Guest Author - Linda Heywood
There seems to be a misunderstanding within the Islamic community as to what constitutes a ‘New Moon’. Everyone in the Islamic community is supposed to start fasting on the same day, the first day of Ramadan, but most years we see people starting their fast three days after others have started.
There is no evidence in the Quran that says God tell us that we must sight the Moon before fasting begins. There are many verses in which God mentions the Moon. He says that it is a timing device for the people so they can determine Hajj (2:189) and the crescent Moon is only mentioned once and that is at the end of the Luna cycle when it becomes the waning crescent.
Chapter 36, verse 39
The Moon we designed to appear in stages, until it becomes like an old curved sheath.
After the ‘old curved sheath’ of the waning crescent comes the new Moon. A new Moon occurs when the Sun and the Moon are in alignment with the Earth. This produces a ‘Dark’ Moon, which cannot be seen with the naked eye. The time between one dark Moon and the next dark Moon is 29 day, 12 hours and 44 minutes. The Moon goes through continual stages:
First quarter Moon
Third quarter Moon
As any astrologer will tell you the new Moon occurs when the Sun and Moon are in conjunction, occupying the same part of the sky from the viewpoint of Earth. During this time the Moon does not reflect the light of the Sun, and so cannot be seen. The Moon's un-illuminated side is facing the Earth.
The custom of sighting the Moon and calling it new is a Jewish tradition taken from the word ‘Hodesh’ meaning to make new. The crescent Moon is called Hodesh because it is the first time the Moon is seen anew after being hidden at the end of the Luna cycle. There is no instruction in the Quran to follow this Jewish custom.
For thousands of years people have been using the Moon as a timing device to plan the planting, growing and harvesting process. It is known that the Moon has influence on the growth of roots, flowers and leaves.
The great bodies of water which cover our planet are controlled by the Luna cycle. The gravitational interaction between the Moon and the Earth causes the oceans to bulge out in the direction of the Moon. Fishermen use the Moon and the tides to determine when to go out to sea.
These days’ people seem to wait for the call from Saudi Arabia to tell them when to begin and end the fast. It is very easy to calculate the Luna cycle without the need for someone going up in a Lear Jet, if the Moon is not visible from Earth because of cloud cover, to determine the beginning and end of Ramadan. They do not do this for any other month except Ramadan.
All Islamic months begin with a new Moon at night. It has been this way since the time of Abraham when God gave him the Islamic rites of prayer, fasting, charity and pilgrimage. People have changed God’s system to suit themselves. They do not seem to understand that there is an order to God’s system and that it cannot be changed just because someone says we must wait to see the Moon before we fast.
Maybe if people stopped listening to others and opened up their minds to the words of God, there would be no need for the confusion within the Islamic community today and everyone would begin fasting on time and together.
Chapter 6, verse 116
If you obey the majority of people on Earth, they will divert you from the path of God. They follow only conjecture; they only guess.