Moon Sighting

Let’s start off this post first and foremost with a “Ramadan Mubarak” to all the fellow Muslims. May Allah (SWT) guide us all in the right path, and accept all our prayers, fasts, & good deeds during this blessed month. Ameen.

For my non-Muslim friends: the Islamic calendar is a lunar calendar so the start of each month/year, therefore, is based on the [new] moon. Thus, the days in each month can vary by a day as a result.

The significance of the month of Ramadan? The holy Qu’ran was revealed in this blessed month.

Now onto the topic itself that is eating away at me today. It’s actually been eating away at me for years.

So, each year, when it’s time to figure out when the month of Ramadan is going to start and/or when Eid will be based on the moon sighting… well, let’s just say the days before every Ramadan/Eid [for as long as I can remember] is always full of controversy, debate and even, perhaps, arguments.

A moon is a moon. If it’s been “sighted” by one, then as a collective ummah we need to unite. The earth has but one moon.

Yet every year, without a shadow of a doubt, there is at least one group of people that decides to vary from the pact and do it a different day. There have been times in the past when the difference in days has been two days. How that is even possible, I don’t know, considering a month can have either 29 or 30 days in the Islamic calendar.

For there to be different days of Eid, or to argue which day is the first day of the blessed month of Ramadan is to essentially accuse the other half of the ummah of deceit and lies. That “we know you say you saw the moon, but we don’t believe you”… which in itself is something major and something for you to ponder.

There is an hadith that says something to the likes of that:

“Whenever you sight the new moon (of the month of Ramadan) observe fast, and when you sight it (the new moon of Shawwal) break it, and if the sky is cloudy for you, then observe fast for thirty days.”

Which is very ironic because so many times the argument made in previous years is that it was too cloudy for the moon to be visible so Ramadan doesn’t start tomorrow.

Which brings me to my next point. Technology. Technology has come a long way. We now can very easily figure out when there is [or will be] a new [visible] moon. We need to come together and create an Islamic calendar based on the help of indisputable astronomical information and all of the advancements in science and technology over the years.

I read a quote online by the national coordinator and moon sighting consultant to ISNA that said:

“Today, Muslims have expertise and access to technology to understand the calculations of when and where the sighting occurs. Recorded data shows how the science of moon sighting is compared with the actual observations. The results show that calculations of sighting and observations have matched every month since 1993. Calculations of moon sighting and actual sighting are not two different things for an Islamic Calendar when it was found that they both match.”

Don’t even get me started on the argument that back in the day, there wasn’t all this science and astronomical information. Because most of the people who argue this are the ones who open their fasts based on the exact time of maghrib down to the minute/second as listed on the prayer schedule [and are not so particular about prayer times the other 11 months of the year]. Never mind the fact that back in the day there weren’t cell phones, computers, TVs, and all these other technological advanced things available either.

Religion isn’t meant to complicate your life, rather it’s meant to simplify it. If you dig deep enough, it will always help you find an answer to every single one of your questions.

I am not sure if I completely agree with leaving it all completely to science. Some part of me believes that there needs to be a reliance on a physical sighting IF it’s not cloudy because of the hadith. I think science and technology should be used to help, not hinder. I think we need to establish and follow a universal “moon sighting” at the very least [that if it’s visible to one, then it’s as if it’s visible to all]. I think we need to get our acts together and work on establishing an Islamic calendar.

Again, these are my thoughts and thoughts alone. I’m not an expert by any means… and I don’t claim to be one either.

Allah knows best.

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