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Eid al-Fitr on Tuesday July 29, 2014

Articles on This Page:

 

Saudi Dates Neither Shariah nor Astronomy

Islamic Calendar is a Mess

ISNA Fixed Ramadan/Eid Dates Violate Qur’an and Sunnah

Why large number of witnesses

Why We Cannot See a Hilal Every 29th Evening

Unity of Muslims

Fast by sighting the moon

What is a Hilal?

Accurate Moon sighting Information:

Moonsighting Introduction

  • Why bother? Here's why this is important and useful to the entire Ummah

Why Is There So Much Confusion?

  • Why the SAUDIS ARE ALWAYS INCORRECT
  • Why ISNA is usually wrong
  • What we are doing to fix this

Moonsighting FAQ

  • Quick answers to basic moon sighting questions

Featured Articles This Month:

Why Confusion

Witnesses

Visibility Issues

Standard Calendar

 

Last Updated: 13 July, 2014 07:43 PM (PST)  


NEWS ITEM

In N. America, Eid al-Fitr is expected on  July 29 (Tuesday) after Shawwal moon is SEEN in the evening of Monday, July 28.  
 
July 27, 2014 (Sunday evening) Shawwaal moon is below the horizon in N. America and most of the world (except southern Argentine and Chile, etc.)
 
July 28: Eid moon will be easily seen in the evening of Monday, July 28 in most of the world. Eid date is Tuesday, July 29 for N. America (and July 30 in Northern regions of the globe)

Celebrating Eid on July 27 or July 28, 2014 means MISSING the last day(s) of Ramadan obligatory fast.
 
Ramadan 2014 (Saturday, Sunday, and Monday, June 27-29)
 
Ramadan started on three days in various regions of the world.
 
Ramadan Hilal was NOT seen in N. America (and in Makka Mukarrama)in the evening of June 27, 2014. However, many Muslims in N. America started fasting from June 27, on ISNA's fixed date of Ramadan.
 
Saudi Arabia started Ramadan from Sunday, June 29. Majority of the Muslim Ummah living in South Asian countries started Ramadan Monday June 30, 2014 after they saw the moon in the evening of June 29.
 
 Obviously, ISNA Fiqh Council does NOT CARE about what the Qur'an and Sunnah tell the Muslims how the fix Ramadan and Eaidain dates.
 
ISNA Fiqh Council says moon-sighting is NOT required.
 

Why No Islamic Calendar?

Often the Muslims wonder why the Muslims never developed a global calendar?
 
The Quran and Hadith tell us that we have to a lunar calendar for our religious observances and use the Hilal Earliest visible moon to end/begin Islamic months.

The problem is that 1) the Hilal (earliest visible moon is seen from a different place every month, and most places on the earth see the Hilal on 4-5 different dates/days.


Can we calculate an Islamic calendar based Hilal-sightings?

The answer is: No. The Earth is a globe and the moon is not seen everywhere in the same evening.
 

1) Earliest sighting of the moon is from a different place on earth every month;
 
2) Muslims don't agree on when to start/end the Islamic month.
 
Very few go by the "Earliest sighting in their area. Some follow the "moonset after the sunset" like Saudi Arabia/ISNA. Some follow dates/ news from...." (Caribbean, etc.)
 

A famous professional moon observer told the Muslims:
    The problem is like the great mathematical problems and paradoxes
    that
have never been solved.  No matter what scheme one comes up with,
    it will
either break an empirical rule or offend some fundamental concept. -Jim

Frequently Asked Questions 

1. Why the Muslims don’t have an Islamic calendar by which we could plan our lives? 

Answer: Islamic calendar depends on visual sighting of a Hilal (waxing crescent moon) on 29th or 30th day of each lunar month. Modern computers may produce a fairly reliable "Local" Hijri calendar but the dates cannot be 100% accurate and have to be adjusted every month after a “local” moon-sighting is confirmed. 

Keep in mind that there are always 4-5 parallel "Local" Hijri calendars dates for each solar date because the “Local” visibility covers the entire globe on multiple solar dates.  

The Muslims cannot have a "Global" Islamic Hijri calendar as no calendar can be fixed on the basis of strict lunar visibility. The earth is NOT a flat field, and the earliest lunar visibility begins from a different location on the globe every month. There are many other complications and the Muslims have to overcome all those hurdles.

2. Why the Muslims cannot use a solar calendar.

Answer: There is no problem prohibition for the Muslims to use a solar calendar for normal human activities. Only for religious observances (Ramadan, Hajj, Eidain, etc.) the Qur’an (2:189) specifies Hilal as the criterion. The Messenger (saw) could adopt the lunar calendar based on the New Moon at Jerusalem that was used by the Jews in Medina. Instead he asked the Muslims to look for a clearly seen Hilal to begin their fasting month and to end it. If it was cloudy or hazy on the 29th evening then he asked the Muslims to complete 30 days of the lunar month.  

For crops, Arabs used "Nasi" (Added one extra month every three years) to bring the lunar calendar back to the solar seasons. The Prophet (SAW) abolished “Nasi” and Umar (RA) fixed the first Hijri date of the 1st year. Since then Muslim Ummah always used the first visible Hilal to fix the beginning of an Islamic month.  

Only ISNA since 2009 claims “Hilal- Sightiing is not need. Just follow Saudi official date.” (Never based on Hilal in Makka) 

3. Does modern astronomy not give enough expertise to make an Islamic Hijri calendar? Arab governments use Hijri calendars for administrative purposes. 

Answer: Human knowledge and astronomy have not reached the accuracy level that is needed to"accurately" fix the local or global dates by the “Earliest global or local lunar visibility.” At present no fixed “Local” or “Global” lunar calendar is possible by the "earliest lunar visibility." The Muslims must adopt two conventions: 1) Probable visibility around 2) a lunar dateline (180E) to create a workable Islamic lunar calendar that fulfills the Qur’anic condition of “Ahilla”, and complies with the Sunnah and practice of the Ummah for 1430 years. 

No. All Arab states do not use strictly Hijri calendar for "official" purposes. Saudis Arabia and others issue fixed "official" Hijri calendars but they are not based on the "lunar visibility" and never adjusted for “Local” lunar visibility. Even these “official” calendars differ from each other as they are calculated by different criteria. That is the reason Ramadan 2009 started in Arab countries on all three days: Friday (Libya), Saturday (many ME countries, though the Hilal was NOT seen in any of them) and Sunday. 

For complications in Islamic lunar calendar, please check available sources. At least read Minai's four papers (published in the “World Order” (Karachi, 1979-1980), and books by Dr. Ilyas (Malaysia), Ejaz Mufti, etc. 


What is Wrong with ISNA Dates? 

For Ramadan 2009, ISNA Fiqh Council date is August 22, and for Eid al-Fitr Sep. 20, 2009. These dates are based on ISNA’s latest policy of “Follow officially announced Saudi dates.” ISNA has finally abandoned the Qur’anic Hilal - a moon seen anywhere in North America. The decision was taken after FC’s Dr. Zulfiqar Ali Shah wrote: 
 

    “My argument is that precise authentic astronomical calculations about the birth of new moon

      are sufficient of a ground to affirm Islamic lunar months.”

    “…  calculations about the birth of Moon are universally accepted. They are not Zanni but Qatai'

    (categorical) in Usul al-Fiqh's terminology 

Astronomers CALCULATE the “birth”  of the New Moon and the length of the lunar months in five different ways:

      a)  Draconic (node to node): 27 days 05 hours 05 min  35.9 seconds; b) Tropical (equinox to equinox): 27 days  07h  43 m 4.7s.; c) Sidereal (fixed star to fixed star): 27 days 07h 43m 11.6 s; d) Anomalistic (perigee to perigee):  27day 13h 18m 33.1s and e) Synodical (New Moon to New Moon): 29 d 12h 44m 02.9s 

Dr. Zulfiqar and ISNA should pick which one of these *precise authentic astronomical calculations*is for Islamic dates? Obviously, all five are Qata’I, but they also confirm that:

    1. The New Moon (conjunction) occurs at different times in 24 hours of a day and night; and

    2. Astronomical lunar month varies from 27days+fraction to 29 days+fraction (never full 29 or 30 days)

Like Shakir, Qaradawi, etc. Dr. Zulfiqar also claims: “… birth of new moon are sufficient of a ground to affirm Islamic lunar months.” Let us see what is wrong with these faulty assumptions. 

Local Islamic dates 

The earth is a globe, not a flat field, and the continuum of “Time” is divided into dates, months, years, etc. The first date that begins the month is counted from a fixed point of time and space. The “time” of the earliest visible moon (Hilal) determines:

    1. The first date of the month;

    2. The beginning of a new lunar month, and the end of the current month; and

    3. The duration of the month (29 or 30 days);

The earliest “local”  visibility on the globe determines the initial geographical point from where the first lunar date is to be counted.  

For more than two thousand years, the Babylonians, the Jews (Jerusalem), the Hindus (Ujjain) and other users of lunar calendars knew the necessity of a “time”  and “place” (a lunar dateline) for any calculation of lunar calendar dates. For Islamic date, and month crescent moons (Ahilla 2:189) determined the starting point of “time” as well as “space” (the eastern-most location where a moon was first seen).   

In 2006, ISNA Fiqh Council accepted its expert Br. Khalid Shaukat’s spoof that the Islamic month begins from “the New Moon BEFORE 12:00 Noon GMT.” It proved Fiqh Council’s lack of understanding of the “time” and “space” requirements for any calendar. In 2008 ISNA finally discarded “12Noon GMT” rule to replace it with the Saudi dates for North America. Obviously, ISNA Fuqaha, including Dr. Zulfiqar, and its astronomical expert Br. Khalid Shaukat have no idea why “the New Moon” cannot “affirm the Islamic month”, and Makkah as the geographical location cannot determine a lunar calendar date for all the Muslims?  

No Need to see Moon 

Dr. Zulfiqar twisted Fiqhi arguments to claim that Islamic dates do not require “Ahilla” of the Qur’an because they are “Zanni.” Instead, the Qata’i calculation of the New Moon fixes the beginning time of an Islamic month. What is wrong with discarding the Hilal? Egyptians did it in 1966 and Saudi’s joined them since 1971. 

Saudi Calendar Criteria  

After 1422 AH Saudi lunar dates are officially calculated by the following “Qata’i Husbaan”: “If on the 29th day of the lunar month the two following conditions are satisfied, then the next day is the first day of the new lunar month:

      1. The geocentric conjunction occurs before sunset.

      2. The Moon sets after the Sun.  (In Makka, of course)

Otherwise, the current lunar month will last 30 days.” 

Now consider only three (out of several) implications of the statement that the New Moon starts the Islamic month:

    1. The New Moon should always occur at Makkah;

    2. The Islamic month should always start from Makkah.

    3. The Islamic day/date start from the New moon time at Makkah

The first is an almost impossible assumption and so are the other two. The New Moon (conjunction) occurs at all times of day and night (from a few minutes before the sunset to hours before and after it at Makkah). Why delay the start of the month by hours after the New Moon when the exact “time” of the New Moon at Makkah is known?  

The second assumption creates more complications. The Islamic day/date always begins from the sunset, and the “night” precedes the day. Please consider the following data for Makkah on the New Moon dates for the year 2009: 

      New Moon Date Moon’s age  Angle Altitude Sunset Moonset  Lag 

      August 20, 2009 5.7 hours old 4.3 deg. -0.2 deg 6:48pm 6:46pm -2 min

      October18, 2009 9.3 hours old 7.0 -0.6 5:54 5:51 -3 min

      December 16, 2009 2.6 hours old 2.5 -0.7 5:42 5:38 - 4 min 

On all these dates a Hilal cannot be seen in Makkah and the moon sets 2-4 minutes BEFORE the sunset. By Saudi UQ rule (that ISNA has adopted now) the month cannot start on the New Moon date as the moon sets before the sunset. What if the moonset was AFTER the sunset on these dates? The FIRST date and the start of the month would have changed to a day earlier as a result of 2-4 minutes lag. What to do when the sun and moon set at the same time at Makkah?  

A more puzzling question is: What should the regions located EAST of Makkah do?  

If the initial point for the first Islamic date is Makkah, then Taif, for example, must have Ramadan, Eid al-Fitr etc. a day after Makkah, as it is located east of Makkah. All locations and countries located east of Makka face the same dilemma.  

What to do if the moon sets in Makkah one minute AFTER the sunset, but in many places within Saudi Arabia (located east, north, and south of Makkah) the moon sets BEFORE the sunset? etc. 

These are not imaginary but actual situations. CFCO documented them on its web for years. They occur again and again.  Do you know that the moon might set AFTER the sun in Makkah though the Conjunction has not occurred?  

Why Moon-sighting for Islamic Dates

Only the “Lunar visibility” affirmed the Islamic dates and Islamic months for the last 1430 years. Why is it needed for an Islamic calendar? 

The Quran (55:5) revealed to the Prophet (SAW) that the sun and the moon are always on a computed course.The Jews in Medina practiced the beginning of their lunar month by astronomical calculations of the New Moon. But he Prophet (SAW) did not adopt Jewish calendar. Instead, he obligated Muslims to begin the Islamic date from the earliest “local” visibility of a Hilal:

  1. Qur’an: (2:182-189) obligates fasting of “Ayyaam-an ma’dudaat’ during “Shahr-u Ramadaan”.

  2. Qur’an: (2:189) makes “Ahilla” the “Mawaqeet” (including for “Ayyaam” of Hajj).

  3. The Messenger (SAW) fixed the Shahr of Ramadaan by: Suumu … waftiruu li-ru’yatihi…

  4. The Ummah (all Fuqaha since then) have used the “Ahilla” to fix the first of Islamic dates and beginning of months.

  5. The Messenger (SAW) confirmed the fact that a lunar month is 29 or 30 days long only. He looked for Ahilla at the sunset, and began the Islamic date from the earliest “local” visibility of a Hilal in Medina. If a Hilal was not seen for any reason then 30 days of the current month were completed, etc.

ISNA Fiqh Council, on the authority of Dr. Zulfiqar’s arguments changed the “Meeqaat” of the “Shahr” from the Qur’anic Ahilla to “astronomically calculated New Moon” only because its Hisaab is “Qata’i whereas the Hisaab of Ahilla is “Not Qata’i.” Is this enough to abandon the Qur’an, the Sunnah, consensus of the Fuqaha and Ta’amul of the Ummah? 

ISNA Fiqh Council since 1978 had synchronized the Islamic dates of Eid al-Adha in N. America with the official Hajj dates despite knowing that Saudi dates were not based on Ahilla at Makkah. Now it follows the official Saudi official for all Islamic months despite the fact that by the Qur’anic text, Sunnah of the Messenger (S), consensus of the Fuqaha and Ta’amul of the Umah for the last 1429 years, Ahilla and not the New moon start the Islamic date/month. 

Before discarding the Quranic “Ahilla” altogether, ISNA should have checked the astronomical facts, and carefully looked into the complications if the first date of the Islamic month is fixed by the New Moon calculations. Instead ISNA Fiqh Council blindly adopted the Saudi criterion for the Islamic dates which is neither Qur’an and Sunnah, nor astronomy.


CFCO Intl. Global Islamic Calendar

The dates given in the CFCO Global calendar (www.Islamicmoon.com) are calculated by the following rule:
A naked-eye sighted waxing crescent moon at 180E on the given solar date.

[Explanation: The first “global” date of the Islamic month starts at the sunset, moving westwards from 180E. The date ends at 180W at next sunset (24 hours day/lunar date).The “local” Islamic date (and month) begins from the local sunset on the same solar date. In other words, the Islamic date will cover a period of 24 hours from the Sunset to midnight of the solar date, continuing from midnight to the sunset of the next solar date (Two solar, but one lunar date of 24 hours). The Hilal may not be “locally” seen at the local sunset everywhere and may be delayed 24-72 hours in extreme northern and southern regions depending on where the initial visibility for that month began.

CFCO (1986) proposal fulfils both a) The lunar visibility of the Qur’an and the Sunnah, and b) A fixed Hijri calendar that can be calculated precisely. This proposal also combines the Fiqhi positions of “locally sighted” moon of the Ikhtilaf al-Matali and the universality of the Ittihad al-Matali.

We believe that the Muslims have to adopt the following two conventions:
a) A fixed international lunar dateline (180E or 30W);
b) A “positive lunar visibility” criterion.


For the International Lunar Dateline (ILDL) 180E is preferable to Makkah longitude or 30W because it is already recognized globally as the "dateline" (IDL) and is used for the civil calendars. IDL as ILDL allows a large "sea" area (Approx. 130W-160E) of “uninhibited space” sufficient to develop a criterion that fulfills the lunar "visibility" condition (of the Qur’an (2:189), the Sunnah and the uninterrupted practice of the Ummah).

For lunar visibility, we prefer 10 degrees lunar altitude at 180E (Yallop's original criterion) for ease of calculation.


The Islamic month will start from the sunset at 180E by an agreed upon "calculated/assumed" visibility at 180E. The moon will be “LOCALLY VISIBLE" as its ALTITUDE would be 10 degrees at the sunset at 180E. The Muslims all over the world will start their lunar month at their “local” sunset on the fixed solar date, though the moon might not be visible at every location on the globe because the earth is not flat but a globe. Every month the lunar visibility takes 2+ solar dates to cover the areas between 60 degrees N/S latitudes.

Allah (SWT) has prescribed the strategy of ISLAH --use of maximally beneficial practices, and avoidance of "Fasaad" --corruption-- in solving human civil issues. We urge the Muslims to base their mundane practices, including fixing the Islamic calendar on the well-established principle of Allah (SWT) [7:84, 26:152, 28:77, etc.] and not turn Islamic texts into insurmountable problem-creating strategy. Islam is for human progress towards a better disciplined life on earth, and not an obstacle.

Makkah Longitude as Dateline

Can we make Makkah longitude as the ILDL, as some suggest?

Please keep in mind that if we start the Islamic date/month from Makkah longitude then places east of Makkah longitude, even Taif will be a date behind. For example, when it is the day of Eid al-Fitr in Makkah it would be 29th or 30th of Ramadan in Taif. The same is true for all regions east of Makkah longitude. A lot of land mass north and south will end up into two-date regions.

ISNA and ECFR Fatwa Abandons Qur’anic Hilal

“The Fiqh Council of North America (ISNA) and the European Council for Fatwa and Research (ECFR) … have concluded …the Islamic lunar months (begins from the Conjunction). The criteria adopted by the two Councils are as follows: * The new Islamic lunar month begins after the moment of conjunction [or at the beginning of separation] on condition that the moon sets on that evening anytime after sunset….”

Do these Muftis realize the broad implications of their statement?

1. Allah (SWT) taught His Prophet (SAW) to begin the Islamic month by “Husbaan” = intensified computation of the Conjunction (55:5).
2. Na’udhu-billah, the Prophet (SAW) did not understand (or decided to ignore) Allah’s order of “Husbaan,”

Not only he himself did not practice “Husbaan” but instructed the Muslims: “La tasuumu … wa la tuftiruu …Hatta tara-vul Hilaala …” (See the Hilal to begin the Islamic month).

We know that the Jews in Medina knew the “Husbaan”. The Prophet (SAW) could (and should have by ISNA/EFCR Fatwa) easily adopted the Jewish calendar (calculated by the Conjunction) for the Islamic month. Ahadith mention that they taunted the Muslims, saying that the Prophet (SAW) could not be a “Navi”, because he did not know even what their Rabbis were proficient. Then Allah (SWT) revealed “… Ahilla…Qul hiya Mawaqeet-u lin-Naas wal Hajj (2:189). The crescent moons are the determinants…

By ISNA /ECFR statement it also appears that nobody understood the secret of when to begin the Islamic date/month. Can ISNA FC and ECFR explain why had the Fuqaha of the Ummah remained oblivious of this meaning (calculate Islamic month from the Conjunction) for the last 15 centuries or so?

ISNA FC chairman’s response:
From: Dr. Muzammil H. Siddiqi email@drsiddiqi.com To: Omar Afzal <omarafzal1@yahoo.com>
Sent: Tuesday, September 30, 2008 2:58:50 PM Subject: RE: For your comments

Respected brother Dr. Omar Afzal:

Eid Mubarak. The Prophet – peace and blessings of Allah be upon him – did not consult the Jews of Madina on this issue. This means that we have to rely on ourselves and learn this knowledge. He did not forbid us to seek this knowledge and using it for our own benefit. Is there any proof that he prohibited the Ummah to learn this knowledge and use it? --Muzammil Siddiqi –

CFCO: Of course, Allah and His Messenger (S) did not prohibit the Muslims from using the Husbaan (or learning how to write) as many interpret the Ummiyah Hadith. But the Muftis of the Ummah must carefully consider if the “Husbaan” (55:4) fulfils the required “Hilal” condition, mentioned in the Qur’an (2:189)?

Starting the Islamic month by 1) the “precise calculation of the lunar Conjunction”, 2) the Conjunction before 12:00 Noon GMT 3) the Conjunction at Makkah + moonset after the sunset , 4) CCD imaging of the moon at the conjunction phase, or any other day-time, instrument-generated image of the moon, or 5) space-based photograph, etc. DO NOT appear to fulfill the Qur’anic command.

The Muslim Ulema and the calendar experts must look for alternate criteria and adopt the one that fulfills the “definitely observed Hilal” condition. It should also precisely calculate the beginning of the month.


Basics of Islamic month

Islamic Lunar Date

Local Islamic lunar date starts from the sunset the evening the crescent moon is SEEN in the western skies.

Islamic Month

Islamic month is 29 or 30 days long from the evening a crescent moon is sighted.

What is a Hilal (Crescent Moon)?

The Hilal is a crescent moon observed by the naked eye after the sunset on the 29th or 30th day from the last lunation. This is how the Prophet (S) did, and instructed the Ummah to follow.                          

Moon Not Seen on 30th Calendar date

In case, the Hilal is not visible on a calendar’s 30th then the calendar date is INCORRECT. It may be 29th or even 28th of the Islamic lunar month.

What if a crescent is Claimed Sighted by a Few? 

The Hilal should be visible to everyone looking for it from a given location, and to everyone, and every-where within the visibility curve. If it is not visible universally then the sighting claim is vacuous.


Islamic Dates

Islamic dates are messed up because Saudi Arabia, Libyan, ISNA, ECFR, etc. have abandoned the Hilal of the Qur'an and the Sunnah. They "FIX" their Hijri dates without carefully evaluating the options that satisfy both the Shari’ah requirements and the geophysical facts of the Earth being a globe.

Conjunction Date

Some Ulema and authorities in Muslim countries declare Ramadan and Eidain dates by the New Moon (Conjunction) date because they argue that the New Moon can be calculated precise (Hisab Qata’i). They forget that the Conjunction is not Hilal and occurs at all times of day and night, and often not around the sunset. The Conjuction-date followers do not answer: When (time) and from where (longitude, latitude, country??) the Islamic date shall start?

New Moon Before 12:00 Noon GMT

ISNA experts suggested “the conjunction BEFORE 12:00 Noon GMT” rule on June 10, 2006. They never answered the same two basic questions (besides any Shari’i or observational justification for discarding the visible moon (Hilal).


How to Fix Islamic Date

Islamic date, as the Qur’an and Sunnah define, begins post sunset after a Hilal is SEEN.  

Muslim experts have to find a solution that satisfies both the Shari’ah and the calendar-making rules in the light of the recent advances in lunar visibility. The Muslims may either adopt the “Earliest Visibility separator curves” for “Most likely local visibility-based fixed 2 to 4 solar dates for the first date of every Islamic month” or follow either of the two alternate suggestions given below for a unified global lunar calendar (Afzal: 1986): 

    a) The Islamic date begins from the solar dateline when a Hilal most likely becomes visible at 180E (Pacific) at the sunset. or

    b)The Islamic date starts from 30W if a Hilal is visible at sunset at 30W (Atlantic). 

Both a) and b) have their advantages and drawbacks. The Muslim Ulema, calendar experts and political elite have to sort out the details before creating a consensus.

Makkah as the Meridian

A recent Islamic conference suggested Makka as the center of the Earth. Makkah Mukarramah as the Dateline suffers from a major drawback: It divides a lot of countries including Saudi Arabia into two-lunar-date states. For example, Taif (located east of Makkah) will always be a day/date behind, and so would be every country on the longitude of Makkah.


Waxing Crescent Moon (Hilal) 

For more than three thousand years, astronomers took keen interest in the crescent moon for both the observable quantity (O) and calculated quantity (C). For centuries they calculated the Conjunction (not observable) lunar cycles but lost interest in chasing the (observable) crescent moon. They could locate the moon by various modern technical devices.

The Muslims (and Jewish, Hindu, Chinese, etc lunar calendars-makers) continue to take keen interest in an observable Hilal for religious observances. Despite slight variations, all define a Hilal (a crescent moon) as the visible moon sighted after the sunset. Implied in it was the direct human eye observation of the phenomenon.

CCD Imaging

All types of photometry and telemetry immediately before or after the Conjunction phase (New Moon) have no significance or value for a Hilal that starts/ends an Islamic month. These methods use special computer programs to synthesize the images of the phenomenon.  Computer programs amplify and enhance the contrast. This process shows whatever one wishes to see. The phenomenon that these images are claimed to represent are not visible directly by the human eye or even through a huge telescope. 

(An interesting addition in this discussion would be the processed images of the moon as illustrated in "An Introduction to the Study of the Moon" (1966: pp. 338.)

Implications for Islamic months

As far the "religious" value of May 5, 2008 and September 23, 2006 (Sonneberg Observatory) CCD images, there is none for very obvious reasons: 

    1.      Islamic month ends and begins from the sunset after a Hilal is visible. (Islamic day and date starts from the sunset and continues till the next sunset)

    2.      Islamic day follows the night. 

On the other hand, a solar date starts from 12:00 midnight, followed by the day and again by the night till 11:59 pm. 

The Conjunction time (as well as the time CCD images are processed and synthesized) can occur at any instant in a 24 hour day /date. They will initiate the lunar date from the instant the first image was taken after the Conjunction. Thus dividing a lunar day / date into two unequal parts, one part being the last date of the 'old' Islamic month, and the other part till the sunset, being the first date of the new Hijri month. Thus the duration of the last date and the length of the first date of the month may vary from a few seconds to 24 hours less a few seconds. 

(For example, if Dr. Qaradawi's Fatwa was accepted then the black moon disc seen at the solar eclipse was the Hilal of Shawwal. As a result, the month of Ramadan was over at 11.35 am when the eclipse began. As a result, the length of the first day of Shawwal would be reduced from 11:35 am till the sunset on the same date.)

ISNA INCORRECT Hijri Dates

For 2006 ISNA dates were calculated by: “the Conjunction before 12:00 Noon GMT.”  

On August 1, 2007 ISNA Fiqh Council (ISNA FC) changed its rules for Ramadan and Eidain again. Now ISNA Islamic calendar dates are by “ the conjunction must take place before sunset in Makkah and moonset after sunset in Makkah” (Both calculations rejected the visible Hilal). The Muslim organizations, groups and some ME countries have dispensed with the Hilal-sighting requirement. They argue: “There is no need for the Muslims to resort to actual sighting.” (Dr. Z Shah (Islamic Horizons (Sep/Oct. 2006) p. 51)

Saudi Dates of Ramadan, Eidain and Hajj

Saudi dates are not fixed by the crescent moon seen in Makka. Since 1999 (1420AH) Saudi first date of Ramadan, etc. begins at sunset of the 29th day if:

1.      The geocentric conjunction (NM) occurs before sunset; and

2.      The moon sets after the sun (in Makka).

ISNA followed Saudi dates for decades and has finally discarded the moon-sighting in the USA. Islamic Hijri dates published in the ISNA calendar and on the web of Mr. Khalid Shaukat (www.moonsighting.com) copy the Saudi dates and are incorrect. For correct dates (always fixed by Hilal in the US go to www.Islamicmoon.com.  

CFCO Intl. moon-watch ensures that a Hilal is actually observed within the US.

Islamic Dates Mess

1. Saudi/ISNA Calendar ia calculated by the Conjunction (NM) in Makkah;

2. Libya follows the Conjunction Before Dawn

3. Indonesia, Malaysia, Brunei, Turkey, Bosnia, Tunis, etc.: calculate by lunar altitude of 3-5 degrees at sunset (never seen).

4. European Fatwa Council (ECFR), and other Muslim organizations follow S. Arabia.

5. Some UK Muslim groups have adopted “Morocco sighting” as valid for UK.

6. Toronto Council in 2007 decided to go by a sighting in the Caribbean. Some Mosques in New York, Buffalo, etc. follow Toronto decision.

7. Chicago based Shari’ah Board accepts all claims of sighting. For them the Calculations or non-sighting of the Hilal in California (claimed seen in Chicago) are “Not valid Shari’ah arguments” to reject the Chicago claim.

8. Connecticut Council of Masajid (USA) decides dates strictly by local CT sighting.

9. Only Bangladesh, India, Pakistan, Morocco, Oman, South Africa, etc follow a locally sighted moon.


Fist Fights and Blame Games

The yearly season for fistfights among the Muslims begins from Ramadan and ends with Muharram. The fasting month starts and Eids celebrated on 4 -5 different solar dates and the world laughs. But everyone blames the others for the mess.

Allah and His Messenger (S) have provided clear guidance of Ahilla (waxing crescent moons) for us to start / end the Islamic month. That is how the Muslims have determined the beginning of an Islamic month for fifteen centuries.


Islamic Dates – Basic Facts

The basic facts to consider in any Islamic moon-sighting debate are: 

1.  “Ahilla” (waxing lunar crescent moons):

They are the Mawaqeet (indicators) for religious observances and for Hajj (2:189) 

2. Naked-eye observation:

The Messenger (SAW) continued the Arab (as well as the Jewish) Shari’ah tradition of clearly visible, mass-sighted local Hilal to begin the Islamic date and months. (Suumu li- ru’yatihi…) There were no eyeglasses or optical aids for observing the crescent moon. Binoculars, and telescopes were invented centuries later. 

3. Local date:

Each location had to go by its earliest sighting. The means of communications was non-existent.  (Fa-huwa li-lailatin ra’itumuu-hu, Ahadith of Kuraib, Ikrama, etc.)  

4. Jewish lunar calendar

The modern-day (New Moon-based) Jewish lunar calendar was in use by the Jews in Medina. It was available for the Muslims during the time of the Prophet (SAW). The Prophet’s practice of fixing the first date of the Islamic lunar month by a crescent moon, sighted by the naked eye (instead of adopting the fixed calculated dates based on the conjunction) generated tension between the Muslim and the local Jewish communities in Medina.  (Nahnu Ummatun Ummiyah Hadith) 

The Prophet (SAW) asked the Muslims to abide by the naked-eye-sighted Ahillah rule to begin / end their Islamic month and for fixing Islamic religious observances, and not go by the Jewish calendar for Islamic dates.  

5. The Purpose of lunar observation:

The sole purpose of the observation is to begin / end the Islamic lunar month. (La Tasuumu  ... wa la Tuftiru …Fa in ghumma alikum fa-kmilul-Iddata thalatheen). 

The Muslim jurists added details such as 1, 2 or more witnesses, Ikhtilaaf : Ittihad al-Matali; etc. to facilitate the accuracy of the observances. With the advent of rapid means of communication and expansion of geophysical knowledge, many complications arose by the middle of the 20th century. Conflicting Fiqh positions evolved to solve local and regional Islamic calendars. All these attempts were made before a comprehensive understanding of the complications of a round earth for lunar calendars.

Earliest visibility

Fixing the Islamic date by the earliest lunar visibility means:

The Islamic month must start on 2,3, or more solar dates, because the lunar visibility takes 3+ days to cover most of the globe (with perfect clear skies everywhere); and

2) Each lunar month is concurrently 29 and 30 days long because the earliest visibility each month moves westwards and the month starts from a different location. The region that lies between the eastern-most tips of the visibility curves of two successive months has 30 days while the rest had only 29.

Optical aid Visibility

Naked-eye sighting, binocular and telescopic sighting, visual-light imaging and non-visual-light imaging have serious implications for fixing the first date of a lunar month. To realize a “real difference between a naked eye observation and that by an optical aid" and the CCD imaging please look at Odeh’s 3 July 2008 lunar visibility curves:

A (easily naked-eye) begins from east of Cuba and extends north / westwards to almost Vancouver (Canada) in the north;

B (Visible in perfect conditions) starts from western Africa and extends to cover most of Canada);

C (Need optical aid) begins from Chad (Central Africa);

D extends farther eastwards, covering Sudan and Egypt, etc.; and

E (optical aid) covers most of S. Arabia, southern Europe, etc.

(Keep in mind that the rest of the globe would see a Hilal only on July 4 and 5, 2008.) 

The distance from the eastern-most tip of D (55E for Visual aid) to A (60W for Naked eye curves) on July 3, 2008 by Odeh’s own calculations was almost ten thousand miles, covering a time span of 10+ hours from Somalia to Cuba. The first date in this region could start anywhere depending on one’s preferred “earliest visibility” criterion. 

Observation through eyeglasses DON’T change the first Islamic date. But other optical aids (binoculars, and telescopes) result in starting / ending the Islamic month a day early. Many observers have reported that they could see a first day lunar crescent through binoculars only, and not by naked eye, though they had tracked it till the moonset.

CCD Imaging

CCD imaging has introduced an irrelevant dimension to the debate. It is a processed image that is enhanced beyond the visibility limits of un-aided eye and optical-instruments. If the processed image of the morning Moon is invisible to the naked eye (or an optical aid) by the moonset then it is of no value for fixing an Islamic month.

Islamic date / month

An Islamic month has to be 29 or 30 days long, and not 29 1/2, 30 1/2 or any fraction (which is now very easy to calculate to the millionth of a second). The primary goal is to use "modern techniques /equipment) for the purpose of "accurate religious observance.”  

Many in the moon-sighting debate have totally ignored the primary purpose of “lunar observation” and have created baffling calendrical complications by their proposed solutions of (local, regional, zonal, continental, or global) Hijri dates. Any deviation from the original definition must be strongly supported by Shara’i and logical arguments. 

Can we look at the issues dispassionately and help evolve a workable Islamic Hijri calendar, instead of confusing the Ummah further by new definitions of Hilal, visibility and fractional length of days for lunar months?  May Allah help us. Ameen.


What to Do?

Now you decide what you wish to follow? The Islamic Hilal seen after the sunset locally or whatever moon some have suggested as stated above? 

On May 5, 2008  ICOP@yahoogroups. Com reported an interesting observation: 

“We are currently observing the crescent, again through near real-time imaging during the day. Currently 3.5 hours before conjunction and decreasing. We see a 90° arc of the crescent, at already less than 5° elongation. If the weather holds, we will capture the crescent AT conjunction. Regards, Martin” 

A few hours later the observer reported: 

“Our attempt to image the crescent around conjunction was quite successful. We captured it just 5 minutes from conjunction. Some hours earlier we still saw a 90° arc, at less than 5° elongation.” 

The imaging techniques used can definitely be improved to a near real-time experience. Also, the filters used this time captured some visible light, too. That might be of interest to someone.” 

Can someone tell this observer and all those chasing the youngest crescent moons to the point of the Conjunction (?) through imaging devices that for the Islamic dates /months: 

   1. The Muslims do not look for the moon’s invisible disk;

   2. The Muslims go by the Hilal that appears around the sunset, as the Islamic day, and Islamic date starts from the sunset after a crescent moon is clearly observed;

   3. The Islamic day / date cannot be partial (i.e. the first part of the solar day 29 or 30th counted as part of the previous Islamic day / date / month and the rest of the day as part of the 1st of the next month from the point of the “imaged” crescent moon.)

4. Islamic month begins by a Hilal that can be seen by everyone with normal vision in   clear skies; and

   5. The regions east of the earliest sighted moon remain in the previous Islamic month.  

The crescent moon that this device was "imaging" is worthless for the Muslim calendar.

An observer on the space shuttle could see a moon dozens of times during one solar day and so does an astronomer working with the Hubble.

Visibility Curves

The visibility curves generated by Dr Monzur’s excellent MoonCal.6 have helped the moon-watchers all over the world for the last two decades. Br. Mutoha of Indonesia has recently created another useful program that projects the location of the moon on the horizon on the Conjunction date at various locations on Earth. Our concern is that both raise 'expectations' of “easy visibility” in regions where a Hilal could not be seen. Our interest for the last 38 years was in testing the limits of the earliest lunar visibility. 

The Muslim astronomical experts should realize that the lunar visibility is not only an "astronomical" phenomenon for the Muslims but is also tied to a "religious" function: Fixing the first date and beginning / ending of the Islamic month. 

For example we mentioned on two places for Jumada 1, 1429 (May 2008) where we were pretty much sure the Hilal would not be visible on May 5, 2008 (LA) and May 6 (Cape Town, S. Africa) though Mutoha’s diagram for the two cities shows “easy naked eye sighting.” Our prediction proved right.


Unity of Muslims

For fourteen centuries, unity of Muslims was never a Shari’ah consideration for fixing the local observance of Islamic occasions. 

Islamic dates always began from the local sunset that differed from place to place. By the middle of 20th century, the means of communication improved slightly, and what was vaguely known from the Hadith of Kuraib (Muslim) became a reality. Muslims realized that Ramadan or Eid crescent moon is not seen in all Muslim countries or towns on the same solar date. In 1980s, the Muslims were told (Afzal: 1987, Ilyas 1989) that the moon normally takes 2-3 days to become visible over the populated regions of the globe. Depending on the most northerly or southerly ecliptic latitude the moon sometimes may not be seen until five days after the conjunction. The Muslims living in England and Scotland experienced it for decades. 

Bickering about which country or town started Ramadan or had Eid on the correct date intensified in1940s. By then, the “unity of Muslim Ummah” – a political need also became an obsession. Fuqaha used to justify the discrepancy of dates by Ikhtilaaf al-Mataali. But Shakir (1939) believed the “eye-witnesses” were the reason; the Ummah would unite if the Islamic dates were fixed by the “exact” (Qata’i) New Moon. In 1966, Gamal Nasser convinced the Ulema in Egypt that the New Moon is the Hilal of the Qur’an and that there is no need to wait for the moon’s actual visibility. The knowledge of the existence of moon on the horizon is sufficient to begin the Islamic month from the sunset on the conjunction date. Egypt set the limit of “at least five minutes after the sun on the conjunction date” to declare the beginning of Islamic date in Egypt. In 1986, Egypt further reduced five minutes lag to ONE minute after the sunset. 

To justify one date for the whole country or for all Arab nations, “Sharing the night” argument was invented. Both the “Unity” and “Sharing the night” rules clearly violated the Shariah norms and the consensus of the Ummah besides the physical facts of lunar visibility. Qaradawi (1987, 2005) went a step further to declare the beginning of Ramadan from the visible solar eclipse at noon.  Ulema, the Muslim calendar-makers and political leadership ignored numerous facts including the following: 

   1. The conjunction does not occur at sunset (in Makka?) when Islamic date is suppose to begin. It happens at all times from mid-day to mid-night. 

   2. A calendar date must start from a fixed point in time and from a fixed location on earth every month. 

   3. A lunar date or an Islamic month cannot start from the conjunction as its time and place constantly change every month and do not repeat for thousands of months. 

   4. The Earth is a globe, and the Night is a continuum. The whole globe shares the same night.

Fast by Sighting the Moon

Uniform global lunar dates require lunar visibility from a) a fixed lunar dateline and b) a fixed time (sunset) to commence the Islamic date (Afzal: 1987, IIIT Herndon VA). It must also consider the following physical visibility factors: 

    * Lunar visibility parabola cuts across country and continent boundaries, and is not bound by longitudes or latitudes either.

    *It takes 2-3+ solar dates for the lunar visibility to cover most of the globe.

    * Rotating start of the Islamic month, either by visibility criterion or by the conjunction (New Moon) makes each month 29 and 30 days long for different regions of the globe.  

Muslim experts have to find solutions to several knotty issues before proposing a unified global Hijri Calendar. Very few of then fully realize the Shari'ah scope of the "lunar visibility" and its relation with the Islamic observance. To solve the discrepancies of reported sightings some introducing “strict calculation”, "optical aid", or regional solutions. In our notes we repeatedly made two points very clear: 

a. Earliest lunar visibility is "local" and is useless for any Islamic calendar-making; and

b. "Optical aids" advance the first date ahead.

(In other words, Ramadan on the last day of Sha'ban, Eid al-Fitr on the last day of Ramadan, Hajj on 8th D. Hijja, etc. 

We have nothing against CCD imaging, optical aids, or any other devices. We ONLY want that the Muslims (Ulema and astronomical experts) first understand the

extent of the complications in 'local, regional, and global Hijri calendars, and then suggest a WORKABLE solution that is closer to the intent of the Qur'an, the Sunnah and the practice of the Ummah. 

In the last 50-60 years we have seen most absurd solutions, like: Hisab Qata'i (the New Moon as the beginning of the Islamic date), moonset after the sunset, sharing the same night, tri and bi-zonal Islamic calendars, Makkah as the meridian, New Moon before 12:00 Noon GMT, etc. all because the experts and the Ulema DO NOT understand the issues fully, and their solutions add to the present chaos. 

Please KEEP IN MIND that "a locally visible Hilal" is still the established criterion for the Muslim communities all over the world for Ramadan and Eidain. All groups, Islamic countries and established Islamic organizations ALWAYS say: Hilal SEEN /or 30 days completed. They never announce: "Sighting of a Hilal has been DISCARDED. Please also keep in mind that if 30 days of the lunar month are completed from the previous lunation then a waxing crescent moon is ALAWYS visible.


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