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Rabat 2006






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Rabat 2006 Islamic Calendar Conference


On Nov. 9-10, 2006 the Moroccan Astronomical Association and the Islamic Educational & Cultural Organization (ISESCO) organized a conference on the global Islamic calendar. The naïveté of the participants in the conference was amazing. Like the ISNA Fiqh Council ,they tried to solve the Islamic dates by the “Conjunction before 12:00noon GMT” without taking into consideration the two basic issues of every calendar:


1. When to start the Islamic date? (Noon, Conjunction, Sunset, midnight, etc.)


2. From where to start the lunar date? (London, Makka, New York, IDL, etc.)


By the established Shariah rule a Hijri day/date starts from the sunset, and the month starts westward from where the crescent moon becomes visible first at sunset. ISNA proposed rule (Conjunction before 12:00Noon GMT) fails both tests.


The earth is a globe, not a flat field. The solar date starts from the International Dateline (180E, and not from 0 longitude at London) at 12:00 midnight (not at 12:00Noon GMT). The solar date moves westward from 180E to cover the entire globe to 180W in 24 hours.

If the Islamic date begins from the sunset, westward after the earliest visibility of the crescent moon and it takes the crescent moon 3-5 days (48-72+ hours) to cover the entire globe then what is the most appropriate way to fix the beginning of an Islamic month and its length?

At present Muslims around the world use two methods to fix Ramadan and Eidain dates.


a. Calculated dates based on the conjunction (invisible moon)

b. Lunar visibility of the crescent moon.

The result is that Islamic months begin on 3-4 solar dates depending on who uses what criterion.  ISNA Fiqh Council since 2006 has fixed Hijri dates for the USA calculated by the "Conjunction before 12:00Noon GMT" but did not tell the Muslims at what time and from where its lunar date would start every  month? Will ISNA lunar date start from New Delhi where the sun would be setting at 12:00Noon GMT or from Makka (3:30 pm) where the sun has yet to set or Greenwich (Noon) or New York, Los Angeles, International dateline (at 12 mid-night)? ISNA, like Saudi Arabia and Egypt etc. has already discarded the lunar "visibility" of the Quran and the Sunnah for calculating Islamic dates.


If ISNA calculated date starts from the sunset around New Delhi (Makka, London, New York, Los Angeles, etc.) then the areas east of New Delhi (Makka, etc.) would be a lunar day/date behind and in the previous Islamic month. Only areas west of New Delhi (or Makka, etc.) will share the new date and the new Islamic month from their sunset.


Rabat Conference, like many before it, failed to look into the vital calendar-making issues and as usual gathered around the idea of a united Islamic calendar at the conjunction date. OIC Sec. General during his recent US tour has also endorsed Rabat/ISNA proposal.


What can the world expect when Muslim astronomical experts and political leadership are so naïve?