The Uncertainty of Moon Sighting

Chanda Mama Door key
Wait for another day……

It’s is 9th of August 2021 and I’ve just returned from the mosque at 9 pm.

They say that no moon sight was confirmed from Lucknow, Hyderabad, or Mumbai. So the new year of Islamic Calander has to wait for another day and the mourners of Imam Hussain (AS) Martyrdom have to look for the next day for ‘Ayyam-e-Aza’ – the days of collective sorrow.

The Dawoodi Bohra Community follows a definite calendar which they call Misri or Egyptian tradition. It was produced by one of their High Priest (Dai-e-Mutlaq) more than fifty years ago. There is no confusion of days or dates of celebrations and observances in this Community. They were also confused about Arabic dates before that.

In my community, a learned scholar and sage late Moulana Kalbe Sadique Saheb had advised us to follow the Science of Astronomy and make decisions. His voice was also proved a cry in the wilderness. No one in the powerful religious hierarchy of my faith gives currency to his words.

I’m not entitled to speak about Sunni School of Thought.
It is ironic and pathetic that while others are exploring the other planets of the galaxy as they have already established their presence at Moon, why are we the Muslims still waiting for clouds to clear and see the thinnest slice of Moon to begin the New Year?
We were not always like that.

We were the followers of the same Prophet (PBUH); we had carried the light of learning through so many centuries; we were the same Muslims who had inspired Europe’s Renaissance and Enlightenment; we were the mathematicians who had developed the order of algebra. They were my forefathers who had invented the magnetic compass and tools of navigation; we were the masters of pen and printing, and we had discovered how disease spreads and how it can be healed.
Historian Bernard Lewis has noted in his book “What Went Wrong?”, that “for many centuries the world of Islam was in the forefront of human civilization and achievement.”

Read the history of human progress and you will find that Algebra, Algorithms, Alchemy, Alcohol, Alkali, Nadir, Zenith, Coffee, and Lemon were the words all derived from Arabic, reflecting Islam’s contribution to the West.

Today, the spirit of science in the Muslim world is dead almost, nowhere to detect. Muslim countries have nine scientists, engineers, and technicians per thousand people, compared with a world average of forty-one. In these nations, there are approximately 1,800 universities, but only 312 of those universities have scholars who have published journal articles. Of the fifty most-published of these universities, twenty-six are in Turkey, nine are in Iran, three each are in Malaysia and Egypt, Pakistan has two, and Uganda, the U.A.E., Saudi Arabia, Lebanon, Kuwait, Jordan, and Azerbaijan each have one.

There are roughly 1.6 billion Muslims in the world, but only two from Muslim countries have won Nobel Prizes in science (one for physics in 1979, the other for chemistry in 1999). Forty-six Muslim countries combined contribute just 1 percent of the world’s scientific literature; Spain and India each contribute more of the world’s scientific literature than those countries taken together.
What went wrong?

What happened to our scientific heritage of Medina, Damascus, Baghdad, Cairo, or Córdoba?

According to dispassionate and unbiased scholars, Muslims’ decline as an intellectual and political force was gradual and pronounced. There are excuses that “Arabic science” was not the same science as we are familiar with it today. Pre-modern science, while not blind to utility, sought knowledge primarily to understand philosophical questions concerned with meaning, being, the good, and so on.

Modern science, by contrast, grew out of a revolution in thought that reoriented politics around individual comfort through the mastery of nature. Modern science dismisses ancient metaphysical questions as (to borrow Francis Bacon’s words) the pursuit of pleasure and vanity. Whatever modern science owes to Arabic science, the intellectual activity of the medieval Islamic world was not of the same kind as the European scientific revolution, which came after a radical break from ancient natural philosophy.
Ironically, what my priests usually talk about in their sermons is hardly relevant to the challenges to the modern world. They discuss the topics and tell the stories that may sound inspiring for the success in the Hereafter, and they have nothing to offer to solve the complex problems we’re facing today.

We’re blessed with a plethora of pious sage. We celebrate their Happy Birthdays; we observe the mourning periods of their Death and Death anniversaries. The rest of the time we argue about the Right of Succession of Imam Ali(AS). For 2 months our youth are competing for the recitations of elegies.

Thirty days of Ramzan are for the purification of the soul and consumption of the finest foods.
Where is the time left for serious academic studies?

Most of the Muslim scientists of the last centuries were inspired by the House of Holy Prophet (PBUH) but none of them had ever participated in religious polemics or bothered to jump into the Theological Fights that are so important and time-consuming for us now.

It’s a very sad and pathetic state of affairs. I pray Almighty God to guide us and extricate us from the torpor.

Naim Naqvi

Naim Naqvi

Did his graduation in Science discipline from AMU in 1972-73. He was Secretary of University Ali Society in 1970 and M.M. Hall Literary Society in early 70 's and member of Tayyabji Literary Society. Did his Diploma in Bakery Administration from HTT College Oxford Street London in 1987. Worked with National Herald - Delhi, Blitz - Bombay as Trainee Journalist and in Production Department with 'Naya Sansar Pictures' of Khwaja Ahmed Abbas at Bombay in early 70's. Traveled for study and training purposes to Germany, U.K., Switzerland, France, Dubai, Oman, AbuDhabi, Bahrain and Philepines.

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