Islamic Voice A Monthly English Magazine

Shaban 1424 H
October 2003
Volume 16-10 No : 202
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Islam and Astronomy


Moonsighting for Ramadan and Eid

Moonsighting for Ramadan and Eid

The readers are expected to be aware of the actual meanings of a few words very often used in the topic-the meanings may be quite confusing:



By Dr. Syed Abdul Zahir

Hilal is the fine crescent seen on the western horizon on the 29th or 30th evening of a lunar month. The convexity points toward the west. It is usually seen about 20 to 24 hrs often the event of the conjuction. At this time, the moon usually sets about 50 mts after the sunset. With the sighting of the Hilal, the Muslims all over the world decide that the previous lunar month has ended and heralds a fresh new month from the sunset time and the day and the date change.

As compared to the evening Hilal in the west, an eastern Hilal may be seen on the horizon at dawn, convexity pointing to the east, one or two days earlier. People may mistake as this dawn Hilal is of little significance.

Crescent or the new Crescent is same as the Hilal mentioned above. It may be seen growing with the days. The Crescent is nearly placed transversely near the equator, which it is seen usually vertically placed at the higher latitudes.

Conjunction is an event or phenomenon when the sun, the moon and the Earth lie in the same line on a plane, when cent % of the bright surface of the moon faces the sun, while the 100% of the dark sun face faces the Earth. The sky remains moonless and the night is dark. A conjunction can occur at any time of the day or night. If the centre of the three bodies are situated along a line, then a solar eclipse occurs, but quite often they are situated in one plane. In Astronomy, this event is considered for culmination of the last lunar month and starting of a fresh month. In the English Language, this event is referred to as ‘New Moon’ or Naya Chand. It is this wrong meaning that has been giving all the problems in the Muslim community all over the world. Most of the Arab countries, including Saudi Arabia and Kerala consider the new moon to be a Hilal. That is why their dates start one or two days earlier. Actually the meaning of the word New Moon should have been a Dark Moon or Kala Chand. The Hilal is still is an embryonic state and it can be seen only when it is delivered after 9 months. The way Saudi Arabia announces the moonsighting on innumerable occasions shows that the infant is born even before the woman is pregnant. I have in my possession many such examples and instances. Dear readers, please note that a New Moon in English or Naya Chand does not mean a Hilal, but it is actually a black or Dark Moon that is totally invisible.

New Moon: As explained above

Amavas is an Indian word for the moonless skies, both day and night. Its period varies between 35 to 45 hours- usually occurs between the setting of the dawn crescent and rising of the evening crescent. The event of the New Moon or the conjunction occurs during the middle part of this period. Nights are very dark.

Mahaq is the Arabic Equivalent of the Indian Word Amavas

The Dates of Important Festivals

Ramadan Mubarak 1424

The New Moon or Amavas or Mahaq occurs for this month at 6-20 pm on Saturday, October 25th. For the purpose of the naked eye sighting of the Hilal in India, falls in the ‘Zone of Uncertainty’ meaning, may be seen or not, as such, the moment may give some anxiety and tension. The data is that on Sunday, October 26th, the age of the moon would be 24 hrs and the moonset lag from the sunset is only 44 minutes in India and about 48 minutes in the southern Peninsula. The Moon is almost on the equator, while the sun is in the southern hemisphere in the 12 degree latitude, south. In the light of these Shariath and scientific facts, there are no chanceS of sighting the Hilal in the whole of India except the southern tip i.e. Madurai, Trivandrum, Cape Comorin and Colombo on October 26, wherein the Hilal is likely to be seen. That means the month of Ramadan and fasting start from Tuesday, October 28th. This information is confirmed by the Positional Astronomy Centre, Calcutta, Royal Greenwich Observatory, London and International Islamic Calendar Program, Malaysia. These will be only 29 fasting days this time. Further, we will be having two eclipses in Ramadan- a total eclipse of the Moon visible in India on Sunday, November 9th early morning and ends at 8:35 a.m. The second one a total solar eclipse, not visible in India, occurs on Monday, November 24th early morning.

Shawwal - Eidul Fitr

The Mahaq or the New Moon or the Amavas occurs on Monday, November 24,th early morning at 4.29 a.m along with a total solar eclipse. The Hilal becomes fit for naked eye visibility in the Atlantic Area, the same evening. It may be seen in South America the same evening. But it will be visible in India and the whole world on Tuesday, November 25th. The Age of the Moon would be about 40 hrs in India and the Moonset lag from the sunset would be about 80 minutes. InshaAllah, Wednesday, November 26th would be the day of Eidul Fitr. All the top observatories in the world confirm the information.

Zul Hijja - Bakrid

For the Ruyath Hilal of the month of Haj, the Amavas or Mahaq or the New Moon occurs on Thursday, January 22nd at 2:35 a.m. There is no question of sighting the Hilal the same evening in India. However the Hilal becomes thick enough to be seen by the naked eye in Africa, south of the Equator. Hilal would be visible in most of south America on Thursday itself. But on the next day, Friday, January 23rd, the age of the Moon in India would be about 40 hrs and the Moonset lag from the sunset would be nearly 95 minutes. In these circumstances, the Hilal would be visible in India and all over the world 100 % and Saturday, January 24th would be the 1st of Zil. Hijja. Accordingly, Eidul Adha falls on Monday, February 2nd InshaAllah. All the observatories in the world vouch for this information.

Muharram- 1425H: The Mahaq or the New Moon for this month occurs on Friday, February 20th at 2:48 a.m. Accordingly our next New Year 1425 H starts InshaAllah from Sunday, February 22nd.

Written and Calculated by Dr. Syed Abdul Zahir, M.S Member International Islamic Calender Program, Malaysia Member, Central Ruyath Hilal Committee of Karnataka. Islamic Astronomer, Ph: 6647960. No: 171, 6th Main, Jayanagar 4th Block, Bangalore - 560011.

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