In the forums I have had discussion with various people about the moon sighting. I talk in favor of calculations. Their immediate response would be, “Our deen is perfect. We don’t need any modifications to our calendar.” I reply, “Yes, our deen is perfect. That’s why it suits every generation. And no scientific and technological advancement can make Islamic things obsolete. But by insisting on the naked-eye moon sighting, we have made the Hijri calendar obsolete with no use except for starting and ending our fasts and going to Hajj. Even if we try, we cannot use the Hijri calendar for our worldly life. In doing so, we have made ourselves dependent on the Gregorian calendar so much so that we do not even realize that we are so much dependent on a non-Islamic calendar.” I will you give you an example.
Everybody these days travels by airplanes and for that they book seats, sometimes months in advance. More than often, they change planes midway. Now let’s say you want to use Hijri calendar to book your seats. You want to travel from New York to Karachi via Dubai on Shabaan 30th. Now the fun begins.
- The agent says, “Sorry sir, we cannot book any flights on Shabaan 30th because there is no guarantee of Shabaan 30th.”
- Then you ask the agent to book the seat on Ramadan 1st. “The agent says, “Sorry sir, we are not sure when the Ramadan 1st is going to be.”
- Out of frustration, you tell the agent to book a flight on Ramadan 15th. And you show up at the New York airport. The agent says, “Sorry sir, but you are one day late. Today is Ramadan 16th.” But you insist it is Ramadan 15th. The agent replies, “The airline runs as per the Dubai dates. And in Dubai it is Ramadan 16th today.”
- In frustration you cancel the ticket. And you book another flight for Ramadan 25th. This time you use United Airlines because you do not want the date confusion. You show up at the New York airport on Ramadan 25th. The agent tells you, “Sorry sir, but you came one day too early.” You dispute the date. The agent explains, “This airline is based in Chicago. They started Ramadan a day later than New York.”
- Then you change your mind and try to reserve a seat on Emirates believing that travel via Dubai will not be as confusing since the whole trip will be based on Dubai dates. The agent explains to you your itinerary: “Sir, you leave New York on Ramadan 29th. Your connecting flight to Karachi is on Shawwal 1st. In case they did not see the moon, there will not be any connecting flights at Dubai since it will be Ramadan 30th in Dubai, and we do not fly any flights on the 30th of the month because there is no guarantee of the 30th day in any month.”
- Since you were desperate to travel, you leave on Ramadan 29th. When you reached Dubai, you find that you reached Dubai on Shawwal 2nd. You are shocked and demand an explanation. The agent explains, “Sir, the last month there was a mistake in the moon sighting. So the king adjusted the date. Please do not worry, the king paid the kaffara on everybody’s behalf.”
- After some arguments with the airline's agents, you board the flight to Karachi. When you arrive in Karachi, you find yourself back in Ramadan and see people in a state of fast. And they tell you that you may need to pray Taraweeh that night and fast the next day as it was only Ramadan 29th there.
- You call your friend in Peshawar. He had left New York on the same day but on a different date because he was from a different town in the same state. He tells you although he departed Dubai at the same time you did, he reached Peshawar on Shawwal 2nd and missed the eid by two days as the people in Peshawar followed Saudi announcement and celebrated eid two days ago.
- You managed to return to the USA. But your boss wants you to go to Dubai again for a business meeting. You say, “Gaa, I will rather do a video teleconference.” You schedule a conference on Shawaal 25th at 11:00 GMT and invite Mr. Khalid from Dubai and Mr. Ali from India. On Shawaal 25th you start the conference and find nobody there. Well, you discover it is Shawaal 26th in Dubai and Shawaal 24th in India.