Malegaon: A conference of experts in Makkah
has called for the formation of a committee of astronomers and
Islamic scholars that would try to unify the beginning of lunar
months in Muslim countries, a media report says.
“The committee would consider Makkah
as the center for astronomical observation and issue a unified
Hijri calendar,” Saudi English daily Arab News reported
today citing the final communiqué issued by the three-day
conference on February 14.
The committee, to be based at the Muslim World League (MWL) in
Makkah, will study all the research work so far conducted on the
Organized by the Islamic Fiqh Academy, an affiliate of the MWL,
the conference emphasized the importance of sighting the moon to
determine the beginning of lunar months of Ramadan and Dul Hijjah.
However, the conference said that Islam has no objection to making
use of modern technological means to sight the moon. It pointed
out that air pollution as well as an increasing number of aircraft
and satellites have made it difficult to sight the moon with the
Prominent figures, including Islamic scholars, jurisprudents and
astronomers from different parts of the world, took part in the
event at the MWL headquarters.
“The beginning and end of a lunar month will be based on sighting
the new crescent, either by the naked eye or using astronomical
observatories. If the crescent is not sighted the month will have
30 days,” the communiqué said, quoting the sayings of the Prophet
(peace be upon him).
The conferees said the statements of witnesses could not be
accepted if it was impossible to sight the moon on the basis of
categorical scientific facts. They also agreed that Muslim
minorities living in a country should start or stop fasting during
Ramadan if the moon was sighted anywhere in the country.
“If a Muslim minority in a non-Muslim country cannot sight the new
moon for any reason they should follow the nearest Muslim country
or Muslim minority group,” Arab News quoted from the
The conference urged Muslim astronomers to provide correct
information related to moon sightings to relevant authorities in a
country. It also urged the public not to cast doubt on moon
sightings after approved by the authorities.
During the inaugural session of the conference Saturday, the
Grand Mufti of Saudi Arabia, Sheikh Abdul Aziz Al-Asheikh had emphasized the
significance of determining the start of the lunar month on the
basis of the sighting of the moon.
“Islam has defined that the
beginning and ending of the fast depends on the sighting of the
crescent and there is no difference of opinion on this,” he said.
The grand mufti reiterated Shariah principles should be upheld
when calculating lunar months.
“We are not waging a war on
astronomy. But we don’t want to cross the boundaries of Shariah
when making lunar calculations,” he said, while urging the Muslims
to stick to relevant Islamic principles.