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Morocco Conference on Global Islamic Calendar (November 9-10, 2006):

Front Row, Left to right: Nidhal Guessoum, Muhammad El-Hashani, Al-Housen Diyaloo, Zaki Al-Mostafa, Khalid Shaukat, Mansoor Eshgaifa, Rachid Azzouzi, Hayman Mutawalli.

All Back Rows, faces Left to right: Uthman Fadli, Abdel-Khaliq el-Shaddadi, Alireza Movahednejad, Mohammad Odeh, (Name?), (Name?), Bilqasim Khanjari, Idrees bin Saari, Abdul-Aziz Al-Mermesh, (Name?), Abdel-Hameed, Jamal Abdur-Razik, (Name?).

Summary of Conference Prepared by Khalid Shaukat

The Islamic Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (ISESCO) and Association Marocaine d’Astronomie arranged a meeting of experts on the subject of lunar month calculation to pave the way for an open debate with the aim of finding solutions to a pre-calculated Islamic lunar calendar. This meeting was expected to bring closer the points of view of Muslims and unify their visions on scientific and religious bases in a way that appeal to their hearts and minds.

The objectives of the meeting were:

  • To discuss jurisprudential and astronomical aspects pertaining to the calculation of Islamic lunar months.

  • To find scientific solutions to the divergence of opinions on the subject in a manner tuned in to the requirements of our times.

There were 11 speakers invited from countries other than Morocco and 12 speakers invited from Morocco. The total number of attendees of the meeting was about 36. The meeting was conducted in Arabic, with a headphone system translating it into English. All the presentations and discussions were in Arabic, except by Khalid Shaukat, which was in English, and was translated in Arabic through the headphone system.

Speakers from countries other than Morocco:

  1. Dr. Nidal Guessoum                                          (UAE)
  2. Ustadh Bilqasim el-Khanjari                             (Libya)
  3. Dr. Hayman Zainul-Aabideen Mutawalli          (Egypt)
  4. Dr. Zaki Abdul-Rahman Al-Mostafa                 (Saudi Arabia)
  5. Ustadh Abdul-Aziz Bin Sultan Al-Mermesh     (Saudi Arabia)
  6. Dr. Al-Housen Diyaloo                                      (Ginnea)
  7. Ustadh Alireza Movahednejad                          (Iran)
  8. Engr. Khalid Shaukat                                         (USA)
  9. Engr. Mohammad Odeh                                    (Jordan)
  10. Engr. Muhammad El-Hashani                            (Libya)
  11. Engr. Mansoor Eshgaifa                                     (Libya)

Speakers from Morocco:

  1. Dr. Abbas el-Jarari
  2. Dr. Ahmad el-Khamlishi
  3. Dr. Idrees bin Saari
  4. Engr. Ali Umraawi
  5. Dr. Abdel-Khaliq el-Shaddadi
  6. Dr. Jamaluddin Abderrazik
  7. Ustadh Uthman Fadli
  8. Ustadh Idrees el-Ilmee
  9. Dr. Muhammed el-Naasri
  10. Ustadh Abderrahman el-Bouri
  11. Ustadh Rachid Azzouzi
  12. Ustadh Omar Lekhdar

The moderator of the opening session was El-Sayyid Najeeb El-Ghiyathi, Chief of Cultural and Communication Department of Morocco, with the keynote speakers, Hadi Aziz-zadeh, El-Mukhtar Deerah, Chief of ISESCO, and Idrees bin Saari, President of Association Marocaine d’Astronomie.

The conference started with the recitation of Ayaat from Holy Qur’an brief speeches from the keynote speakers mentioned above.

Then the invited speakers presented their papers on this subject with both the considerations of Fiqh and astronomy. This consumed all the time of the conference on Thursday, November 9. The consensus achieved unanimously in the early stages of the meeting was:

  • Sighting is not necessary.
  • Conjunction should be the basis of lunar months.

On Friday, November 10, the following proposals were discussed for the possible solution of the unified Islamic calendar:

  1. Conjunction before mid-night of Makkah or Medinah
  2. Conjunction before dawn (Fajr) of Makkah
  3. Moonset after sunset at Makkah (Ummul-Qura Calendar before 1423 AH)
  4. Conjunction before sunset of Makkah and moonset after sunset (Current Ummul-Qura Calendar)
  5. Conjunction before 12:00 UT (Fiqh Council of North America)

The merits and negative points of each of the above proposal were discussed in great detail and were debated among the participants.

Proposal numbers 1 through 4 above have the drawback of local horizon of Makkah, in which case, many a times the moon may not satisfy the condition at Makkah but may be visible at other locations like Australia or South Africa. In such cases we cannot ignore sighting and wait for another day to satisfy the condition at Makkah. Therefore, Proposal No. 5 above (Conjunction before 12:00 UT, adopted by Fiqh Council of North America) was studied in greater detail and was generally accepted as the most suitable criterion for the unified global Islamic calendar.

Jamal Abderrazik of Morocco mentioned that he independently developed the same criterion for the unified calendar as the one adopted by the Fiqh Council of North America, without the knowledge of it being used by Islamic Society of North America.

Abdul-Aziz Al-Mermesh (Saudi Arabia), Hayman Mutawalli (Egypt), Alireza Movahednejad (Iran), Khalid Shaukat (USA), Jamaluddin Abderrazik (Morocco), and many others from Morocco agreed to use the Conjunction before 12:00 UT as a criterion.

At the close of the meeting, Abdel-Hameed Abdullah el-Heramah started to summarize the achievements of the meeting saying the following:

Fiqh aspects were studied for the beginning of Islamic months; whether sighting is required or calculation can be used for global unified Islamic calendar. It was agreed that calculations for Imkaan-e-Ru’yah can be used or conjunction can be used with Imkaan-e-Ru’yah for the beginning of Islamic month. He started to say that a consensus is achieved to adopt the same criterion as adopted by Fiqh Council of North America. He was interrupted by representatives from Libya and UAE that they have not fully agreed to use this criterion. So, the closing remarks were restated saying that the participants will be leaving this meeting with the following considerations:

  1. They will try to understand the importance of unified Islamic calendar and satisfy themselves with certainty that calculations are sufficiently accurate and can make the basis.
  2. The necessity of unified Islamic calendar should be discussed between Ulamaa’ and Fuqahaa’ with astronomers and exchange ideas and opinions for this purpose in their respective countries.
  3. Importance of unified Islamic calendar for global use should be stressed and studied until a clear and correct understanding of religious and astronomical principles is developed.
  4. With realization of the importance and necessity of unified calendar, efforts should be made to use astronomical knowledge for Ijtihaad in this Fiqhi matter.
  5. There is a necessity of developing a unified Islamic calendar for the whole Islamic world.
  6. Stress on the importance of efforts to celebrate our religious duties with unity should be made.
  7. The materials and articles discussed in this meeting should be published for considerations and attention of centers of education and specialized scholars.
  8. ISESCO and Association Marocaine d’Astronomie would invite on this subject the specialized people of educational centers from Islamic world.
  9. There will be benefits from the results of education and actions on this subject
  10. With the interaction between astronomers and Fuqahaa’ with their Ijtihaad, it will be possible to come up with a solution to this problem.
  11. ISESCO and Association Marocaine d’Astronomie thanks all participants of this conference.

The meeting was closed with a Dua. It should be noted that many participants were in favor of using Conjunction before 12:00 UT as the criterion for starting Islamic months, and the attendees of this meeting agreed to take this proposal to their respective countries to discuss with the Ulamaa’, Fuqahaa’, and authorities of their countries. A similar meeting may be arranged in Morocco next year to advance this subject of unified global Islamic calendar. Morocco participants, however, were very eager to implement this criterion in their country and mentioned that they will Insha-Allah implement this criterion in Morocco.

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