Source: Tahir Mahmood-Germany.
By Zubair Khan
In spite of best efforts the Muslims residing in European countries remain divided to start the month of Ramadan as well to celebrate the Idul Fitr. True it is each country has its own horizon, as well due to time difference, the variation in moon sighting can occur. However when Muslims residing in one country start Ramdan and celebrate Idul Fitr at different dates brings sad, sorrow and bitter feelings. Since many years, Mr Tahir Mahmood of Ahmadiyya Muslim Community Germany, who is considered authority to calculate the correct moon sighting timings, is performing this service and facilitating Ahmadiyya Muslims residing in Germany and neighbouring countries to observe both these Islamic fests on similar day. For 2012 how he has calcualted the dates for Ramadan and Idul-Fitr are appended below for the knowledge of MT readers. He writes,
“There are several methods described in the astronomic literature which can be used to define the criteria when an earliest moon sighting is possible based on statistical data collected over the last two centuries. Each of them has different accuracy resulting out of the formula used to describe the considered statistical data. The criterion for moon sighting have been an object of research for centuries. Accordingly many methods were developed such as Maunders, Arabian, Indian etc. The Yallop criteria developed by B. D. Yallop for the Nautical Almanac Office UK is considered as the most accurate”. He further elaborates,
“The Arab astronomers described that a crescent can be seen if the age of the moon is older than 24 hours and its altitude at apparent sunset is more than 8 degrees so the lag (time difference between sun and moon set) is more than 45 minutes.The new Maunders method describes that there is still a possibility to see the moon if it appears far enough from the sun at the time of sunset. So the Maunders criterion also considered the difference between the azimuths (Horizontal Positions) of both the moon and the sun.The Indian method just modifies these criteria by more precise values in the formula.The Bruins method, known to be the most exact and based on the Yallop criteria also considers the phase (width and brightness) of the crescent at the sunset. So the Yallop criteria says if the crescent is big enough, the minimum distance between the azimuths of moon and sun can be 11.47 Degrees, still considering the altitude (height) of the moon.This criterion can be evaluated at different times of the sunset. Normally it is calculated at three times, namely: at apparent sunset (when the sun touches the horizon), at a time described as the ‚best time and also at the time when its altitude is less than -5° degrees under the horizon.Yallop describes the Visibility in five codes depending upon the value of the parameter “q”. As for as the first two Visibility codes (A: Easily visible and B: Visible under perfect conditions) are concerned, they may be considered as reliable for the visibility of the first crescent. However the third code (C: May need optical aid) in which the position of the crescent be spotted by optical aid initially and then it may be visible with unaided eyes, is not reliable. In such cases the value of “q” has to be examined very carefully. According to the actual observations listed by Shaeffer the crescent was visible in a couple of cases when the value of “q” was less than (-0.014) but bigger than (–0.110), however in almost none of the cases it was visible with unaided eye when it´s value was lower than (–0.110). Therefore, we may consider the crescent as visible if the value of “q” is more than this otherwise not. For predicting the beginning of Ramadan and Id dates we considered the third method named Yallop which is to be known as the most accurate and precise method. The results were the following: Ramadan Begins: The new Moon will be born on the 19. July at 06:24GMT+2. On the 20. July is no visibility possible. On the 21. July the moon can be easily seen in all the cities of Germany and neighbouring countries. Id ul Fitr: The new Moon will be born on 17. August at 17:54GMT+2. On 18. August there will be no visibility. On the 19. August there will be a good chance to see the moon.