Monday, May 06, 2019

Determining the Start of Ramadan in Morocco

Morocco is among the Muslim countries that rely on a local sighting of the moon by special committees, in line with the hadith of the prophet : “Fast when you see the crescent and break the fast when you see it; if it is not apparent, then make the month of Sha’ban thirty days.” 

Muslims fast to fulfil the second essential pillar of Islam after the profession of faith (shahadah), prayer (salah), charity (zakaat), and pilgrimage to Mecca (hajj).In Morocco, Ramadan will most likely start on Tuesday, May 7th.

Another way of determining the beginning of Ramadan is through astronomical calculations. Ramadan starts when the crescent technically exists, though it may not have been sighted.

The start of Ramadan in Morocco is officially based on the observation method, though astronomers also provide an estimate of the date.

Several countries announced the first day of Ramadan on Monday instead of Tuesday, including Saudi Arabia.

Saudi Arabia’s moon observations have been criticized.

Adnan Qadi, a Saudi astronomer, argued that 87% of Saudi Arabia’s moon observation between 1961 and 2004 were inaccurate. In 63% of the cases, it was actually impossible to observe the moon on the day Saudi Arabia claimed to have observed it.

The astronomer found that in 29 of 46 cases, while Saudi Arabia had declared sighting the moon, it was in fact scientifically impossible to observe that day. The “sighting” was before the first lunar phase had occurred, or the moon was technically impossible to see.

Mohammed Shawkat Awda, an Emirati astronomer, observed in contrast that Morocco and Oman registered “not even one error” in their astronomical calculations from the year 1984 to 2007.

The different start dates of Ramadan can cause divisions within the Muslim community. Some people believe that regardless of geographical location, Ramadan starts when announced by Saudi Arabia.

While Ramadan does bring people together, it also causes some tension in relation to when exactly it begins.


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