ISNA & Saudi Calculated
Dates Violate Shari’ah Omar
Afzal PhD (Rev. January 2007)
‘visual’ observation of the Crescent moon (Hilaal) to commence
an Islamic month from the sunset (of the same solar date)
because the night precedes the day in Islamic calendar. ISNA
Fiqh Council’s June 10, 2006 position is that “actual moon
sighting is not a requirement for Ramadan” (as well as Eidain).
Saudi Ummal-Qura Taqweem had abandoned the moon’s visibility in
Makka decades ago. Both ISNA and Saudi Taqweem rules for
starting the Islamic months undoubtedly violate the Shari’ah as
well as astronomical rules of the crescent moon’s visibility.
Allah says: The crescent moons (Ahilla) are the markers of time
Messenger (S) practiced Allah’s words by watching the moons
carefully every month, although he could easily follow the
Conjunction-based Jewish calendar as he did on the day he
arrived in Medina.
clouds or haze on the lower horizon blocked the moon’s naked-eye
observation, he instructed to complete the month to thirty days,
as a moon is always seen on 30th evening.
The two texts
defined the basic rules to begin the Islamic month.
Local time: From the local sunset (La tasumu…wa la tuftiru…(2:189,
Visibility: Naked-eye local confirmed sighting (Jaa’a
Local Date From the earliest visibility of the crescent
moon (Fa-hua li-lailatin…(Muslim))
Horizon Local horizon where the moon was sighted (Kuriab
practiced Allah’s order and followed the Sunnah of the Messenger
(S) faithfully all these fifteen centuries. It did not matter if
two towns, a few miles apart, observed Eid on two different days
(Muslim, Tirmidhi, Musannaf Ibn Abi Shaiba, etc.). The crescent
moon was counted for the evening it became first visible
(Muslim); its bigger size or brightness was taken as part of the
natural lunar cycle.
Local vs. Extended
horizon (Ikhtilaaf vs. Ittihaad al-Mataali) was only a Fiqhi
speculation. The maximum distance for the “shared Matla” was the
distance for “Qasr” (Reduced Raka’at for travelers). When Imam
Abu Hanifa opined that a “sighting in the West obligates fasting
on the Muslims in the East” (Ibn Abideen) he did not mean that
the Muslims in Kufa fast by a sighting in Baghdad, Damascus or
Spain because the means of conveying the news of moon’s sighting
at X to Y (located a few miles East) were not available. The
earth was assumed flat, and same date lunar visibility was
assumed universal. No need was felt to send the news from the
place of the “earliest” sighting to nearby places east, west,
north or south.
Prevailing use of
“Yaum al-Arafah” for 9th, “Yaum al-Nahr” for 10th
day of Dhul Hijja or “Ashra” for the 10th of Muharram
confirms the flat earth perception of the globe and uniformity
of Hijri dates all over the Earth. Readers frequently notice the
discrepancy in Islamic records of lunar Islamic dates. Two or
three lunar dates are recorded for the same solar day/date.
A workable lunar
calendar required 1) Uniformity of dates, and 2) A fixed point
on the Universal horizon. The local date must move westward,
from the same point on the Earth every month, and cover the
globe in 24 hours. For example, the Jewish calendar was
calculated from the astronomical conjunction at Jerusalem. The
solar date begins at 12:00 midnight on the Solar Dateline. These
concepts however never entered into Islamic calendar equations.
The Muslims assumed that the local naked-eye visibility in their
town marked the lunar date for the rest of the world from their
sunset. The lunar visibility at sunset in Makka or some other
point on the globe remains irrelevant even now for most Muslim