Statement on Start of Ramadan and Eid Dates

The Muslim community in Scotland has faced confusion for a number of years with regard to determining the start of Ramadan and Eid dates. This resulted in severe difficulties for students, employees in the public and private sector and even the self-employed.

Most Muslims falling in one or the other of these categories have not been able to take a day off from work or from their educational institutions to celebrate Eid due to receiving last minute confirmation as to the date of the Eid day. Even the self-employed, such as shopkeepers could not inform their suppliers and customers in advance as to which day they would be closed due to last minute decision on Eid dates. As a result many in the community suffer anxiety and uncertainty due to the supposed unpredictability of important religious festivals such as Eid.

This situation arises because sighting of the new moon is mostly not possible in Scotland due to the weather conditions and Scotland’s northern location on the globe. Traditionally, groups of Islamic Scholars, Imams and mosque committees often have to wait until the last minute of the last night of the Islamic month to receive sighting reports from Middle Eastern and African countries before they could announce the first day of Ramadan and Eid. The disagreements among decision makers to follow the moon sighting report from either one or the other country often led the Muslims residing even next door to each other in Scotland, to start their Ramadan and celebrate their Eid on different days. The decision makers did not take advantage of the most advanced scientific knowledge and astronomical calculations available to them, either due to their own lack of understanding, or due to mistrust of the available scientific data.

The scholars of Islamic Law (Shari’ah) have been striving, during recent years, to find a solution to these issues in the light of Islamic principles and additionally benefiting from astronomical calculations. All this in order to reach a consensus for determining the dates for the start and end of Ramadan and thereby creating unity on these dates among Muslims living in this part of the world, as a solution to our problem of reliable determination of the dates of Ramadan start and Eid.

The Scottish Hilal Forum (SHF) is pleased to announce the following conclusion under the supervision of Ulama from various backgrounds. They will use Her Majesty’s Nautical Almanac Office (British Observatory) calculations leading to six levels of visibility of moon as follows:
A. Easily visible
B. Visible under perfect conditions
C. May need optical aid to find the crescent Moon
D. Will need optical aid to find the crescent Moon
E. Not visible with a telescope
F. Not visible, below the Danjon limit

By using this grading as per the observatory, the following criteria were agreed:

1) The conjunction must have occurred
2) The moonset follows sunset
3) The visibility of the moon falls either in Category A or B or C for either Makkah, or any city in the UK or any city in North West, West, South and South West African countries.
4) The city that is chosen in the regions/ counties mentioned above in the point 3 for the start of Ramadan must be same for the end of Ramadan.

On the basis of this agreed criteria: Insha Allah

The first day of Ramadan 2017/1438 AH will be on Saturday 27th of May.
The Eid Al’fitr will be on Sunday the 25th of June 2017/1438AH.

NOTE: The SHF has already presented these criteria to various mosques and Madrassas. However, the SHF is willing to make detailed presentation on these criteria anywhere throughout Scotland via Skype or other available methods. We pray to Allah almighty for the unity and facility of the Muslim community in Scotland, Ameen.