birth of the moon scientifically, and as the new crescent moon begins the month of Ramadan, it is a done deal!
Ramadan Mubarak! They will say on social media!
Err, except not all Muslims…
Because some Muslims in my town and around the world will look tonight to see if the moon has been spotted by the naked eye in a local geographical area, others spotted with the eye globally, and others to see what countries overseas their local mosques are attached to are doing.
Even if somehow we all align, the process repeats itself at the end of the month. It usually never happens that Ramadan starts or ends the same for Muslims around the world.
This isn’t just some scheduling conflict, it is a real theological issue that divides families and believers from one another. There is this aspirational goal amongst Muslims for unity, but whether cultural, geo political, or theological, we are anything but the same.
But what is a story without conflict? It is boring right. Secretly I think that in lieu of being unified Muslims get a kind of rush of being part of this global debate and conversation that comes up every year for Ramadan and Eid (the festival at the end of Ramadan).
Because as long as Muslims exist on Earth this debate will surface yearly and while many had hoped it would have gotten better with technology and social media, it has actually gotten even more divisive.
The ramifications of this always play in my mind, so much so that I made it the central plot line in the anime series I am developing.
In the absence of a solution, maybe we use art to examine the conflict in a unique way?
Maybe we showcase the nuances and diversities of our identities to a broader non-Muslim audience, warts and all?
Or maybe we even try to find understanding with each other as Muslims, because as each year passes it is almost like we understand each other less?
These questions inspire and challenge me as a Muslim, and as an artist daily. The conflicts aren’t fictional to me nor other Muslims, yet fiction is what we may need most right now.
But since Ramadan is almost here have to cut this short! Since I never know which method of sighting the moon I am going to use till the day of; I will wish you Ramadan Mubarak in either case whenever I start.
When I was younger I wished this problem would go away, but I am kind of thankful for it years later.
Or at least my art is.
Nadir Shirazi, is the Founder of MultipHacet Entertainment Inc. and the Creator of the upcoming MultiFacet Islamime (Islam + Anime) Project launching June 2022.
For more information please visit www.islamime.com or reach out to him at email@example.com