A comparison of Ramadan crescent sightings with astronomical computations

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Doha – Asdaf News:

Muslims all over the world anticipate the sighting of the crescent of the month of Ramadan each year as Sha’ban comes to an end. They do this to prepare for fasting and to continue the Prophet Mohammad’s – peace be upon him – sunnah, which states 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, Muslims always ask how and when to monitor and follow the crescent, its circumstances, and its obligations as Ramadan comes each year.This is because countries’ latitude and longitude positions, sunrise and sunset times, and opinions on how religious texts should be interpreted in relation to seeing the crescent all vary.

In his exclusive remarks to Qatar News Agency (QNA), HE President of Qatar Center for Space Sciences and Astronomy Sheikh Salman bin Jabor Al-Thani said that according to the Sunnah, observing the crescent of the month of Ramadan start from the 29th day of Sha’ban as people try to apply the Sunnah, which is to observe and try to see the crescent over the western horizon after or with sunset, as it becomes easier to see after sunset.

On the conditions and circumstances that should be met for the validity of the crescent’s observing and sighting, His Excellency explained that some things are preferably done for the sighting process, including assuring the birth of the crescent before sunset and a sufficient distance between the moon and the sun, so that the moon creates sufficient light, making it easier for the observer to see it. It is also preferable for crescent observers to be in an area free of environmental and light pollution, away from beaches, so that sea humidity does not affect the possibility of seeing it.

Regarding the process of observing itself, His Excellency said that observers should begin by focusing on the western side from the beginning of contact with the sun to the western horizon in order to take advantage of as much time as possible to try to see the crescent. There is nothing wrong with using binoculars, and using them is acceptable in validating the birth of the crescent. As for digital cameras, they are unacceptable because their capabilities far exceed the human eye.

Sheikh Salman bin Jabor Al-Thani indicated that the existing or the mentioned difference between countries is not of a big significance as religion is supposed to make people’s lives easier not harder, and Allah told Muslims to fast Ramadan for 29 days or 30 days according to the possibility of observing the crescent, which is also affirmed in several Hadiths of the prophet – peace be upon him.

HE President of Qatar Center for Space Sciences and Astronomy said that some people deliberately create controversy among countries or sheikhs for media publicity by denying the crescent sighting while the Crescent Sight Committee is meeting on the investigation day, warning of the ensuing social rows.

His Excellency stressed that there is no disagreement among sheikhs or astronomers, calling on the public to listen only to the Crescent Sighting Committee.

Arab and Islamic countries use binoculars to see the crescent at a time when other countries adopt astronomical calculations, His Excellency said, noting that seeing the crescent with the naked eye is highly recommended among Muslim fuqaha’ (Islamic jurists) in accordance with the Holy Qur’an.

Most Islamic countries depend the spatial visibility of the crescent on the 29th of Sha’ban in every possible place by committees composed of fuqaha’, astronomers and ordinary citizens, he added, highlighting the inevitability of collective investigation of the crescent as the best way to ensure what is being seen is the crescent.

His Excellency also noted that the duration of fasting hours in Ramadan vary from one country to another according to their latitude and longitude, highlighting the variance within large countries by area, such as Algeria and Saudi Arabia.

There will be a few-minute increase in the duration of fasting hours during Ramadan coinciding the approach of summer when daylight hours increase, His Excellency said.–QNA


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