It was expected that the Court would abide by the letter of the hadith and not generalize for determining the beginning of other months. Sheikh al-Lahaydan’s interview with the ‘Okaz Newspaper’ makes it clear that the Court works with other committees known for determining the crescent and sends with it judges, he says “The many committees and judges responsible for sighting the crescent in their respective regions went out and with them some other governmental organizations, they returned having not seen the crescent on Monday night, therefore the crescent was hidden from us.” He further elaborates this issue: “On the advent of a new month especially a month whose beginning is necessary for us to know, the courts are made aware and judges request people who generally seek the crescent and have good eyesight to go out with a judge and a representative of the region before Maghrib and stay at the specific place to see the crescent and this routine has been followed for a long time.”

Sheikh al-Lahaydan further emphasizes that the committee has been taking into consideration what the observatory says for a long time. However in his interview he indicates that the Supreme Court’s view of the observatory is biased by dislike and distrust. He comments on the view of the astronomy experts about the height of the crescent on Tuesday night: “It is unfortunate that the scientists or as they are known astronomers, have declared, not withstanding this great height,that it would set on Tuesday night before sunset” (thus; although it should be Monday). It is necessary to point out here that Sheikh al-Lahaydan himself had said in his interview that the height of the moon is not proof of its age. When asked by the reporter about the possibility of the astronomers being wrong he said: “We don’t know, but they look at the horizon and in books.” This answer indicates Sheikh al-Lahaydan’s contempt of astronomers or possibly him not knowing what they do, although this comment of his is a judgement of them being non-competent. Sheikh Salih al-Lahaydan’s comments reiterate the fact that the Supreme Court does not rely on the astronomers and the observatory when confirming a sighting.

The question now is: As long the supreme court compels some judges to go out with the committees that sight the crescent with a naked eye, which is wrong in many times. If the Supreme Court wants precision and help from the astronomers, then they should send some judges to ‘King Abdul Aziz City for Science & Technology’ to confirm the testimony of the astronomers at the observatories! It is possible for these judges to further confirm it by seeing the crescent by way of telescopes.

Sheikh al-Lahaydan ends his interview with ‘Okaz Newspaper’ by saying: “I advise all to fear Allah and to speak the truth and refrain from interfering in matters that do not concern them, it is possible the supreme court may punish whoever interferes in writing about the determination or otherwise of the crescent because this causes confusion in the public especially when they have no knowledge of this matter.” The frightening thing from this comment is that it strengthens the view of those who claim that the official Saudi religious organizations base their views not on convincing evidence but rather on one single view and on threats, denial and compulsion and suppressing all opposing views & opinions on the matter. We were for a long time victims to these kinds of accusations and now the chairman of major governmental organization confirms it.

Another point to ponder about is Sheikh al-Lahaydan’s expression “to punish” rather than saying, “to prosecute.” This means that the Supreme Court, which is the last point for justice and not to punish anyone until evidence proves one guilty could possibly bypass this noble path and lay down a punishment without prosecution if they hold an opposing view.

Also the statement: “A matter that does not concern public” takes away their right to express an opinion is one, which is wholly uncalled for, because it is manipulating the truth and admonishing the Muslims which stops them from free thinking and expressing their views on matters which they see as concerning them. As for the crime the chairman of the Supreme Court wants to punish the writers for i.e. “confusing the public” although the source of confusion whose contradictory views are based on non scientific foundations.

In conclusion what happened this year at the end of Ramadan with no witnesses for the beginning of the Ramadan and the confusion and contradiction that happened at the beginning of Dhul al-Hijja compels the government to take the same positive steps to resolve this matter which should not continue anymore, especially when we in the Kingdom have means to match precise and correct decisions for determining the beginning & end of months, which will free us from falling victim to impossible testimonies.

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