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ISNA’s New Fixed Calendar Fallacies

We wonder what kind of Fuqaha are the members of ISNA FC? Do they understand the basics of Islamic lunar-calendar-making?

ISNA’s "Brief Explanation" (copied at the end) claims:

1.   Conjunction before 12:00 Noon GMT… new moon visible somewhere on the globe before the end of the night in N. America.

Who fooled them to accept this proposition? This is exactly what is the situation on Sept. 22, 2006 (Ramadan)

a. Conjunction at 11:46 UT
b. Moon's age at 180W (Intl. dateline) approx. 19 hours
c. But its Angle and Altitude both are far below the possible visibility limit.

Therefore, a Hilal will not be SEEN on land on Sept. 22. (Some may conjecture of a sighting on small islands dotting southern Pacific like Samoa, but it is just a conjecture. Even in New Zealand at sunset on Sep. 23 a moon is NOT VISIBLE: the Angle and Altitude both are below the visibility threshold).

After the moon has passed IDL the solar date changes to Sept. 23, 2006.

1. The moon is still invisible in most of northern hemisphere from Asia and Europe to San Francisco.
It will be visible in southern hemisphere. A sighting in Makkah on Sept. 23 is iffy as its altitude is 6.8 degrees at sunset (less than 2 degree above the ground at civil twilight when it is sightable).

Now by ISNA new guidelines, the Muslims in the USA should:

1. Pray Taraweeh from Sept. 22 evening (after the sunset here) though the moon would be SEEN on Sept. 23 somewhere in sub Saharan Africa (South Africa, Nigeria, etc.) next evening and may also in Miami, Houston and San Diego. ISNA’s logic:

"VISIBLE SOMEWHERE ON THE GLOBE BEFORE THE END OF NIGHT IN NORTH AMERICA."

Where did they get their Fiqh education, and where did ISNA astronomical experts learn their expertise
to begin the Islamic date BEFORE A MOON IS VISIBLE on the NEXT SOLAR DATE?

Do they know the simple fact that the Earth is not a flat filed and that the "whole world shares the same night because it is a globe.” Take a globe. Check where any night starts at point X (say Makkah). Look 12 hours eastward. It is night there. Now rotate the globe eastward and bring the end of night at X (Makkah). You see that the whole globe shared the same night.

"Sharing the night" is a fallacy that some ME Fuqaha invented to justify their wrong Islamic dates.

I wrote to Dr. Imad several times in the last 15 years about the major 'defects' in his formulation (p.15).
But his flawed convictions: "Sharing the night" and "IDL is a fiction” kept his eyes shut to the basic rules of calendar making: An Islamic date/day begins from a fixed point (earliest sighting) at a fixed time (at sunset).

There are always two dates on the two sides of any Dateline though the two may be just a few yards away from each other. That is the reason Makkah meridian cannot be the dateline. It results in Makka and Taif having two different dates though only a few miles apart.

If the Islamic dates starts at sunset (ignore the dateline) and the moon will be VISIBLE on the next date somewhere in the world then how can you start the date/month a date earlier?

I presented these facts in IIIT (1986) conference. But nobody listened.  When ISNA FC is going to learn that there is NO astronomy of moon-sighting and calendar making requires different expertise than what they and their experts (Durrani, Shaukat, Salamah and Imad) have.

ISNA FC's quest for a formula to implement Saudi taqweem dates somehow in N. America is doing a havoc since 1978 when MSA (now ISNA) changed its rule from "Sighted moon" to the "News from anywhere". It will continue until they and their experts sit down calmly and ponder over the issues
instead of living in their "delusions"
.

 Astronomical Calculations for Islamic Dates:

Position of the Fiqh Council of North America

The Fiqh Council of North America after careful research, deliberations and discussion has adopted a new position regarding the determination of the beginning of the Islamic lunar months. This position is based primarily on the following Fiqhi premises:

1.         Sighting the Hilal (ru’yah) is not an act of ‘ibadah in itself; it is rather a means to know with certainty about the beginning of the new month related to Islamic ‘Ibadat. 

2.         Ru’yah as a means was indicated and used by the Prophet –peace be upon him- because he himself said that the Ummah at that time was not literate and did not know how to write or to calculate (complicated astronomical data).

3.         Some classical jurists were willing to accept the calculations.

4.         Some classical jurists refused to allow calculations in this matter because in their time astronomy and astrology were not quite distinct sciences. Jurists were suspicious that astronomical predictions may not be based on exact science but on whims, conjectures, magic etc.

5.         During the last century an increasing number of Muslim jurists indicated that calculations could be used to negate erroneous reports of crescent sighting. Some jurists were of the opinion that calculations could also be used as a positive method to determine the new Islamic lunar months.

6.         There are now many Muslim astronomers who have been working for many years to develop a global lunar Islamic calendar. Fiqh Council particularly appreciates the efforts of its consultants Dr. Imad ad-Dean Ahmad, Dr. Khalid Shaukat, Dr. Muhib Durrani and Dr. Ahmad Salamah. 

7.         Dr. Salah Soltan and Dr. Zulfiqar Ali Shah also presented scholarly papers to give thorough evidence from Fiqh Perspective that the use of calculations is not against the Sunnah of the Prophet –peace be upon him.

The Fiqh Council of North America considered the following factors in making its decision:

1.         Use of calculations in determining the Islamic dates is not against the Sunnah.

2.         Sure astronomical methods are now available to provide a sound basis for the determination of the Islamic dates of Ramadan and the two Eids.

3.            Shari’ah is based on ease and considers the convenience of people.

4.            Announcement of Islamic dates ahead of time will reduce a lot of hardship, chaos and confusion that happen every year at the time of the beginning of Ramadan and the two Eids.

5.            Announcement of Islamic dates will help Muslims to plan their activities in advance, facilitating their ability to take off from work or school. Many other benefits will result from this.

6.            Announcement of these dates will also remove unnecessary financial burdens from the Muslim community in North America.

7.         Muslim of America will become more united in their celebrations.

8.            Muslims of America can also work to have their Islamic holidays officially recognized.

9.         The Muslim community of North America will lead the way towards the development of a unified global Islamic calendar for the whole Muslim world.

10.       The Fiqh Council will continue working with the Imams and scholars of the communities to develop a consensus in this matter. It is, however, hoped that whether some of us agree or disagree with this position, we shall all recognize the validity of ikhtilaf in this issue and that the Ummah should be united in brotherhood despite any legitimate fiqhi differences.

    The following is the decision:

Fiqh Council of North America Decision on Determining the Islamic Lunar Calendar

A special conference on Hilal Sighting was organized by the Fiqh Council of North America (FCNA) on 10 June 2006, in Virginia, attended by a number of jurists, Imams, astronomers and other concerned Muslims. A number of research papers dealing with the juridical and astronomical aspects of the topic were presented and discussed. After further teleconferences and communications among the members and astronomical consultants, the following is concluded:

1.         It is decided to use astronomical calculation to determine the beginning of the Islamic lunar months with the consideration of the sightability of the crescent anywhere on the globe.

2.         To determine a lunar Islamic calendar, a conventional point of reference must be used. The International Date Line (IDL) or the Greenwich Mean Time (GMT) may be used.

3.         The new Islamic Lunar month begins at sunset of the day when the conjunction occurs before 12:00 Noon GMT.

Brief Explanation:

A.            Discussion of a number of research papers led to the conclusion that the use of calculation both in negation as well as affirmation of the beginning of the new Islamic Lunar months has a firm basis in the Qur’an and Sunnah as well as in the opinion of some classical and contemporary jurists. For more details please see the website of ISNA at http://www.isna.net

B.         The new moon (i.e. time of conjunction) is when the Moon passes between the Earth and the Sun closest to the Sun-Earth line. This time of conjunction is precisely predictable by astronomical calculation.

C.        The conjunction before 12:00 Noon GMT would give enough time to the new moon to be visible (weather permitting) somewhere on the globe before the end of the night in North America.                              

<shaukat@moonsighting.com> to Omar, durrani, Omar, Imad, me                     9/5/05

I clarified to ISNA that at 7.5 degrees geocentric elongation, the moon is never visible even by the most powerful telescopes, but this is the point where the light from moon starts to get reflected towards earth theoretically. In other words, moon is out of "Mahaq".  ISNA FC realizes this and is debating what to use for calculations. There has been no consensus yet.