Novemeber 2001: Page 1, 2, 3, 4

Submitters Perspective

Page 2


Cont’d from page 1

As the moon continues to orbit around the earth, it starts forming a crescent. This will be minutes after the new moon even though the crescent will not visible for several hours.
In some traditional Islamic countries, Muslims do not start fasting until they can see the crescent in the sky. In those countries people who sight the crescent first may also be rewarded. To get the reward, some people camp on hill-tops where the visibility will be the best.

Do we need Moon Sighting?

God gave us scientific knowledge to determine exactly when a lunar month will begin and end for any year. Therefore there is no need for trying to sight the crescent of the moon to start fasting. Any observatory or astronomy center should have that information for your area. There are many sites on the internet that provide the detailed information on phases of the moon. One such site is US Naval Observatory’s Astronomical Application Department:


Also, some almanacs, magazines or newspapers report the times for the phases of the moon. To determine when one should start fasting, compare the time the new lunar month begins with the time of sunset, the beginning of a day in the Islamic calendar.

What is an Islamic Day?

The Islamic day is the same as the Hebrew day. It begins at sunset and ends at the next sunset. In this system, the night comes before the day. Therefore, in some traditional Islamic countries, when they talk about, for instance, Friday night, they are actually referring to Thursday night. This is because that night actually belongs to Friday according to the definition of a lunar day.

Beginning of Ramadan

To determine when Ramadan (or any lunar month) begins, we need to know mainly two facts. The first is the time of the “new moon,” and the second is the time of sunset of the same day as this new moon. Even though the lunar month theoretically begins with the new moon, in practice the month begins on the first sunset following this new moon.
If the new moon time for the month of Ramadan is before the sunset, one starts fasting the next day at dawn (fajr). However, if the new moon time is actually past the sunset, then that particu-lar night is considered to belong to the last day of the previous month (Sha’ban). Therefore, even if the new moon time may fall be-fore the dawn, the first day of Ramadan does not start until the next sunset. Thus one starts fasting at dawn following this sunset.

Ending of Ramadan

One has to use the same system to determine the ending of the month to be consistent. If the new moon time for the month follow

ing Ramadan (the month of Shawwal) is before the sunset, one ends fasting at that sunset because the next day will be the first day of Shawwal. If the new moon time is past the sunset one must fast the next day also since that day will belong to Ramadan.

Ramadan This Year

The new moon times to be used for determining the beginning and ending of Ramadan are given be-low for GMT (Greenwich Mean Time).

6:40 A.M. on November 15
8:48 P.M. on December 14

The actual time for each time zone is relative to GMT. For ex-ample, New York is five and Los Angeles is eight hours behind GMT, but Mecca is three hours ahead of GMT. Based on the above information, God willing, the first day of Ramadan for USA is November 16, the last day is December 14. The Night of Power starts at the sunset of Dec 11, 2001.

The starting date for Ramadan and the date of Night of Power, are practically valid for all coun-tries of the world. The ending date, however, is valid for only the North and South American continents. The submitters in Europe, Middle East, Africa, Asia, Australia and New Zealand should end Ramadan on Decem-ber 15. Thus they get the oppor-tunity and blessings of fasting for one more day.

God willing Ramadan Mubarek or Happy and Blessed Ramadan to all.