The Federation of Islamic Associations of New Zealand (FIANZ) has released its report clarifying the moon sighting error that occurred on Tuesday, June 4.

FIANZ, the umbrella body of the Muslim community in New Zealand is responsible for releasing information and announcements about starting and ending of Islamic months based on moon sightings and dealing with major issues related to the Muslims community in the country.

To recap the whole issue:an incorrect memo was released on FIANZ’s website without its knowledge on Tuesday, June 4, that announced Eid to be observed on Wednesday, June 5 evening – and five minutes later posted on social media that the website update is ‘fake’ and to follow FIANZ’s Facebook page for correct and authentic notice.

This created widespread confusion in the community, followed by several questions and concerns raised by the community on the science and method of announcing a major event like moon sighting for Eid.

President of FIANZ Dr Mustafa Farouk addressing media earlier in March/April this year (Picture: NZ Herald)

FIANZ released a memo on its website and social media on Tuesday, June 11, addressing the concerns and questions raised by the community moon sighting error that occurred last week.

The most important and vital question that the community had was how and why was the ‘incorrect memo’ stating or declaring the moon sighting and Eid observance of Wednesday, June 5 released on FIANZ’s website.

FIANZ in the three-page circular stated that as was the practice for years, two memos are prepared every year (one confirming moon sighting and one not confirming) and is kept offline or hidden on its website. When the Hilal Committee gives the decision, the right circular or memo is then published on the website and subsequently posted and shared on social media.

“This preparation [two-memos] is done ahead of time since even five minutes makes a difference. When the Hilal Committee gives the decision, the right circular is published online,” FIANZ’s clarification circular said.

Last week, the incorrect memo was released online, which is now said to be a technical error, and the only explanation provided was ‘server-breakdown error’.

FIANZ spokesperson Dr Anwar Ghani at an event in Auckland

‘The technical error was investigated, and no satisfactory conclusion was given by the web host except that it was a server breakdown error,” FIANZ memo said.

FIANZ also added that when this error or fiasco occurred, FIANZ itself could not access its website which had then raised a suspicion that its website could have been hacked. The trackers placed by the host of the website later showed that some hackers were indeed targeting the FIANZ website.

“A clear response to this question is that there was a technical server problem leading to the ‘unintentional’ publication of the wrong message and in the future even if takes an extra five minutes, the circular will be prepared only after confirmation by the Hilal Committee,” FIANZ said.

The second query from the community was why it took so much time (four minutes) for FIANZ to clarify the error. FIANZ responded that the delay was caused as they were not able to log into its website and they took the social media route to reach out to the community with the correct information then.

‘The delay was due to several unsuccessful attempts to log into the FIANZ website to clarify or remove the incorrect memo, but the website had crashed.

“It should also be noted that the web host in the USA took 45 minutes to respond to our request for clarification,” FIANZ memo added.

The displeasure in the people especially on social media questioned the Hilal System to change or improve in the future so that such confusions are mitigated or do not occur in the first place, to which FIANZ responded that its Hilal Committee will convey its internal meeting on June 22 and will come out with a resolve for such issues.

“The Hilal Committee will be meeting this month in which scientific experts will also be invited. It will allow us to discuss widely and attempt to resolve some of the main issues and clarify many key questions.

“The Hilal Committee shall have this ready within two months and then advise the community and endeavour to visit all centres to explain to the community,” FIANZ said.

FIANZ through the release apologised for the confusion caused last week and asked the community to contact them if they have any suggestions for improvements, technical in nature or otherwise that the Hilal Committee will address and follow up on.

“We humbly request the community members to forgive our shortcomings and move forward,” FIANZ added.

The Muslim community in New Zealand observed Eid on Thursday, June 6, completing their 30 days of fasting.

Also Read:
FIANZ website hacked creating nationwide 'confusion' on Eid date

Celebrations galore as Muslim community observes Eid-ul-Fitr
Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern conveys Eid wishes to the Muslim community
Dear Muslim brothers and sisters it is as though we havent learnt anything this