Quranic, Hadith and Astronomical Basis for the Sighting of the Crescent Moon for Ramadan 2014 (1435 AH)

Published on 27 June, 2014

Quick Summary

It makes far more Islamic, scientific and logical sense to begin fasting on Sunday 29th June 2014, because the crescent moon will be visible to most of the world on Saturday 28th June 2014. It’s easy to see this scientific data by looking at these three charts, published by the Astronomical Data Portal @ UK Hydrographic Office:

Moon sighting Friday 27th June: http://astro.ukho.gov.uk/assets/F2014Jun27.pdf
Moon sighting Saturday 28th June: http://astro.ukho.gov.uk/assets/F2014Jun28.pdf
Moon sighting Sunday 29th June: http://astro.ukho.gov.uk/assets/F2014Jun29.pdf

Introduction

The aim of this post is to show that the decision made by some Islamic organisations (including European Council for Fatwa and Research and the Fiqh Council of North America) to announce the beginning of Ramadan to be Saturday the 28th June 2014 is not a logical decision and does not agree with scientific data on the possibility of sighting the crescent moon. The argument that will be made in this post is that Muslims worldwide should be fasting on Sunday 29th June 2014. The scientific data used is taken from The Astronomical Data Portal @ UK Hydrographic Office (http://astro.ukho.gov.uk).

When does the start of the lunar month begin?

The first day of the Hijri/Lunar month begins the day after the crescent moon is sighted for the first time (even using optical tools, such as telescopes). For example, if we couldn’t see the crescent on the 9th January, and we can see it on the 10th January, then that means that the 11th January would be the first day of the new Hijri month.

What does the European Council for Fatwa and Research say?

According to the ECFR, on Friday 27th June, “the [crescent moon] can be sighted clearly in most countries in Latin America, especially if optical aids are used” (original Arabic http://e-cfr.org/new/?p=1195). Based on this, they have decided that the first day of Ramadan will therefore be Saturday 28th June. The Fiqh Council of North America have also followed this same method.

What do scientific sources say?

The following is a chart published by the UK Hyrdrographic Office showing the possibility of viewing the crescent moon across the Earth on Friday 27th June 2014:

http://astro.ukho.gov.uk/assets/F2014Jun27.pdf

Contrary to what the ECFR says, NO PARTS of Latin America are able to see the moon AT ALL. Please note that the dark blue section on the chart shows areas where the moon is NOT VISILBLE, EVEN WITH A TELESCOPE. The only parts of the world that can see the crescent are some of the small islands in the southern Pacific Ocean.

The following chart shows the possibility of viewing the crescent moon on Saturday 28th June 2014:

http://astro.ukho.gov.uk/assets/F2014Jun28.pdf

As you can see, most of the world will be able to view the crescent moon on Saturday 28th June, including all of Africa and the Middle East (including Makkah), India, Pakistan, South America, most of Turkey, North America and Canada and many other countries.

And finally, the following chart shows the possibility of viewing the crescent moon on Sunday 29th June 2014:

http://astro.ukho.gov.uk/assets/F2014Jun29.pdf

As you can see, practically ALL OF THE EARTH is able to easily view the crescent moon on Sunday 29th June.

So in summary:

So what does this data mean?

The decision of the ECFR to fast on Saturday 28th June is not a logical one and not backed up by science, since barely anyone on the planet can see the crescent on Friday 27th June. It makes far more logical and scientific sense to begin fasting on Sunday 29th June, because the crescent is easily visible by the naked eye to most of the planet on Saturday 28th June.

What do the Quran and Sunnah say?

Allah says in Surat Al-Baqarah, Ayah 185 (http://quran.com/2/185):

The month of Ramadhan [is that] in which was revealed the Qur’an, a guidance for the people and clear proofs of guidance and criterion. So whoever sights [the new moon of] the month, let him fast it; and whoever is ill or on a journey – then an equal number of other days. Allah intends for you ease and does not intend for you hardship and [wants] for you to complete the period and to glorify Allah for that [to] which He has guided you; and perhaps you will be grateful.

In Sahih Al-Bukhari, it is narrated that the Prophet PBUH said (http://sunnah.com/muslim/13/4):

Do not fast till you see the new moon, and do not break fast till you see it; but if the weather is cloudy calculate about it.

There are many similar hadiths in Bukhari, and you can read them at http://sunnah.com/muslim/13.

It is clear from the Quran and hadith that the sighting of the crescent is an essential criterion for the signalling of the start of Ramadan, and therefore, to begin fasting when the vast majority of the planet can’t physically see the crescent is not in accordance to the Quran and Sunnah.

Unity Amongst the Muslims

Despite Muslims being found all across the entire planet Alhamdulillah, when we perform Hajj, we perform it in ONE PLACE and at ONE TIME – there is only ONE DAY OF ARAFAT, and the whole world can now witness that day happening live! Therefore, it makes logical sense that just as Hajj occurs at only one time in the year for all Muslims, Ramadan should also begin at only one time in the year for all Muslims.

Therefore, if Muslims were to unite under one calendar, it would make sense that that calendar be based on the crescent sighting of Makkah Al-Mukarramah. As you will have seen from the charts above, the crescent moon will be visible in Makkah on Saturday 28th, and therefore they will begin fasting on Sunday 29th June.

In the following ayah, notice how Allah specifically singles out the sighting of the crescent to determine Hajj, thus signifying the importance of using Hajj as the focus around which the entire Islamic calendar is based:

Allah says in Surat Al-Baqarah, Ayah 189 (http://quran.com/2/189):

They ask you, [O Muhammad], about the new moons. Say, “They are measurements of time for the people and for Hajj.” And it is not righteousness to enter houses from the back, but righteousness is [in] one who fears Allah. And enter houses from their doors. And fear Allah that you may succeed.

Why have we written this?

We believe that Fatwas regarding Ramadan issued by some organisations such as the ECFR (and other organisations that as the Fiqh Council of North America, who are also fasting on Saturday 28th) are causing disunity amongst the Muslim world by convincing Muslims in certain parts of the world to fast differently to the rest of the Muslim world, without even backing that up with convincing scientific evidence. The aim of this post is to convince Muslims to follow what the majority of Muslims in the world are doing, which is also backed up by logical and scientific evidence, and above all, the Quran and sunnah.

“I only intend reform as much as I am able. And my success is solely through Allah . Upon him I have relied, and to Him I return.”, Surah Hud, Ayah 88 –http://quran.com/11/88

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