In the video above, you can see the most accurate and concise Ramadan calendar for the whole inhabited world. The bottom part of the video maps for you the first day of Ramadan dates and the last day of Ramadan dates, chronologically, for this century. You can pause the video at any of the years. And the top part of the video shows you how those dates are calculated – the correct method of calculation.
The correct method is emphasized because Ramadan starts with a new moon and ends with a new moon, but the Muslim Scholars do not agree about the definition of the new moon. Some say, “the new moon happens when you see it”. Others say, “it is not possible to calculate it” and others say, “it happens at Lunar Conjunction”. They support these ideas by tradition, misunderstood science, personal experience, or blind obedience, but they are unaware that we can find the exact definition of the new moon in the Quran. Here is the correct definition from the Quran, Chapter 2, Verse 189; it says:
“They ask you about the new moons. Say, “They are appointed times for people, and Hajj, and it is not right (for the new moons) to enter nights from noon, but right is to be cautious, and enter nights from their (night entrance) sunset…”
And this specific meaning of the verse can be found in the Arabic Quran. Some translators, translate the words “night”, “noon” and “sunset” in this verse out of context as if though they talk about “houses” “backdoors” and “front doors”, relying on common Arabic language. But the best Arabic Standard is the Quran, and we can use it to deduce the proper meanings of these words from other verses where they are mentioned in the Quran. We find these Arabic words in other verse of the Quran, where the word “bayatan” actually means “night” (4:81, 4:108, 7:4, 7:97, 10:50, 27:49), not necessarily “house”; and the word “dhuhr” means ‘noon’ (24:58), not necessarily “back-door”, and the word “baba” means “sky gate” (15:14), not necessarily “house gate”.
So, the correct definition of the new moon from verse 2:189 is the moon which does not come at noon, but comes at sunset, and it enters the night after sunset.
So, the first night of Ramadan is the first night where the moon sets after sunset, and the day that follows it is the first day of Ramadan. And the last day of Ramadan is the day that precedes the night in which the moon sets after sunset.
Now, this definition is calculable, precise, Quranic, unifying, and correct, and scientifically empirical because it uses the actual western horizon as a cutting line between the moon and the sun, and not imaginary lines in deep space like in the Lunar Conjunction definition which is measured from noon, not from sunset.
So, Ramadan and the other lunar months start WHEN THE MOON SETS AFTER SUNSET. This is a very simple and precise definition.
To make this definition even more precise, the video takes into account the fact that astronomers measure sunset and moonset from the tops of their discs, which is correct for sunset, but moonset needs to be measured from the bottom, from its potentially visible crescent part, and this difference in measurement is about three minutes. In other words, the whole moon needs to be above horizon at the moment when the whole sun is under horizon. So, the more accurate definition is:
RAMADAN STARTS ON THE FIRST NIGHT WHEN THE MOON SETS AT LEAST 3 MINUTES AFTER SUNSET. THE FOLLOWING DAY IS THE FIRST DAY OF RAMADAN
The video uses this definition to calculate Ramadan dates for the whole world, and they are mapped in the video, so you can find them readily available.
In cases when you are unsure between two dates from the map, just go with the later date. This is in accordance with verse 2:189 telling us to be cautions, meaning “choose the later date when you are unsure”.
By the way, during Ramadan days, believers fast from the beginning of dawn until sunset. And in case there is no sunset or no beginning of astronomical dawn at your location, you can learn how to deal with it in the other clarification titled “Fasting in the Extreme North and South”.
By: Alban Fejza, the Clarifying Messenger
Sunset and Moonset data extracted from the US Naval Observatory, and validated by data from HM Nautical Almanac Office. Twenty geographical data points were found for each map where
Moonset = Sunset + 3 min.
Data were modeled using polynomial regressions (R2=0.998), and then mapped onto an equirectangular projection map.
Special thanks to Arjeta Fejza for data double-checking support,
And to Vlora Fejza for technical support.