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The Moon Fiasco
Author/Source:   Posted by: Abdurrazak Ebrahim
Hits: 2426 Rating: 8 (1 votes) Comments: 0 Added On: Saturday, October 08, 2005 Rate this article


We are aware of the following:-

Nigeria began fasting

Iraq, Yemen, Saudi, UAE, Qatar, Kuwait, Bahrain, Jordan, Palestine, Syria, Lebanon, Egypt, Sudan, Libya, and Algeria began fasting

The rest of the world (except New Zealand and Pakistan) began fasting.

New Zealand and Pakistan began fasting.

We now ask ourselves, why 4 different days to begin the fast?

The answer, according to my research, lies in the various criteria utilised by individual countries to mark the beginning of the lunar month. And most of the criteria used is in direct conflict with Islamic Law.

The Holy Qur’an and the Sunnah explains in simple terms that the sighting of the Hilaal begins the lunar month. Yet there are only two areas in the whole world that have official crescent observers (sane, adult, honest, reliable, experienced, upstanding) who observe on a continuous monthly basis, and only their sighting reports are accepted as proof to begin each new month. These areas are Southern Africa and Morocco. A positive sighting will result in a 29 day month and a negative sighting will yield a 30 day month.

When it comes to Eid-ul-Fitr we can expect the same chaotic situation that rears its ugly face each and every year.

Can this unwanted situation be changed?

Yes it can. The winds of change can only be made by the various Ulama Councils. They are the cause of the present chaos and as they are the people who make the announcements, they have to change. They have to decide on whether to be ruled by Allah’s Law or their individual interpretations of the Law. And if they are willing to accept medical advice regarding their health, they should accept astronomical advice regarding the possible appearance or non-appearance of the young waxing crescent. Each individual also, has to empower himself/herself with knowledge of the Divine Laws that determine the Islamic time-keeping system.

Islam is a perfect and logical way of life and the Laws governing our everyday lives should have a single and simple interpretation. Unfortunately we have created and upheld a priest class devoid of intelligent scholars.

When will the Shawwaal Hilaal be visible?

Astronomers work with models and these models may vary from latitude to latitude. The model I use encompasses the altitude, duration, elongation, % illumination, distance, width and celestial longitude/latitude of the moon at sunset of the sighting evening.

On Wednesday, 02/11/2005 it is impossible to sight the Shawwaal crescent anywhere east of the Americas.
A % illumination (reflected sunlight) of less than 00.90 %, together with a width of less than 00o:00':11", and together with an elongation (angular distance from the sun) of less than 10o:00':00" renders the crescent invisible to the naked eye.

Let us examine the astronomical data for certain cities (east of the Americas) at sunset on 02/11/2005:-
[in order of % illumination, width, elongation]

Osaka (Japan) - 00.14 % - 00°:00':03" - 04°:15':28"
Canberra (Australia) - 00.15 % - 00°:00':03" - 04°:28':42"
Beijing (China) - 00.17 % - 00°:00':03" - 04°:44':36"
Phnom Pehn (Cambodia) - 00.22 % - 00°:00':04" - 05°:23':12"
Singapore (Singapore) - 00.23 % - 00°:00':04" - 05°:29':51"
Malaysia (Kuala Lumpur) - 00.24 % - 00°:00':04" - 05°:33':30"
Dhaka (Bangladesh) - 00.25 % - 00°:00':05" - 05°:43':31"
Kabul (Afghanistan) - 00.30 % - 00°:00':06" - 06°:16':27"
Mumbai (India) - 00.31 % - 00°:00':06" - 06°:19':18"
Karachi (Pakistan) - 00.32 % - 00°:00':06" - 06°:26':48"
Teheran (Iran) - 00.36 % - 00°:00':07" - 06°:49':54"
Makkah (Saudia) - 00.42 % - 00°:00':08" - 07°:22':46"
Cairo (Egypt) - 00.43 % - 00°:00':08" - 07°:32':31"
Algiers (Algeria) – 00.54 % - 00°:00':10" - 08°:22':58"
Paris (France) – moonset before sunset
London (England) – moonset before sunset

Given perfect weather conditions, a sighting (difficult) may occur on the west coasts of North and South America on the evening of 02/11/2005.

Therefore the actual day of Eid in all countries east of the Americas is Friday, 04/11/2005.


Dr Abdurrazak Ebrahim

Cape Town.

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