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Issue of Matla-The Moon Sighting Horizon PDF Print E-mail
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Written by S. Noor Mohammad   
Thursday, 26 November 2009 04:07

Every year the beginning of Islamic months especially Ramzan, Shawal and Zul Hajjah have been marred with confusion and chaos in most of the Muslim countries, USA and Canada are no different. This is due to the fact that Ulemas as well as the Governments in the Muslim countries interpret the Islamic Guidelines laid down by Qur’an and Sunnah of the ProphetPBUH differently. In North America the problem becomes manifold due to the fact of diverse Muslim populations which come from all over the world including Middle East, India, Pakistan as well as African countries. Each ethnic group brings in their own cultures, traditions and practices which add to confusion about the start of Islamic Months.


 This year on the 29th of Zul Qada 1430H, Hilal was sighted only in South Africa in the African continent, Chile and Guyana in the South American continent and neighboring Caribbean Island nation of Trinidad & Tobago. Hilal was not sighted anywhere in mainland North America (USA and Canada). All the Islamic Intuitions as well as the Hilal committees including, the newly conceived, New York based Central Hilal Committee (Hilal Committee of Chicago is also a part of this organization) have acknowledged this moon sighting.

ISNA’s pre-determined fixed calendar and also Saudi Arabia declared 1st of Zul Hijjah to be on the 18th of November, 2009 and the 10th of Zul Hijjah - Eid-ul-Adah to be on Friday, the 27th of November, 2009.  

However, the newly formed Central Hilal Committee (CHC) also declared the start of Zul Hijjah to be on Wednesday, the 18th of November, 2009 and the Eid-ul-Adah to be on Friday, 27th 2009, to the utter shock and disbelief of the Muslim population who observe the important Islamic days as per the actual Moon sighting locally in Canada and the 48 contagious states of United States of America (excluding Alaska And Hawaii).

According to some of the important office bearers of Central Hilal Committee this was done based on the Moon Sighting in Trinidad and Tobago-one of the southern most Islands of Caribbean. Until a few months back Caribbean Islands were not considered part of the Matla (Moon Sighting Horizon) by the same Ulemas of Central Hilal Committee. But as per recent amendments made to their (CHC’s) moon sighting criteria, Mexico as well as all the Caribbean Islands has now been added to their revised Matla.

Zaytuna Institute, Hilal sighting Committee and Mahdavia Ruiyat Hilal as well as many other institutions and Ulemas declared Zul Qada will complete 30 days and the Eid-ul-Adah to be on Saturday, 28th  November, 2009 as the Hilal was not sighted anywhere in the mainland of North America ( USA & Canada).

It may be recalled that in the late Nineties most of the Islamic Institutions, Hilal Committees and the religious leaders  after consultations with Scientists and Astronomers decided to consider North America ( Mainland USA & Canada) as one Matla (Moon Sighting Horizon) which satisfied the need of local Moon sighting for the start of Islamic Months. This was endorsed by the leading Ulema’s of Egypt, India, Pakistan and the Middle East especially the Saudi Ulemas.

Famous Alim and Faqih, Shaikh  Mohammed Ibn Salih Al-Uthaimeen issued Fatwa in support of local sighting and rejected the concept of :

1.) Fixed Islamic Calendar based on calculation,
2.) One Matla for the entire world,
3.) Following Saudi date in distant places such as USA and Canada etc.

Let us examine as to what led the leaders of Central Hilal Committee to expand the previously agreed Matla by adding Mexico and Caribbean Islands, and also look into the geographical location of these places and see if it meets the guidelines laid down by the Qu’ran and Sunnah of the Prophet MohammadPBUH

Hadith from Sahi Muslim: Narrated by Abu HurayrahRZ:

“Allah’s messenger (peace is upon him) said: ‘Observe fast on sighting it (the crescent) and break it on sighting it. But due to (clouds) the actual position of the month is concealed from you, you should then count thirty (days).’”

 Hadith from Sahih Al Bukhari : Narrated by Ibn UmerRZ :

“I heard Allah’s Apostle saying: ‘ When you see the crescent ( of the month of Ramadan), start fasting, and when you see the crescent( of the month of Shawal), stop fasting; and if the sky is overcast ( and you can’t see it ) then regard the month of Ramadan as of 30 days.’”

In the light of above mentioned ahadeeths and principles of SHARIA these should be the criteria for local moon sighting in N. America’s mainland –USA and Canada.

On a different note one of the leading Scholar based in USA said:
“We need to understand that here in the United States or Canada we are all geographically far away from Makkah whether we are coming from Middle East, India or Pakistan. The Islamic way of determining Eid-ul-Adha (As Eid-ul-Fitr and Ramadan as well) for Muslims living far away from Makkah had been to follow local moon sighting. So we need to get together in celebrating Eid-ul-Adha by determining it with the local moon sighting. If it coincides with the Pilgrimage date it is well and good if not, we should still be together and united on a stronger and preferable basis and that is going with our local moon sighting.”

Geography of the expanded Matla:

The Caribbean Islands are a group of about 100 small islands, spread between N. America, Central America and South America the region covered in the Caribbean Sea-most of which enclose the sea and the surrounding coasts. Also included is southern part of the Gulf of Mexico, Florida, Central America, and the northern region of South America.
Many of the islands of the Caribbean (or West Indies) – e.g., the Leeward and Lesser Antilles – sit atop the Caribbean Plate. The islands of Aruba, Barbados, Trinidad, and Tobago sit on the northerly South American continental shelf. Geo-politically, the island states and overseas territories of the Caribbean are generally grouped as a part or sub-region of North America. The South American nations that border the Caribbean Sea—including Colombia, Venezuela, Guyana, Suriname, and French Guiana—are also known as Caribbean South America.

Trinidad (where the Hilal was sighted on the 29th of Zul Qada) is the southernmost island in the Caribbean and lies just 7 miles off the northeastern coast of Venezuela and is also the fifth largest Island in the West Indies. It is 1630 Miles away from the shores of Florida, USA. In between these are many countries such as Cuba, Dominican Republic etc. which are not included in this expanded Matla.

Mexico is in the same landmass of USA and Canada, however, geographically most of it is located in Central America, and this is well defined in the United Nations Geographical map.

One fails to comprehend as to why countries and island nations in between and nearby including Guyana and Venezuela are excluded. If the same criteria are applied why exclude Alaska and Hawaii from the Matla? Alaska being less than 700 Miles away from mainland USA and Hawaii is about 2000 miles. Where as Trinidad & Tobago, the twin island nation, is 1630 miles from shores of USA (Florida) and 2350 mile from San Francisco in California, it is less than 10 miles from Venezuela and less than 100 miles from Guyana but these countries are not considered part of Revised and Expanded Matla of the CHC.

For example if the same criteria of revised Matla is applied back home, and if the Hilal is not sighted at any place in countries like India, Pakistan, Bangladesh etc. and it is sighted in Indonesia, which is less than the distance between the shore of USA and Trinidad & Tobago, will the Ulemas of these above mentioned countries declare Eid on the basis of Hilal sighting somewhere in Indonesia? The answer will be a big NO, because if the moon is sighted in India, Pakistani Ulema will not accept it and the same applies to the sighting in Pakistan or Bangladesh and will not be acceptable in India.

So, why did these learned scholars of Hilal Committee – which comprises of Islamic Institutions and Hilal committees, mostly from the nearby areas of New York and Chicago and a few other places, added Caribbean islands and Mexico in their Matla?

Some of the reasons might be as follows:

1.) Ulemas and the experts in CHC did not verify the geographic distance from the mainland N. America before adding Caribbean Islands and Mexico.

2.) Some members might be promoting the concept of one sighting for the entire world. Hilal committee in Canada in its declaration specifically mentioned South Africa and Chile in South America as part of their Matla.

*Please Note: This concept of one sighting worldwide has been rejected by all the leading Ulemas including Saudi ulema as it is against the Sharia.

3.)   To observe Eid along with Saudi Arabia on Friday.

*Please Note the quotations below is from the fatwa by the famous Saudi Alim and Faqih, Shaikh Mohammad Ibn Salih Al-Uthaimeen tells Muslims about the correct date of Eid-ul-Adha in N. America:

Q: Should we abide by the local sighting in determining the Eid-al-Adha or should we follow the pilgrims' schedule, knowing that North America sighting of crescent may come a day before Saudi Arabia's sighting?

A: "You should abide by the city you're living in."

Q: This means that we will fast the 9th of Zul-Hijja of North America and pray Eid on 10th Zul-Hijja of North America!

A: "Yes, and this is what you should do without any (Haraj) or mental anxiety."


So, whatever be the reason behind the inclusion of Mexico and the entire Caribbean Islands in the Matla, this is not right. Matla can consist of one contagious landmass but cannot include Islands which are geographically in a different continent and that too at a distance of more than 1,600 miles from the mainland.

Since last few years ISNA as well as Mr. Khaled Shoukat of Moonsighing.com have been openly advancing their concept of Islamic calendar based on calculation. One wonders as to why the Central Hilal Committee (CHC) cannot openly admit that they are trying to coincide the Eid-ul-Adah with Saudi Arabia or ISNA.

If indeed this has been done due to a genuine mistake, it is not too late for them  to correct  and revise their decision, which will be a great service to their stated cause as well as for the unity of the people who start the Islamic months and observe festivals and other important days as per the actual local moon sighting. In such religious matters there are hundreds of thousands of Muslims who are looking for correct Islamic dates. However, if this was a calculated move by the CHC, then they will be answerable to  Allah for misguiding hundreds of thousands of Muslims in this part of the world.

In a free country like the USA, people are free to practice their religion and observe their festivals accordingly. All the declarations made by the above mentioned Institutions are advisory in nature and people are free to accept whatever day they wish to observe Eid-ul-Adah from these declarations. 

May Allah guide us.

The following are the declarations from different Institutions and Hilal Committees:


The Astronomical New Moon is on November 16, 2009 (Monday) at 19:14 UT. This moon cannot be seen anywhere in the world. On November 17, it still cannot be seen in Asia, Europe and Canada. It can be seen in South Africa, Central America, and South America. In USA, there is a small chance to see it on November 17.


Saudi Arabia announced on Tuesday, November 17, that `Eid Al-Adha, one of the two main religious festivals on the Islamic calendar, will fall on Friday, November 27. "The new moon of Dhul-Hijjah was sighted by trusted witnesses on Tuesday in a number of provinces," the Supreme Judicial Council said in a statement published by the state-run Saudi Press Agency. "Thus, Wednesday, November 18, will mark the beginning of the lunar month of Dhul-Hijjah."

Central Hilal Committee:
Updated: Tuesday, Nov 17th 2009 9:00 pm EST
The Hilal has been sighted by 49 witnesses in three different towns in Trinidad (North American Continent) after the sunset on Nov 17th 2009. 

The Central Hilal Committee (CHC) announces that Wednesday, Nov 18th 2009 is the first day of Dhul Hijjah 1430.
Therefore, Insha'Allah Eid Al-Adha will be on Friday Nov 27th 2009.
Jazak Allah Khairan

Muslim Council of Montreal (MCM for Quebec, Canada) Announcement: Salam Elmenyawi (MCM member) from Montreal reported: Based on credible reports, the crescent has been sighted in number of places in our agreed upon horizon (South Africa and Chile) in accordance with the imams' approved criteria. Therefore, Wednesday, November 18th will be the first day of Dhul-Hijja, and Friday, November 27th will be the day of Eid-ul-Adha, in shaa Allah Taala

Hilal Sighting Committee of N America
Zul-Hijja on Thursday, Nov. 19 
Written by Web Master    
Tuesday, 17 November 2009 
There are no authenticated naked-eye Hilal Sighting reports from anywhere in USA & Canada. The apparent sighting claim from Connecticut was too close to Sunset time and very far from Hilal Visibility curve, while places South and West of it like San Diego with much better sighting chances reported negative sighting in spite of clear weather.

Thus we complete 30 days of Zul-Qida and start Zul-Hijja on Thursday, Nov. 19 for USA & Canada, with Eid-Ul Adha on Saturday, November 28, 2009 based on the criterion of Contiguous (Mainland) USA and Canada to be one Matla. Note that according to prominent Ulema including Saudi Ulema like Sheikh Al-Othaimeen (RH), we should do Local Hilal Sighting for all 12 months including Dhul-Hijja and celebrate Eid-UlAdha accordingly. Detailed papers with Fatawa are on our website.

Zaytuna Institute
Dhul Hijjah and Eid al-Adha  
Crescentwatch.org adheres to the traditional principle that all Islamic lunar months begin and end based on the confirmed, verifiable sighting of the new crescent moon.
Crescent watch did not receive any reliably confirmed reports of the new crescent moon being sighted within the area of the continental U.S. and Canada on the evening of Tuesday, November 17.  This is consistent with the forecast of Muslim astronomers that it would have been extremely difficult to sight the moon anywhere in the Continental U.S or Canada on Tuesday evening (see visibility forecasts here).

In accordance with the "local moon sighting" methodology to which we ascribe and numerous negative sighting reports from across the U.S., including California, Texas, and Florida, we are completing the 30th day of Dhul Qi'dah and observing the beginning of the sacred month of Dhul Hijjah on Wednesday evening, November 18th.  We will therefore observe the blessed day of Eid al-Adha (the 10th of Dhul-Hijjah) on Saturday, November 28, insha'Allah.*

Zul Hijja 1430H Declaration       
By Hazrat Maulana Abulfatah Syed Nusrat Saahab Qibla Tashreefullhi 
Tuesday, 17 November 2009 14:18 

                The New Moon for Zul Hijjah 1430 H was not sighted at anyplace in USA & Canada on the 29th of Zul Qadah 1430H i.e. Tuesday, the 17th of Nov., 2009.

Our Shahideen all over the USA and Canada have reported that the New Moon was not sighted on the evening of 29th. As such Zul Qada will complete 30 days and the 1st of Zul Hijjah will be on Thursday, the 19th of November, 2009.

Consequently, the Eid-ul-Azha (the 10th of Zul Hijjah) will be on Saturday, the 28th of November, 2009. 
May Allah, Tabarak wa Ta’ala reward all our Shahideen (Moon Sighting Volunteers) for their effort. Ameen

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Dr. Omar Afzal  - Issue Of Matla   |24.148.40.xxx |2009-12-01 07:06:24
Dear Br. Noor,
I really appreciate your article and I have been forwarding it to my list (a lot of people).

May Allah bless you for making a solid attempt to put some sense in the minds of Muftis and Muslim experts. Ameen

Omar Afzal
Salman Zafar Shaikh  - Issue Of Matla   |24.148.40.xxx |2009-12-01 07:04:56
BismillaahIrRahmaanIrRaheem. Alhamdulillaah WasSalaatu WasSalaam Ala Rasulillaah Wa Ala Aalihi.
Wa Alaykum AsSalaam w.r. w.b.

Thanks a lot. It is a difficult struggle. May Allaah SWT help with all the best. Aameen.

Jazakum Allaahu Khayran. WasSalaam.
Salman Zafar Shaikh
Baytul Iman Inst.
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Last Updated on Wednesday, 16 August 2017 04:08