Ummah likely to be split over Eid as Saudis announce the wrong date as usual

Developing Just Leadership

Crescent International

Ramadan 26, 1423 2002-12-01

World

by Crescent International (World, Crescent International Vol. 31, No. 19, Ramadan, 1423)

Although Muslims worldwide started the month of Ramadhan on the correct day, there is growing concern that similar unity may elude them when it comes to celebrating Eid. The Saudis’ Um al-Qura calendar has already declared Eid on Thursday, December 5, when all scientific data about the Shawwal (Eid) moon indicates that it will be impossible to sight it on Wednesday, December 4.

According to astronomical data, the Shawwal moon will be born on Wednesday, December 4, at 0734 GMT. This corresponds to 7:34 am in London, 2:34 am in Toronto, 10:34 am in Saudi Arabia and 12:34 pm in Pakistan.

On Wednesday evening the age of the moon at the time of sunset in Pakistan (assuming a 5 pm sunset for the sake of simplicity) will be less than five hours; in Saudi Arabia it will be less than 7 hours, and in Toronto it will be 14 hours and 8 minutes (sunset in Toronto on December 4 is at 4:42 pm). Even on the West coast of North America the age of the moon will only be about 17 hours. The minimum age for moon=sighting at the time of sunset is 20 to 24 hours in ideal conditions. These include no cloud on the horizon, a large angle of separation between sun and moon, and the moon being above the horizon for at least 30 to 45 minutes after sunset. Even on the West coast of North America the angle of separation at sunset will be only 6 to 7 degrees on December 4, and the moon sets shortly after sunset. Thus it will be very difficult to sight it anywhere in the world on the evening of December 4, with the West coast of North America being the least unlikely place for sighting.

Ummah likely to be split over Eid as Saudis announce the wrong date as usual

Although Muslims worldwide started the month of Ramadhan on the correct day, there is growing concern that similar unity may elude them when it comes to celebrating Eid. The Saudis’ Um al-Qura calendar has already declared Eid on Thursday, December 5, when all scientific data about the Shawwal (Eid) moon indicates that it will be impossible to sight it on Wednesday, December 4.

According to astronomical data, the Shawwal moon will be born on Wednesday, December 4, at 0734 GMT. This corresponds to 7:34 am in London, 2:34 am in Toronto, 10:34 am in Saudi Arabia and 12:34 pm in Pakistan.

On Wednesday evening the age of the moon at the time of sunset in Pakistan (assuming a 5 pm sunset for the sake of simplicity) will be less than five hours; in Saudi Arabia it will be less than 7 hours, and in Toronto it will be 14 hours and 8 minutes (sunset in Toronto on December 4 is at 4:42 pm). Even on the West coast of North America the age of the moon will only be about 17 hours. The minimum age for moonsighting at the time of sunset is 20 to 24 hours in ideal conditions. These include no cloud on the horizon, a large angle of separation between sun and moon, and the moon being above the horizon for at least 30 to 45 minutes after sunset. Even on the West coast of North America the angle of separation at sunset will be only 6 to 7 degrees on December 4, and the moon sets shortly after sunset. Thus it will be very difficult to sight it anywhere in the world on the evening of December 4, with the West coast of North America being the least unlikely place for sighting.

SHAWWAL MOON DATA*

Birth of moon

Wednesday, December 4,
02:34 (Toronto time)
07:34 (UK time)

Visibility Thursday, December 5
Sunset (Toronto) 16:41
Moonset (Toronto) 17:53
Age of moon at sunset (Toronto): 38 hrs 07 min.
EID AL-FITR FRIDAY, DECEMBER 6, 2002

*Above data accurate for Toronto only.

Why have the Saudis announced Eid a day earlier than the probable sighting date? While claiming to be following the sighting criterion advised by the noble Messenger of Allah (saw), the Saudis actually follow the birth criterion. This is bid’ah (innovation in deen), which is condemned in Islam. The Saudis started fasting on Wednesday November 6 not because the new moon was sighted in Saudi Arabia the previous evening, but because they claimed to have “completed” 30 days of Sha’ban. It was not possible for them to have completed 30 days of the previous month, but because they had started that month a day early, based on the birth rather than the sighting criterion, they had to start Ramadhan on November 6 (Islamic calendar months are either 29 or 30 days). Thus, once 30 days of a particular month are complete the next month starts automatically, but the condition is that the previous month should have been started on the correct date. The Saudis habitually violate this principle, leading to much confusion in the Ummah.

It may well be asked what the Saudi regime achieves by creating this fitna. The House of Saud covers itself in the garb of religion to make up for its lack of political legitimacy. Muslims have immense respect for Islam’s two holy places in Makkah and Madina, so there are millions of Muslims worldwide who defer to the Saudis’ judgement simply because of the location of the Haramain in the Arabian Peninsula. Thus when the Saudi regime announces a date for the start or end of Ramadhan, many Muslims instinctively follow them out of respect for the Haramain. It is also interesting to note that king Fahd has arrogated to himself the title of khadim al-Haramain (‘custodian of the Two Holy Places’). This is completely undeserved, since of all the rulers in the Muslim world he is perhaps the most corrupt – morally as well as financially – and it is a disgrace that a person of his calibre should assume such a title.

The Saudi regime also takes pleasure in claiming that it is the “leader” of the Muslim world. Thus, when some Muslims follow it in matters of Ramadhan and Eid, they derive satisfaction from this. They have an advantage over the question of Hajj because the Saudi regime is in physical control of the Haramain, and even if Muslims were to protest their commemoration of Hajj on the wrong day there is nothing anyone can do about it. This is a grave violation of Islam’s principles, as Allah’s Messenger (saw) has stated clearly that the Day of Hajj is the Day of Arafat, which is the ninth of Dhul Hijjah; the Saudis habitually violate this command, depriving Muslims of the true barakah of Hajj.

Muslims need to guard against such machinations by the Saudis and their agents worldwide who have ensconced themselves in various masajid, especially in North America and Europe. They create dissension in the community at a time when Muslims yearn for unity.

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