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Recently Karimia institute’s Imams and the trustees decided to follow the UK and Europe Hilal forum. Here I want to explain our thinking behind this decision. I know it is not easy to make an abrupt change, for decades we have followed the sighting of the moon with the eye. Therefore, I request you to decide prayerfully and carefully. Since this will influence not only your family but other communities. My appeal is let’s not to be squeamish about astronomical calculations, nor dismiss it lightly. I'm not at all angry nor dismissive of those who don't follow this method, but I do believe it is a better method, since it offers us opportunity to begin Ramadhan Kareem without tension, and controversy and to celebrate Eid with joy. Please read why we took this decision.

Since the late 1980s every year I witnessed conflicts, aggressive debates, and even quarrelsome behaviours amongst Muslims in the mosques and in families around moonsighting. A terrible condition, wholly unislamic and unacceptable. It is time now to consider putting an end to this. I have been hoping that something will happen that will bring us together. Particularly the others would change but not myself. Alhamdo-lillah, the advancements in astronomy and computing are compelling scholars to adopt Scientific calculations as an accurate way of beginning the Lunar month. Several Muslim countries, Turkey, Jordan, Egypt, Singapore and the gulf states do so. There is no doubt about the legitimacy and the accuracy of astronomical calculations as being source of knowledge for deciding the beginning of sacred months. Many scholars have given fatwa on that. See British Fatwa council’s fatwa.

Karimia institute’s Imam's and the trustees decided to follow the UK European Hilal forum. Islamic Sharia is logical, and is based on reason, it's rational and natural way of life and appeals to human reason. The Islamic Lunar month begins with the sighting of the moon. This is straightforward however on the island of Great Britain it isn't possible since it’s in northern hemisphere and the probability of sighting the crescent anytime in the year is about 5%. Furthermore, the sky is often cloudy thus impairing moon’s visibility. Therefore, we must rely on reports from abroad. This is where the problem begins, who do we follow?

Most of the developed Muslim countries have excellent observatories and provide enough data for the scholars to make the decision, without requiring them to see the moon. Muslim countries observatories base their decisions on the Quran, Allah says, “The sun and the moon move in set orbits.” (Al Rahman:5) and “He gave the sun its radiant glow and the moon its reflected light, He precisely determined its phases, so that you might calculate the passing years and keep time. Allah did not create all that except for a clear purpose, to explain the signs of creation for people who have knowledge” (Yunus: 5) In other words, they follow an accurately calculated course. everyone recognises the accuracy of sunrise and sunset and we accept this categorically to determine our daily five prayer times. For thousands of years Astronomers have accurately measured the orbit of the moon around the sun, it is 29 days 12 hours and 42 minutes. Nowadays with satellites in the sky and high-resolution telescopes they can find the moon anywhere, calculate its location precisely determine the probability of its visibility. The moon has a diameter of 3,500KM it’s a massive rock, that acts as a reflector. Such a massive body is easily seen with the satellites in the space. The accuracy is incredible and precise. Astronomers have now determine the criteria for the visibility of the moon.

The Hilal Forum’s Formula is:

  1. The conjunction (the moon’s new phase or the birth of new moon) must have occurred in the UK.
  2. The moonset must be after sunset in the UK, the moon must remain on the horizon for at least 20 minutes.
  3. The visibility of the moon in the UK or anywhere else must be in Category A, the moon is visible with naked eye; B, visible only in perfect condition; or C, an optical aid needed, 

This formula is used by most moon sighting bodies. However, it does not require that the moon must be seen with naked eye. This makes it a fully astronomical and calculations-based formula. The benefits of this formula are: it is Sharia compliant, it allows for accurate forecasting of the beginning of the Islamic month well in advance of the sacred months, it's an inclusive formula that embraces many of the Muslim countries’ observatories. Thus, creating unity. This has the potential of uniting Muslims globally; this makes it attractive and simple formula. 


I can clearly see the benefits of this approach and that is why we have adopted it at Karimia Institute along with many other mosques and Islamic centres throughout UK. We pray that Allah gives our leaders wisdom and passion to adopt this formula, the masjid Namazi’s must talk with their Imams and committees to take part in this. Those interested in reading full arguments from Fiqh about astronomical data will be able to read this fatwa. 

For Eid al Adha, Hajj and Qurbani please read my e-book on the subject. This is time to learn, reflect and thank Allah.

Dr Musharraf Hussain OBE, DL

Director Karimia Institute, Nottingham 

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