DOHA: Disputes on astronomical calculations and moon sighting need to be resolved for uniting Muslims on this issue, according to an expert. Ramadan 2011 will fall on August 1 according to astronomical calculations, said Sheikh Salman bin Jabor Al Thani, chairman of the advisory committee for the Arab Union for Astronomy and Space Sciences.
The Islamic calendar is a lunar calendar consisting of 12 months in a year of 354 or 355 days. An Islamic month is defined as the average duration of a rotation of the Moon around the Earth, which is 29.5 days, and it begins when the first crescent of a new moon is sighted.
“The new moon will begin at 9.40pm on July 30 (Saturday) and will continue for more than 20 hours, ending at sunset exactly at 6.19 next day (Sunday). The moon will set at 6.41pm on July 31, during which the hilal (slight crescent moon) will be seen for 22 minutes,” said Al Thani.
Therefore, Ramadan 2011 will be on August 1, and the first tarawih prayer will be on Sunday night.
Sheikh Al Thani, also the director of the astronomy department of Qatar Science Club, was delivering a lecture in collaboration with the Ministry of Awqaf and Islamic Affairs on “Ramadan 2011 Crescent by vision and calculation,” at QSC. The lecture was attended by imams, Islamic preachers and other experts
“There is a vast difference between astronomy, which deals with scientific study on everything in space, and astrology, which is mainly illusionary,” he said.
During the lecture, he focused on the lunar month, the new moon according to astronomy and Shariah, eclipses, and other issues pertaining to moon sighting.
Traditionally, the first day of each month is the day of the first sighting of the hilal after sunset. If the hilal is not observed immediately after the 29th day the month will continue for another day. Moon sighting needs favourable conditions related to weather, time, geographic location, as well as various astronomical parameters. Hence some stress on following astronomical calculation instead of sighting hilal with the naked eye.
“There is a need to unify different views that Islamic scholars have on the issue. This is easy and will help benefit Muslim populations round the world, if there is no contradiction,” he said.
Source: The Peninsula