Sirs, On Sunday November 3 there was a solar eclipse in Africa and the Middle East, where people witnessed birth of the moon by the human eye, without relying on astronomical calculations. Astronomy experts say that visibility of the moon is not possible in the same evening when there is a solar eclipse, as the moon is still in the hidden phase.
There was a solar eclipse in Madinah at the time of Prophet Muhammad (S) when his son Ibrahim (R) died. This event happened on Monday 29 Shawwal 10 AH (January 27 632 CE) and the day of Dhul Qa’dah 10 AH was started a day after.
Therefore, an Islamic lunar month cannot start from the evening of a solar eclipse under any circumstances, as the moon cannot be visible after sunset (in the same region). On November 3, a Saudi astronomer, Khaled Al-Ajaji from Riyadh, photographed the moon setting with the eclipsed sun.
However, the Saudi Ummul Qura calendar started the lunar month from the same evening as the solar eclipse, since the condition of the criteria (ie moon set after sunset on Makkah horizon) was satisfied, even though the moon was impossible to be visible to the human eye. This incident proved beyond any doubt that the Saudi Ummul Qura calendar does not match the actual visibility of the moon (required for religious purposes).
It is with a great pleasure (and relief) that the Riyadh Supreme Court decided to delay the start of Muharram 1435 AH a day later than the published Ummul Qura calendar date, which made it possible for the lunar date to match with the actual visibility of the moon the next evening. So the present Ummul Qura calendar criteria should be changed to a visibility prediction model, as proposed on our website Petition at www.moonsighting.org.uk.