Which moon to follow?
Following the discussion on Ramadan Radio Luton tonight in which I participated I am posting some relevant links here to enable readers to do their own research on the matter of the beginning and ending of the Islamic lunar month. The lunar month is of great importance to the practice of Islam as it determines the beginning of the fast of Ramadan, the holy night of Qadr, the day of Eid celebrations, the timing for the Hajj pilgrimage.
A lack of understanding coupled with divided loyalties has created divisions year after year amongst Muslims to a degree that one mosque may be calling for Eid prayers to mark the end of the fasting month whilst the mosque next door is still observing the fast. I have commented on this in an article on Mathaba at the start of this Ramadan.
To see whether the moon could possibly be sighted on a given day of the month in a particular part of the world go to HM Nautical Almanac Office where you will be presented with a welcome screen asking you to accept their terms for browsing and thereafter arrive at a page which, amongst many other useful links, including Islamic prayer times, there is a link for the first visibility of the new moon crescent.
A good place to learn more about the topic is the Moonsighting Committee Worldwide particularly their page about the start and finish of Ramadan 1426, i.e. this year.
For a more specific discussion of moon sighting in Saudi Arabia a very detailed article has been published by Dr. Salman Shaikh.
The question of whether we can sort this issue out for the UK or other places in Europe depends largely on whether the Muslim community in those locations has sufficiently matured to develop a unified approach. It seems that in North America this has already happened, but here in the UK we still look to places far ashore for guidance.