Sighting of Moon
By Dr. Syed Abdul Zahir
Ruyath Hilal is Sunnah - Ghairmoakkada
THE rules and regulations for the ruyath hilal are interpreted in different ways in different quarters. Majority say that the ruyath hilal is sunnah-is all that we know. But which type of sunnath hardly anyone knows. There are three types od sunnah:
The Wajib or Obligatory- any act or job that Prophet had ordered to do it.
Sunnah - Moakkada- an act or thing that Prophet used to do everyday and never leave it. but did not order and
Sunnah - Ghairmoakkada equivalent to nafil- a few acts that Prophet used to do it or leave it at his convenience. Since Prophet was not going out regularly for the act of ruyath hilal, that amounts to the fact that ruyath hilal falls in the third category. Taking advantage of this optional act all the Arab countries and a few others never depend on the actual moon sighting but adopted their own alternative methods.
The criteria and conditions for the moon sighting or the visibility of the new moon as per the shariah and science are as under:
The age of the moon to be about 20 to 22 hours.
The moon set lag from the sun set (MSL) to be about 50 minutes.
The Altitude of the moon about 11o. The Altitude of the moon about 11 to 12 -i.e. how high the moon is in the sky at the time of sunset or the angle between the sun, earth and the moon (SEM)
The Elongation of the moon from the ecliptic to be about 10 to 12
The phase of the moon to be about 0.0564 (Full moon is one)
A minimum of about 125 miles of the illuminated surface of the moon faces the Earth (Moon diameter 2160 miles)
When the moon has moved on its orbit about 43,000 miles East of the ecliptic.
When about 1/15th part of the illuminated disc of the moon faces the Earth.
Moon sighting occurs first at the place where the new moon had occured the previous evening about 9 p.m.
The angle between the sun, the horizon and the moon is about 5. “If on ehas seen the morning crescent at the time of Fajr prayer, the ruyath hilal often occurs the next day evening never the same evening.
Most of the criteria have to be calculated on the paper, but the first three major ones i.e. the age, the MSL and the Altitude of the moon are readily available in the daily news papers. Any interested person can arrive at a decision as to the chances of the visibility of the hilal that evening.
On the basis of these above criteria, we draw lines on a world map called International Lunar Date Lines or ILDL. As compared to an International (solar) Date Line which is almost a vertical line along the longitude 180o (degrees) East or West, an ILDL is a curved line, concave to the Wesr and convex to the EAST (See Map). In all the areas West of the ILDL the moon sighting is positive while it is negative on the East the same day evening, where in the moonsighting occurs the next day. An area about 1000 miles on either side of the ILDL is called the ‘Zone of Uncertainty’ where in the chances of the moonsighting are doubtful, may be sun or not. The position of the ILDL changes every month unlike the IDL which is fixed permanently. Note that once moonsighting occurs first at a place, after nearly 40 to 48 hours of dark skies (amavas) it will be visible in all the places to its West on and near the same latitudes the same evening of the day, and the next day evening beyond the IDL. However the Hilal will be visible all over the world within 24 hours or one day i.e. sunset to the next sunset.
Shawwal- Eidul Fitr:
The new moon for this lunar month occurs on the Christmas day, Monday the 25th December at 10-52 p.m. along with a partial solar eclipse (not visible in India). The chances of sighting the hilal on Tuesday evening are impossible in India as the age of the moon is 18 hours and the MSL about 35 mints only and moreover the moon is at its apogle i.e. longest distance from the Earth. However further West the hilal will be first visible in Central Africa on December 26th itself- see the ILDL in the map dated December 26th. As such hilal will be visible in India and the middle East on Dec 27th evening cent percent and Inshallah Eidul Fitr falls on Thursday the Dec 28th. We will have 30 fasting days. The Indian Astornomical Ephemeris confirm this fact.
The New moon for the month occurs on Friday the 23 febraruay at 1-51 p.m. Look at the ILDL dots Feb. 24 on the world map. The ruyath hilal occurs first in the western pacific area and InshAllah ruyath hilal occurs all over the globe including India on Saturday the Feb 24th and first of the lunar month starts on Sunday the Feb 25th. Accordingly Eidul Azha falls on Tuesday the 6th March. The Indian Astronomical Ephemeris confirms this fact.
Our New Year day, that is the first day of the lunar month of Muharramul Haram 1422 Hijri starts from March 27th (Tuesday).