Moon Sighters versus Scientists

Nobody sighted the new moon last Friday and that's why for Brunei, the fasting starts today. Though not being able to sight the moon was known way in advance and many people already commented that we won't be able to see it. Some people ask why bother? Some countries have done without it and relying completely on what they called hisab (calculations). Some have gone halfway, using hisab but still try to sight the new moon. Some countries like Brunei have remained as pure moon sighters.

Some argue that in this ultra modern era of rapid scientific and technological advancement, we should not avoid the use of scientific knowledge for making an Islamic calendar rather than having to wait for a confirmation of moon sighting to start a new month. Today, we have access to technology that we can calculate when and where the moon sighting occurs; and together with recorded data, we can even show how accurate the calculations can be. Some scientists even stressed that with today's technology, calculations are far more accurate than that of sightings as there is a possibility of mistaking other objects for the crescent moon. They further argue that sighting is not the only requirement but simply as a facility as that was the sole method available to the Muslims in the past.

So why sight the moon? The argument centers around the hadith of Prophet Muhammad SAW as narrated by Al-Bukhari which stated that "Do not fast unless you sight the crescent, and do not break your fast till you sight the (following) crescent." This pretty much is what is followed in Brunei that we have to sight the new moon regardless. Though if you ask me the scientific argument sounds as equally valid. Though the purists would have defended the argument of physical moon sighting as that is the method prescribed by the Al-Mighty and thus cannot be changed.

Though at least we have accepted sighting of the new moon even if they are no longer in Brunei as long as we are on one land. If sighting occurs on say Kalimantan, we will accept it. At least that's as much as I know. I could be wrong. If we are prepared to accept a sighting as far as Kalimantan, why not have universal sighting? So we all can fast and end fasting at the same time. I have been told that there is another hadith by Muslim, Al-Tarmizi and Nasai which rejected the argument about a sighting to be used by other distant places.

I remembered one ustaz when asked why are there so many interpretations and all these talks, make the Muslims look ununited, said, actually having differences allow us to talk about it and keep the subject alive and therefore should not cause disunity but instead allows a healthy discussion. It keeps the religion alive. Afterall the argument does not centre on the one most important thing - the belief in the Al-Mighty. Wallahualam. Selamat Berpuasa to all Daily Brunei Resources Muslim readers!


Anonymous said…
Thank you for the plugs :) Btw, speaking on the topic, some rely on the Chinese's calculation for moon sighting. I wonder how they do their calculations.
Anonymous said…
Selamat Berpuasa for BR and its readers
Sorry BT for using your photo without crediting. For readers, if you happen to read the article earlier, the credit for the interim photo which I used was Brunei Times' which I 'borrowed' from BT's cover, while rummaging through my photo collections for a photo of what the elusive moon crescent actually looked like. The current photo is not BT's.
Anonymous said…
i think it is not only religious reasons, but that it is also a cultural event in itself. Only in Brunei do we have "BUKIT TEMPAT MELIHAT ANAK BULAN". It really is a sociocultural event unique to Brunei. :)
Anonymous said…
selamat menunaikan ibadah puasa to you too..
Anonymous said…
Sighting moon or calculations?

I was also asked by my non-Muslims friends why the Muslims can't be united and decide on one day for start of Ramadhan and Syawal. Yes, there have been many technological advances on predicting when a new moon would appear. But for a purely Muslim country like ours, we tend to stick to the methods that had been prescribed either in Al-Quran or by words of Nabi mohammad SAW. Why do you ask that? This is just my opinion, but I think who else better to follow what have been prescribed, if not the Muslims themselves? It is a way for us to preserve the Muslim culture in the modern and internet age. And anyway, nothing beats the feeling of suspense that you get everytime you wait for the announcement.
Why can't we use sighting in other place? It's all about the longitude of those places and how days and nights break at those places. That's why Indonesia for a while had different starting days for Ramadhan and Syawal. Do you know that this year is the first time in many years that the whole of Indonesia start fasting on the same day?
Anyway, selemat berpuasa to all Muslims wherever you are. Moga semua ibadat diterima Illahi. Ramadhan Mubarak!
Anonymous said…
To add on on other comments, (im not sure wheather its only my circle of friends and I do this) but we rely much on chinese calendar to determine whether puasa or raya will starts..Usually chinese calendar calculation was right(wallahuaklam, but so far i agree on that fact) correct me if im wrong, chinese calendar has 13 mths and Islam calendar has 12..and if u calculate ur age in terms of islam calender compare to jan-dec calendar, ull find u age will be mch younger, i now im younger 2 years than my actuali age =) Getting back to the topic being discuss, moon sighting can be seen at certain part of the region, but not all countries may see it, therefore, the terms 'sekufu' might be useful as different countries have different location yet on the same land..
Anonymous said…
I agree with anonymous regarding the preservation of Muslim culture in the world of many technological advances. I actually look forward to the day of the sighting of the new moon. Anonymous is right, nothing beats the suspense & excitement of waiting for the announcement - Trying to read the face of the person making the announcement, guessing if nampak or not, families gathering together to watch the announcement. It's fun!

I'd actually feel sad if we don't continue the tradition of sighting for the new moon. It itself is like a small pre-celebration for the arrival of the new month of Ramadhan and Syawal.

Plus Maurina is right. It's one of the things that makes Brunei unique :) Small wonderful stuff that is about Brunei :)
Anonymous said…
well.. only thing i cant figure out is, if the whole world starts fasting a day earlier than we do, then they get to 'see' their raya's moon again before us, would leave us 2 days behind the rest of the world on the Muslim calendar, and if this would repeat continuosly for 3 years, would that mean we would be a week behind the rest of the world in the muslim calendar??? from what i can see, at some point in time, Brunei's muslim calendar gets "corrected" some point of the month to get it alligned back with the rest of the world. making the whole 'moonsighting' act lose its point.

and why neglect those other months? isnt it crucial to know when the exact day of a month begins each time for the whole ramadhan 'moon sighting' to be even Valid??
Anonymous said…

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