Hilaal sighting committees
Saudi Arabia oder was und wie die "Saudis" mit dem
Problem des Ramaḍaanbeginns umgehen; am Beispiel 1420 / 1999 by
Afzal Mittwoch, 8. März 2000 / CFCO
Aßalaahmu Alaykum w.r. w.b.
This report is regarding Hilaal sighting in Saudi Arabia.
Please forward it urgently to "Muslim email lists", including ICOP
Insha'allah. As I have mentioned in earlier emails, the ruling council of
Saudi Arabia has ordered formation of "Hilaal sighting committees"
which include: one member of Qada (scholar/justice department), one Astronomer
from King Abdul Aziz City for Science and Technology (KACST), one member of
Imarah (ruling council of the city), and volunteers. Currently there are six
such committees in Saudi Arabia near Makkah, Riyadh, Qassim, Hail, Tabuk and
However, the Justice department accepts witness of "any"
Muslim and not just the 6 committees mentioned above. For each of the last
Ramaḍaan, Shawwal, Dhul-Qida and now Dhul-Hajj, the new month has been declared
while NONE of the 6 committees saw the Hilaal. For last Eid ul Fitr, I had gone
with the Makkah committee. Neither we, nor the other 5 committees sighted the
Hilaal. But Eid was declared for Friday, January 7, 2000. (In fact moonset was
before sunset in Makkah for Thursday evening). Later, an article in the
locally published "Arab News" dated February 11, 2000 admitted that
a mistake was made in the Eid ul Fitr date decision. (I had earlier emailed a
scanned copy of this article). But officially, no admission has been made of
the error. Also, I have been told that apparently it is usually the same 5-7
people or so in Tabuk, Hareeq and Huta etc. who report the Hilaal sighting in
Saudi Arabia, year after year, with at least one of them mentioning in a later
discussion, that he can see the hilal during the day (BEFORE Maghrib)!
Also, a partial solar eclipse of February 5, which lasted
till after sunset by Riyadh time, implied that if the EidulFitr decision was
correct then Shawwal would be 31 days, which is not possible! This follows
from the Fatwa of Sheikh Ibn Othaimeen, which I had emailed earlier. For
Dhul-Hijja, we went with the Riyadh committee. Neither the Riyadh committee
nor any of the other committee reported any sighting of the Hilaal on March 5
evening or March 6 evening. Yet Dhul-Hijja 1 was declared for March 7. Further,
on March 7 evening, several brothers here in Lucent Technologies in Riyadh saw
the Hilaal. It was very thin. We saw it from after the Maghrib prayers for
about 20 minutes. It's thinness and short time made it clear beyond any doubt
that it was the Hilaal i.e. the first day crescent. The brothers from Lucent
witnessing this included me, Br. Ziaur Rahman, Br. Ali Al Shamrani, Br. Aamer
Sabbah, Br. Shahin Iqbal, Br. Budiatmoko Onang, Br. E. Ashraf Koya and others.
Ofcourse several Muslims outside also witnessed the Hilaal. Seven of us from
Lucent went to try to briefly meet Sheikh Saleh Ibn Muhammad AlHaidan, the
Head of Majlis AlQada AlAala (Supreme Court ?) of Saudi Arabia, but somehow it
was difficult to put the message through.