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La luna

September 2, 2008

Today is the first day of Ramadhan for Brunei, and the second for most of other countries elsewhere in the world; even a third for Libya as it’s religious officials had reported sighting the tiny sliver of the moon on Saturday, 30 August 2008.. Based on calculations, more than 45 countries have started Ramadhan yesterday including the Gulf states and European countries. Brunei uses the rukhyah method, which is, sighting for the new moon. According to the Brunei Astronomical Society website, the moon is 2.3 days old now as I type.

A sliver line

A sliver line

Moon sighting, says the popular site, has always been a controversial issue among Muslims and scholars alike. ‘While one group of scholars sees that Muslims in other regions and countries are to follow the same moon sighting as long as these countries share one part of the night, another states that Muslims everywhere should abide by the lunar calendar of Saudi Arabia.

‘A third, however, disputes both views, arguing that the authority in charge of ascertaining the sighting of the moon in a given country announces the sighting of the new moon, then Muslims in the country should all abide by this.’

Take a look at the above map which I got from the popular site. Brunei falls in the green shaded area which is ‘easily visible with the naked eye.’

The Astronomical New Moon was on Saturday, August 30, 2008 at 19:58 Universal Time (i.e., 3:58 pm EDT, and 12:58 pm PDT ). This moon was impossible to be seen any where on earth on August 30. On August 31, the moon was sighted in South America by naked eye, and possibly in South Africa and in Central America where weather conditions were perfect.

It was very difficult to see in North America on August 31, but it was visible on Sep 1. Therefore, first day of Ramadan (fasting) in North America according to sighting, is today, September 2 (like Brunei). However, according to Saudi Ummul-Qura calendar, Fiqh Council of North America, and European Council for Fatwa and Research, the first day of Ramadan is on Monday, September 1, 2008. Hence North America started theirs yesterday.

Ok, I am not going to argue anymore on moon sighting as it is official already. What need to be done now is how to make full use of the holy month. Read my next post on how to make full use of the month. Wassalam.

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