THE EGYPTIAN CALENDAR

Due to the influence of the late Jamaal Abd-un-Naasir, the scholars of Egypt had accepted a calendar based on the CONJUNCTION TIME (Astronomical New Moon). They adopted a unique principle according to which the mere presence of the crescent on the horizon for 5 minutes or more will automatically be assumed as a sighting irrespective of an actual sighting of crescent moon by the naked eye. This would lead to the next month commencing the following day. From 1986 onwards, the previous 5 minutes criterion was further reduced to 1 minute.

In Egypt to date, the principle of MERE PRESENCE of moon on the horizon rather than the ACTUAL SIGITTING is used to base Ramadan and Eid. Therefore, one finds their calendar running hand in hand with the Saudi Arabian calendar. Ramadan and Eid sometimes differ in Egypt when Saudi Arabia makes a declaration even before the CONJUNCTION TIME based on a falsely claimed sighting. In this case Ramadan and Eid in Egypt are a day later as was witnessed in 1992.

THE SAUDI ARABIAN UMM-UL-QURA CALENDAR

In my 1989 (1410 AH) correspondence with Dr Fadl Ahmed (originally from Pakistan but now a resident in Saudi Arabia), the publisher of the Umm-ul-Qura calendar wrote:

"Alhamdulillaah, due to the grace of Almighty Allah, in 1972 I was able to make the first Islamic calendar based on astronomical data which is accepted as the official calendar in Saudi Arabia.

The term "New Moon" means the time when the sun, moon and earth are in one plane. It is called IQTIRAAN in Arabic and CONJUNCTION in technical terminology. A crescent shape comes into existence after this time. When it moves away from this CONJUNCTION by 6 to 7 degrees, it will be possible to observe the crescent given favourable weather conditions.

Generally, in a clear sky, the crescent will be sighted by the naked eye if it is away from the sun by 10.5 degrees. i.e. If the moonset is around 42 minutes after sunset it will be visible pending good visibility."

(2nd reply).

"WHAT do you mean by the sighting of the crescent? This is a very complex question. The answer demands a lot of explanation considering several factors. This sighting will have to be decided by the Muslim Scholars.

With the aid of astronomical calculations, one is able to predetermine an accurate sighting.

Whilst explaining further about sighting He wrote:

3 deg. after CONJUNCTION, 6 deg., 10.5 deg. etc. can all be calculated for any place. Only the time of CONJUNCTION (not the crescent moon sighting by the naked eye) is independent of place and time of observation. This astronomical phenomenon (CONJUNCTION TIME) occurs at the same time throughout the world. It can be adopted universally thus I have used this formula (based on CONJUNCTION TIME rather than CRESCENT MOON SIGHTING) to prepare the Umm-ul-Qura calendar."

Yours... Fadl Ahmed.

From Dr Fadl Ahmed's above correspondences, the following can be inferred:

  1. The crescent is formed after the CONJUNCTION and not before.
  2. The crescent is not visible immediately after CONJUNCTION. (While Saudi Arabia has claimed crescent moon sighting on many occasions immediately after CONJUNCTION or even before.)
  3. For the CRESCENT MOON to be sighted there has to be a distance of at least 10.5 deg. from the sun.
  4. The CONJUNCTION TIME (unobservable ASTRONOMICAL NEW MOON) itself has been accepted as Ru'yah in Saudi Arabia for the Umm-ul-Qura calendar.
  5. By astronomical calculations, any sighting of the moon can be accurately predetermined (the actual sighting of the crescent moon by the naked eye is not necessary).
  6. In the Umm-ul-Qura calendar, the day after the CONJUNCTION TIME is taken as the first day of the new month.