Here is the first crescent of the month, visible and apparent. Isn’t it romantic? This is called Hilal in the Noble Quran. The Moon moves around the earth in orbit. The TIME for one complete orbit of the Moon around the planet earth is defined as a lunar month, and the time duration for 12 such orbits is known as a Lunar Year; as the Moon advances its position, the Hilal or the Crescent increases in its thickness till it becomes Full Moon. After that, the bright part of the Moon decreases till it becomes totally dark towards the end of the month.
In this position, the Moon has completed a revolution around the earth, and now it is ready to start the next orbit. As the Moon enters the next orbit at a specific position with respect to the earth and the Sun, the Moon reflects the Sun’s light to the earth in the form of a thin bright crescent and this is known as the First Crescent [HILAL], thereby communicating to the human eye on earth that the first day of the month has started. The first crescent is absolute, and it is the same for all the people of the earth regardless of where they are located on the Globe.
It may be noted that the earth rotates around its axis. The TIME for ONE complete rotation of the earth is defined as a Day which is further divided into 24 equal intervals of time known as hours. The Moon does not rotate around its axis. The Moon is a round body whose far side cannot be seen from the earth. At the time of the first crescent, [HILAL], some countries may be facing the Sun.
or them, it is the bright day. They may or may not be able to see the crescent. For example, if the USA happens to be facing the Sun, we may not be able to see the crescent visually due to the bright daylight, even though the crescent is there. It is also possible that people on certain locations on the Globe may be totally blocked from seeing the crescent due to the geometry of the Globe, relative positions of the Moon and the earth. Please note that the earth is continuously rotating around its axis in addition to moving along the orbit around the Sun. In contrast, the Moon continuously moves along its orbit around the earth.
These dynamics of motions by the earth and the Moon play a significant role in the visibility or non-visibility of the crescent for the people of the earth. While there will be people who will not be able to see the crescent due to the above-stated reasons, there will be people in the other countries who will be moving towards the evening, where the sun light will be decreasing and the darkness of the night will be taking over.
These people will be able to see the first crescent with their eyes. Those people who saw the crescent could testify to the whole World that they saw the first crescent, [HILAL]. Please note that the first crescent [HILAL] is only ONE for the entire World. The Hilal is the first crescent that appears to the naked eye due to the relative positions of the Moon, the Sun, and the Earth.
THE MOON SIGHTING IN ISLAM IS THE
VISUAL CONFIRMATION OF THE FIRST
CRESCENT [HILAL] TO START THE MONTH.
Allah, the ONE and ONLY ONE, WHO is the Creator of the Universe, has ordered the Muslims to use the lunar calendar.
SURA 2, Ayah 189 (partial).
They (the people) ask you (the Prophet) concerning the new moons.
SAY: “They are only SIGNS to mark fixed periods of time in (the affairs of) men, and for Hajj (Pilgrimage)”………………………………..…
SURA 9, Ayah 36
The number of months in the sight of Allah is twelve (in a year), so ordained by Him. The day he created the heavens and the earth, four are sacred: That is the straight usage.
Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) delivered the message of Allah exactly in Allah’s Words, the Noble Quran. During the 23 years of his prophethood, he proved the practicality of Islam by leading a life per the Orders of Allah. He also delivered his own sayings called the Hadith, and his actions and sayings are known as-Sunnah.
The Muslim depends on both the Noble Quran and the Sunnah for guidance.
Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) said that Muslims must sight the first crescent [HILAL] to start the month and sight the next first crescent [HILAL] to start the next month and end the previous month. Let us read the following Hadith, which is taken from Al-Bukhari.
vol 3, hadith 130. Sahih Al – Bukhari.
Narrated Abu Huraira : The Prophet or Abu-Qasim Said, “Start Fasting on Seeing the Crescent (of Ramadan), and Give Up Fasting on Seeing The Crescent (of Shawwal), And If The Sky is Overcast (And You Can Not See it), Complete Thirty Days of Shaban.”
The rejection of the correct Hadith will result in the rejection of Sunnah. Rejection of Sunnah is not allowed in the true Islamic life.
The bottom line is that the Muslim or Muslims must see the first crescent [HILAL] to start or finish the month of Ramadan or any month. Muslims are spread all over the Globe, approximately ONE BILLION and 300 millions in number. They live in USA. Canada, Mexico, South America, England, Germany, Bosnia, and all of North Africa. West Africa, some parts of Central Africa, South Africa, Arabia, Middle East, Iran, Afghanistan, Pakistan, India, China, Southern Russia, Kashmir, Sri Lanka, Malaysia, Indonesia, Australia, Siberia, Singapore, and so on.
All these groups cannot see the first crescent due to their different locations on the Globe. The first crescent [HILAL] forms only once, regardless of who is located on earth, as it was stated previously that only a few groups might be able to see the crescent [Hilal]. Now the question is this?.
Those who could not see the Moon, what will they do?
The answer to this question has been implied in the Noble Quran.
SURA 21, Ayah 92.
Verily, this Brotherhood of yours is a single Brotherhood, and I am your Lord and Cherisher: therefore serve Me (and NO other).
From the above Ayah, it is evident that Allah orders that Muslims are ONE. [Wahed] BROTHERHOOD, regardless of their cultures, languages, colors, races, and geographical locations. The Quranic word in this Ayah is WAHED which means ONE. or Single.
Hence all the ONE Billion and 300 million Muslims who live on this planet earth are ONE BROTHERHOOD. Allah said this to all the believers of Islam. This command was not for Arabian Muslims, American Muslims, or any particular group. As brothers of the Muslim Ummah, those who saw the crescent must inform those who did not or could not see it.
In the 21st Century, we have telephones, cell phones, TV, Satellite communications, Internet. We can talk to a person in China within a few minutes. Hence if they saw the first crescent [Hilal] in the USA, they can inform the responsible authorities in other countries within a few minutes. The other countries can do the same by notifying us in the US. This procedure will comply with the concept of Brotherhood that Allah has ordered for Muslims.
For example, if people in India saw the first crescent in the evening time, people in Los Angeles would be approximately 12 hours behind in time. It would be morning in Los Angeles. The Muslims in India must inform the moon sighting, and the people of Los Angeles would start or finish the month when the next Sunset in LA Likewise, the Muslims all over the World would terminate their lunar month at their next sunset. Is this not wonderful that MUSLIMS all over the World will demonstrate the spirit of ONE Brotherhood in the moon-sighting!!!! Brotherhood in moon sighting will be the initial exercise to train the Muslims to expand the single brotherhood concept into other aspects of life.
Of course, during the time of Prophet Muhammad (pbuh)), the World did not have telephones, TV, Satellites, and Radio. The transportation was accomplished through horses, camels, and donkeys. It would take three months to travel from Damascus to Medina!! Hence the Prophet depended upon local sighting of the Moon.
At that time, due to the transportation and communication difficulties, it was permitted for people in far-off towns to terminate their month upon crescent sighting in their neighborhood. The Hadith also allowed them to complete 30 days of the month if they could not sight the Moon due to cloudy or any other weather conditions.
The science of astronomy has been highly developed in the 20th Century. Now it is possible to predict the occurrence of the first crescent through calculations without seeing it. The calculations will predict the date of the first crescent and also will PREDICT from what part of the Globe the crescent will be visible to the naked eye. If we depend on the calculations only and do not attempt to see the crescent, we reject the Hadith, which clearly says “SEE THE CRESCENT” [HILAL]. If we reject this Hadith, we are rejecting the Sunnah, which is not allowed in Islam. However there is no need to reject the Sunnah. We comply with the Hadith and at the same time use the astronomical calculations to help us see the crescent. The calculations will predict the place and time the crescent will appear on the Globe. Now it is a matter of communication to the WORLD MUSLIMS which is easy in this Century and the future. We can arrange a reliable group of Muslims to see the crescent at the predicted place based on our calculations. These people will testify to the visual sighting, and they are righteous. Their testifying will be communicated to all the responsible groups in the World through telephones or Televisions.
It is also possible to televise the HILAL through satellites so that people in different parts of the World can see it in real-time. “Seeing is believing,” as they say.
The great result of this system of moon sighting is that the Muslim Umma will come together in unity. The concept of SINGLE BROTHERHOOD as ordered by Allah will be practiced at least in moonsighting!!! By using the lunar month, we are in accordance with the Quran, and by visually seeing the crescent, we are respecting and following the Hadith.
Here in the United States, for the past twenty years that I have been experiencing, when the holy month of Ramadan starts, we have chaos!!! Just in Los Angeles. The Muslim Community gets divided, and we end up with three Ramadans —— each Ramadan displaced by the other one by a day or two. Some leaders state this is O.K because it is a minor thing; this and that. In my opinion, if the community cannot even unite on a minor thing, they will NOT unite on any major issue. Uniting on a minor subject like the moon sighting is a good exercise to prepare them for major issues later. We end up having three different Lailatu Al-Khaddars, three different Eid Al-Fitters, and so on.
Some people end up fasting on EID Day, believing that Eid is on the next day. Fasting on Eid Day is prohibited (Haram).
Anyway, the bottom line is this: From the Islamic Research and the research into the moon phases and the first crescent [Hilal], it can be concluded that there is no difference between the HADITH and the astronomy of the first crescent.
The Muslim Umma has been ordered to sight the Moon by Prophet Muhammad (pbuh). Allah has ordered the Muslims to be a SINGLE brotherhood, regardless of where the Muslims are living. If these orders are followed, there will be ONE Ramadan in the US and other parts of the World!!! Let us demonstrate ONE [Wahed] Brotherhood by relying on moon-sighting information from a reliable Muslim source regardless of where that source is in the World!!!!