Begin van de Ramadan?

De dag waarop islamitische feestdagen vallen en of de start van de Ramadan is altijd een beetje spannend. Het hangt namelijk ervan af of geleerden de maan hebben gezien. Vanavond is officieel aangekondigd dat de Ramadan a.s. zaterdag begint. Dit wil zeggen 30 dagen overdag niet eten en drinken op straat en/of in de auto. Zo goed als alle restaurants, koffiezaakjes etc. zijn overdag gesloten. Er zijn wel een aantal lokaties open, maar dan moet je wel goed weten waar. Aan het eind van de dag bij zonsondergang gaat alles weer open en alle winkels in de Mall zijn elke dag tot 1 uur ‘s nachts open. Wij vertrekken zaterdag voor een kleine week naar Kiev. Een weekje van de Ramadan missen en het warme weer vinden we helemaal niet erg.

De start van de Ramadan wordt als volgt in de krant aangekondigd.

Ramadan to begin on Saturday

Saturday will mark the first day of Ramadan, according to the official Moon Sighting Committee that concluded its meeting at the capital’s courthouse tonight. The committee met after maghreb, the sunset prayer, to determine whether or not the new moon signifying the arrival of Ramadan was visible to the naked eye. According to tradition, Ramadan begins when a credible witness gives a sworn statement that he saw the new moon during the delicate hours of dusk. The new moon signifying the first day of a lunar month is not usually visible after dark as it sets shortly after the sunset. The Islamic calendar follows a lunar calendar, and a full moon cycle signifies the completion of a lunar month.

The result does not come as a surprise to astronomers that follow phases of the moon as the science behind a moon sighting has been known to mankind for centuries. Because certain factors are constant – such as the Earth’s rotation, the moon’s orbital period and the amount of time it takes the Earth to circle the Sun – precise predictions can be made about moon phases.

But early Islamic tradition relied upon investigating whether the new moon is visible with the naked eye on the 29th day of a month, the minimum length of a lunar month. Most Islamic countries prefer to follow the traditional way of meeting on the 29th day of Shaaban, the month preceding Ramadan, even if the science says the moon will not be visible on that day.

“Astronomers can tell you when there is a new moon, but only muftis can say when Ramadan begins,” said Hasan al Hariri, head of the Dubai Astronomy club. The Moon Sighting Committee incorporates science into its final decision of announcing the start of Ramadan or Eid, the three day festival at the end of the holy month. “The Moon Sighting Committee oversees the sighting of the new moon and uses all required preparations as well as technical capabilities that aid those with experience in announcing the sight of the new moon,” the committee said in an issued statement.

The committee also relies upon official specialised teams in the field that act as formal witnesses to the sighting of the new moon. Last night there were due to be three moon sighting teams in the field, including one in Halat al Bahrani Island, located five nautical miles from the capital, another in the Western Region and a third in Jebel Hafeet in Al Ain. However, the Jebel Hafeet team cancelled its outing due to poor visibility and high dust.

“The moon sighting process for Ramadan depends upon direct and immediate contact between all specialised parties and the official committee. The final decision is based on the concrete and reliable information that is received, at which point the official committee immediately announces the verdict to the public and media,” the committee’s statement said.

“All members of the committee are highly learned in the (Islamic) process of announcing a new moon sighting.”

The National, thursday August 20, 2009

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