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.
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).
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.
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.
Answer 5: This criterion does not change with latitude.
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)
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.
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.
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.
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.
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
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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 http://irshad.org/idara/qadiani/eclipse.htm.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.