Trial Testimony Panel Update from Tuesday 4th January 2022 (for Jumada-II 1443 Hilal)

(Adapted from a WhatsApp/Email update to Trial Testimony Panel Members by Eng. Qamar Uddin; dated 5 January 2022)

Following another month of a very successful moon sighting and reporting by the ICOUK members (see a Trial Testimony Meeting was held online via the Zoom App (which was held regularly since June 2021 on the 29th of each Hijri month).

The Ulama Panel who took the trial testimonies included two of ICOUK regular scholars (Shaykh Suliman Gani and Maulana Abdullah Ahmed) and the Panel members were also honoured to be joined by 3 guest scholars as observers (Maulana Yusuf Mota, Mufti Zaheer Aslam, Maulana Hanif Dudhwala), MashaAllah.

There were 3 Shahada Rooms set up to take testimonies from multiple witnesses simultaneously within a short time (5 – 10 mins), to avoid the long delays as was the case in the previous month (where 7 witnesses gave their testimonies to one Ulama Panel in sequence, one after the other). Unfortunately, only 1 witness joined the Testimony Panel on this occasion, as the others couldn’t make it (and sent their apologies).

The organisers decided to hold the above trial meetings from 8:30 pm – 9:30 pm, (in the Winter months) to enable the Ulama Panel members to be free from their Imam/Madrassah duties as well as to allow the witnesses sufficient times to return home from work/travel.

The next monthly Trial Testimony Panel Meeting will be on Wednesday 2nd February 2022 (same time) and it will probably be one of the last ones, before deciding if the following 29th date meeting (ie. on Thursday 3rd March 2022) should be for real or not (ie to make a decision on UK-only sighting or not)?

The Trial Testimony Panel organisers believe that the “sighting and reporting” are public responsibilities which *all* the UK Muslims must carry out (as per Sunnah), but the “testimony and declaration” tasks come under the Fiqh rulings of “communal obligations”, which are better conducted by a Council of Ulama (ie. the decision-makers) and not by a volunteer group such as the ICOUK.

Therefore, the monthly Trial Testimony Meetings will most probably end in two months’ time (i.e. by 3rd March 2022), unless there is wider community support for adopting a UK-only moon sighting criteria? If you have comments/views regarding this matter, please do not hesitate to email us via our on-line Contact Us form.

TestimonyPanel 2022 01 04

Ref: Local or Regional Moon Sighting (April 2020) | Video: Trial Testimony Example (Oct 2020)

UK Imams and Scholars Contacts for sharing Moon Sighting Data UK Imams Scholars poster

Say, "Are those who know equal to those who know not?" (Quran 39:9)

We are compiling a Contact List of all UK Imams and Scholars, so we can share our past few years UK Moon Sighting Data with them for their advice/guidance, InshaAllah.

Please could you complete the form below if you are an Imam/Scholar and/or forward this page link to others to do so too?

You may also complete it on behalf of your local Imam/Scholar if you have their permission to do so (see notes on the bottom of the above form). JazakAllahu Khaira!

If you have any questions regarding the above, please do not hesitate to email us via our Contact Us form.

Hilal Committee Locations in Saudi Arabia - A first-hand report by Qamar Uddin, York (UK)

There is a widespread misconception that Saudi Arabia never does any moon sighting and simply follow their pre-calculated civil calendar (Ummul Qura) for all months, including the “months of Ibadah”, too.

So, when the Saudi Supreme Court announced on Tuesday 10th August 2021 that the start of Muharram 1443 will be from that day (10th) and not from the day before (9th) as in their Ummul Qura Calendar (UQC), it became a surprise to many people and a source of confusion!

I have been closely following their moon sighting procedure for the past 22 years (since I joined ICOP in 1998) and I know for a fact that they started a monthly moon sighting research project from 2009 on the 29th of the UQC, which is accompanied by both KACST astronomers and their local court Judges. I have personally accompanied many of the Hilal Committees for moon sightings when I was living in Saudi Arabia (2013 - 2015).

The Saudi Hilal Committee Locations are shown in the attached map (2021), which has 10 sighting locations (i.e. Dammam, Hail, Madinah, Makkah, Qasim, Riyadh, Shaqra, Sudair, Tabuk, Tumair). These locations are also used by the KACST astronomers on the next day of the 29th UQC date for data collections (without the court Judges, as they only attend on 29th UQC dates). The analysis of their past sighting reports has been published in The Observatory journal (Alrefay, 2018), which could form the basis of a revised UQC criteria, inshaAllah.

SaudiHilalCommitteesUnfortunately, none of the Hilal Committee astronomers have ever sighted the moon on the 29th UQC dates, but the news usually comes from a few places near Riyadh (Shaqra, Sudair, Tumair) from a few early-sighters, who are biased by their UQC to claim a sighting (Kordi, 2003).

Therefore, it is totally WRONG to say that Saudi Arabia does not do any moon sighting and simply follow their UQC for Ibadah, but it is CORRECT to say that the decisions/announcements made in the four “months of Ibadah” (i.e. Ramadan, Shawwal, Dhul Hijjah and Muharram) are based on moon sighting "claims” on the 29th of UQC, usually from Riyadh areas (or by invoking “30-days complete” rule).

The question arises, is it possible to predict the moon sighting dates for the “month of Ibadah” in Saudi Arabia? The answer is, "not really" as they do not follow any consistent method based on the BIRTH or the VISIBILITY of the moon, so it’s all as unpredictable as the British weather!

For example, last Dhul Hijjah 1442, they were looking for the moon on 9 July 2021 (1-day before it was born) and then invoked the “30-days complete” rule to start the month from 11 July 2021, even when the moon was not possible to be sighted in Riyadh on 10 July 2021 (HMNAO Code F).

However, when they were looking for the Muharram 1443 moon on 8 August 2021 (HMNAO Code F), they didn’t see it and the reason was attributed to a sand-storm (dusty) and heavy clouds in the Riyadh area (according to various media reports) and so they invoked the “30-days complete” rule to start the month from 10 August 2021, which by coincidence also matched with the actual moon sighting date on 9 August 2021, as seen in the UK and many other countries of the world (including Morocco). This is great news to start the Islamic New Year 1443 AH altogether in the UK (on 11 August 2021), Alhamdulillah!

In conclusion, Saudi Arabia does moon sightings in all 12 months of the year, but on the 29th UQC dates (which are mostly invisible) and only makes a decision for the four “months of Ibadah”. All other months are according to the UQC dates. All the official dates are also based on the UQC regardless of which month it is (Ibadah or not), so that may confuse the general public as they will not be aware of the “announced dates” unless they specifically look for the Supreme Court decision posts on their Saudi Press Agency website (!

Finally, I should mention that we have developed a very good moon sighting volunteers' group in the UK and by looking for the moon on 2-days a month (29th and the next day) over the past few years, we have proven that it is possible to establish a Hijri Calendar purely based on LOCAL moon sighting, which is the ORIGINAL position of the Quran/Sunnah. All we need now is for wider community support to make it robust/reliable, InshaAllah. Many thanks to all the Scholars for encouraging local moon sightings (Kuraib Hadith), JazakAllahu Khaira!

Saudi Arabia to start Muharram from Tuesday, 10 August 2021

Supreme Court: Today, Tuesday is the first day of Muharram 1443 AH
Tuesday 1443/1/2 - 2021/08/10

Riyadh, August 10, 2021, SPA --

The Supreme Court has announced that today, Tuesday is the first day of Muharram, 1443 AH corresponding to 10th August 2021.

It said in its statement that the crescent of the month of Muharram 1443 AH was not sighted on Sunday evening 29/12/1442 AH, there for the Supreme Court decided that Monday 1/1/1443 AH corresponding to 09th August 2021 shall be the completion of the month of Dhu-AlHijjah and Tuesday 2/1/1443 AH* is the first day of Muharram according to the Umm Al-Qura calendar.

*correction: Tuesday 2/1/1443 AH* (according to the Umm Al-Qura calendar) is the first day of Muharram 1443 (10/8/2021)! - Editor

00:11 LOCAL TIME 21:11 GMT


 Note that Saudi Arabia didn't see the moon on their 29th of Ummul Qura Calendar (UQC) ie. on Sunday, 8 August 2021 due to a sand storm in Riyadh, hence they decided to complete 30-days of the month for Ibdah purpose (ie. Ashura Fasting), but the civil date will still remain as per UQC (eg on newspapers)! - Editor