Source: Gulf News
Astronomical calculations have determined accurately when it starts every year since 1993
UAE: Islamic scholars and astrophysicists in the UAE believe the Muslim world should rely on astronomical calculations instead of moon sighting to determine when Ramadan or Eid is.
The start of Ramadan, which is the ninth month in the Islamic calendar, is determined by the sighting of the crescent moon like any other month in the Islamic calendar.
Since the new moon marks the beginning of the new month, astrophysicists have said the beginning of Ramadan can be safely calculated.
In fact, astronomical calculations have determined accurately when Ramadan is every year since 1993.
Despite scientific proof, confusion about the start of Ramadan or Eid still prevails because many still argue that moon sighting using the naked eye or a telescope should be the only way to determine when Ramadan is.
This is mainly because of the hadith “Do not fast unless you sight the crescent, and do not break your fast till you sight the [following] crescent.” (Al Bukhari, Vol. 3:130). Those who rely on the hadith use visual confirmation per region and for this reason consistent variations of the start of Ramadan have existed since the time of Prophet Mohammad (PBUH.)
To learn more about what method should be used, Gulf News spoke to Islamic scholars and astrophysicists in the UAE.
Astrophysicist Nidhal Guessoum, Professor and Associate Dean of the College of Arts and Sciences at the American University of Sharjah, said people should depend on astronomical calculations because traditional methods are not accurate.
“We know from various studies that the traditional method of relying on people’s reports of crescent observation comes with large rates of error, often largely exceeding 50 per cent.”