Sunday, October 09, 2005

2005 vs. Stone Age Cavemen

The following article has caught my attention, isn't it about time we move on? Islam DOES encourage technological advancement that benefits mankind. Or am I wrong? Happy reading...

'Controversy' surrounds moon sighting methods; 'Variations' seen on important dates
KUWAIT CITY: A seminar on "Fasting in the Perspective of Visual and Astronomical Methods" was held at the Diwaniya of Mohammad Baqer Al-Madhi, secretary-general of the Congregation of the Shiite Olama in Kuwait, reports Al-Seyassah daily.The seminar highlighted the controversy surrounding the sighting of the moon to determine the first day of Ramadan.Fadhel Al-Haidari said in the Islamic calendar, the first sighting of the new crescent moon by the unaided human eye traditionally marks the beginning of the month.In particular, such sightings are considered essential with regard to the start of Ramadan. However, the unreliability of the dependence on physical visibility of the moon has led not only to variations in the three important dates within the same country, but also to a great disunity among Muslims. Astronomer Adel Al-Saadoun was quoted as saying the scientific or astronomical method is based on physical conditions when the earth, the moon, and the sun, are in the same vertical plane but not necessarily in the same line, and the moon is between the earth and the sun.This condition is known as the 'conjunction'.

In scientific or astronomical terms, the 'conjunction' is defined as the condition when the sun and the moon have the same 'right ascension'.In effect, this condition is the mark of the start of the lunar month. Moreover, the moment of its occurrence can be precisely calculated Ñ being independent of any terrestrial locations. In fact, it is so accurate that it is possible to use the conjunction to calculate the lunar calendar for hundreds of years ahead. He added one must accept the fact that the required condition of identifying a lunar month will be met, as long as the scientific method guarantees the presence of the crescent moon, irrespective of whether the crescent moon is visible to the naked eye or not.At conjunction, the moon is not completely shadowed as viewed from the earth. However, the degree of illumination is so low that for us it is completely invisible.

The apparent eastward motion of the moon then produces changes, in the shape of an illuminated disk, as a result of the changing geometry of the moon with respect to the sun and the earth. These are called the 'phases of the moon' and the Islamic New Moon is the instant of the start of the crescent phase. Thus, just after conjunction, although the crescent moon is not visible to the naked eye, there is no doubt that it is present in the sky. Hence, scientifically speaking, it can be regarded the crescent moon as physically present and the only thing needed to know is the exact time when it appears. Some moon sighting committees favor sighting the moon with the naked eye, while others settle for the astronomical method. It is this disunity that has led to disharmony among Muslims.

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