Islamic Voice
Shaban/Ramadan 1422
November 2001
Volume 15-11 No:179

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ISLAMIC CALENDAR


Perfection in Moonsighting

Perfection in Moonsighting

Predicting the start of the Islamic lunar months and dates
of festivals is possible with precision with astronomical tools

Dr. S. A. Zahir

A sound knowledge about the new moon or the Amavas is very essential for the accurate prediction of the ruyath hilal (moonsighting). The sighting of the crescent on the 29th day of each lunar month is closely associated with the time and the day of the amavas. Amavas is an Indian word. In English language it is called New Moon and in Astronomy it is called conjunction and in Urdu you may call it Kala Chand. It is a monthly event when the centers of the Sun, the Moon and the Earth are in one line. On the day of the new moon the time of the sunrise and the moonrise is very close and so also the time of the sunset and the moonset. On the contrary, on a full moon day the time of the moonrise and sunset is very close and so also the time of the moonset and sunrise (note these timings in the newspaper).

The moon takes on an average 29.53 days for an orbit round the Earth. The line connecting the centers of the Sun and the Earth is called the Ecliptic. Each month when the center of the orbiting moon coincides or touches the ecliptic, the event of the new moon or the Amavas occurs all over the world at the particular timing and a new Astronomical month is born, that is why it is named new moon. That is to say that the event of the new moon can occur at anytime of the day or night. Since these three heavenly bodies are in one line, the bright half of the disc of the moon faces the sun while the darker half faces the Earth. You can well imagine that the moon remains invisible on the Earth at this time and so also for about 20 hours before the event and another 20 hours after the event, that means the moon remains invisible for about two days. At the beginning of this period of invisibility called Mahaq in Arabic- a crescent may be seen on the eastern horizon at the time of namaz of Fajar before the sunrise, while at the end of the period of Mahaq, a crescent may be seen on the western horizon little after the sunset, which heralds the Muslim lunar month. The visible black new moon can be seen only at the time of a solar eclipse. The visibility of the new moon about 20 hours after the time of the new moon is the most significant to the Muslim community and a new lunar month starts with the naked eye visibility of the hilal. Please note that the new moon is not a crescent or a hilal, a few people have imagined.

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A few silent criteria and conditions for the maiden moonsighting as per the shariah and science are as under.
1. The difference between the moonset and the sunset should be about 50 minutes.
2. The age of the moon i.e., the time lapse after the newmoon time, to be about 20 to 24 hours.(Incubation period)
3. The altitude of the moon to be about 11 degree to 12 degree i.e., how high the moon is in the sky at the sunset time. The lines drawn on a world map as per the above criteria are called International Lunar Date Lines (ILDL).

Ruyath Hilal for Ramadan

The new moon on Amavas or Kala Chand for this month occurs on Thursday, the November 15 at 12-10 pm. There is no question of moonsighting the same evening in India as the moon is still incubating. However the maiden hilal becomes visible the same day evening in the mid-pacific. That means the hilal will be visible 100 per cent all over the world including India on Friday, November 16 evening and the lunar month of Ramadan starts from Saturday, November 17. The age of the moon will be about 30 hours in India and he moonset lag from the sunset will be about one hour. All the global observatories including the Royal Greenwich Observatory in London confirm this fact.

Ruyath Hilal for Shawwal-Eidul Fitr

The new moon or Kala Chand for Shawwal occurs on Saturday, December 15 at 2.17 am with an Annular Solar Eclipse, that is not visible in India as it is night time. The same day evening the chances of ruyath hilal are negative as the age of the moon is still 16 hours and the Moonset lag is only about 30 minutes in India. However the hilal becomes fit for naked eye sighting the same evening in the mid-Atlantic region near the Equator, as such the maiden hilal will be first seen in the world in Brazil and Central America (see the map), consequently the ruyath hilal occurs all over the world including India on December 16 evening and the Eid falls in India 100 per cent on Monday, December 17 and we will insha Allah have 30 fasting days. All the top world observatories including the Positional Astronomy Centre, Calcutta confirm this scientific fact.

Ruyath Hilal for ZulHijja- Bakrid

The Kala Chand or amavas for this month occurs on Tuesday, February 12 at 1-11 pm (Zohar). The chances or Ruyath Hilal the same evening are impossible in India and also in the whole world. On evening of February 13 the age of the moon will be about 29 hours and the moonset lag about 55 minutes in India. As per the shariah and the scientific facts the moon becomes fit for naked eye sighting just west of the International Date Line a little South of the equator on Wednesday evening and hilal will be seen 100 per cent all over the world including India on evening of February 13. The month starts from February 14. Accordingly the Eidul Azha falls on Saturday, February 23. (see the ILDL dated February 13 in the world map) All the noted observatories in the world confirm this fact.

The declaration of the ruyath hilal dates in Saudi Arabia in particular and most of the Arab countries and Indonesia, Malaysia and Kerala in India in general are most unreliable as they are against the shariah and science and it has to be condemned as per the Holy Quran Chapter 9, verse 36-37.
 

Dr. Zahir's Prediction About First Roza (fast), Eidul Fitr, Eidul Azha

First Fast of Ramadan November 17, 2001, Saturday
Eidul Fitr December 17, 2001, Monday
Eidul Azha February 23, 2002, Saturday

(The author is member, International Islamic Calendar Program, Malaysia, and Central Ruyath Hilal Committee of Karnataka, Bangalore. Tel: 6647960)

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