Kayalpatnam.com>Based on your suggested Global Islamic Calendar, when will it be the first day of Ramadhan this year (2007) and when will it be the Eid?
Mr.Khalid Shaukat>Based on suggested Global Islamic Calendar, September 13 (Thursday) is the first day of Ramadhan and October 12 (Friday) is Eid. This is based on sightability anywhere in the world
Picture © Associated Press
Kayalpatnam.com>Would it be fair to summarise your model as follows: By the end of the chosen Calendar day (solar day), somewhere in the world, Crescent Moon could be seen with the naked eye?
Mr.Khalid Shaukat>In most cases, yes, somewhere in the world, Crescent moon could be seen with the naked eye. In rare cases, a binocular or a telescope may be required
Kayalpatnam.com>The current Saudi Arabian method (Ummul Qura) would tally this year with your suggestion for the first day of Ramadhan, but the Eid in Saudi Arabia could be on October 13th. Isn't that correct?
Mr.Khalid Shaukat>That's what Ummul-Qura Calendar shows, but based on past experiences, there is a possibility that Saudi Arabia may start Ramadhan and Eid one day earlier than Ummul-Qura Calendar. In that case, Saudi Eid will be on October 12th
Kayalpatnam.com>Why do you think most in the Muslim world haven't appreciated the need for a Uniform Hijri Calendar? Is it because muslims today do not use the Hijri Calendar in their day-to-day life exclusively - except for religious purposes (the Gregorian Calendar is most widely used)?
Mr.Khalid Shaukat>Yes, I believe that is the main reason and that's why they are not concentrating on a need for an Islamic Calendar
Kayalpatnam.com>Is it fair to treat Hijri Calendar issue as a purely religious issue?
Mr.Khalid Shaukat>Yes, but being a purely religious issue does not mean that we close our eyes to the reality of motions of the Sun and the Moon and ignore the knowledge Allah (SWT) has bestowed on us Muslims. By using this knowledge, we can benefit - removing confusion, attaining unity. After having the Uniform Islamic Calendar, we Muslims can demand holidays from non-Muslim governments at City, State and Federal (Central) government levels
Kayalpatnam.com>How do you reconcile your position on Global Islamic Calendar - with various Quranic verses and hadiths on the matter. For example, many quote the hadith - see the crescent moon to start your fast and see the crescent moon to end ramadhan. Another hadith that talks about a traveller from Syria is also quoted.
Mr.Khalid Shaukat>Global Islamic Calendar is not my position; it is a suggestion to Ulamaa' if they feel there is a need for Unified Islamic Calendar. If the need is established, Ulamaa will see that Calendar cannot be made if we have to wait for sighting. If Calendar is to be made, then waiting for sighting becomes unnecessary. Calendar can be made based on Quranic ayaats (e.g.) Sun and moon follow courses exactly computed (55:5)
Kayalpatnam.com>You must have faced many critics of your Calendar model. What is the most common argument that you have heard against it and how do you answer that?
Mr.Khalid Shaukat>Most criticism is that it is against hadith, Fast to its sighting.... My answer to that is that local sighting was the best available means at Prophet's (PBUH) time and place (cloudy conditions were rarity in those days in Arabia). Now the whole world is a global village and there are many places where sighting is not possible in many successive months because of rainy season or clouds (e.g.) Caribbean Islands, Northern Europe. If those places rely on sighting or 30 day completion rule, then 4 or 5 months in a row would be 30 days, and then the next month, the Moon may be visible on 27th or 28th evening.
This is a clear proof that Shari'ah did not mean sighting as a requirement; it was just a mean to acsertain that the monthly cycle of the moon is completed. We can ascertain that by calculations.
People say that the Prophet (PBUH) said, We are unlettered people; neither write nor calculate. So calculation is prohibited. To take this meaning from this hadith is absolute nonsense, because if prohibition was for calculations, then it is equally prohibited to Write.
Also, those who strongly oppose the calculations, themselves are not following hadith in its words. They have their narrow understanding to apply this hadith; should the sighting be local; how local is local sighting? Should it be for a city, a country, or part of the country?
In USA, people take the big country as one unit, but ignore parts of USA (Alaska and Hawaii). The boundaries of a country are man-made and can change from time to time. India, Pakistan and Bangladesh were one country before 1947 and sighting in any place was communicated over the radio. This was applicable to the whole country. India has now been divided into three countries. Now they have their own announcements which could be different.
The geographical boundaries cannot be the intent of Shari'ah, when God Almighty knew that country boundaries will be man-made. The terms Ittihadul-Mataali' and Ikhtilaful-Mataali' were not present in the times of Sahabahs. They were invented by our Fuqahaa as the need of their times. We have needs of our time for the Unified Global Islamic Calendar. If God Almighty gives Muslims the opportunity to govern the whole world, would we conduct civil affairs by Gregorian Calendar or by Islamic Calendar?
Kayalpatnam.com>Isn't it puzzling to find Muslims easily accept pre-calculated prayer timings (even though hadiths prescribe following the track of the Sun's movement) and geographic beginning of weekdays (like Fridays) based on International Date Line (IDL) - but find it hard when it comes to Crescent Moon? Is Lunar Science specially tricky for the common man?
Mr.Khalid Shaukat>Yes, it is not only puzzling, but shows utter ignorance. Science of Lunar Cycle has attained great accuracy and this knowledge can avoid confusion and debates as to when the month should start. People say that the beginning and ending of Ramadhan cannot be relied on calculations. But all Muslims in the world use calculations for the beginning and ending of fasting every day in Ramadhan (Sahr and Iftar times). Isn't this double standards?
Kayalpatnam.com>Do you see any change happening in the near future? We understand - Muslim communities in North America have adopted the Global Islamic Calendar. Isn't that correct? Has any other region done so?
Mr.Khalid Shaukat>I expect that in the near future, more and more Muslims will adopt pre-calculated Calendar, in the interest of unity, to end confusion, to avoid debates and avoid starting the month on two, three, or four different days.
Besides Islamic Society of North America (ISNA), Fiqh Council of North America (FCNA), European Council for Fiqh and Research (ECFR) and many Islamic centers in USA and Canada have adopted a pre-calculated Calendar.
Many other countries - (e.g.) Indonesia, Malaysia, several countries in the Middle East, Egypt, Libya - are already using pre-calculated Calendar, but they differ from each other on the criterion of what cut-off line should be used for calculation.
As time passes on, more and more countries are expected to adopt the same criterion for calculations in the interest of Unified Global Islamic Calendar
Kayalpatnam.com>There was a conference in Morocco on the issue last year (which you had attended). How have things moved since then?
Mr.Khalid Shaukat>I dont' know; I have not heard from them
Kayalpatnam.com>Would it be fair to say Muslims living in developed countries would adopt this model first - before the muslim communities in countries like India and Pakistan do?
Mr.Khalid Shaukat>Not just developed countries, but also many other countries - (e.g.) Indonesia, Malaysia, several countries in the Middle East, Egypt, Libya - have already adopted pre-calculated Islamic Calendar
Kayalpatnam.com>Even though the position of the Saudis on this issue has been confusing in the last few years, wouldn't you agree - they at least seem to be open and flexible to arrive at a sensible model?
Mr.Khalid Shaukat>Saudis have not shown openness. They decide beginning of a month on their own without any fixed scientific basis
Kayalpatnam.com>How easy and important would it be for rest of the Muslim community to accept it - if for instance an organisation like OIC or a country like Saudi Arabia accepts it?
Mr.Khalid Shaukat>My feeling is that Ulamaa of India, Pakistan, and Bangladesh would resist the pre-calculated Calendar, while most other countries will quickly accept it (or have already accepted it)
Kayalpatnam.com>Have you talked to the Saudis on this?
Mr.Khalid Shaukat>I and some other Muslims from North America have tried to talk to Saudi ulamaa' and scientists, but the royal family or the real decision makers would not entertain such discussions
Kayalpatnam.com>OIC had announced (in 2005) a satellite to picture the Crescent Moon would be launched. The project seems delayed, but do you foresee a radical change in attitudes - once the image of the Crescent Moon, taken by the satellite soon after the New Moon, is beamed across the world?
Mr.Khalid Shaukat>It is possible, but how the satellites would be useful for our purpose is itself questionable at this time when the details of its applicability and utility are not known or understood
Kayalpatnam.com>What plan of action do you suggest to make this acceptable to the wider Muslim community?
Mr.Khalid Shaukat>A series of world conferences inviting Ulamaa of different countries and Muslim astronomers would be fruitful. Morocco Conference was a start on this subject. European Council for Fiqh and Research (ECFR) and Fiqh Council of North America (FCNA) have taken the initiative
Kayalpatnam.com>Your website - moonsighting.com - is enormously popular. When was it started? How did you take interest in this subject?
Mr.Khalid Shaukat>The web site - moonsighting.com - was started in 1996. My interest in this subject began when I was a college student of Mathematics and Physics. I looked into the calculation possibilities and strongly felt a need for a Global Islamic Calendar. My interest was fuelled further when I migrated to USA in 1969 and learnt computer programming. In North America, I saw the chaos and confusion about Ramadhan and Eid every year and decided to do something about it
Kayalpatnam.com>Tell us about your background.
Mr.Khalid Shaukat>I was born in Northern India in 1943 and studied in an Islamic school - learning Qur'an, Hadith, Fiqh and Arabic language. This school also taught other subjects like Mathematics, Science, History, Geography, Hindi, Urdu and English languages. I migrated to Pakistan in 1956 with my parents and completed Bachelor of Science (Physics and Math) in 1963; and completed another Bachelor's degree in Civil Engineering in 1967. I completed graduate degree in Civil Engineering from Georgia Tech, Atlanta, Georgia, USA in 1970. Since then I have been working in USA in scientific and engineering research for almost 37 years (1970-2007).
I am thankful to Allah (SWT), who has taken the work from me for close to four decades on Astronomy in service of Islam (al-hamdu-Lillah) - for Moonsighting, Islamic Calendar, Prayer Schedule and Qibla Direction. I started the web site moonsighting.com in 1996 and I had been serving Muslim Ummah through this web site for more than 11 years.
Several mosques in USA, Canada, UK, Caribbean Islands and many other countries have set Qibla direction with my help. Prayer timings provided by me are being used in almost every country (over 200 countries) in the world (specially countries in higher latitudes where the sun does not set or rise for a few months).
I have published articles on moonsighting and Islamic Calendar in various journals and publications and have made presentations at more than 90 seminars and lectures on science of moonsighting in USA, Canada and in many countries (including UK, Morocco, Kenya, Bermuda, Trinidad, Guyana). I am an advisor for Islamic Society of North America (ISNA), Shura Council of North America and Fiqh Council of North America (FCNA) for the matters of prayer times, Qibla direction, moonsighting and Islamic Calendar issues