Thursday, August 20, 2009

29 Shaaban 1430

Tonight, as it does on the 29th of every Islamic month, the Moonsighting Committee will go out and look for the new crescent moon, called the hilal. Different Islamic communities may disagree about whether or not the hilal was sighted, so the day of the Islamic month can vary between communities by as much as four days, giving the impression that there is a choice in when to start the new month; however, once the first of a month has been declared, the only decision that can be made is on the 29th of the month, when the hilal is either seen or not seen.

Today is the 29th of Shaaban in the UAE, so tonight the Moonsighting Committee must go out, and if the hilal is seen tonight, it will be the first of Ramadan in the UAE; if it is not seen, tomorrow will be the 30th of Shaaban, and sunset tomorrow will be the start of Ramadan.

For the UAE, the committee has scientific instruments to guarantee an accurate sighting. The Committee will go out around 6 pm. Sunset is at 6:51 tonight, and the hilal crescent sets just after sunset, so the Committee will make its decision around 9 pm, after checking and re-checking their instruments. The instruments in question consist of mobile phones. At around 8:00 tonight, the Saudi Moonsighting Committee will issue its decision, this will be relayed to the UAE Moonsighting Committee, and if the Saudi Committee saw the hilal, the UAE Moonsighting Committee will have seen the hilal; if the Saudi Committee did not see the hilal, neither will the UAE Moonsighting Committee have seen the hilal.

Last year, Dubai published a Ramadan Calendar about a month before Ramadan, and it turned out to be accurate. Since Saudi gives a cash award to the first person to see the hilal, right after sunset in Saudi, it is guaranteed that people will rush to shout, 'I saw it,' to the chair of the Moonsighting Committee. Then, however, the chair may say, 'Yes, my son, go collect your reward,' or he may reply, 'No, my son, you are mistaken.'

I have no idea how the Saudi Moonsighting Committee decides whether or not the hilal has actually been seen by the persons claiming to have seen it: one year, the hilal that was seen was necessarily the old crescent, not the new crescent, since it was seen before the moon was actually new. In any case, the decision of the Committee is final, and as soon as the decision of the Saudi Moonsighting Committee is communicated to the UAE Moonsighting Committee, the decision of the UAE Moonsighting Committee will be final as well.

So today I heard a group arguing whether the Committee would see the hilal tonight, with one old man saying he was certain they would, and several shebabs equally certain that they would not.

But we'll know around 9 pm tonight.



Blogger Siwash said...

The different starts of Ramadan (based upon the Islamic countries) will be either tomorrow or Saturday and not the 4 days difference you have mentioned.

4:29 pm  

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