The beginning and end of the holy month depend on the sighting of the Moon, because the Islamic calendar is a lunar one
What is Moon Sighting
Moon sighting is something that is closely related to Muslims, Islamic calendar and the religious events of the Muslims. Moon sighting actually means to sight the moon but in the context of Islam, moon sighting is linked with sighting moon for specific purpose like knowing when the event of Eid will take place or when the month of Ramadan starts. This is because Islamic calendar is based on lunar cycle and the start and end of Islamic months is decided on the basis of lunar cycle.
This shows that moon sighting is very important activity of Muslims because it’s the moon which tells Muslims about the arrival of certain month of Islamic calendar or religious events of the Muslims. However, we all know that there are great arguments and disputes among Muslims on the topic of moon sighting. We have also been observing this for years in Pakistan as well that Eid is not celebrated on the same dates due to the disagreement on moon sighting among the ulemas of Pakistan. Thus, this topic needs detailed discussion and recommendations for having agreement on moon sighting.
Moon Sighting and Islamic Hijri Calendar
Moon sighting and Islamic calendar are closely related with each other. Islamic calendar has its origin in the event of migration of Prophet Muhammad (SAWW) from Makkah to Madina. The hijri calendar started after the event of Hijrat ul Madina. The Hijri calendar is a lunar calendar which means that it’s based on lunar cycle. The months start and end as per the cycle of moon. Any Islamic month starts with a new moon. Thus, for knowing the first date of any Islamic month, it is important to sight new moon. Usually, in countries, moon is sighted by learned ulemas and people follow them in the celebration of events or observance of the Islamic months.
Importance of Moon Sighting
Moon sighting is very significant for the Muslims because on the basis of this act they come to know about their religious events and Islamic months. Moon sighting is also important because the entire Islamic calendar is based on lunar cycle which means that it is the moon sighting according to which the start and end of Islamic months are marked.
It was narrated that Abu Hurairah (RA) said: The Prophet (SAWW) said: “Fast when you see it and break the fast when you see it, and if it is too cloudy then complete the number (of days) of Sha’baan as thirty.”
The above mentioned hadith also shows the importance of moon sighting.
Moon Sighting 2020
In 2020, just like every year, Muslims will observe Ramadan and celebrate Eid ul Fitr in all parts of the world including Pakistan. The government of Pakistan must try its best this time to make the use of science and technology for moon sighting practical and do efforts to convince and unite all ulemas to accept the decision made by using advanced technology for moon sighting. This will create harmony in the country because everyone will fast for Ramadan and celebrate Eid ul Fitr on the same day.
Moon sighting is an important act done for knowing the initiation of the Islamic months and the religious events. Thus, Muslims must not disagree on the matter of moon sighting and any problem in this matter must be resolved as soon as possible because moon sighting is significant for Muslims and knowing its significance, any negligence or ill practices in this matter must be avoided.
Ramadan Moon Sighting
It is because of moon sighting that Muslims around the world know about the start and end of the month of Ramadan. As soon as the month of Shabaan ends the Muslim ulemas become all set to sight the new moon of Ramadan. When the moon is sighted then they proclaim the initiation of month of Ramadan. Thus, the importance of moon sighting for the month of Ramadan is very clear.
Moon Sighting for Eid
Moon is also sighted by the Muslims for the event of Eid. For instance, for Eid ul Fitr, the ulemas sight moon at the end of month of Ramadan. Eid ul Fitr is celebrated on first three days of the month of Shawwal. So, ulemas sight the moon of Shawwal and upon seeing the moon, they proclaim that the event of Eid will be on certain days. Thus, moon sighting has great significance for the religious event of Eid.
Moon Sighting for Hajj
The moon for the month of Zul Hijjah is also sighted by the ulemas and upon the sight of moon it is proclaimed that hajj will be on certain days. Thus, after the sight of moon, Muslims perform the religious duty of pilgrimage and earn great rewards. This shows importance of moon sighting for the religious duty of Hajj.
Science, Islam and Moon Sighting:
According to Islam, moon is sighted for knowing the start of Islamic months. Science can help us to sight the new moon accurately. Thus, we can follow Islam by using science in the sighting of moon. However, we should never let science override Islam. Basically there are three school of thoughts on the matter of moon sighting. One says that we should always follow Islam in sighting the moon. The second one says that we should follow science in the matter of moon sighting and the last one which takes the middle path says that we should follow both Islam and science in sighting the moon but we should never let science override Islam. The last school of thought talks about following the order of Islam for moon sighting and taking aid from science by using technology for the process of moon sighting. This is actually the middle path and we should always be balanced as per Islam. Thus, using the scientific inventions for sighting the moon and following the Islamic orders in this context primarily is the key towards having a unanimous proclamation of Eid and Ramadan.
In Pakistan, where two different days are decided for Eid ul Fitr and Ramadan, this school of thought’s views can be applied practically in order to have one Eid ul Fitr and Ramadan on the same day in the entire Pakistan. Modern science and technology can be used to know about the occurrence of new moon and thus, in this way unanimous decision can be taken by all the ulemas of Pakistan for the proclamation of the first days of Eid ul Fitr and Ramadan.