Concerning the timings of sacred observances and lunar months in general, the situation of Muslims in North America is unique owing to the composition of our community. On the one hand, there are Muslims representing almost one hundred national and ethnic groups in our community. On the other hand, there is no universally recognized central religious authority. Despite these realities, many Muslim organizations have tried to adhere to a policy of North American moon-sighting for the determination of dates.
However, at a national level, that effort has been largely unsuccessful for a number of reasons. First of all, the large number of Muslim ethnicities, with many groups of Muslims attempting to coordinate their sacred observances with Muslims in their “home” countries, creates confusion. Secondly, there are significant numbers of Muslims who advocate a policy based upon global moon-sighting, though usually limiting the timings of the sacred occasions to the timing determined by the religious authorities of Saudi Arabia. Recently, a significant number of Muslims, who do rely on moon-sighting, expanded their zone of acceptable sightings to include South America and the Caribbean. Finally, international political realities factor into the decision-making process of some Muslim organizations.
This situation has resulted in confusion, division and frustration for the average Muslim and most Islamic organizations. It has led to many Muslim communities and even individual families being divided and torn during times when they should be coming together in worship and or celebration. It has contributed to a lot of heartache and pain at a time when Muslims should be joyful. It has also led to an abandonment of the Sunnah of moon-sighting by growing numbers of Muslims and Islamic organizations.
In light of this situation, Crescentwatch has decided to change its position on moon-sighting from the minority opinion of a regional sighting to the majority opinion of a global sighting. It is hoped that this position will greatly enhance the possibility of Muslims who rely on verified moon-sightings being in harmony with the majority of the community while continuing to base the timing of their sacred occasions on the Sunnah of moon-sighting. Crescentwatch has also decided to release an annual calendar of probable lunar dates based on this global position to assist in limiting the confusion mentioned earlier.
We pray that this message has helped to clarify our changed position on an unnecessarily contentious issue, and we pray this will lead to greater harmony between the Muslims of North America on this issue. We emphasize that this is an ongoing effort and we will seek to refine our position in light of the feedback and advice we receive from members of our community.
- Click here to read a Statement by Imam Zaid Shakir on this policy change.
- Click here to view our Forecasted Calendar for the remainder of this Islamic calendar year (1431).
- Coming soon: FAQs on Crescentwatch’s policy & a new How to Sight page.