New York Hilal-Sighting Conference a Huge Success

 


Left to right: Dr Omar Afzal, Br Khalid Shaukat, Maulana G. A. Siddiqi, and Maulana M.G. Nadvi

New York: On Sunday, May 28, 2006 more than 55 Muslim community leaders and imams of Tri-state masajid met in a daylong conference to address the issue of the unification of Islamic dates, especially for Ramadan and Eidain. The conference was addressed by prominent ulema of various schools of thought as well as Muslim astronomical experts.
The Muslim community of North America, despite its numerical strength, is facing serious challenge. Among the most acute, recurring year after yea,r is the determination of Ramadan and Eidain dates. The community faces split every year on these most joyous occasions. The chaos and disarray not only distorts our image in the eyes of non-Muslims, but is also creating hostility among Muslim youth who feel embarrassed and curse the imams and the community elders for their ineptitude. It is a pity that some Muslim kids in a school ask their teachers to be excused on one day for the Eid and the others on another day.
Ulema and community leaders have attempted for years to unify the Muslims without much success at the local or national levels.
This was the first successful attempt by the ulema and imams of diverse schools of thoughts, and Muslim moon-sighting experts to form a Hilal Sighting Committee of North America. Br. Zaheer Uddin will coordinate with Mr. Kahlid Shaukat, Dr. Omar Afzal, and Dr. M.A.K. Lodhi. The ulema affiliated with the Committee are Maulana Ghufran Siddiqi, Imam Ghulam Yasin Rizvi, Imam Ghulam Rasul of Jama’te Ahle Sunnat USA, Maulana Ghous Nadvi of Ulema Council of North America, Mufti Jamal Uddin, Mufti Numan Vazir and Mufti Ruhul Amin of the Shari’ah Board, Sheikh Fadhel Al-Sahlani of Imam al-Khoei Islamic Center, and Maulana Ashrafuzzaman Khan of the Ulema Council of America.
After a heart-warming recitation of the Qur’an by Imam Ghulam Rasul of Staten Island, Maulana Muhammad Ghous Nadvi emphasized the need of starting Islamic month correctly in North America. He posed a simple question to the audience: Can we pray Jumu’ah Salah on Sunday or make Hajj on the 1st of Dhul Hijjah? Of course, the audience replied NO in unison:.Similarly, we cannot start Ramadan wrongly on the last day of Sha’ban.
Maulana Ghufran Ali Siddiqui elaborated on why Eidul Adha is on the 10th of Dhul Hijjah irrespective of where we live. Whatever connection exists between Hajj and Eidul Adha does not affect determining its correct date.
Dr. Omar Afzal, who is an alim and astronomer, explained how Muslims sometimes make erroneous claims about seeing a hilal when there is no hilal on the horizon. He emphasized a very simple way of ascertaining a claimed sighting: When a hilal is sighted in town A in a country then the places west to point A will be able to see the same hilal the same evening a few minutes later. If not seen then the claim from A is spurious.
A Muslim expert on astronomy and calculation, Br. Khalid Shaukat who had come from Washington, DC, explained that there is no contradiction between hilal sighting and astronomical calculations. Rather, hilal sighting and calculations go hand in hand and complement each other. His power point presentation of how a moon becomes visible was very informative.
Dr. Salman Shaikh who was involved in hilal sighting in Saudi Arabia during his five-year stay there presented an eye witness account of hilal sighting. Even the great ulema of Saudi Arabia, including Shaikh Bin Bazz and Shaikh Uthameen, were not satisfied with the Saudi announcements of hilal sighting. For the Muslim in North America, these ulema have issued the fatawa and instructed to follow their sighting of hilal in their countries for all 12 months, including the month of Dhul Hijjah.
The coordinator of these efforts and the Hilal Sighting Committee of North America, Br. Zaheer Uddin, in his power point presentation explained the conclusion of agreement of ulema and the Muslim experts on astronomy. He praised the ulema, imams and the leadership who got together for the unity and following the Shari’a to start all 12 months correctly.
A resolution was presented by Imam Ashrafuz Zaman Khan and approved by the attendees. According to it the Ulema and the astronomical experts agreed that the Islamic month should begin after a verifiable sighting of the hilal (crescent moon) in North America. Muslim astronomical experts will provide the sighting data and point out about the astronomical possibility of the moon’s earliest visibility somewhere in the US. They will deliver their recommendation after carefully evaluating the eyewitness accounts. The final decision, however, will be made by the Shura of the Hilal Sighting Committee of North America and conveyed to member masajid through e-mails and announced on the Shura website. Local mosques and individuals will be able to access the decision on the website: www.hilalsighting.org
The Committee has also published a beautiful dual lunar and solar dates calendar showing the earliest visible hilal, the first dates of the Islamic months and the actual shape of the moon at each lunar date. The calendar was available for a nominal price during the conference and can be had by calling 718-848-8952.
The venue for the Hilal Sighting Conference was Masjid al-Abidin (Liberty Ave and 27th. St. in Queens, New York). The Imam of the Masjid Br. Nasar Haque and the president Br. Qamrul welcomed the imams and the participants and the program was moderated by Dr. Abu Azad Haque, coordinator for Hilal Sighting New York.
The conference concluded at 3:30 pm. with du’aa

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Editor: Akhtar M. Faruqui
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