Hundreds are expected to attend a special event which will encourage people to follow ‘local moonsighting criteria’ when deciding when to celebrate Eid.

Ramadan is set to begin in March and the annual ‘moonsighting’ debate sees mosques, religious leaders and families split over when the holy month should begin. The debate then moves on to date of Eid itself which this year will be around April 10.

Last year, in an unprecedented move, leading imams and scholars from Blackburn launched a campaign urging people to follow local moonsighting criteria when deciding when to celebrate Eid.

It comes after growing concerns by some scholars that Muslims in Britain were ‘blindly following’ the announcements made by Saudi Arabia.

The Annual Moonsighting Conference at the Ivy Hall on Newton Street is open to members of the public with segregated seating for ladies. It will take place from 6.45pm on Sunday January 21 and food will be served.

People will hear from Moulana Iqbal Ragooni Sahib from Manchester, Moulana Shoayb Nurgat Sahib from London and Mufti Zakariya Akudi Sahib of Dewsbury.

A spokesperson for the Blackburn Moonsighting Committee (BMSC) said: “Everyone is welcome to attend the conference where we will hear from leading scholars.

“The aim is to explain why Muslims should be following the sighting of the moon locally then if that is not possible to then to follow the nearest Islamic country. In this case Morrocco.

“It is time for Muslims to unite.”

Last year, up to 500 families are said to have ‘switched’ their preferences when to celebrate Eid. The numbers are expected to go up.

The differences are dependant on the sighting of the new moon as per the Islamic lunar calendar. The almost yearly disagreements and controversies have led to neighbours and families celebrating Eid and beginning Ramadan on different days.

Much of this has been due to differences of opinions amongst imams and scholars and therefore the mosques.

A large number of mosques and Muslims across the UK already follow sighting of the moon in this way when deciding on Ramadan and Eid.

In a statement in 2023 the group said: "Saudi Arabia is very blessed, as it houses the holy cities of Makkah Mukarramah and Madinah Munawwarah. There is no denying that fact.

“However, when it comes to the issue of moonsighting, our Shariah advises us to look for the moon locally and if not sighted, then to follow the nearest Islamic country, which has a robust reliable system as regards to moonsighting.”