Bismillah. Please refer to my article, “A simple solution to the moonsighting problem,” first published in Emel magazine in 2007. It is available at the City Circle website (www.thecitycircle.com), under previous blogs – see August 2008. I may update it and post it here later, insha’Allah.
According to that simple methodology, the following are the dates for Ramadan and Eid this year.
First day of Ramadan 1430: Saturday 22 August 2009
(crescent easily visible throughout Australasia and Africa the previous evening)
Eid al-Fitr or first day of Shawwal 1430: Sunday 20 September 2009
(crescent easily visible throughout Southern African the previous evening)
Accordingly, Ramadan in the UK will have 29 days insha’Allah.
It seems that the European Council for Fatwa and Research (www.ecfr.org) has announced 1st Ramadan as 21st August. They seem to be basing this on astronomical conjunction as per Shaykh Ahmad Shakir’s fatwa. This is disappointing and goes against a good fatwa from the 1990’s by Sh. Abdullah al-Juday’, one of the ECFR scholars. In it, he said that hilal-sighting claims about a moon less than 12 hours old would be rejected “because the astronomers agree that a hilal less than 12 hours old cannot be sighted.”
Note that according to Dr. Steve Bell of HMNAO, the world-records for hilal-sightings are roughly 15 hours by naked eye and 12 hours by telescope.