Start of Ramadan Decided Today
Despite having estimated the beginning of this year’s month of Ramadan to fall on July 10, Indonesia’s largest Islamic organization confirmed that the official determination was pending final observations of the current position of the moon, which it would carry out today.
The Nahdlatul Ulama would continue to use the rukyatulhilal (or rukyat ) visibility observation method to determine when the fasting month would begin for its members, A. Ghazalie Masroeri, head of the NU’s astronomy board, said in a press conference in Jakarta on Saturday.
Thus, the organization’s estimate of July 10 has to be understood as only a prediction.
“Criteria for the rukyat method [which centers on the position of the crescent moon] project that, for Islamic year 1434, the beginning of Ramadan will fall on Wednesday,” Ghazalie said.
To make a final decision, the organization will be conducting final observations of the hilal from 90 strategic points across the archipelago, supported by 110 nationally- certified individuals, along with other Islamic scholars and experts.
Results from the observations will then be compiled by the astronomy board and submitted to the official government calendaring mechanism (known as the “ Isbat meeting”) which is scheduled for this afternoon.
“After the Isbat meeting and [coordination with] the Ministry of Religious Affairs, the NU will conduct an official announcement regarding the start of Ramadan for Islamic year 1434,” Ghazalie said.
Meanwhile, the nation’s second-largest Islamic organization, the Muhammadiyah, had already fixed their Ramadan start date for Tuesday this week.
“According to the approach that has long been used by the Muhammadiyah, we will start fasting on July 9,” the organization’s chairman Din Syamsuddin said.
He said the Muhammadiyah’s preferred hisab method of calculating the beginning of Ramadan was unlike the rukyat method because it adopted a mathematical and astronomical approach to calculating the position of the moon.
“According to the hisab method, Ramadan begins at a few minutes past 2:00 p.m on July 8, [as determined by the positioning of] the sun, earth and moon,” he said.
“Therefore, there is no need to [wait to] see it or link it to the tropical climate, a change of weather or even global warming. Even the beginning of the fasting month in the next 100 years can be predicted [today] as it is an exact [mathematical] approach.”
Following Muhammadiyah’s calculations, the month of Ramadan will last 30 days and end on Aug. 8.
Islamic organizations as well as astronomers from the Indonesian Ulema Council (MUI) will particupate in the meeting at the ministry on Monday prior to announcing the official start of Ramadan.
The government has over the years based its decisions on visibility observations or, in other words, the rukyat method that is relied on by the NU.