Every year it is the same. In the UK there is a split in the community and the joyous occasion that is Eid descends into argument with the announcement of Eid on two different days. This year, everyone started Ramadan together and we were confident that perhaps this year we would complete the holy month as one community and celebrate Eid in unison. Unfortunately, the customary Saudi spanner (monkey wrench) was cast into the machinery of Ramadan and they announced Eid a day early for the 29th of Ramadan. Once the dust of confusion had settled it became clear, more so this year than in previous, that the Saudis got is wrong yet again. The first issue is that the Saudis use a preset calendar called the Umm al-Qurra calendar and it seems that the authorities are reluctant to deviate from it and often conjure up bogus or mistaken moonsightings to bolster the calendar. The calendar is based on a calculated birth of the new moon and not the actual moon sighting which is contrary to the Sunnah of the Prophet of “sight the moon and start Ramadan, sight the moon and do eid, if sighting is not possible then complete the 30 days of Ramadan”. The irony here is that the sect represented by the Saudis and their religious scholars make a song and dance about “Quran and Sunnah” it is a mantra that has been used by them as a stick to beat other Muslims with, and yet here we see them dispense with the Sunnah in favour of something else. The position they have taken is clearly a bid’ah (a religious innovation) and for the Wahhabi sect ALL bid’ahs are a misguidance since they do not have a “hasan” (good) category of bid’ah.
This year, two things utterly exposed the Saudi position beyond any doubt. Firstly, the Jeddah based Astronomical Society of Saudi Arabia, clearly informed their government that it is most likely to be a 30 day Ramadan and that moonsighting was NOT possible on Monday 28th Ramadan (28th August 2011) anywhere in the Kingdom therefore Eid al-Fitr is likely to be on Wednesday – see http://www.arabnews.com/saudiarabia/article494126.ece. This fact is borne out by the various websites publishing moonsigthing data, in fact the only place that the new moon could be sighted clearly was somewhere in the Pacific Ocean and pretty much nowhere else. Despite this evidence, magically, reports of moonsightings came from Saudi Arabia and thus the day of Eid was confirmed for the what in reality was the 30th of Ramadan. Continue reading
This is the moonsighting report form Shaykh Muhammad Afifi al-Akiti
Shaykh Muhammad Afifi al-Akiti (MCW member) from Oxford, UK: Not Seen
Negative sighting. We attempted the obligatory sighting at the end of the 29th day of Ramadan (Sunday, 22 October 2006), despite the new moon is not expected to be visible locally today. It is raining and the horizon is overcast, and hence there was no possible sighting anyway. We received the report from Fez, Morocco of negative sightings by moonspotters despite clear skies and the authority there declared that the month of Ramadan is to complete its 30 days. Although the crescent is not expected to be sighted locally till Tuesday, this news and the expectation that there will be positive sightings east to our longitute on Monday are sufficient for us to complete this month like Morocco and establish the new month [thubut al-hilal] of Shawwwal in the UK to be on the day after tomorrow, Tuesday, the 24th of October, instead of Wednesday (a lesson in itself about the precedence [taqdim] of an easterly sighting over the local sighting-zone in Fiqh). ‘Id Mubarak!
More on moonsighting…
Rania Habib, Staff Reporter at The Gulf News reports:
Ramadan ‘was announced on wrong day’
“Abu Dhabi: Astronomers in the UAE maintain that the announcement of the beginning of Ramadan on Friday, September 22, was incorrect, and that it should have in fact been announced two days later.UAE Astronomical Society engineer Mohammad Shawkat Odeh and American University of Sharjah Associate Professor of Physics and Astronomy Dr Nidhal Guessoum explain that the crescent moon was impossible to see on Friday, September 22.”
The website Central-Mosque.com (a Deobandi website) says:
“?It is not known that the number of people sighting the moon in Saudia is of satisfactory quantity. The decision of the Saudi government is not only against the established principles of the Hanafi Fiqh, it is also against common sense therefore it is not applicable to Pakistan. The sighing of a large body is a condition within the Hanafi Fiqh when the horizon is clear however the Saudi government often decides Ramadhan on a single witness and Eid and Dhul-Hijjah on a minimum of two witnesses?(Ahsanul-Fatawa, Volume4/Page 417)”
moonsighting.com has a fatwa co-signed by a number of diverse Muslim groups on the Saudi Moonsighting Controversy.
“The Saudi Moon Controversy:
For years Saudi Moon sighting has been incredible and unreliable according to the established laws of science and experts all over the world have pointed to the discrepancies found therein. However this year was the first time when there was a revolt against this poor moon sighting within Saudi Arabia.The Saudi moon sighting committee moved the start date of Dhil-Hijja back by one day 4-5 days into the month of Dhil-Hijja. This was based on the testimony of two 80 year old witnesses (as interviewed by a delegation from the King Abdul College of Science & Technology (KACST)) reported in the Al-Watan Saudi newspaper on the 20th of January 2005 (http://www.alwatan.com.sa/daily/2005-01-20/writers/writers04.htm) since the moon was just 3 hours old and set 3 minutes BEFORE sunset, the reported sighting was impossible.”