Thursday, October 25, 2007

More on the Eid Crescent

As I wrote in an earlier entry many people have been distressed about the fact that it was astronomically impossible for Eid to be on the 12th of October, but now it seems it isn't just us crazy immoral liberals who have taken note. Several Saudi religious scholars lead by Abdullah Al Munaie (member of the Grand Council of Ulema) have made clear their suspicions. "Blindly accepting that the views astronomers are invalid puts the whole community on the Judiciary Council's conscience." Al Munaie wrote. "Even if we assume that astronomers are a bunch of dissolutes whose testimonies should be investigated first, that does not mean we have the right to completely not hear them." he continues.

But of course this is Saudi Arabia. The head of the Judiciary Council stated that "astronomy remains an inaccurate discipline" preferring the use of the naked eye to a science that is older than the pyramids. "How are we to ignore the testimonies of eyewitnesses and listen to a a man calculating in his home?" he adds. Like my dear departed father used to say: "They still think science is some kind of djinn operated magic."

Still, the fact that there is a rift between the high ranking Saudi ulema over the matter gives one hope that maybe sometime in the (hopefully) not too distant future we can stop being the laughing stock of the world.

For a full article over the matter (in Arabic) visit Al Arabiya


Amy said...

AA -

I (unfortunately) got in a little tiff about this with my fiance, when he told me he was going to pray Eid and I told him it was impossible to sight the moon yet. A shari'ah issue, he told me it was. How do they know it's impossible, he asked me?

When the moon sets before the sun sets... how can you possibly say you saw the crescent and that the next day is Eid? It has to be after sunset to see it, and for it to be on that day, because the day ends at sunset.

Now I favor moonsighting as much as the next person but there has to be some common sense, right? I hate to really rant about this on your blog but... well, it's about time astronomy was treated as something other than jinni magic or something popping up in the last century. And that doesn't even mean total reliance on it, either. Just... making use of knowledge available.

I think laughing stock is about right, though... for now.

Saudi Jawa said...

Go right ahead and rant. That's why I keep the comments section open :)

John Burgess said...

In a place where the ulema are not yet convinced that the earth rotates around the sun, I'm not likely to take their dismissal of astronomy with any authority.

Amy said...

AA -

One thing I love about the imam at the masjid here is that he tries to coordinate in advance a plan with all the local masajid (living in the usa btw) to make sure that they have the same criteria for deciding Eid so you don't have people in one city doing something different than the other city and people fighting, etc. Preventing fitnah I guess you could say. (Unfortunately, one mosque had a new imam this year and he didn't get the memo, so to speak.)

And the criteria they've established for Eid-day is different for the two Eids. For Eid al-Fitr, they have a moonsighting criteria nationwide, to the west coast (we're on the east), so if the moon is sighted, eid is declared. (Or Ramadan, at the end of Shabaan.) And in order for the sighting to be considered valid it has to be after the sun has set!!!!

But for Eid al-Adha and that whole month of course, he elects to follow Saudi Arabia because for that Eid it's not the local moon-sighting that matters so much as coordination with the people on hajj.. "when is Arafat" kinda thing.

But when we know for a fact it's impossible for the moon to have been sighted after sunset... how do people get away with saying they saw it? Ah, well.