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August 27th, 2011

A live experiment in determining date of the coming Eid-ul-Fitr

In his comment at this link, Rizwan Jamil had suggested that the use of calculations for determining the new moon is prohibited in Islam and that “All the Muslims can (and infact they should) start/end their months together on the basis of the moon sighting reports of the countries of the whole world, not of their own country only.”

I had responded (see here) that this is not possible because, for example, if the new moon is first sighted worldwide in the far west (obviously at sunset) then in many countries including most Muslim countries the time would be almost the following morning.

So, let us try if this method would work at the forthcoming Eid-ul-Fitr. Please read under comments …

8 Responses to “A live experiment in determining date of the coming Eid-ul-Fitr”

  1. August 27th, 2011 at 4:42 am
    From Zahid Aziz:

    In many Muslim countries Ramadan began this year on 1st August, for example, Saudi Arabia, Jordan, and Malaysia. Therefore, according to Rizwan Jamil and his co-thinkers, people there should look out for the new moon on 29th August at sunset. Now the calculations at (a Muslim astronomical website) show that on 29th August it is absolutely impossible to see the new moon almost anywhere in the world with the naked eye. So my first question to Rizwan Jamil and his friends is:

    Should Muslims in, say, the three countries mentioned above still look out for the new moon on 29th August, or should they believe the calculations which tell us that it would be impossible to see it?  

    Then if, as according to , the new moon is seen by the naked eye for the first time anywhere in the world on 29 August in the far south-western tip of South America, the question is:

    As this news will reach the Middle East after midnight on 30th, and Malaysia after 6.00 a.m. on the 30th, should they declare Eid at that time as being on 30th?

    Then we also learn from this website that in Cape Town it would be possible to see the new moon on 29th but only by telescope. My final question is:

    Is it allowed in Islam to use an aid such as a telescope to see the new moon before it is possible to see it with the naked eye? 

    Given the ages of today’s Islamic Scholars qualified to issue decree of moon sighting most probably than not wear eye glasses to see far. My question to Rizwan Jamil sahib: Is it allowed in Islam to sight Eid moon through eye glasses?

  3. On a related note, just the other day on a TV show hosting Islamic Scholars , a caller called in to ask a question.  His query was if it is possible to gain the blessings of Lailat-ul-Qadr twice by flying from one time zone to another so you spend the night in one place and then fly to another time zone where the night is not yet over or not yet begun!

  4. August 29th, 2011 at 9:16 pm
    From Zahid Aziz:

    It is about 22.15 UK time (21.15 GMT or UT), 29 August 2011, as I type.

    Nowhere in the world could the moon have been sighted up to now, yet Eid has been declared in several countries. The website has the following report:

    “JEDDAH: The Shawwal moon has been sighted in Saudi Arabia and the Eidul Fitr would be celebrated on Tuesday 30 August, 2011.

    According to the National TV the moon of Shawal has been sighted and Eidul Fitr will be celebrated on Tuesday with full zeal.”

  5. Usman, did the caller or the people answering this question know about the international dateline? A place just to the east of the dateline (Hawaii side) is exactly one day (24 hours) behind a place just to the west (Fiji/New Zealand side).

    So, first spend the whole of Lailat-ul-Qadr in Fiji, then at dawn cross over to Samoa and it will be 24 hours earlier there!

  6. What a farce moon sighting by eye has become is shown by two news items.

    The first begins as follows:

    “Saudi Arabia’s Mistake in Announcing Eid al-Fitr Angers Muslims Worldwide

    TEHRAN (FNA)- The Jeddah Astronomy Society’s mistake in sighting of
     the new moon in Saudi Arabia has angered the many Muslim nations who followed suit and pronounced Tuesday as Eid al-Fitr wrongly. The
     society had said that people actually saw the planet Saturn and not
     the crescent moon that marks the beginning of the Islamic month of


    The second is the opposite, and begins as follows:

    “JEDDAH: A number of conservative scholars have threatened to sue
     Saudi astronomer and scientist Khaled Al-Zaaq for doubting the
     testimony of citizens who reported to the Hilal panel (moon sighting
     committee) that the Shawwal crescent was visible on Ramadan 29 (Aug.

    After confirming the veracity of the sighting by the people who had
     reported to the panel, the committee declared the end to the fasting
     month of Ramadan and signaled the advent of Eid Al-Fitr the next day


    So now the question has to be faced starkly. Which of the two is right?

    According to astronomical science the lunar crescent could not have been sighted in Saudi Arabia on the evening of 29th August. According to the traditional, allegedly Islamic, way of determining the appearance, the lunar crescent was sighted because if some Muslims (of reputable character, appropriate length beard) report seeing its appearance then that proves that the crescent did appear, regardless of any evidence to the contrary.

    Remember that Muslim students from Muslim countries, including Saudi Arabia, are paying tens of thousands of Dollars and Pounds and Euros per student per year to Western universities to learn the advanced science whose discoveries tell us that the lunar crescent would not be visible on 29th August in Saudi Arabia!

  7. Here is an article in a magazine of the South African Muslim Ulama on this issue, entitled The Hilaal Controversy.

    It is stated in this article:

    “Even if all the astronomers of the world unite to say that it is a total impossibility to sight the moon, the Shariah’s command to search for the hilaal at the end of the 29th day may not be abandoned. Regardless of astronomical impossibility, if a sighting satisfies the requisites of the Shariah, the new month will be incumbently declared.”

    They seem so proud of their stance that it reminded me of Maulana Muhammad Ali’s description of the state of the pre-Islamic Arabs: “Ignorance prevailed among the high as well as the low, so much so that the noblest of men could boast of his ignorance.”

    The article also says:

    “For the sake of respecting the theories, observations and findings of the astronomers, it is haraam to render the Shariah subservient to astronomy or any other science. When there is a clash between the Shariah and astronomy, the latter will be dumped in the waste, and the Shariah will prevail regardless of how irrational the Shar’i stance may appear.”

    In the above passage, please substitute “commonsense” for “astronomy” and re-read.

  8. Certain translators of Quran will be remembered for their excerpts e.g. Muhammad Asad for emphasizing about Quran – 13:3. Verily, in all this there are messages indeed for people who think
    Similarly, Muhammad Ali has left a permanent imprint by his translation 9:31. They take their doctors of law and their monks for Lords besides Allah
    With this kind of lack of commonsense one feels sorry the followers of such Mullahs as they – 7:179..…have hearts that they use not to understand. They have eyes with which they see not, and ears with which they hear not. They are like cattle. Nay, they are even worse. Such are the people who have chosen to live through life in total darkness of ignorance. 
    Cattle sure they are who are herded by the ignorant to the ignorance: 24:40 Or like total darkness in the midst of a deep ocean, with waves upon waves and a thick cloud above darkness upon darkness. When he holds out his hand, he can barely see it. For, whomever God deprives of light, will have no light. [Shabbir Ahmed]