Sunday 16th June 2024 | Ahad 9th Dhul-Hijjah 1445 [?]
Has the UK weather improved from the 1980s to the 2020s?

By Eng. Qamar Uddin, ICOUK (Dec 2023/Jumada-II 1445)

We have many fatawa from the leading Darul Ulooms of the Indian subcontinent to follow Local Moon Sighting (2022) instead of foreign news.

Some UK ulama have raised objections to the above fatawa that the question sent (Istifta) was incorrect in their view because the weather has not improved as stated in the question.

Please read the clarification below for the question sent and the answers received in the UK Moon Sighting Fatawa booklet on the Moon Sighting UK website. [Summary] [Booklet]

The reason we stated the UK weather has improved is because the question in the Glasgow Fatwa (2006) stated that it was “impossible to sight the moon" in the UK due to cloudy weather. Please see the link below for more details. Glasgow Fatwa [Urdu] [English]

Backgrounds

As most ICOUK members are aware that ever since we started moon sightings in the UK from 2008 on the foreign 29th date, we were only able to see the crescent moon (Hilal) for 2-3 times a year (instead of 5-6 times a year) and all other months were not seen.

When we started looking for the Hilal on the 29th and the next day (2 days a month) from 2018 for our “Spot the Moon Competition” to give training to our observers on how to find the moon, we were able to see the moon 5-6 months a year.

When we analysed the past 2-3 years data in 2021, we found that if we counted the start of the month from the UK sightings (instead of foreign sighting news), then the UK dates fully met the Hijri Calendar rule of 29/30 days a month (as per Shariah rules).

The question naturally arose, what was the reason for UK Muslims to adopt foreign moon sighting news, instead of trying to follow the UK moon sighting?

A review of past fatawa revealed that the main reason given to foreign Darul Ulooms (e.g., Karachi, Pakistan and Deoband, India) was that it was “impossible to sight the moon" in the UK due to cloudy weather. Please see the original question for the Glasgow Fatwa (2006) as an example.

UK_Weather_2023-26_comparisonIndeed, the weather in the UK is mostly cloudy, especially if we consider one city or a small area of the country, but it is not true if we consider the whole of the UK and have a system in place to communicate with all the UK regions in real-time.

However, to keep the question as simple as possible and to honour the previous fatawa, we decided to forward the previous fatawa to the issuing authority (Darul Iftas) for a review with the question that the weather has improved from the past years (1980s) to the current times (2020s) when the moon can be seen in the UK, so can they revise their fatawa?

The real reason for us not being able to see the moon in the past had multiple reasons, including the lack of people looking on the correct date (i.e., on the local 29th instead of the 28th) throughout the country and in the correct direction (as the moon swings from Southwest to Northwest and vice-versa) and the means of communication via mobile phones for people to look in the clear areas of the country.

The use of mobile phones/internet has immensely helped establish the local moon sighting, even though the weather is not always clear throughout the country at the same time. However, it would be incorrect to say that the overall UK weather has not improved from the previous decades due to climate change, since some senior UK ulama have advised us that when they arrived in the 1950s-1960s the sunset was not possible to be seen in the summer, let alone in the winter!

I hope the above background explains the reason why we stated the UK weather has improved compared to the previous decades and it is not a lie because the historical meteorology data can prove the UK weather has improved sufficiently to see the moon regularly, Alhamdulillah!

Finally, it is important to point out that Local Moon Sighting is the original position of the Shariah. The old fatawa sought (in the 1980s) was to deviate from the original position due to extenuating circumstances (i.e., bad weather). Since the original position has been re-established (in the 2020s) and all the old fatawa have been abrogated (cancelled), it is important to adopt the original position of the Shariah, as soon as possible.

Note: This article was inspired by the unexpected sunshine observed in York (UK) on 26/12/2023 when it usually snowed in the past!