Moon spot­ters pre­pare for Ra­madan

7 Days in Dubai - - 7 DAYS HOLIDAY MOMENTS - @nawal_ramahi

The moon­sight­ing com­mit­tee in the UAE is set to meet tonight to con­firm the start of the Holy Month of Ra­madan.

The com­mit­tee, chaired by Sul­tan bin Saeed Al Badi, Min­is­ter of Jus­tice, will con­vene af­ter Maghrib prayers to wit­ness the first sight­ing of the cres­cent moon.

7DAYS spoke to Dr Hu­maid Ma­jol Al Nuaimi, Chair­man of the Arab Union for Astron­omy and Space Sci­ence and Deputy Vice-Chan­cel­lor of Univer­sity of Shar­jah for Aca­demic Af­fairs, who ex­plained how it works.

“The Is­lamic calendar is lu­nar-based, with each month co­in­cid­ing with the phases of the moon and last­ing ei­ther 29 or 30 days,” said Dr Al Nuaimi.

“Tra­di­tion­ally, one marks the begin­ning of an Is­lamic month by look­ing at the night sky and vis­i­bly seeing the slight cres­cent moon [hi­lal] that marks the begin­ning of the next month. This is the method which was fol­lowed by the Prophet Mohammed.”

Dr Al Nuaimi added: “Through­out much of Is­lam’s early his­tory, sight­ing the new moon was a rel­a­tively sim­ple en­deav­our. Mus­lims would make naked eye ob­ser­va­tions of the sky By Nawal Al Ramahi and de­ter­mine the start of Ra­madan to­gether with their lo­cal com­mu­ni­ties based on these sight­ings.

“Many Mus­lims have con­tin­ued to main­tain these tra­di­tions while oth­ers re­sort to as­tro­nomic cal­cu­la­tions along with tra­di­tional ways.

“A panel com­posed of a num­ber of ex­perts is as­signed by the Min­istry of Jus­tice ev­ery year. The panel mem­bers use the naked eye and tele­scope.

“There will be set­ting times of the moon ac­cord­ing to the sun tonight. It is worth not­ing that, in the his­tory of track­ing the moon, 29 min­utes is the least time re­quired for the set­ting of the moon af­ter the sun sets to be able to see the cres­cent.

“How­ever, it de­pends on the weather con­di­tions.”

Sharia courts have been called on to look out for the cres­cent moon and no­tify the com­mit­tee. Dis­crep­an­cies some­times arise be­tween com­mit­tees, re­sult­ing in some coun­tries ob­serv­ing Ra­madan ear­lier than oth­ers.

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