Updated on April 13, 1998

Question 1: If the moon is sighted any place on earth, then why all Muslim Ummah cannot start the Islamic month on the same day.

Answer 1: When the moon is sighted in a place on earth, right at that moment there are two days and dates prevailing all over the globe. Some places have already started their next day. Those places can not start the month at that time. They have to wait for the next sunset time to start new month, and hence their month will not start on the same day as the place where the moon was sighted.

Suppose the moon is only possible to be seen in Hawaii and nowhere in the world. Even if we know ahead of time that the moon will be sighted in Hawaii, the time of starting Islamic month will be after sunset in Hawaii (around 6pm). At that time in Tokyo, the time will be 1pm of the next day. If this was month of Ramadan, this is way past Suhoor time in Tokyo. They cannot start fasting 9 hours before the month can begin anywhere in the world e.g. in Hawaii in this case.

Question 2: The Brilliant solution of Committee For Crescent Observation (CFCO) regarding moonsighting is, two factors are mostly important to have the moon visible.
1) Arc of light
2) Topocentric altitude
The earth's rotation axis is not at right angles to its path around the sun, Its rotation axis is tilted by about 23.5 degrees. Due to this reason, everyday until about June 21st, the sun is overhead at midday at more Northerly places. On Sept.23, the sun is overhead the equator and December 21, the sun is overhead at midday as far south and on March 21 the sun is again overhead of the equator. I think this is the reason for the moon to be first sighted in March far away north near Alaska, Mongolia, and in August it moves far south near Madagascar, New Zealand, etc. I also think the twilight time also changes for this reason in different countries in different altitudes and which have a great effect on moonsighting. Do you think these two reasons related with the arc of light. This is just my assumption. If you agree with me, I will think my assumption is correct. But if you disagree, would you please explain to me why?

Answer 2: You are absolutely right about the tilt of axis of rotation and this tilt is the reason why moon is visible in Northern latitudes in march, and in Southern latitudes in September. But that tilt of 23.5 degrees has no effect on the arc of light.
Twilight times also change with seasons, and this does affect sighting in high latitudes (55 degrees North and 55 degrees South), because the longer background light affects visibility of thin crescent (arc of light 9 to 12 degrees). But this effect is very minor and affects only those areas where the arc of light is marginal (9 to 12 degrees).

Question 3: In South East Asia there's Mohammed Ilyas, currently residing in Pulau Pinang, Malaysia. I assumed you already knew him. I've read some of his books. His method in the determination of the new visible moon is highly complex. From what I gathered the criteria used by South East Asian countries to determine the hilal is, at sunset, at least 2 degrees altitude for the moon, 8 hrs after conjuction and 3 degrees hypothaneus difference between the sun and the moon. That criterion is used if the hilal is hidden behind the clouds. Can you please tell me if this method is feasible? (Oct 19,1997)

Answer 3: I know Dr. Ilyas personally. I have spent some days with him, in conventions for Moon-Sighting and Islamic calendar. His criteria are very approximate, and have failed many times in the past 4 years, that I have monitored regarding actual moon-sighting. What you described above, as his criterion, will never make a crescent visible. Either you have not correctly understood his criterion, or have described it in-accurately. But, I repeat, that with the above mentioned criterion the crescent will never be visible.

Question 4: What are the criteria you think is most suitable? (Oct 19,1997)

Answer 4: Different people have developed different criteria. The best test is to check them against actual sighting. So far, my criterion is giving the best results matching with actual sightings. The criterion that I have developed is not so simple to describe here. However, if you insist for me to give you in a simplified form I can give you an approximate criterion, that the visibility of crescent starts from a point on the globe and visibility increases in a parabolic curve going westward. The apex of this parabola lies where at sunset time, the elongation is 10 degrees and the azimuth between sun and moon is zero. There is a small zone near this apex eastward where the moon is marginally thin and may become visible under extremely favorable climatic conditions on the horizon, and sometimes the aid of binocular or telescope may be needed to see such a marginally thin crescent.

Question 5: Does the criterion mentioned above (Question 4) change with latitude? (Oct 19,1997)

Answer 5: This criterion does not change with latitude.

Question 6: A student from Eritrea (Ethiopia) asked me to get his date of birth in the Gregorian calendar. His date of birth was 20 Ramadan 1397.(Nov 21,1977)

Answer 6: Calculating the visibility of the moon in the area of Ethiopia, I found that on Aug 16, 1977 it must have been visible. So, I conclude the following:
Ramadan 1, 1397=Aug 17, 1977 (Wed)
Ramadan 20, 1397=Sep 5, 1977 (Mon)

Question 7: When has the earliest crescent of a new moon been seen after moon was born??(Dec 4,1997)

Answer 7: Moon sighting does not depend on age. Non-Muslims have treated this question as a sport, who can see the youngest moon. In the zeal of their competition, they claim early and early sightings, which are in most cases false, as many claims have been refuted with no sighting at places thousands of miles west. The authentic sightings are at about 17.2 hours with the naked eye, and 15.5 hours by observatory telescopes. Remember, in some seasons, earliest moonsighting takes about 24 hours. So if the moon has become 17 hours old or more, one can not conclude that it is possible to see that moon.

Question 8: What is the process one must use to correctly sight the moon?(Dec 29,1997)

Answer 8: Go after about 15 minutes after sunset. Look in the direction of the setting sun, just above, or upto 30 degrees to the right, or 30 degrees to the left of the setting sun. Keep looking until the time of moonset that you can obtain from local newspapers. Binocular helps. Have one or more persons with you, if possible. If you do this for a few months, you will know yourself about improving your procedure. What evening you should go to look, can be found from my web site, or if you know the biginning of the previous month based on moonsighting then count 29 days from it.

Question 9: I've just recieved news that Saudi Arabia had a confirmed sighting of the Ramadan hilal on the 29/12/97. Hence their fasting will start on 30/12/1997.
Some of the astronomical softwares showed that on 29/12/97 the moon and the sun set together almost at the same time for most part of the Middle East and the moon conjunction occured about an hour after the sunset in most Saudi Arabia. It is therefore perplexing that they claimed to see the elusive hilal. I hope you can shed some light on this. Shukran.(Dec 29,1997)

Answer 9: This time you saw yourself that Saudis can be rediculously wrong. We have been monitoring them for the last 17 years, and consistently they are wrong almost every month with a very few exceptions. The reason is that they use a pre-calculated calendar based on "New-Moon" that is invisible. I have a copy of their 30 years calendar, every month begins one day after New-Moon date of Greenwich Mean time (now called Universal time). How can anyone see the moon before it is born, or if it sets before the sunset?

They have one of the two cases:
1. Sometimes a few claims of sighting an invisible moon come and the Saudis use them to authenticate their pre-calculated dates.

2. Their every month's 29th day is one day earlier from reality, and when on 29th day they could not see the moon they say 30 days are completed even if the moon is not visible on 30th day.

Question 10: Did someone try to tell the Saudi Arabian authorities that their calendar is totally wrong? This is causing ripple effect in the USA. I know several masajid that declared December 30, 1997 as the first day of Ramadan. Unless this is fixed in Saudi Arabia, we will continue to have two Eids. (Dec 29,1997)

Answer 10: The Committee for Crescent Observation has been writing the Saudi authorities every year, for the last several years (more than 15 years). Groups of people from Pakistan have gone to them at different times to talk face to face. Muslims from India have gone to them to discuss that. ISNA's delegations have gone and discussed this matter with them. It appears that they do not want to listen to any one.
ISNA and Shura Council of North America have declared that moon was not sighted in North America on 12/2/9/1997. Hence, Dec 30 is the 30th day of Sha'ban. First day of fasting of Ramadan is on Dec 31, 1997.

Question 11: ALL middle eastern countries, with the exception of OMAN and Tunisia, have declared Ramadan to be Dec. 30, 1997. In sunnah Rasul-allah (SAAW), states that if 2 people had sigted the moon, then all moslim ommah should fast. And what is good for 1 ommah is good for all. The moon for Ramadan has been sighted and, in this case, the astronomical calculations are not valid. If This information for all middle eastern countries were proven to be false, then the person(s) who reported the moon sigting will take on our sins for fasting at the wrong time.(Dec 29,1997)

Answer 11: Your last sentence is against Qur'an. In Qur'an, several places Allah says, "La taziru wazirtun wizra ukhra" No one will take the burden of anyone else. This ayah has been repeated at least 5 times in Qur'an. For your satisfaction, please take a look at the following sections in Qur'an:
Surah 6, Ahah 164
Surah 17, Ahah 15
Surah 35, Ahah 18
Surah 39, Ahah 7
Surah 53, Ahah 38

Question 12: I find it very depressing that such an influential organization as yours is using any and every technicality in the Hadith to divide this Ummah. It is obvious that the people in the east (people who live in the desert) will have a better opportunity than us here in North America who have cloudy skies and winter here.
Personally I have followed what the international sighting had indicated and they were right because had I on the day when you proclaim eid the moon was shown big and definitely could be a first day new moon. When I saw that for the last two years I thank Allah for keeping the fast on the appointed time. I must say that these are the petty issues that keep dividing us muslims. Until we resolve our differences we will continue to be conquered. So please I urge you let us start a dialogue and at least resolve this issue, because somebody is leading the other astray and remember they have to account for it. (Dec 31,1997)

Answer 12: We are trying to unite Muslims not divide them. We have to unite the Ummah. But unity is not in beginning Ramadan on one day in the whole world. Because that is impossible. When the moon is sighted anywhere in the world, at that time two dates are already going on in the whole world. Part of the world has already gone into the next day. That part can not start Ramadan with other parts of the world which has seen the moon. If this is too confusing to you, try to understand with the help of some brothers who can explain better what I am trying to convey.

But starting Ramadan on two different dates is not against unity. Unity is not in making Maghrib salat with Makkah in the whole world. Unity is following the same criterion of correct and authentic moon-sighting as prescribed in Quran and Sunnah.

Question 13: Your model for predicting the new moon and the confirmation of the model by verrification of moonsighting has dermonstrated that we are on the right path. The problem is that many Middle Eastern countries and some of the US & Canadian communities led by Middle Eastern immigrants assume Saudi decision on new moon as having sighted the new moon.

Your observations are correct that the Saudi months start without ever observing the new moon. This status will never change unless the source of the problem is corrected, which is the criterion used in decision making process in Saudi Arabia. You should increase your efforts to contact the right people. They will not listen to the Pakistanis or Indians (Rafiq's). The only way is to educate and convince influential Saudis visiting here. You need one right Royal family individual or a religious leader, who can understand your system. They may be able to make a difference, otherwise present chaos will continue.GOOD LUCK

If that can be done, I can foresee Muslim Ummah united in at least their observation of Ramadan and Eids. (Jan 1,1998)

Answer 13: You just said it right! You are the first person who said what I had in mind. May Allah bless you.

Question 14: After looking at your website, I started fasting on December 31 1997 in Detroit Michigan. On the evening of December 31, I was able to see the new moon even at 7:15pm in detroit Michigan . I have got a shareware software (CyberSky). According to the this software at 7:15pm the moon was about 5 degrees above the horizon in Detroit Michigan. The point is that I think one can see the moon at 5 degrees above the horizon which your software (on the web MOONCALC 4.0) does not take into account for global moon sighting. Now I check the software for the evening of December 29 1997. According to the results of this software, the moon was at 5 degrees above the horizon after sunset in Detroit, Michigan. This makes me wonder that how no one of you was able to see moon in North America on December 29, 1997. For eid according to the software results the moon will be about 10 degrees above the horizon in detroit Michigan on Jaunary 28, 1997, so we should be able to see it easily which mooncalc 4.0 does not predict. (Jan 3,1998)

Answer 14: The moon-sighting prediction calculations are not that simple as you think. Only because moon is above 5 degrees or 10 degrees, or even 20 degrees it does not mean a thing. When the moon is new, it is invisible. It may be 5 degrees or more above horizon at some place on the globe on its sunset time. But the moon is invisible. 5 or 10 degrees above horizon is a function of curvature of the globe. But for visibility, the moon has to reflect sun's light. To do that the moon has to be at about 10 degree angle minimum from the sun (this angle is also called elongation, or arc of light). Elongation was 5.2 degrees in Detroit on Dec 29; That is why you did not see the moon on that day. On Jan 28, you will still not see the moon, because the elongation is less than 10 degrees, and the age is 17 hours, and there are other parameters of the moon that make it impossible to see it on Jan 28. However, on Jan 29, you will see a big moon that is 41 hours old, that still does not mean that it was yesterday's moon, because yesterday, it was 17 hours old and was not visible in your area or on the east coast of USA.

Question 15: According to what was posted on your web page the Ramadan moon was not supposed to be visible in the Middle East on Dec 29th. Yet there are reliable reports of relatives (not connected to the government officials) who saw the moon - in Syria, Turkey and Saudi Arabia. I hope you have your own sources who can confirm that. However I have not heard of anyone sighting the moon on that date in North America! Do you have an explanation for this? I am a regular visitor to your web page, I find it very informative and entertaining. may Allah bless you for the service you provide.(Jan 5,1998)

Answer 15: The explanation to this is already on my web page under "Scientific Fact".

Further explanation is that the moon was not even born in Saudi Arabia, and could not have been seen in Middle East. That's why it was not visible several hours later in North America. First of all, the people get the news from Middle East that Ramadan starts from Dec 30, so they assume that moon has been sighted on Dec 29. The announcement does not even talk about moonsighting. It says, "The supreme Judicial Council endoresd that December 30, 1997 will be the first day of the holy month of Ramadan for the lunar year 1418 AH according to a statement released by the Royal Court on Monday evening." Secondly, may be some people did see something (a thin streak of cloud, a shiny object, a smoke trail from a jet etc.) and took it as a moon.

Question 16: My Brother M. Farooq is wondering why it is not possible to see a Crescent on Jan 28, 1998. Because It will be 19 hrs old here in California, and possibly at good altitude.

Also, I just saw that sighting is possible on Wed Jan 28,1997 at Hawaii. Will ISNA take it as a proof to celebrate EID on Jan 29,98 Thursday ? (Jan 6,1998)

Answer 16: To answer your brother's question, firstly, moon is not always visible when it is 19 hours old. In some months 23 hours old moon is not visible (See Earliest Moonsighting Table of Royal Greenwich Observatory criterion on Moonsighting Page). Secondly, on Jan 28, 1998, the moonsighting is difficult but possible on West coast 30 minutes after sunset, only if the optimum whether conditions persist (no city lights on west, favorable humidity, favorable temperature, and atmospheric pressure etc.).

In Hawaii, it will easily be visible. My visibility curve is for easily visible moon. Outside that curve, little bit east of the nose of the parabola, the sighting is difficult but possible under optimum weather conditions.

ISNA and Shura Council of North America have decided to announce the beginning of Shawwal after moon is sighted in North America. They will verify the claims of sighting from the main land of North America. We can not wait for reports of sighting from Hawaii, because, it will be past midnight on the East coast, by the time we confirm the sighting claims. That is a burden on Muslims of East coast, specially in Nova Scotia which is 1 more hour ahead of Eastern Time Zone. Just a statement of possible sighting in Hawaii is not enough for ISNA to make a decision before actual sighting.

Question 17: I need to find the date of all the times solar/lunar eclipses have happened during Ramadan between 1840-1900, to understand the claim of Qadianis (Ahmadiyya) about Mehdi.(Jan 7, 1998)

Answer 17: I have done extensive research on the exact calculations of lunar and solar eclipses that occurred in the month of Ramadan in life time of Mirza Ghulam Ahmad (1835-1908CE). Results of my research along with answers to Ahmadiyya claim in the light of Ilm-ul-Hadith is provided on

Question 18: I was wondering if you can tell me when Ramadan was in the year 1947, I mean what month was it according to the Christian calender? If you can help, Please do, this is very important. (Jan 12,1998)

Answer 18: Based on sightability of the moon, Ramadan may have started on 7-19-1947 in North America, while in the rest of the world, it must have started on 7-20-1947.

Question 19: What is the record time between a new moon and its first possible sighting, and is this result available for every point on earth?(Jan 15,1998)

Answer 19: No, this result is certainly not available for every point on earth. And according to different individual claims, the record time between new moon and its sighting varies for naked eye, and aided eye (Telescopes). Dr. Doggette of U.S. Naval Observatory, Dr. Schaefer of Yale University, and Dr. Ahmad, a Professional astronomer have written a research paper on a collection of most early sighting claims. For naked eye, claims are 0 to 15.4 hours, but all claims less than 15 hours are not considered credible by professional experts in this field for various reasons. Some were reported a few days or weeks later, some few month later and in some cases,it was found that skies were overcast in that area, so claims must be mistaken for a wrong date. For aided eye, claims less than 12 hours are not considered credible.

However, one point must be understood, and that is, even if a moon was sighted at the age 15.4 hours by naked eye, or 12 hours by aided eye, it does not mean that every time moon age is 15 hours plus, it could be visible. In some months, moon could not be visible any place on the globe until it becomes 23 hours old. That still does not mean that a 23 hour old moon will always be visible from every place on the globe.

Moreover, the Committee for Crescent Observation International, does not even consider some of the claims credible from among those accepted by the professionals mentioned above. This is simply, for the reason that if the moon was not sighted several hours later at places west of the first sighting point, then where did it go? Such claims are highly questionable.

Question 20: Re: Eid al-Fitr on Thursday, Jan 29, 1998
The crescent for the new moon of Shawwal was not sighted (with the eye) by Muslims anywhere across the world today, Tuesday, Jan 27, 1998. Therefore we continue to fast tomorrow (Wednesday) to complete the 30 days. Thursday 29th January will be the day of Eid al-Fitr. (Jan 27,1998)

Answer 20: This 30 day complete argument is wrong. If you start fasting before new moon was even born, then completing 30 day does not mean a thing. 30 day complete argument is only good when the previous month began with the sighting of the moon.

All experts of the world about moonsighting are unanimous that moon can not be seen in Asia, Europe, Africa, South America, and East coast of North America on Jan 28, 1998 (Wednesday). Non-sighting of the moon after 30 days is a clear proof that the beginning of the month was not observed correctly, otherwise it is not possible that the moon can not be seen on 30th day.

Question 21: Any news that a moon could have been seen before noon on Thursday 29th of Jan, 1998 in London because as far as I know, people who wake up fasting but see the moon before noon can break their fast. (Jan 29,1998)

Answer 21: No, the new moon can never be sighted before noon, or before sunset. If someone claims to see before noon, it could not be the moon. We have perfect example of many false (not that any body is lying) claims in certain areas of USA on Jan 28, 1998, when people mistake something else for moon. However, there were at least two witnesses (Binocular only, not sighted by the nakded eye) also in USA on Jan 28. In England, moon could not be seen before Jan 29 evening after sunset.

Question 22: I understand, that it is valid to say, that if the moon is sighted anywhere in the world, one may use that event to celebrate Eid-ul-Fitr. What happened on Wednesday January 28, 1998 is, that we know in advance that the moon could be seen from the far west of USA and Hawaii Islands. Why is it not okay to use this knowledge to celebrate Eid on Thursday Janauary 29. One can say: "the moon will be visible on Wednesday somewhere on earth, so Eid (or the start of the next Islamic month) is on Thursday. (Jan 31,1998)

Answer 22: By the time the moon was actually seen in Hawaii, the time in Japan was 2:00pm on Jan 29. Muslims in Japan could not have celebrated Eid on Jan 29. They have to wait for another day, and they would see the moon on Jan 29, and celebrate Eid on Jan 30. Similarly, Balgladesh, India and Pakistan saw the moon on Jan 29, and they celebrated Eid on Friday, Jan 30, 1998.

Question 23: I compared your predicted Moon dates with the US Naval Observatory data, unfortunately there are differences between these two. I am not an astronomer (I am Chem. Engineer) and don't know how you calculated those dates. I am sure that you are aware of the US Naval Obs. data which are available for Universal time scale. Is there any reason that yours is not compatible with theirs? It looks like these differences ( 1 to 2 days) are carried on in both of your 1998 and 1999 tables for Norh America!! (Feb 1,1998)

Answer 23: It looks to me that you are confusing "New Moon" reported by US Naval Obs. with a visible crescent. "New Moon" reported by US Naval Obs. is totally invisible. Any Islamic dates based on that would be 1 or 2 days ahead. My calendar is for a crescent that can be seen.

Question 24: I have downloaded Dr. Monzur Ahmed's MoonCalc4 program and the curve I get for the Feb 27, 1998 (Zul-Qada 1418H) visibility slightly differs from curve shown on your web page. The program shows visibility is possible from far in the east, in fact almost the whole of Asian continent is covered while you show as per your calculations (though using the same prog.) that the curve will turn back from around the center of Indian Ocean! Why ? (Feb 7,1998) >

Answer 24: MoonCalc4 program draws visibility curves based on the criterion you select. The default criterion is probably Dr. Ilyas's "C" criterion. That is what you are looking at. In MoonCalc, if you go in advanced options and select Shaukat criterion, you will get the same curve that you see on my site. You see, different people have proposed different criteria; Ilyas has proposed 3 different criteria, called Ilyas A, Ilyas B, and Ilyas C, in MoonCalc4 program. Similarly, there are various other criteria in advanced options. Each criterion gives a different result. As a judge, you can compare whose criterion comes closest to actual sighting. It is easy to design a criterion based on certain theories, but it is hard for that criterion to withstand the test of actual sighting. You be the judge yourself, and see whose criterion comes out true to the actual sighting months after months, and years after years.

Question 25: I wanted to confirm the calculated date for the beginning of Zul-Qa'dah and Zul-Hijjah for North America (Feb 28th and Mar 29th ?). I also wanted to find out what date is expected to be announced by S. Arabia for Hajj / Eid ul Adha (April6/April 7, 1998 which would coincide with the actual date by sighting in N. America?) (Feb 8, 1998)

Answer 25: Yes, Feb 28, and March 29 are the correct and unambiguous dates for 1st of Zul-Qa'da and Zul-Hijja. No questions about it. In other words, their is no uncertainty, like the past month of Shawwal. If you would have looked at my web site, a calendar for North America for 1418, and 1419 is there, indicating only one month (Shawwal, 1418) with uncertainty. All other months have a definite date.

Saudi Taqweem has the date of 10th Dhul-Hijja as April 7, 1998, which will coincide with North American Islamic date according to moonsighting in North America. In the recent past, Saudi Taqweem has always coincided with their announced dates.

Back to TopTop      Send your questions to: Khalid Shaukat HomeBack to Home Page