25 specialists in astronomy from 13 Arab countries issued a joint statement about the inability to see the crescent of the month of Shawwal tomorrow, Thursday, with the naked eye from the Arab and Islamic world.
And the statement stated, “It is not hidden from anyone that the confusion currently taking place in talking about seeing the crescent of Eid on the evening of next Thursday, April 20, 2023 AD, between what is certain that it will be seen and that the feast will be on Friday, and another confirms that the crescent will not be seen.” The aim of this statement is not to specify the expected day of Eid al-Fitr, as it is linked to various factors, both jurisprudential and scientific. Rather, the purpose of this statement is to clarify some scientific facts related to the issue of sighting the crescent.
The statement indicated that the presence of the crescent in the sky for a short period after sunset is not sufficient to say that it is possible to see it. “Schiffer”, who was working for the American Space Agency “NASA”, where he showed in one of his research supported by meteorology that it is not possible to rely on the age of the moon and its duration to give an acceptable prediction about the possibility of seeing the crescent.
He pointed out that one of the most important factors determining the possibility of seeing the crescent is the distance of the moon from the sun in degrees, and this issue has been researched by many scholars, as the French scientist “Dangon” in the thirties of the last century, that is, about a hundred years ago, concluded that seeing the crescent is not possible. If the distance of the moon from the sun is less than a certain limit, it is found to be six degrees. This limit, which is accepted and adopted by all specialists around the world, Muslims and others, is considered one of the most important factors to start considering the possibility of seeing the crescent.
He stressed that no one can be under the illusion that the issue of sighting the crescent was not discussed by our great scholars, as our Muslim ancestors set many criteria for sighting the crescent as well, including Jacob Ibn Tariq, Al-Khwarizmi, Abu Jaafar Al-Khazen, Ibn Ayyub Al-Tabari, Al-Fahd and many others, and these distinguished people did not set their standards Except after research, investigation and comparison with practical observations, and their standards are still up to our present time characterized by rigor and accuracy, as they give the possibility of seeing the crescent with the naked eye, as there were no telescopes in their era, and the eye is the same as the eye.
The researchers continued to study the issue of sighting the crescent and collect more observations to refine the standards until they reached a high level of accuracy and conformity with reality in our time. Among these standards is the standard of “Mohammed Elias”, a Malaysian astronomer who specializes in sighting the crescent, and the standard of “Yalup”, who is the former director of the Greenwich Observatory and former head of the Astronomical Asymmetry Committee of the International Astronomical Union, and the standard of the “South African Astronomical Observatory”, which is a standard produced by two astronomers in The United States, the “return” standard, which is currently the newest standard.
The statement stated that all previous criteria, old and new, show that seeing the crescent on Thursday is not possible with the naked eye from the Arab world. This expectation is not an opinion of a person or a party, but rather it is a consensus of specialists who satiated this issue with research, and published research on it in peer-reviewed scientific journals. Among those whose names were mentioned are heads of scientific committees in the International Astronomical Union, and among them are directors of observatories, one of whom is one of the greatest observatories in the world, namely the Greenwich Observatory! These senior specialists based their research and standards on a large archive of crescent observations, extending from the year 1859 AD to the year 2023 AD.
And the statement stated that the confusion occurs because of testimonies of seeing the crescent with the naked eye, which specialists know to be wrong. For example, in the year 2007 CE, 10 people from four regions witnessed the sighting of the crescent of Eid al-Fitr, even though the moon on that day set three minutes before the sun! In the month of Dhu al-Hijjah 1428 AH, a number of witnesses reported seeing the crescent on Sunday, December 9, 2007, and the month of Dhu al-Hijjah began the next day, but the moon on that day set 25 minutes before the sun! There are many other examples of such cases. Because of the repetition of these false testimonies, some have doubted the accuracy of the astronomical calculations, and these testimonies have been inferred to defame the astronomical calculations in general and the astronomical standards for sighting the crescent in particular, as they refer to those “sightings” that “occurred repeatedly” with values lower than what the standards stipulate, and with a number A large number of witnesses, and this martyrdom is not valid, as we indicated (because of the error of those “observations”).
The statement emphasized that the cases that I mention are not being argued by anyone at the present time, as the moon was not present in the sky at the time of the testimony. And if the same witnesses came forward today, their testimony would be rejected, because most of the official authorities now no longer accept testimony that the moon sets before the sun. The problem is not with the availability of testimonies – even if there are many – that contradict the criteria. The problem is that many of them violate the rules agreed upon astronomically (such as the Danjon limit), but sometimes they violate the laws of the universe (such as seeing the crescent of the west before the sun)!
He pointed out that there are those who argue that astronomical standards and record numbers are things that can be breached, and this is true of course, but a common mind knows that breaching standards built based on records spanning hundreds of years is not a large amount! Rather, by a small amount that does not affect its accuracy, and it is by specialists, and it must be characterized by repetition and by different parties and different places! And not the same people, from the same region, and with amounts that completely blow up the archive of modern meteorology, which extends back nearly 150 years.
Returning to the crescent on Thursday, April 20, let us look at its situation in some Arab and Islamic cities. At sunset: In Jakarta, the moon is 2.7 degrees from the sun (the internationally agreed limit for Danjeon is 6 degrees). In Abu Dhabi, it is 4.7 degrees from the sun. And in Mecca, it is 5.1 degrees away from the sun. In Jerusalem, the moon is 5.4 degrees away from the sun. In Cairo, the moon is 5.5 degrees away from the sun. In Dakar (Senegal), the moon is 8.0 degrees away from the sun, and it can be seen with instruments.
The statement stressed that in view of all the scientific standards considered for the crescent and published in peer-reviewed periodicals, we would like to warn that seeing the crescent is not possible with the naked eye in the Arab or Islamic world, and is not possible even using the telescope in most of it, and most of them are less than the “Dangon” limit, and for countries Which suffices with the setting of the moon after the sun mathematically and does not require seeing the crescent, or is satisfied with the possibility of seeing from anywhere in the world that shares with it at night, so it is perfectly correct that Eid al-Fitr be on Friday, April 21, as for countries that require local (correct) vision only with the naked eye Or countries located in Asia that accept local vision with a telescope, so it is assumed that the Ramadan kit will be 30 days and that Eid al-Fitr will be on Saturday, April 22, and that announcing the beginnings of the Hijri months is of course the prerogative of the legal authorities in Islamic countries.
The signatories to the statement (in alphabetical order):
Professor Ibrahim Al Jarwan, President of the Emirates Astronomical Society.
Prof. Dr. Elias Mohamed Fernini, Deputy Director General of the Sharjah Academy for Astronomy and Space Sciences and Technology, University of Sharjah, UAE.
Professor Basma Diab, Secretary of the Jordanian Astronomical Society, and a member of the Arab Union for Astronomy and Space Sciences.
Prof. Dr. Jalaluddin Khanji, expert in forensic astronomy, and former director of Ebla University in Aleppo, Syria.
Prof. Dr. Djamel Mimouni is Director of the Graduate Program in Astrophysics at the University of Constantine, Algeria, and former President of the African Astronomical Society.
Prof. Dr. Hassan Pilani, expert in prayer times and sighting of the crescent moon, professor of geodesy at the College of Engineering, King Saud University, Saudi Arabia.
Dr. Khaled Abdullah Turki Al-Subaie, former director of the Qatar Energy and Environment Institute, discoverer of Qatar’s constellations (1-10), Qatar.
Dr. Ziad Allawi, astronomer researcher, College of Engineering, University of Baghdad, Iraq.
Dr. Sofiane Kammoun, President of the Tunisian Association of Astronomy.
Professor Saleh Al-Saab, former supervisor of the National Center for Astronomy at King Abdulaziz City for Science and Technology, Saudi Arabia.
Prof. Dr. Sabih Al-Saedi is a professor of astronomy and space sciences and an astronomer in the Sultanate of Oman.
Professor Adel Al-Saadoun, President of the Kuwaiti Astronomical Society.
Prof. Dr. Abd El-Khalek El-Shadadi, Professor of Astronomy at the Mohammedia School of Engineers, Rabat, Morocco.
Prof. Dr. Abdel Salam Ghaith, Professor of Physics and Astronomy, Former President of the Jordanian Astronomical Society.
Professor Adnan Qadi, astronomer researcher in Islamic worship, Saudi Arabia.
Dr. Ali Al-Shukri, Professor of Astrophysics, Retired Faculty Member, Saudi Arabia.
Engineer Ali Al-Amrawi, an expert in astronomical calculations in the Kingdom of Morocco.
Prof. Dr. Ammar Sakji, President of the Jordanian Astronomical Society.
Prof. Dr. Majeed Mahmoud Jarad, formerly Professor of Astrophysics at Anbar University, Iraq.
Professor Mohamed Belkacem Al-Khenjari, member of the Committee for Determining Prayer Times and a researcher in the crescents, Libya.
Engineer Mohamed Shawkat Odeh, Master of Astronomy and Space Sciences, Director of the International Astronomy Center, founding member of the Arab Federation for Astronomy and Space Sciences, UAE.
Prof. Dr. Nidal Qassoum is Professor of Physics and Astronomy at the American University of Sharjah, UAE.
Prof. Dr. Heyman Zine El Abidine Metwally, Professor of Astronomy and Space Sciences, Cairo University, Egypt.
Engineer Yacine Zerrouki, astronomer, Tunisia.
Professor Youssef Al-Rahbi, Astronomer, Sultanate of Oman.
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