Why ISNA and Their Fiqh Council of North America Will Not Stop Promoting Fitnah
The insistence of the Islamic Society of North America (ISNA), their Fiqh Council of North America and Mr. Khalid Shaukat their consultant who is an astronomer and research physicist, to impose their astronomical calculated calendar upon the Muslim world is due to their insistence to project themselves as the modern moderate Muslims that the Rand Corporation, Daniel Perle, the U.S. Government, and the Modernist Islamic movement has insisted to support, and showcase as the new face of Islam.
This insistence has turned into arrogant disregard as they insist that Muslims will get used to the idea of leaving a Sunnah for astronomical calculations. The reasoning behind their insistence is the inconvenience that the Sunnah of physically sighting the moon for Ramadan has caused. This inconvenience ranges from job and school scheduling to timing the renting of facilities to hold the Eid prayer.
There is no precedent in Islamic history in following the non-Muslim astronomical calculations in determining the beginning of the Islamic lunar Hijra year. The definition for the recognition of the new moon according to non-Muslim astronomical observations is the total black phase of the moon. The Islamic definition for the recognition of the new moon is the first observable illuminated slither (crescent) phase of the moon after the total black phase. This fact can be verified from numerous ahadith on calculating the beginning of the lunar month, as follows:
Volume 3, Book 31, Number 131: Bukhari
Narrated Abdullah bin Umar:
Allah's Apostle said, "The month (can be) 29 nights (i.e. days), and do not fast till you see the moon, and if the sky is overcast, then complete Sha'ban as thirty days."
Volume 3, Book 31, Number 133: Bukhari
Narrated Abu Huraira:
The Prophet or Abu-l-Qasim said, "Start fasting on seeing the crescent (of Ramadan), and give up fasting on seeing the crescent (of Shawwal), and if the sky is overcast (and you cannot see it), complete thirty days of Sha'ban."
Book 006, Number 2364: Muslim
Ibn Umar reported that Allah's Messenger (may peace be upon him) made a mention of Ramadan and he with the gesture of his hand said: The month is thus and thus. (He then withdrew his thumb at the third time). He then said: Fast when you see it, and break your fast when you see it, and if the weather is cloudy calculate it (the months of Sha'ban and Shawwal) as thirty days.
Book 006, Number 2378: Muslim
Abu Huraira reported Allah's Messenger (may peace be upon him) as saying: Whenever you sight the new moon (of the month of Ramadan) observe fast. and when you sight it (the new moon of Shawwal) break it, and if the sky is cloudy for you, then observe fast for thirty days.
Book 006, Number 2381: Muslim
Abu Huraira (Allah be pleased with him) narrated that the Messenger of Allah (may peace he upon him) made a mention of the new moon and (in this connection) said: Observe fast when you see it (the new moon) and break fast when you see it (the new moon of Shawwal), but when (the actual position of the month is) concealed from you (on account of cloudy sky), then count thirty days.
Book 006, Number 2391: Muslim
Kuraib reported that Umm Fadl, daughter of Harith, sent him (Fadl, i. e. her son) to Mu'awiya in Syria. I (Fadl) arrived in Syria, and did the needful for her. It was there in Syria that the month of Ramadan commenced. I saw the new moon (of Ramadan) on Friday. I then came back to Medina at the end of the month. Abdullah b. 'Abbas (Allah be pleased with him) asked me (about the new moon of Ramadan) and said: When did you see it? I said.: We saw it on the night of Friday. He said: (Did) you see it yourself? -I said: Yes, and the people also saw it and they observed fast and Mu'awiya also observed fast, whereupon he said: But we saw it on Saturday night. So we would continue to observe fast till we complete thirty (days) or we see it (the new moon of Shawwal). I said: Is the sighting of the moon by Mu'awiya not valid for you? He said: No; this is how the Messenger of Allah (may peace be upon him) has commanded us. Yahya b. Yahya was in doubt (whether the word used in the narration by Kuraib) was Naktafi or Taktafi.
Volume 3, Book 31, Number 138: Bukhari
Narrated Abu Huraira:
The Prophet said, "None of you should fast a day or two before the month of Ramadan unless he has the habit of fasting (Nawafil) (and if his fasting coincides with that day) then he can fast that day."
Book 006, Number 2382: Muslim
Abu Huraira (Allah be pleased with him) reported Allah's Messenger (may peace be upon him) as saying: Do not observe fast for a day, or two days ahead of Ramadan except a person who is in the habit of observing a particular fast; he may fast on that day.
Scientific verification of the correct definition of the astronomical new moon and the recognition of the Islamic difference can also be viewed at the U.S. Naval Observatory website: http://aa.usno.navy.mil/data/docs/RS_OneDay.html . The following information was taken from that website.
U.S. Naval Observatory
Sun and Moon Data for One Day
(Note) Calculations for Sun and Moon rising and setting can be gotten for any location by entering your country, state, and locale at the U.S. Naval Observatory's website.
The following information is provided for Richmond, Virginia (longitude W77.5, latitude N37.5):
23 September 2006 Eastern Daylight Time
Begin civil twilight 6:32 a.m.
Sunrise 6:58 a.m.
Sun transit 1:02 p.m.
Sunset 7:05 p.m.
End civil twilight 7:31 p.m.
Moonset 7:11 p.m. on preceding day 9/22/06
Moonrise 7:58 a.m.
Moon transit 1:49 p.m.
Moonset 7:32 p.m.
Moonrise 8:57 a.m. on following day 9/24/06
(Note) The U.S. Naval Observatory gives the following definition of the new moon, which is the astronomical definition that ISNA and its Fiqh Council of North America uses to define the Islamic new moon.
Phase of the Moon on Friday 22 of September 2006:
New Moon on 22 September 2006 at 7:46 a.m. Eastern Daylight Time.
(Note) ISNA and its Fiqh Council of North America stated to the world that the start of Ramadan would begin on Saturday 23, 2006. From the above information it was impossible to see the Islamic crescent to announce the start of Ramadan. According to sound ahadith, the month of Sha'ban is calculated to have 30 days and the fast of Ramadan to commence on Sunday 24, 2006.
Phase of the Moon on Saturday 23 of September 2006:
- The Moon appears to be partly but less than one-half illuminated by direct sunlight. The fraction of the Moon's disk that is illuminated is increasing.
(Note) This is the Islamic definition of the new moon that was established by the Holy Prophet of Islam, Hazrat Muhammad Ibn Abdullah (SAW). The following is an explanation of the difference of the astronomical definition and the Islamic definition as recognized by the U.S. Naval Observatory.
Crescent Moon Visibility and the Islamic Calendar
The Islamic calendar is based on lunar months, which begin when the thin crescent Moon is actually sighted in the western sky after sunset within a day or so after New Moon. The ancient Hebrew calendar was also based on actual lunar crescent sightings, although the modern Hebrew calendar is calculated.
The 12 months of the Islamic calendar are: Muharram, Safar, Rabi'a I, Rabi'a II, Jumada I, Jumada II, Rajab, Sha'ban, Ramadan, Shawwal, Dhu al-Q'adah, Dhu al-Hijjah. Since 12 lunar months are, on average, 11 days shorter than the (Gregorian) civil year, the Islamic year shifts earlier in each civil year by about this amount. The count of years for the Islamic calendar begins in 622 CE; specifically, 1 Muharram 1 AH corresponds to 16 July 622 CE (Julian calendar).
A tabular Islamic calendar has been established for some non-religious purposes in which the lengths of the months alternate between 29 and 30 days; in leap years an extra day is added to the last month, Dhu al-Hijjah. This calendar consists of a 30-year cycle in which 11 of the 30 years are leap years. Civil dates corresponding to important Islamic dates in this tabular calendar are:
Islamic New Year 1425 - 2004 February 22
(Note) Armed with the correct Islamic definition of the new moon and the knowledge of the different astronomical definition that is used by the U.S. Naval Observatory along with its scientific observations, they have accurately pinpointed the start of Ramadan for the year 2006. Still ISNA and the Fiqh Council of North America, in light of the obvious proof, remains to hold to its position and insistence that the total black of the moon is the correct Islamic definition.
The Islamic dates begin at sunset on the previous evening and end at sunset on the date listed above. These dates may or may not correspond to the evenings on which the crescent Moon is first visible, and it is the visibility of the crescent Moon that determines when the religious observance begins. The Moon's visibility at these times varies with location; generally, the visibility increases to the west, and locations in the tropics are favored over those in middle or high latitudes.
The visibility of the lunar crescent as a function of the Moon's "age" - the time counted from New Moon - is obviously of great importance to Muslims. The date and time of each New Moon can be computed exactly (see, for example, Phases of the Moon in Data Services ) but the time that the Moon first becomes visible after the New Moon depends on many factors and cannot be predicted with certainty. In the first two days after New Moon, the young crescent Moon appears very low in the western sky after sunset, and must be viewed through bright twilight. It sets shortly after sunset. The sighting of the lunar crescent within one day of New Moon is usually difficult. The crescent at this time is quite thin, has a low surface brightness, and can easily be lost in the twilight. Generally, the lunar crescent will become visible to suitably-located, experienced observers with good sky conditions about one day after New Moon. However, the time that the crescent actually becomes visible varies quite a bit from one month to another. The record for an early sighting of a lunar crescent, with a telescope, is 12.1 hours after New Moon; for naked-eye sightings, the record is 15.5 hours from New Moon. These are exceptional observations and crescent sightings this early in the lunar month should not be expected as the norm. For Islamic calendar purposes, the sighting must be made with the unaided eye.
In the book "Reliance of the Traveler" by Ahmad Ibn Naqib Al-Misri, translated by Nuh Ha Mim Keller, under the section of sighting the new moon, it states that "If a person knows by calculations of lunar movements or the positions of the stars that the next day is Ramadan, fasting is nevertheless not obligatory for him or the public, though it is permissible for him alone.
Science is a tool to be used to verify Allah's (SWT) signs, not to change His religion. How can it be that the U.S. Naval Observatory can recognize and give respect to the Islamic religion by taking into consideration the Islamic definition of the sighting of the new moon for Ramadan and ISNA and its Fiqh Council can not. The following is a possible reason why.
In the Rand Corporation report "Civil Democratic Islam", http://www.rand.org/pubs/monograph_reports/MR1716/MR1716.pdf , in the chapter "Finding Partners for the Promotion of Democratic Islam, a Proposed Strategy", it states:
"Support the Modernist first, enhancing their vision of Islam over that of the traditionalist by providing them with a broad platform to articulate and disseminate their views. They, not the traditionalist, should be cultivated and publicly presented as the face of contemporary Islam." Also it states, "Help break the Fundamentalist and the Traditionalist monopoly on defining, explaining, and interpreting Islam."
More of this proposed strategy can be read at the above Rand Corporation link.
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