Lunar Calender of Muslim Festival -1417H(1997)
Scientific and Astronomical Data
By Dr. S.A. Zahir
Scientific advancements have been galloping at an unstoppable pace for the last few decades mostly to simplify the life on the Earth. Huge and complex problems of the past can now be solved within minutes. So much so these days we breath science, eat science, drink science, plan science, grow science, transport science, read and write science, communicate science, construct science and what not. All around us we see nothing but scientific things made by the intelligence and wisdom and industriousness of man by the grace and blessing of Allah. We are all immersed deeply in the world of science. Man stepped on the moon 30 years back. We can reveal the sex of the infant in the mother's womb by scanning.
Our community at large including the Ulemas, Muftees, Molvis, Scholars, Imams and others for the purposes of Pilgrimage travel by plane, ship, train, buses, cars. No more do they walk or travel on camels. We reach Makkah within 5 to 6 hours from India. Thanks to science. All our salah charts pertaining to every village, town and city all over the world are prepared from the timing of dawn, sunrise, noon, sunset tables supplied by the Astronomical and Meteorological Departments in their panchangas and ephimeric. Thanks to science. No one any more witnesses the sunrise for the end of Fajr time or witnesses sunset for the Maghrib or Ifthar, or witnesses the beginning and the end of the twilight for dawn and Isha times, or watches the shadow of a vertical stick to determine noon and Asr time. Every one looks at a watch or clock for purposes of Salah time. Thanks to science. At each and every step of our life we make use of the scientific things, which are gifts from Allah.
But alas! when it comes to the Ruyathe hilal or moonsighting on the evening of the 29th day of each lunar month, the usual chaos prevails, especially for the Ramadan and the Eids, as all our Ulema in India depend upon actual moonsighting at their own places even on cloudy days as we have been doing for the last 1400 years, Qur'an kareem says clearly in chapter 55 verse 4 that the sun and the moon move at a particular arithmetical pace. In other words their movements are computed. The Astronomical science has discovered and revealed about the minor and major movements of the Earth, the moon and other planets a few decades back. As such it is very easy and simple to determine the Ruyathe hilal for not only the current month but also for the future months and decades, too.
In this connection the IICP headed by Dr.Mohammed Ilyas, (Malaysia) a great Scientist and Astronomist of International fame, has left no stone unturned to see that a Scientific International Islamic Lunar Calendar is prepared and computerised for the next 50 years according to Imkane-Ruyathe Hilal, Qur'an and Hadith. Our duty is to guide and suggest the Hilal committees all over the world about the Imkane Ruyathe Hilal on the 29th day of each Islamic lunar month and it will be much more useful on the cloudy days. I assure my community, on behalf of the IICP, that the result in this IICP calendar are Insha-Allah 99.999 percent correct and most reliable. I have been writing and publishing articles on this subject for last 10 years and by the grace of Allah the Imkane Ruyathe Hilal information had been cent percent right.
Our work covers the whole world. A curved line, called International Lunar Date Line (ILDL) is marked on a world map, concave to the West and convex to the East. The Hilal would be seen in all the countries to the West of the line and would not be seen to East of the line, cent percent, the same evening. There is a narrow zone of uncertainty about 2000 miles or 30 degree wide near the ILDL, wherein the chances of sighting are only 50%. The circumference of the Earth at the equator is about 25,000 miles and out of that in 23,000 miles we can furnish accurate sighting information, with uncertainty only in about an area of 2000 miles width. Research is on to further narrow down this zone and at the same time to verticalise the curved ILDL.
I plead to our Ulema, Muftees, Imams, Scholars and Literates and others to give recognition to this great scientific work carried out as per the Qur'an and Hadiths. This recognition is going to solve many of our problems and the usual chaos during the Ramadan and the Eids. And we can easily publish an Islamic Lunar Calendar for the next few decades if not for a century or two like the English calendar.
The Islamic calendar is not only a cultural system but a religiously sanctified system being dictated by Allah through a revelation publicised during the last Pilgrimage of the Prophet Muhammad (Pbuh). The modern Islamic calendar, purely lunar in nature and introduced in the 11th Hijri, has served the Ummah continuously for 14 centuries. However, practically all modern needs of fast travel and global communications require internationalisation of a localised calendar.
The Ruyathe Hilal, on the 29th day of each lunar month, is very much connected with the Amavas. What is Amavas? Amavas is an Indian word. In English language it is called New Moon and in Astronomy it is conjunction. It is a monthly event when the centres of the Sun, the Moon and the Earth are in one line. It occurs every 29.53 days on an average as the moon is orbiting round the Earth. The whole darker half of the moon faces the Earth while the bright half faces the sun. The moon remains invisible at this time all over the world and so also about 20 hours before and after the event because of proximity to the line of the bright sun. The Amavas can occur at any time of the day or night at a place. Please note that the new-moon is not a crescent. The visibility or Ruyath of the new-moon is the Hilal, that occurs not earlier than about 20 hours after the event of the new-moon. At the time of the new-moon each month, a new Astronomical Lunar month takes birth. The Hindus, Christians, Jews, Chinese, Paresees and other communities, who were all previously dependent on the sighting of the crescent for every new lunar month, have all changed on to the simple Astronomical month. But our community has adhered to the complicated and age old criterion of moon sighting, hence the problems. But much against the Sharia rules, a few Arab countries and Keralites, too have adopted the new-moon as the criterion for a fresh month, as such their lunar months start one or two days earlier.
Please note that for the Ruyathe Hilal, the moonset should occur atleast about 50 minutes after the sunset and the amavas should have occurred atleast about 20 hours earlier. You can get this information from the daily news papers or the Panchangas. Also, take note that the chances of the Ruyath Improve as we go west, the same evening. The world map here shows three International Lunar Date Lines for the three important months Ramadan and the Eids.
1. Ramadan : The amavas occurs at 9-56 A.M, 1st on 9-1-97. Please look at the ILDL dated January 9th and 10th on the map. There is no chance of sighting hilal this evening in India, Gulf and North America. This day the moon-set log in India is 22 mints, only and the age of the moon 8 hours further west in Makkah it is 30 mints / 11 hours, in Rabat (Morocco) 39 mints /14 hours, in New York 53 mints /18 hours and in Sanfrancisco 62 mints/21 hours. It is evident from this data that Ruyathe Hilal occurs in the U.S.A. on the 9th January evening itself. The Ruyathe Hilal occurs all over the world on the January 10th evening. The Indian Astronomical ephimeris - 1997 confirms this fact. Insh-Allah Ramadan starts in India on Saturday the January 11th.
2. Shawwal (Eidul Fitr): Look at the ILDL dated February 7th 1997, in the map. the amavas occurs at 8.36 P.M. 1st on 7th February 1997. There is no chance of Ruyathe Hilal this day any where in the world. The Ruyathe Hilal occurs first in the West Pacific Ocean region on the February 8th and as such Ruyathe Hilal occurs all over the world on February 8th evening itself. The Astronomical ephimeris confirm this fact. The moon-set log in India would be 55 mints and age of the moon 22 hours. Hence Eidul Fitr falls in India on Sunday the February 9th and we will have 29 fasting days only, while America will have 30 days.
3. Zil Hijja (Eidul Adha) : Note the ILDL in the map dated April 7th. The amavas occurs at 4.32 P.M. 1st on the April 7th 1997. There is no chance of Ruyathe Hilal anywhere in the world this day. The Ruyathe Hilal occurs first in the mid-pacific region on the April 8th and so also the whole world. Insha Allah Eidul Adha falls on Friday the April 18th in India.
4 . Muharram 14th H : Insha Allah Ruyathe Hilal occurs on the May 8th heralding the Muslim new year from Friday the May 9th 1997.