A South African delegation attended an International Hijri Calendar Unity Conference hosted by the Presidency of Religious Affairs of Turkey. The conference which was held in Istanbul between the 28th and 30th May 2016, brought together Islamic scholars, astronomical experts, technocrats and community leaders.
The conference was a culmination of many years of research with hosts and collaborating organizers envisaging a process towards the unity of the Ummah, through the adoption of a universal Islamic calendar.
Papers submitted to the conference dealt with aspects such as the definition of sighting from scientific and Islamic point of view; actual or possibility of sighting; the use of optical instruments in moon-sighting, and the adoption of global zones.
From the proceedings, two views emerged in considering the planetary globe as either one zone or demarcating it into the eastern and western hemispheres, said Maulana Ebrahim Bham from the Jamiatul Ulama South Africa.
The conference deliberated and resolved to strive towards achieving one global zone. A non-binding vote for a resolution was made in order to adopt a number of global zones.
“The South African delegation voted not to adopt any of these global zoning options, preferring not to change any of the current moon-sighting arrangements, in our country,” he said.
The South Africa delegation had put it to the conference that for decades, it has been possible to seek sighting of the moon in the determination of Islamic months.
A procedure for moon-sighting adopted by South African Ulama bodies alongside moon-sighting groups is operational and has brought about unity among the Muslims in the country.