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Explainer: SAUDI’S ISLAMIC LUNAR DATE AND NIGERIA’S LUNAR DATE

Opinion

Explainer: SAUDI’S ISLAMIC LUNAR DATE AND NIGERIA’S LUNAR DATE

By Simwal Usman jibril

As usual Ramadan is approaching and i have been receiving so many messages asking me why our lunar date is different from Saudi’s. I ll try my possible best to explain it in a very simple way inshaallah.

Generally Saudi use their pre calculated Ummul Qura calendar for other months apart from Ramadan, Shawwal and sometimes Dhul Hijjah. In these months the rely on positive sighting of the crescent with naked eye and optical aid ( telescopes etc).

It’s important to mention that on my visit to Makkah clock tower astronomy center I was informed that Saudi has a round the clock lunar observation. The King Abdullah center for crescent observation operates a global network of 5 stations located in Saudi Arabia.

I was also informed at the center that the telescopes points automatically to the moon and are equipped with “ special infrared filters “( Most likely CCD cameras, my opinion though) that makes sightings possible even during the day when the moon is near the sun.

The Saudi Ummul Qura calendar is pre calculated based on a fixed criterion, The criteria is that on the conjunction (New Moon) day, if the conjunction occurs before sunset at Makkah and moonset is after sunset then the following day is the first day of the new month.

While in Nigeria we solely depend on naked eye sighting of the crescent for all the months as prescribed by Sharia ( apart from Dhul hijjah based on a fatwa issued by Fatwa commitee of NSCIA).

Currently Saudi’s date is a day ahead of Nig lunar date bcos Nig completed 30 days in Rajab but based on Saudi’s criteria Sha’baan ll complete 30 days bcos conjunction ll occur after sunset on Saudi’s 29th Sha’baan / 22nd April ( conjunction ll occur on 23rd April 5:26am Saudi).

While in Nig on the 23rd April/ 29th Sha’baan ( Nig’s lunar date) by sunset in Nigeria the crescent will be about 15 hrs 20 minutes and the moon lag time ( time diff b/w sunset and moon set ) will be about 28-30mins, making it possible to sight the crescent with optical aid.

So it’s very likely that Nigeria and Saudi will start Ramadan on the same day 24th April. Though it’s possible to sight the crescent with optical aid on the 23rd April, it is almost impossible to sight it with the naked eye based on astronomical parameters.

From past experience of Ramadan crescents of about same age in Nigeria I’m sure we will receive many sighting claims ( don’t ask me how 😁).

I hope the explanation is clear and I will like to conclude by saying Allahu a’alaam.
Allahumma balligna Ramadan ameen.

Simwal is a member of Islamic Cresent Observation Project and National Moosighting Committee.

Note: This Article was first published last year upon request by some Muslim faithfuls who needed clarification on how the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia go about the counting of Islamic lunar months in comparison to Nigeria 🇳🇬.

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