Astronomer Threatened with Lawsuit for Doubting Eid Moon Sighting

September 8, 2011 by · Leave a Comment 

By Md. Humaidan / Arab News

MoonSighting

JEDDAH: A number of conservative scholars have threatened to sue Saudi astronomer and scientist Khaled Al-Zaaq for doubting the testimony of citizens who reported to the Hilal panel (moon sighting committee) that the Shawwal crescent was visible on Ramadan 29 (Aug. 29).

After confirming the veracity of the sighting by the people who had reported to the panel, the committee declared the end to the fasting month of Ramadan and signaled the advent of Eid Al-Fitr the next day (Tuesday).

The threats of action came amidst an ongoing debate between Muslim scholars and astronomers about the possibility and probability of sighting the moon on Aug. 29. The astronomers claim the moon could not be sighted on that day as it had eclipsed before sunset.

According to the Islamic calendar, the Arabic months can be either 29 or 30 days long. On many occasions, Eid has been celebrated after only 29 days of fasting.

But this year the debate turned heated after Al-Zaaq was widely quoted by local press and electronic sites that there was no way to sight the crescent on the night of Ramadan 29, thus casting doubts on the testimony of those who claimed to have seen it.

The purists said the astronomer should not have cast doubts on the testimonies of the people who sighted the moon because their antecedents are checked before their word is accepted. Those who call in after sighting the moon are known for their integrity and straightforwardness.

A number of Saudi astronomers had issued press statements claiming that the moon could not be sighted while renowned Islamic scholars defended the testimonies of the people who sighted the moon and said Eid came at the right time.

Grand Mufti Sheikh Abdul Aziz bin Abdullah Al-Asheikh in his Friday sermon at Imam Turki bin Abdullah Mosque in Riyadh described those who doubted the moon sighting as “motivated and deviated people with foul mouths.”

“There are unjust pens and foul tongues that cast doubt on our religion which should be silenced. We are strictly following the Sunnah of our Prophet in fasting and marking Eid days,” he said, accusing the doubting astronomers of trying to impose their opinions on the nation.

The mufti said the Shariah was clear in the procedures of moon sighting and added that Muslims would never give up the Sunnah for false opinions.

The moon was very clear the next day and was seen in various areas on Tuesday night. This supported the stand of those who said they had sighted the moon on Monday evening.

A number of citizens in the western Al-Ais area said they were able to sight the moon on the night of Monday for half an hour. Their testimony contradicts the claims of the astronomers who said that the moon could not be sighted.

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Islam, Muslims, and Cancer

June 23, 2011 by · 1 Comment 

By Karin Friedemann, TMO

Something pretty important has come to my attention that probably should be discussed among Muslims. The sun. Admittedly, the sun is pretty central in our existence in this world. It has been found that most Americans are deficient in Vitamin D, which is obtained in its natural form from sunshine. Medical science has found that people who are deficient in Vitamin D are more likely to become ill – in the long run, with cancer. In a way, humans are like plants. We will wilt, wither away, and eventually die without attention to certain physical things like adequate sunshine, water, exercise and of course nutrition.

The Muslim community has been very strict and frowning upon those who drink alcohol or smoke. But many public functions feature soda in  place of water. After low levels of sunshine, a high level of sugar in the blood is the second top cause of cancer. Soda in fact actually dehydrates you as it contains salt (sodium). Drinking soda is like drinking sea water in terms of how it replenishes you. It does not.

But getting back to the sunshine issue, how can Muslim women who wear hijab prevent themselves from wilting away from lack of Vitamin D? Fair women need to apply sunscreen to their faces to prevent redness, moles and brown blotches. Some husbands are so “sensitive,” they won’t even let their wives go out wearing sandals. It may be necessary for Islamic scholars to convene to discuss this issue that is causing widespread death in our community, which is the lack of sunshine, whether it’s because of too much computer use or because of women having nowhere to go outside in privacy.

In the medieval times, wealthy Muslims used to build a tall wall around their home so that the womenfolk could go outside in the garden uncovered without strangers passing by. But what about today? What about those of us that don’t have that kind of money? How do we get our Vitamin D? Surely a vitamin that is given off by the sun is a blessing from Allah that it would be a sin to deny. From personal experience I know that staying “in purdah” too long results in such Vitamin D deficiency. The immediate effects include erratic heartbeat, aching in the bones, and the vague panicky feeling that one is about to die, without knowing why. Even ten minutes a day inside a car will improve these types of symptoms, but surely Allah wants us to thrive, not just survive.

A scientific study in India showed that women who rarely leave their homes are deficient in Vitamin D, despite the fact that India is a very sunny country.

A shaykh I know used to tell women who felt a strong urge to go to the beach and swim, that they should travel to someplace where nobody knows them, wear a bathing suit just like everybody else, and therefore attract less attention to themselves.

For those of us not ready for this level of liberalism, perhaps it would be a good time to travel somewhere away from the city, where there are not a lot of people, take a walk on some nature path, and remove the hijab and long sleeves. In America’s vast and beautiful National Forests you can find secluded rivers in which to bathe unwatched, where you can commune with nature.

Now that the American Muslim community has come to terms with the importance of protecting reproductive health through modesty, we are hopefully also ready to come to terms with the fact that a woman cannot live her life never knowing the feeling of wind blowing through her hair. This is a human right, not just a desire. Science has proved it. If we don’t spend some regular time outdoors uncovered, we will die. This is the top cause of cancer, not drinking or smoking.

Another strong factor in the escalating cancer rate in America is use of cell phones. All cell phones emit radiation, as do the wireless phones inside the home. In fact, anything emitting electricity causes cancer. I know it’s hard, but we have to look at these factors. Maybe we should use cell phones for auto emergencies only and keep them turned off most of the time if possible. At the very least, we should keep them away from children, even when they are not in use. Within five feet of a cell phone is the most dangerous zone. We have to be aware of the dangers of cell phone use by children, because brain cancer is now the top cause of death in children, second only after accidents.

We have to be aware of so many things. Even worse than cell phones, pesticides cause cancer in humans. We must give up spraying the grass now! And try to avoid eating food that has been contaminated with pesticides, especially when it comes to dairy and meat products, because the cows collect all that poison within. Since the halal meat system is separate from the regular grocery store supply system, this could easily be accomplished – once the Muslims decide this is important.

Avoiding the immorality of television lifestyles is key to personal dignity. Yet, Muslims have a long way to go when it comes to demonstrating that our lifestyle is the most healthy lifestyle.

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