Hyderabad: The practice of spotting new moon with naked eye on the first night of each Islamic month has been a tradition. In keeping with this custom, Muslims across the world wait in anticipation and excitement for the birth of Ramzan moon.
Majority of Muslims drop everything and watch out for the moon from roof tops or open grounds on the 29th day of Shabaan, the eighth month of Islamic lunar calendar. Islamic calendar is based on the lunar cycle, unlike the Gregorian calendar, which is based on movement of Sun.
According to Islamic scholars, in classical Arabic language, word “Hilal” (crescent) is defined as, “the first light of the moon, when people see the crescent at the outset of a month.” Hilal denotes the moon specifically on the first and second night; after that, it is simply called “Qamar” (moon).
Islamic scholar Moulana Mohammed Abdul Aleem said search for the new moon is an act of Ibadah (devotion). It means earning reward from Allah. It is the Sunnah (tradition and practice) of the Prophet Muhammad. The Sunnah is “seeing” and not mere knowledge of the moon’s existence above the horizon, he clarified.
The Islamic month does not begin with birth of the moon. It does not even begin when it becomes possible to sight the moon. The month of Ramzan, according to the Prophet, begins with sighting of the moon. This means a human eye has to “see” the crescent of Ramzan. It is considered that there is a great spiritual benefit in looking for the Hilal (new crescent moon) with naked eyes, which will be lost if we are to forgo this sacred tradition, Moulana Mohammed Abdul Aleem said.
In Hyderabad, an organisation of Ulema and Mashayekh “Sadar Majlis Ulema-e-Deccan” has Ruyiat-e-Hilal (moon sighting) committee to announce the start of Islamic month every month. On every 29th day of the Islamic month, members of the committee gather and spot the moon. They gather information from other places in case the sky in Hyderabad is not clear and then pronounce their decision.