Moonsighting: More than meets the eye | The Daily Star
12:00 AM, June 12, 2018 / LAST MODIFIED: 12:00 AM, June 12, 2018

Moonsighting: More than meets the eye

“Chaad Dekha”, or the sighting of the new moon, plays a huge role in the lives of Muslims who follow the appearance of the moon as the criteria for determining important dates in the lunar calendar, such as the beginning and end of each month in the Islamic calendar, and thus the beginning and end of Ramadan, and of course, Eid. To this day, chaad dekha, remains a celebratory marker for the end of Ramadan, calling in Eid-ul-Fitr.

Thus the visibility of the moon always had an emphatic role in determining our main festivities, and growing up, the crescent moon has been embedded in our memories forever. A source of confusion for much of us is when a lot of people who do not wait for the sighting of the moon, and simply follow the Saudi Arabian dates of the Islamic months instead. So big was the issue, that a lot of countries, and sometimes particular regions within some countries, such as Bangladesh itself, there were entire groups of people who would follow the Saudi dates.

As Shaykh Dr. Yasir Qadhi explains, this confusion arises from the juxtaposition of a Hadith, which reads- “Observe fast on sighting it (the new moon) and break it on sighting it. But if (due to clouds) the actual position of the month is concealed from you, you should then count thirty (days).” As is evident from a literal translation of the Hadith, the idea that sparks the debate is that for centuries, Muslims have relied on their own vision to determine the date and month. The contradiction with the astronomical determination of the new moon is that it is quite impossible for anyone to see the actual new moon with their naked eye. Instead, what we witness as the new moon is in fact a further developed moon which is a day or two old. Moreover, the debate proliferates that there has been an agreement upon the idea that Muslims would do as the Hadith would guide them, that is, there has been an Ijma (consensus) in the Fiqh (Islamic Jurisprudence), and so there is little room for going back on this tradition as the Ijma is a fixed legal binding for the Ummah (Muslim community). But as we can see from the infinite number of dates listed on the, which indicate the beginning of the month of Ramadan all over the world, with many countries having more than one particular date depending on the divided community beliefs, no such tenet of faith is followed. But the new moon at the end of Ramadan is undoubtedly the harbinger of joy. 


Photo: Collected

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