Follow the Sultan
Dr. Aliyu Tilde
The crescent, which could hardly be seen yesterday on its first night, is today clearly visible on its second. End of discussion.
Download Moon tracking applications. Use them as a guide to know when to look for the new moon. Nothing is wrong with that as there is nothing wrong with using a watch to know the time of prayer because both “the Sun and the Moon are subject to calculation”, said God, the Most High:
ٱلشَّمۡسُ وَٱلۡقَمَرُ بِحُسۡبَانࣲ
Ar-Rahman, Ayah 5
That calculation was made to make the watch, which is used in timing prayers, instead of the shadows used during the time of the Holy Prophet. In the same vein, the different Moon Apps are made from calculations of the moon.
If I will be moving at the constant pace of 100km/hr, it will take me exactly 1 hr to reach Bauchi. If anyone says he saw me in Bauchi in 45 mins after my takeoff, he must have seen someone else, or something else. Simple.
The moon is constant in its pace, as the sun. It does not have tyres or engine or a driver or traffic to cause it delays. That is why it is subject to calculation, as God said. Its phases are already ordained by God. They will not change:
وَٱلۡقَمَرَ قَدَّرۡنَـٰهُ مَنَازِلَ…
Ya-Seen, Ayah 39
That is why at the National Conference on Moonsighting in 2012, it was agreed that astronomical tools can be used as a guide in knowing when to look out for the crescent. That is what the National Committee on Moonsighting is doing. And as you can see from the size of the crescent today, the Committee and the Sultan were right.
It is usual to find people that are hesitant in embracing technology. To date, there are Muslims that forbid the use of watches. But the world is moving on in spite of their objections. Fortunately, the Sultan is not one of them.
In 2009, I asked the Sultan in my essay to patronize an iTunes app called Emerald. I am happy to say that the Sultan today is more learned and equipped than myself on the science of moon sighting.
Relying on people is increasingly becoming difficult as it is with relying on them on matters of trust. If the Sultan were to ask us to look out for the crescent on the 27th or 28th, there will be people who will swear by God that they have seen it. That is how Nigeria remained a laughing stock on moon sighting for many years before. To avoid these human errors, the Moon Apps are here to guide us. Since the Sultan embraced them, we became more accurate in our sightings. It is not about Saudia, at all. I can attest to this. Saudia is also guided by the same technology.
So Follow the Sultan. You too will be guided.