A response by Y. A. Miftahi.

Supporters of observatory based Islamic moon-sighting have attempted to criticise and belittle the Shar’ee crescent moon-sighting in Birmingham on the evening of Tuesday 10th August 2010 by three Muslims for the start of Ramadan 1431.  They base their criticism on the totally spurious argument that according to their observatory calculations the moon had set before the sun and therefore, according to them, the Moon would have been invisible to the naked eye.

If one examines the science used to compile the moon-rise and moon-set times what you quickly discover is that theses timings are based on a huge and complex set of algorithms that rely on a very large number of variables.  These variables are such that even astronomers admit that these computed calculations can be inaccurate by several minutes.

It is easy for those with an anti Islamic anti-Saudi agenda to dismiss anything that may corroborate moon-sighting news from that country.  They abjectly fail to consider that the highly inaccurate observatory calculations, as admitted to by astronomers themselves, are the real source of their problems.  On the other hand we are of the view that calculations must be checked by naked eye moon sighting’s and not the other way round. 

The Fuqa’haa do however, accept that for the Degree in Salaat times, even for Fajar & Isha, calculations can be used as long as they are matched by Musha’hadah (see our Urdu & English books on this subject at  This is a point upon which we agree with Dr. Khalid Shaukat and other experts.  However, as outlined before, for Thuboot-e-Hilal, Share’aah clearly instructs us to discard calculations and look for the Hilal directly on the evening of the 29th of every Islamic month regardless of what observatory calculations or global visibility charts may say.

We must all agree that we consistently apply a very high threshold of acceptance when dealing with the sanctity of the fast.  Having personally spoken to one of the observers from Birmingham, who are absolutely clear that they observed the crescent moon of Ramadhan 1431, we owe it to these brave people to show some respect and courtesy without delving into the pits of slander and innuendo.  All three brothers come from very respectful backgrounds and are very observant Muslims as well.  There is certainly no compulsion or incentive on any of them to give false testimonies or disparage their own characters.  Indeed, what we and most rational observers will note is that those who choose to slander their testimonies rely on the theories of the pagan worshipper Meton and the Jewish rabbi Hilel the 2nd. 

When moon-sighting news from Saudi Arabia was announced for the start of Ramadan, there was the usual criticism from people who follow observatory calculations.   They argued that the moon in Makkah Al Mukarramah was only 14.5 hours old when the youngest naked-eye recorded crescent moon-sighting was at 15 hours.  Furthermore, they argued that the time lag of the moon at that time was only 11 minutes when it should have been at least 29 minutes.  We ask why a 14.5 hour moon cannot be seen but a 15 hours one can?  Also, why does the moon need to be 29 minutes to be sighted but not 11 minutes?  What is surprising is that Dr. Khalid Shaukat of accepted an 11h.15m moon sighting as scientifically possible, as was observed by a British Muslim family on hajj along with countless others in 1989. 
(See Moon Sighting Records + Astronomic culculaters...., When link opens go further down until English article after Urdoo)

In Britain and around the world the many of the older generation from the countries of the Indian sub-continent will tell you that the moon is frequently viewed within a few minutes of sunset or even at sunset.  Those who have witnessed such moon- sighting’s find it bizarre that observatory calculations hold it compulsory for the moon to be on the horizon for such a long period of time before being theoretically observable by the naked eye.  On the ICOP messaging boards, where most contributors support using observatory calculations, we have found acceptance of crescent moon-sighting at or just before sunset.  Why then do they adhere to following the observatorial theory that say the moon needs to be on the horizon for a full 29 minutes before having the ability to be visible?

Along with the points raised, it is important to remember that the world-renowned astronomer Dr Martin Elsasser has himself stated that the moon-sighting prediction charts are generalisations and for experienced observers, optimal conditions, correct latitude etc, you can have improved sightings of the crescent (click and go down; Visibility Models).

Logically then, why is it impossible for this to apply to the Saudi Ramadan moon-sighting’s, where we note for Ramadhan 1431 the moon was over 14.5 hours old and on the horizon for 11 minutes in highly optimal conditions, being on the equator with little or no light pollution? Visibility Graphs

May Allah guide all on the Sirat-al-mustaqeem.  Ameen and Wasalam.

Y. A. Miftahi