Visibility of Thul Hijjah Crescent 1436 AH On this page:-
When to Observe Thul Hijjah Waxing (NEW) Crescent ?
The geocentric conjunction (Geocentric New Moon) will occur Inshalla on (Sunday 13 September 2015) at 06:41 UT.

Sighting the new crescent on (Sunday 13 September 2015) and (Monday 14 September 2015) is shown in the below graphs using the program Accurate Times by Mohammad Odeh according to Odeh criterion. Where:-

  • It is impossible to see the crescent from the areas located under the red color. Because either the Moon on this day sets before the Sunset and/or the topocentric conjunction occurs after the Sunset.
  • The crescent is expected to be seen by optical aid only from the areas located under the blue color.
  • The crescent is expected to be seen by optical aid from the areas located under the magenta color. In these areas the crescent could be seen by naked eye if the atmospheric conditions are superb and the observer is experienced.
  • The crescent is expected to be easily visible by naked eye from the areas located under the green color.
  • The crescent cannot be seen from uncolored areas, even though the Moon sets in these locations after the Sunset and the topocentric conjunction occurs before the Sunset, but the Moon is not sufficiently illuminated in order to be seen as crescent even by optical aid.
  • Kindly notice that the below graph shows the possibility of seeing the crescent from areas between 60 degrees north of Equator down to 60 degrees south of Equator.
Sunday 13 September 2015

Sunday 13 September 2015

Sunday 14 September 2015

Moon Sighting and Dates Solution by Salman Zafar Shaikh, Ph.D

by Hamza Yusuf on July 19, 2015

 The following piece is an important article written by Dr. Youssef Ismail, who is one of the few people I really trust on the issue of determining lunar dates in order to know when the Hajj and Ramadan have begun, when it’s Eid, etc. I trust him for two reasons: firstly, he has been traditionally trained in Maliki fiqh and granted an ijazah to teach it and therefore understands the fiqh issues involved; secondly, and perhaps in this case more importantly, he is a scientist with a doctorate in engineering from Stanford University, which is one of the most prestigious institutes of science in the West. Dr. Youssef Ismail is a first rate intellect who has been diligently moon sighting for over twenty years and has taught astronomy at all levels. He is currently Professor of Astronomy and Science at Zaytuna College in Berkeley, California. 

The debate over moon sighting is an ongoing and tragic one for Muslims, especially for those in the West. It has been divisive and even split families and communities. The juristic principle, “The government removes disagreement” has worked well in the Muslim world although at a cost. The scientifically impossible and hence clearly unverified reports of sightings in places like the Arabian Peninsula are a travesty to modern science not to mention classical jurisprudence, which acknowledged the role of science in negating moon sightings. Our classical scholars were, almost without exception, well versed in the cutting edge sciences of their age. And while astronomy has developed greatly since the advent of the telescope and calculus, its ability to predict eclipses or new moons has not advanced in any significant way. This aspect of astronomy was surprisingly developed even in the Babylonian period. Granted our precision, which now is down to minutes, seconds, and even nanoseconds, has evolved significantly, but the prediction of the actual events within hours has been known for centuries.

Muslims were capable of calculating the moon’s birth centuries ago to a highly accurate degree. They used sophisticated charts to determine when and where the moon could be sighted. I personally know the timekeeper of Fes, Morocco who took me up in the minaret of the Masjid al-Andalus and showed me the twelve holes used by the muezzin to sight the moon based upon where it would appear given the time of year. The astronomer, mathematician, engineer, and Egypt’s peerless jurist, Imam al-Qarafi, stated that while science negates moon sightings, it does not assert them. In other words, if natural science tells us it is impossible to see the moon, the reports of sightings are therefore dismissed as the result of other phenomena or possibly the dodgy character of the claimant. However, if science tells us that the moon can be sighted, it is accepted only when naked eye sightings have confirmed it. There really is no debate for those who take the time to study this issue deeply. However, unfortunately, people neither trained in fiqh nor in astronomy or those trained in one without the other are the ones who are making most of the arguments. Yet the only ones who can arrive at an educated ruling about this are those who are properly trained in fiqh and its usul, along with a sound knowledge of astronomy, especially observational astronomy, which is studied less today and is quite distinct from theoretical modern astronomy.

What is important to note about this dilemma is that the issue highlights a central crisis of our Ummah today: we are split into two broad-based camps – the modernists and the traditionalists. The modernists claim to be rational in their approach and prefer to rely on science while too often ignoring the vast intellectual tradition of our great scholars. Hence, many in the U.S. and Canada face north in a “great circle route” for qiblah because it is scientific despite centuries of Muslim practice – including American Muslim practice until the late 1970s – using the loxodromic route, and many also fast according to calculation, despite centuries of Muslim practice using naked eye sightings. What is intriguing is that in both situations Muslims of the past were quite capable of calculating the great circle route but found it too cumbersome and anti-fitrah as is clear from their writings in ‘Ilm al-Hai’ah, a compilation of sciences that involves astronomy, navigation, cartography, and surveying, which was used in determining the qiblah. Muslims of the past were also capable of calculating the birth of new moons and even knew when they could be seen by the naked eye based on the conditions but despite that chose to follow naked eye sightings given the hadith’s clear injunction to do so. Sadly, we are now caught between an ossified tradition that ignores science and modernists who ignore the classical tradition. Hence, on the one hand, we have traditional scholars following claims of naked eye sightings despite established modern science that enables those working with its tools clearly and decisively to declare its impossibility and despite our classical scholars, who were profoundly well-versed in science, especially geography and astronomy, declaring the necessity of scientific negation of impossible sightings given their absolute reliability and decisive (qat’i) nature; on the other hand, we have modernists who completely ignore the classical tradition of the jurists who, with their knowledge of astronomy, were capable of making calculations of moon sightings but did not do so, as they considered it an abandonment of prophetic practice. Almost all of the articles and books that I have read on the subject unfortunately follow only one or the other methodology. One of the rare exceptions to this is the work of Dr. Mokhtar Maghraoui, who is trained in both modern and classical sciences at the doctoral level. Hence, he is able to draw from both modern science and the traditional fiqh positions. I challenge anyone to read carefully Dr. Maghroui’s "An Islamic Legal Analysis of the Astronomical Determination of the Beginning of Ramadan” or a book that I wrote on this subject, Caesarean Moon Births with a disinterested approach and not be convinced. Unfortunately, most people’s minds are already set, and they read to refute rather than enlighten themselves. I personally would love to be convinced of the other position, as my goal is unity and not simply to be among those who differ (and are practicing, as the Arabs say, khaalif tu’raf ), but I sincerely believe that the opposing argument is unconvincing.

The central issue is simply this: the liberal arts, which were the basis of Christian, Jewish, and Muslim education, were never only the language arts known in the West as the trivium and in the Muslim world as al-sinaa’t al-thalath but always included the quadrivium. The great jurist, theologian, and scientist, Nasir al-Din al-Tusi, in his Akhlaqi Tusi, writes, “The foundational arts of science are four: arithmetic, geometry, harmonics, and astronomy.” Classical scholars were skilled in all of them. Today, few seminary students of Islam go beyond studying basic calculations used in inheritance laws and zakat determination and no longer study chronometry (tawqit) or astronomy, geography, and navigation (‘ilm al-hai’ah), all of which were considered necessary knowledge for scholars of the past. The problem of moon sighting will not go away until we resolve the central crisis it involves, as it gets to the heart of what is wrong with modern Muslims: our inability to harmonize tradition with modernity.

The great tragedy of this is that those who rely on calculations to determine lunar dates have removed a day that our Prophet, God’s peace and blessings upon him, established, which is known as the “day of doubt” (yawm al-shakk): it is the first twenty-four hours after the moon has separated from the sun. NASA, the most prestigious and advanced scientific body of astronomy and space science, has stated that the naked eye sighting cannot be predicted in the first twenty-four hours after the “birth” of a new moon due to many variables but especially atmospheric conditions. Surprisingly, Ibn Taymiyyah beat them to the same conclusion centuries ago in his Refutation of the Logicians. Yet some modern Muslims have declared that this day can be known with certainty despite the Prophet, God’s peace and blessings upon him, declaring it a day of doubt. Furthermore, his assertion – while it needs no verification – has been confirmed, according to NASA, by modern science. 

This Ramadan, I started fasting in California and found myself in a Muslim country on the 29th night. This particular country uses calculations to start and end their Ramadan. Normally, I follow the Eid of whatever the country I’m in declares it to be. But given what I know about the anarchy involving the issue, I do that as long as there are verified multiple sightings somewhere in the world. Alas, nowhere in the world could the moon have been seen on Thursday night, except one place, South America, yet no one there claimed to have seen it without a visual aid. Sadly, while it was scientifically impossible to see it in California, some sincere people thought they saw it in San Diego, and those who most likely don’t understand the science behind the impossibility of naked eye sightings, given the moon’s relative position, or the traditional view of science’s validity in negating impossible sightings believed them. This is due to their adherence to classical fiqh books without understanding the science involved in those positions. In a village or a remote place, this would be the way moon sighting would be practiced, as advanced science is not necessary to the practice of Shariah, but where those sciences are available, they are used, as in advanced cultures or in times such as ours, when millions of people have access to mass communication. Hence, I chose to pray Eid with the community but maintained my fast, as I knew, as far as I was concerned, that it was still Ramadan.

The rule we have is simple: “Leave what gives you doubt for what gives you certainty.” Calculations do not provide certainty that the first day, i.e. the day of doubt, can be determined by calculation. We can know only that the astronomical new moon has been born but not the calendrical new moon. The proof of the inaccuracy of that method is that the Saudis, who commendably are the only people in the world that use the lunar Hijrah calendar in their administrative affairs, due to their unscientific acceptance of sightings deemed impossible by lunar positions, have had to repeat dates (such as the 1st of Muharram two days in a row) over the years because the calculations eventually cause a month to have 31 days, and that inevitably disrupts the lunar calendar. (See "Hilal Sighting in Saudi Arabia: A First Hand Report” by Salman Zafar Shaikh. Most people are oblivious to this fact, but even if they are aware of it simply assume it is not a problem. But imagine the Western world having to have two days that are January 1st because someone miscalculated the calendar!

During a lecture on the problem of calendars, one of my college math professors told our class that the only truly scientific and natural calendar was the Muslim lunar calendar. The Muslim lunar month is a self-correcting system. If people follow it in its natural form, they will never find themselves with two consecutive days being the 1st of Muharram. However, just as people want fast-food, many Muslims want fast-Islam: they want an Islam that fits into their schedules as opposed to a schedule that is fits into their Islam. It is also a sign of the sin of gula so prevalent in our age that people are desirous to end Ramadan as quickly as possible. An Indo-Pakistani I know told me that her grandmother said that people used to cry when Ramadan was ending out of sadness that such a blessed month was coming to a close.

My advice to those who recognize the importance of certainty is that we adhere to naked eye sightings. The sightings could be local, national, or global but must be based upon a multitude of sightings and also must be in accordance with sound science. People’s fast should not be determined by a small number of individuals in one city, especially when science tells us that it was impossible to sight the moon in that place even with the aid of a high-powered telescope, given that it was not visible below the Danjon limit. For those still convinced by calculations, my advice is to read Caesarean Moon Births well or to read Dr. Maghraoui’s paper.

For the average Muslims who are not scholars or students of knowledge, I believe their fasting, based upon the guidance of their leaders, is valid. However, my recommendation for those who went with the sighting reports of Thursday evening and did not fast on Friday is to make up a day. I think the intentions of those who “sighted” the crescent were sincere in their attempt to implement the Sunnah of the Prophet, God’s peace and blessings upon him. Unfortunately, they failed to consider the decisive scientific evidence to the contrary, which according to the masters of our tradition, such as Imam al-Qarafi, nullifies unscientific sightings. In using these modern tools, such as visibility charts, we can eliminate these controversies in the future. Concerning calculations without naked eye sightings, my main concern is with the leadership whom I believe, despite good intentions, have abandoned the Sunnah of the Prophet, God’s peace and blessings on him, on this particular issue, all the while doing so claiming it is based upon modern science. However, modern science itself does not concur! The real issue, I believe, is that people want the convenience of scheduled holidays to facilitate their hectic work schedules. While easing the troubles of Muslims is an important aspect of the Shariah, and the modern world is often highly antagonistic to the practices of Muslims, I think, on this issue, it is a misguided approach.

Those who know me well know that I loathe fitnah and divisiveness, and I detest sectarianism; hence I am appealing to the sincerity of all parties to respect the others despite the positions they may have taken. Muslims are brothers and sisters, and, if we disagree, the Qur’an tells us to revert back to Allah and His Messenger, God’s peace and blessings upon him. Each must do so according to his or her own conscience, but it should be based upon sound knowledge or the following of sound scholarship and a circumspect view of the whole issue, not a piecemeal approach that does not take into consideration the nuances and real problems inherent in this perennial crisis. I sincerely recognize I could be wrong on this issue, but I don’t think I am, and God knows best. I recommend you read well this article written by Youssef Ismail, a thoughtful moon sighting expert of over twenty years, who does not go out merely in Sha’ban but has diligently watched the birth of new moons every month for several years. I pray that Allah raises him among those of whom our Prophet, God’s peace and blessings upon him, said, “The best of God’s servants are those who watch vigilantly for the new moons and observe diligently the shadows [for prayer times] as a way of remembering God.”

The prophet of God  peace and blessings upon him, said,
 “The best of God’s servants are those who watch vigilantly for the new moons and observe diligently the shadows [for prayer times] as a way of remembering God.”

Understanding The Moon Phases

Have you ever wondered what causes the moon phases? We all know that its appearance changes over time. But why? The good way to understand the phases of the moon is to examine an earth-moon-sun diagram:

Diagram Explanation

The illustration may look a little complex at first, but it's easy to explain.

Sunlight is shown coming in from the right. The earth, of course, is at the center of the diagram. The moon is shown at 8 key stages during its revolution around the earth. The moon phase name is shown alongside the image. The dotted line from the earth to the moon represents your line of sight when looking at the moon. The large moon image shows what you would see at that point in the cycle. For the waning gibbous, third quarter, and waning crescent phases you have to mentally turn yourself upside down when imagining the line of sight. When you do this, you'll "see" that the illuminated portion is on your left, just as you see in the large image.

One important thing to notice is that exactly one half of the moon is always illuminated by the sun. Of course that is perfectly logical, but you need to visualize it in order to understand the phases. At certain times we see both the sunlit portion and the shadowed portion -- and that creates the various moon phase shapes we are all familiar with. Also note that the shadowed part of the moon is invisible to the naked eye; in the diagram above, it is only shown for clarification purposes. Finally, please realize this diagram is only meant to demonstrate how the phases work; the small inner moons in the diagram do not show the fact that the same side of the moon always faces Earth.

So the basic explanation is that the lunar phases are created by changing angles (relative positions) of the earth, the moon and the sun, as the moon orbits the earth.

If you'd like to examine the phases of the moon more closely, via computer software, you may be interested in this moon phases calendar software.

Moon Phases Simplified

It's probably easiest to understand the moon cycle in this order: new moon and full moon, first quarter and third quarter, and the phases in between.

As shown in the above diagram, the new moon occurs when the moon is positioned between the earth and sun. The three objects are in approximate alignment (why "approximate" is explained below). The entire illuminated portion of the moon is on the back side of the moon, the half that we cannot see.

At a full moon, the earth, moon, and sun are in approximate alignment, just as the new moon, but the moon is on the opposite side of the earth, so the entire sunlit part of the moon is facing us. The shadowed portion is entirely hidden from view.

The first quarter and third quarter moons (both often called a "half moon"), happen when the moon is at a 90 degree angle with respect to the earth and sun. So we are seeing exactly half of the moon illuminated and half in shadow.

Once you understand those four key moon phases, the phases between should be fairly easy to visualize, as the illuminated portion gradually transitions between them.

An easy way to remember and understand those "between" lunar phase names is by breaking out and defining 4 words: crescent, gibbous, waxing, and waning. The word crescent refers to the phases where the moon is less than half illuminated. The word gibbous refers to phases where the moon is more than half illuminated. Waxing essentially means "growing" or expanding in illumination, and waning means "shrinking" or decreasing in illumination.

Thus you can simply combine the two words to create the phase name, as follows:

After the new moon, the sunlit portion is increasing, but less than half, so it is waxing crescent. After the first quarter, the sunlit portion is still increasing, but now it is more than half, so it is waxing gibbous. After the full moon (maximum illumination), the light continually decreases. So the waning gibbous phase occurs next. Following the third quarter is the waning crescent, which wanes until the light is completely gone -- a new moon.

The Moon's Orbit

You may have personally observed that the moon goes through a complete moon phases cycle in about one month. That's true, but it's not exactly one month. The synodic period or lunation is exactly 29.5305882 days. It's the time required for the moon to move to the same position (same phase) as seen by an observer on earth. If you were to view the moon cycling the earth from outside our solar system (the viewpoint of the stars), the time required is 27.3217 days, roughly two days less. This figure is called the sidereal period or orbital period. Why is the synodic period different from the sidereal period? The short answer is because on earth, we are viewing the moon from a moving platform: during the moon cycle, the earth has moved approximately one month along its year-long orbit around the sun, altering our angle of view with respect to the moon, and thus altering the phase. The earth's orbital direction is such that it lengthens the period for earthbound observers.

Although the synodic and sidereal periods are exact numbers, the moon phase can't be precisely calculated by simple division of days because the moon's motion (orbital speed and position) is affected and perturbed by various forces of different strengths. Hence, complex equations are used to determine the exact position and phase of the moon at any given point in time.

Also, looking at the diagram (and imagining it to scale), you may have wondered why, at a new moon, the moon doesn't block the sun, and at a full moon, why the earth doesn't block sunlight from reaching the moon. The reason is because the moon's orbit about the earth is about 5 degrees off from the earth-sun orbital plane.

However, at special times during the year, the earth, moon, and sun do in fact "line up". When the moon blocks the sun or a part of it, it's called a solar eclipse, and it can only happen during the new moon phase. When the earth casts a shadow on the moon, it's called a lunar eclipse, and can only happen during the full moon phase. Roughly 4 to 7 eclipses happen in any given year, but most of them minor or "partial" eclipses. Major lunar or solar eclipses are relatively uncommon.

Moon Software

If you want to follow the phases of the moon, you should definitely take a look at QuickPhase Pro, our flagship moon software product for your personal computer. This attractive and fun software covers thousands of years of past and future moon phases and is easy to use.