An international conference aimed at ending differences on lunar calculations and unite the Muslim Ummah in observing obligatory rituals of fasting and Haj as well as Eid festivals is under way in Makkah.
The three-day conference is organized by the Islamic Fiqh Academy, an affiliate of the Makkah-based Muslim World League (MWL).
A number of prominent figures including religious scholars, jurisprudents and astronomers from the Kingdom and abroad are taking part in the event at the grand conference hall of MWL headquarters.
On behalf of Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques King Abdullah, Minister of Islamic Affairs, Endowments, Call and Guidance Sheikh Saleh Al-Asheikh opened the conference Saturday.
Grand Mufti and President of the Senior Scholars’ Commission Sheikh Abdul Aziz Al-Asheikh, MWL Secretary-General Abdullah Al-Turki, secretary general of the academy Saleh Al-Baqami and consultant at Dubai Islamic Bank Hussein Hamid Hossan were among the dignitaries who addressed the opening session.
In his speech Al-Asheikh highlighted the significance of determining the start of the lunar month on the basis of the sighting of the moon. “Islam had defined that the beginning and ending of the fast depends on the sighting of the crescent and there is no difference of opinion on this. As for Gregorian months, they are mainly for determining four seasons of the year and they have no relevance as far as Shariah rules are concerned,” he said.
The grand mufti reiterated Islamic Shariah principles should be upheld when calculating lunar months. “We are not waging a war with astronomy. But we don’t want to exceed the proper bounds of the Islamic Shariah when making lunar calculations,” he said, while urging the Muslim Ummah to follow relevant Islamic principles.
In his speech, Al-Turki said the conference would come out with proposals and recommendations with regard to achieving some sort of uniformity in determining the timing of the Islamic obligatory rituals of fasting and Haj.
“The Islamic scholars and astronomers would discuss how lunar calculations could be used to unite the Muslim Ummah in determining the fasting month of Ramadan, the timing of Haj and Eid Al-Fitr and Eid Al-Adha,” he said, hoping the event would be a milestone at least in narrowing differences among Islamic scholars and astronomers across the world when making such calculations.
The MWL chief also highlighted the increasing relevance of Islamic astronomy in uniting Muslims worldwide. Spelling out the objectives of convening the conference, Saleh Al-Baqami, secretary general of the academy, hoped the participants would come out with comprehensive solutions to remove the causes of differences with regard to determining the beginning of lunar months.
Continuing deliberations on the second day on Sunday, participants discussed five topics focusing on various aspects regarding lunar months and the role of Islamic Shariah principles in determining them. These included the sighting of the moon to mark the beginning and ending of the months for fasting and Haj.
The participants also discussed the Islamic jurisprudent approach with regard to a number of issues such as settling debts, and Iddat, which is the legally prescribed period of waiting during which a woman may not remarry after being widowed or divorced. The session, which is chaired by Grand Mufti Al-Asheikh, would issue a communiqué after wrapping up its deliberations on Monday.