Is it Ramadan 2022 in the UK tomorrow? Latest on moon sighting reports

Intense interest in sighting the moon to signal the start of key Islamic events is focused mainly on Ramadan, the holy month of fasting, and then Eid, the festival that celebrates the end of fasting and the start of the next month. So is it Ramadan 2022 in the UK tomorrow?

On Friday, April 1, Ramadan declarations were made by some astronomers and mosques, even though HM Nautical Almanac Office – a British Government agency that produces astronomical data for organizations including the armed forces, police, religious groups and diary/calendar manufacturers – said the moon would not be visible in the UK, Middle East or anywhere else in Asia or Africa on that day.

It will only be possible to see the first slim crescent of the new moon in a few locations, including parts of South America, the USA and the Caribbean, the agency said.

READ MORE: Ramadan 2022 timetable for prayers, fasting, suhoor and iftar meals

Where has Ramadan 2022 been announced?

Saudi Arabia lined up telescopes to look for the faint thumbnail of the moon against its clear blue skies on Friday afternoon. Officials subsequently announced they had seen it in Sudair, meaning Taraweeh prayers on Friday night and then the first full day of Ramadan on Saturday, April 2.

Green Lane Masjid in Small Heath, Birmingham, follows the Saudi news and subsequently declared that it too would see April 2 as the start of Ramadan for its community of worshippers. Amanah Masjid in Henley Street, Sparkbrook, similarly will take April 2 as the start date, and Stechford Mosque in Albert Road had earlier produced a prayer timetable in line with that.

Across the globe, the Australian Fatwa Council posted that it had already decided Ramadan 2022 would begin on April 2, because it knew from astronomical data that it would be easy to see the moon on April 1 in that part of the world.

Where will it be on a different date?

Elsewhere, including Morocco and Pakistan, the month of Ramadan will not start until Sunday, April 3. Officials in those locations will look for the moon on Saturday, April 2. Any communities in other countries who follow those sightings would also set a Sunday start date.

These differences have the result of Ramadan – and other Islamic dates – being on different days in different countries, and sometimes within the same country or even the same city.

Saudi Arabia’s moon sighting announcements tend to fall in line with its Umm al-Qura Calendar, which forecasts key dates over a number of years. Some have raised doubts about the accuracy of its reported sightings.

Middle East Eye reports that Muslim-majority countries, such as Egypt, Iran, Morocco, and Turkey, rely on local moon sightings but in other nations, many wait for Saudi Arabia, home to Islam’s holiest sites, to make the call.

What about UK moon sightings?

Iqbal Sacranie, founding secretary-general of the Muslim Council of Britain (MCB), told the publication: “Until the 80s, the majority of Muslims would follow Morocco because Islamic law states that if you are unable to see the moon in your country, then you should follow the sighting of the closest Muslim nation.

“But the problem would be that we’d receive news after midnight in the UK from Morocco, and we would not know if it was Ramadan or Eid the next day until it was too late or that the moon was not on our horizon.”

Mr Sacranie says the varying dates in the UK make it awkward because friends and relatives are not celebrating at the same time – and also means it’s not possible to decide on a public holiday for Eid ul Fitr at the end of Ramadan. He explained: “When I talked to the British government in 1997, they were ready to make Eid a national holiday for schoolchildren, but when they asked me what day, we couldn’t agree to one because there was division.”

More recently, a moonsighting board of scientists and religious scholars was established at Birmingham-based Islamic broadcaster Noor TV, to work together on verified sightings of the crescent in the UK.

After confusion over dates in 2019, Noor TV and a number of other Islamic organizations in the UK agreed to a memorandum of understanding to work together on the issue. Raja Zahid Nawaz, a member of the Noor TV Moonsighting Board and diversity board adviser to the British Science Association, said having key events on two different days – sometimes within the same city – “makes it difficult, not just for families wanting time off for the celebrations but for organisations, employers, schools and colleges.”

“Seeing the first crescent of the new moon is a profoundly spiritual and emotional experience and we need to get it right,” he said.

Other British Muslims are also trying to push for people to stop looking overseas for news of moon sightings, despite concerns that UK weather might make spotting the crescent more difficult. Imad Ahmed, founder of the New Crescent Society, said: “We began moon sighting with a mission. Is it actually too cloudy to see? And what we found is, no, it’s not too cloudy to go and see the moon.

“It can be cloudy in London, but it’s doesn’t mean that it’s cloudy in Birmingham or Scotland on the same day. If you have sighters across the country, then you have a better chance of sighting the moon if it is on the horizon .”

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George Holan

George Holan is chief editor at Plainsmen Post and has articles published in many notable publications in the last decade.

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