Saturday, August 30, 2008

I missed the New England Imams' Council meeting today. Shaykh Suheil Laher tells me that the Council met this evening and, as expected, no member reported that any reliable report had reached him of the crescent moon having been sighted anywhere in the world. Since, according to Council's methodology, tonight is the 30th, tomorrow night, Sunday, August 31, will be the first night of Ramadan and Monday, Sept 1, will be the first day of fasting. The Council will make an offical announcement tonight in sha'Allah. I will send out the announcement insha'Allah to the Harvard Islamic Society lists.

May Allah accept.

Over the last few weeks I have been participating in a series of telephone conferences at the invitation of the New England Imams' Council (NEIC). The Council is essentially composed of the 10+ Imams (prayer leaders) of the major mosques in the Greater Boston Metro Area. There are imams from elsewhere in Eastern Massachusetts (e.g. Worcester, Burlington) and Rhode Islam. The meetings are organized and led by Imam Talib Abdullah Faaruuq (Amir and Imam of Masjid li-Hamdillah). The group meets every year, for the past 5 years or so, just before Ramadan, in order to coordinate a unified announcement of the confirmation the sighting of the moon, which ocassions the beginning of Ramadan, the ninth month of the Islamic calendar and the month of obligatory fasting, in Islamic law.

For several years now, the Council has held meeting during the last days of Sha`ban (the month before Ramadan) in preparation for their meeting on Sha`ban 29. On Sha`ban 29, they meet in order to evaluate open source (e.g. media, blog) reports of crescent moon-sightings in tradtional Muslim societies in the East of North America. The Council looks for a convincing large numer of announcements from multiple countries in order to overcome suspicion of political manipulation and the like. For similar reasons, preference is given to announcements made by authorities that are known to base their announcements on eyewitness testimony as to the sighting of the crescent moon.

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