We are “The Committee for Crescent Observation Intl. (CFCO)”. We are focused on a computable “global Islamic calendar” based on the earliest “lunar visibility” as stated in the Qur’an, and Sunnah, and practiced by the Ummah for the last 1400 years.
We started functioning in 1978. MSA (now ISNA’s) 1978 decision to fix Ramadan and Eidain dates in the USA on the basis of the “News from Middle East” (Kahf: 1980), in place of a “visible moon in North America” resulted in Eid al-Fitr on the last day of Ramadan.
Dr. S. K. Abdali presented his “On the Crescent’s Visibility” (al-Ittihad v.16:#1-2 ) in 1978, and we discovered the “visibility curves” when we plotted the observation data on the world map on two consecutive dates. Charles Evans of North American Islamic Observatory provided invaluable support for decades by taking photographs of the first day moons from Colorado Springs.
CFCO consists of nine members (Ulema, astronomers (familiar with moon’s visibility) and computation experts). We are an independent research group, not affiliated with any sect, or organization. We do not receive financial support from any government or center.
CFCO worked closely in 1980s and 1990s with Dr. Kenneth Seidelmann, Dr. Le Roy Doggett (US Naval Observatory), Dr. Bradley E. Schaefer (NASA, Yale), Dr. Imad A. Ahmad, and B. D. Yallop (RGO) to solve knotty issues of date, time and place of the first sighting of the moon (Hilal). We were instrumental in ISNA (1981) and IIIT (1986) conferences, as well as Moon Watches (1987-1992) organized by the US Naval Observatory. Afzal (1986) contains the CFCO’s basic recommendations for a Hilal-based-global-Hijri calendar. Some of our papers are listed on “Moon-sighting facts” and “FAQ” pages.
CFCO, since 1981, has circulated dozens of papers (in English, Arabic and Urdu) on astronomical and Fiqh aspects of lunar calendars. Our regular features include yearly dual (Islamic and solar) date calendars for various regions of the world besides “information sheets” of expected Ramadan and Eidain dates.
We meticulously evaluate sighting claims on stringent Islamic and astronomical norms.
CFCO’s criterion is the “earliest verifiable visibility of the crescent moon somewhere (in North America)”. Islamic day/date/month begins from a clearly “visible” crescent moon after sunset on day 29 or day 30 of the lunation. The place and time for moon’s earliest visibility is where the Moon is vertically above the Sun at sunset. When their relative azimuth is zero, the apparent altitude of the moon at sunset is 10 degrees, and the time lag between the sunset and the moonset exceeds 35 minutes the crescent moon should become visible if the sky is clear, and the horizon is flat.
Actual sighting generally occurs before the Sun reaches an altitude of –5 degrees. If the moon’s elongation at sunset is less than 11 degrees and its altitude is less than 8 degrees one needs a good telescope to locate the dimly lit crescent moon. Higher elongation (12+ degrees) may sometimes compensate for a lower (8+) altitude at sunset. However, the first claims of visibility must be confirmed from places west of it within the visibility parabola.
If a moon is not seen consistently then odd claims do not fulfill Shariah requirements of “Ghalabat-az-Zann” (overwhelming probability) for Ramadan and “Ghalabatal-yaqeen” (near certainty) for Eidain. (For details see “Moon-sighting Facts).
CFCO – Moonsighting Seminars
We plan to organize Moonsighting seminars in Los Angeles, San Francisco, Chicago, Washington D.C., Houston/Dallas, and New York between March and July 2006. We urgently need local sponsors. If your center/mosque is interested, please contact us at 607-277-6706. The centers have to fix the date, publicize the event, and host the CFCO speakers. We will provide the travel expenses of the speakers (if needed).
CFCO is Reliable for Correct Islamic Dates
How to Become Part of CFCO
CFCO Needs Your Support
ISNA Waffling About Eid al-Adha
Why is Eid al-Adha Not Eid al-Hajj?
ISNA Fiqh Council Experts are Naïve and Mislead
ISNA Fiqh Council, ICNA, Shura Council, etc. often find 1-2 witnesses from somewhere and declare that the Shariah requirements are met to declare Ramadan and Eid. ISNA’s so-called “astronomical experts” approve these witnesses with disastrous consequences:
Ramadan on the last day of Sha’ban (“Disobeying the Messenger (S)” (Bukhari);
Lailatul Qadr dates messed up for observant Muslims;
Eid al-Fitr on the last day of Ramadan. ((Sat. Nov. 13, 2004, Thu. Nov. 3, 2005)
Eid al-Adha on 9th day of D. Hijja (ISNA FC’s policy)
Dhahiya (Qurbani) done on the 9th of D. Hijja making it invalid, etc., etc.
Dr. Mohib Durrani was just a novice when he attended IIIT conference in 1986. By1989 he became ISNA “astronomical expert” for getting his short notes, documenting “record-breaking” yet BOGUS sightings by casual observers, published in QJRaS Canada (1989, 83:34) and the Sky & Telescope (1990, 79:582). His observationally erroneous criterion, based on Badat (TX), etc. sighting is:
Possible = if Moon’s age 13 hours; Probable = if 14 hours; Certain = if 15 hours
He has kept on attesting blatantly FALSE and obviously DUBIOUS sighting claims for the last 18 years. Now he proposes to reduce Danjon’s 7 degrees elongation limit for crescent moon’s formation to 6.5 degrees so that the Islamic dates in N. America coincide with the Saudi dates. Dr. Salamah has no idea when a moon could become visible and is eager to accept every claim, however dubious it may appear by established astronomical facts.
1. Schaefer, et. al. (QJRaS (1993), 34, 53-56) discredited Durrani’s both documented sightings. However it did not deter him. He continued giving approval to ISNA Fiqh Council year after year and remained in their good books. Ramadan (2004:Oct.14) and Eid al-Fitr (Nov. 3, 2005) were not exceptions. He along with Dr. Salamah confirmed an “impossible” sighting again for the Fiqh Council only because they wanted confirmation from them: “Yeh! It was “POSSIBLE”. ISNA FC upgraded it to “PROBABLE”.
2. Durrani has NO SENSE of the shapes and size of the crescent moon, though he always likes to ask the witnesses (and pretend to know about): In what direction the horns pointed?
Here is his report from his web: “…right of the Sun …around three (3) minutes after sunset, for a maximum of about two (2) minutes and the apparent sighting was about two (2) finger widths 8:30 pm EDST, 14 Oct 2004… confirmed as NOT THE HILAL…The curvature was from 9- to-12-to-3-O’Clock positions for the sister and from 10-to-12-to-2-O’Clock for the husband… actual Hilal would have its ends pointing away from the Sun and hence would be pointing upwards and not downwards.”
No astronomical expert could accept ” a curved line spread 10-12-2 or 9-12-3 (o’clock)” as a crescent moon. Try to visualize the shapes in the testimony, in both upwards (as he believe the horns pointed), or downwards (which he said could not). How ABSURD would 10-12-2 or 9-12-3 curves look, with horns pointing UPWARDS? In both 10-2 or 9-3 o’clock positions the ends look only DOWNWARDS, though a crescent moon of this shape can NEVER be seen in N. America.
3. Durani was fully aware that a naked eye sighting in Yallop’s (Monzur) C and D zones are out of question. Austin (#2 above) was outside A and B zones. But he refused to take a hint from the other ISNA expert (Shaukat) who kept on: “Witness NOT CREDIBLE”. The irony is that what was “NOT THE HILAL” at 8:30 pm became a “Hilal” for ISNA Fiqh Council by 10:00 pm. By approving Nov. 2, 2005 Phoenix, AZ claim Durrani and Salamah crossed all the limits. Both have NO idea WHEN a crescent moon generally appears for a naked-eye observer. It NEVER appears in the first 2-3 minutes AFTER sunset, even on 30th day.
They have no idea WHERE a crescent moon of a particular month will appear. The moon moves on the horizon from month to month, and its shape differs from place to place depending on the moon’s location in the northern or southern hemisphere, the location of the observer, etc. (For example, in Austin, TX Ramadan 2004 moon was not to the “right of the sun” as Durrani claims but to the “left”–in southern hemisphere (9 degrees south of the sun at sunset).
We ask Allah (SWT) for forgiveness. Ameen. Our words may appear harsh, but they are from the depths of our hearts. We sincerely advise the Imams and community leaders who blindly follow ISNA that they should arrange their own sighting teams at least for Ramadan and Eidian so that they could not be misled about our obligatory rituals.