sunset-hilalThe first day’s youngest crescent moon (hilal) appears from different places on the earth each month, moving from east to west, as well as from south to north. Looking at the predicted crescent visibility maps for a whole year, it can be seen that the hilal first appears approximately 6 months on the southern hemisphere and the other 6 months on the northern hemisphere.

When the moon is in the northern hemisphere, it is possible to sight the hilal from the UK horizon, if people make an effort to sight it (weather permitting). However, it should be noted that the lunar year has approximately 6 months that are 29-days and 6-months that are 30-days, which means when the moon is in the northern hemisphere, it may be sighted for 3 months on the 29th day and the other 3 months on the 30th day (in different combinations).

The predicted 29th and the next day of the 1438 AH (2016 - 2017) lunar dates (when the moon is expected to be sighted on the UK horizon) are given below:

Observation Dates (for month) Observation Dates (for month)
29 & 30 Nov (Rabi-I)
29 & 30 Dec  (Rabi-II)
28 & 29 Jan  (Jumada-I)
27 & 28 Feb  (Jumada-II)
28 & 29 Mar (Rajab)
27 & 28 Apr  (Shaban)

To make a successful sighting of the hilal (even if cloudy), it is necessary to plan the observation effectively with the following considerations in mind:

  1. Identify a high location where the western horizon can be easily seen (down to ground/sea level)
  2. Make a note of the sunset position on a clear day with respect to the landscape a few days earlier
  3. Use the Internet or Mobile Phone Apps to note the sunset and moonset times for the location
  4. On the above dates, look for the hilal close to the sunset position between the above setting times
  5. Try to use a suitable Mobile Phone App (eg. GPS Compass) to find the direction in cloudy weather

After your observation submit your result on our website (positive or negative), so it can be taken into consideration by the UK Ulama when making a decision for the start of the new month, InshaAllah.

If you have any further questions, please do not hesitate to email us via our on-line Contact Us form.

On the 29th day of each lunar month (and the next day), please send your urgent crescent moon (Hilal) observation report, positive or negative to:

Email: Or
SMS: +44 (0)7507 33 23 63 - for SMS only (ICOUK Report)

You message should include:

  • hijri month name
  • seen/not seen (result)
  • clear/cloudy/rainy (weather)
  • naked-eye/optical aid (method)
  • town/city (where)
  • date/time (when)
  • number in group
  • full name (whom)
  • phone/email (contact)

Note: All the above details are important. You may copy, paste and edit them in email/sms as necessary.

Once you have sent the urgent report, please submit a confirmation report later on our website as soon as possible.

Related: Importance of Moon Sighting

The time difference between the last and first visible phases of the moon is known as the "New Moon Phase" (or Mahaq in Arabic). In between this invisible period, there is an instant of time, known as the "New Moon Conjunction" (or Waqt-tul Iqthiran in Arabic) when the sun, moon and earth come together in one line/plane.

If you are able to sight both the last waning crescent moon (from the eastern horizon before sunrise) and the first waxing crescent moon (from the western horizon after sunset), for a given location over a number of lunar months, then you can easily calculate the minimum period of Mahaq when it will be impossible to sight the new crescent moon by the human eye (without the use of any "calculations"!).

Experienced observers have stated that the duration of Mahaq is most commonly about 60 hours (2.5 days) long and in extremely rare cases it may be about 36 hours (1.5 days) long. It is not possible for it to be less than 24 hours (1day) long and hence they were not easily mislead by false sighting claims. The waning and waxing crescent moon photos below were taken from York (UK) in January 2013.

2013-01-10 YorkMoon

2013-01-12 YorkMoon

The duration of Mahaq from the above observations was 57 hrs. How many hours do you make Mahaq to be from your own observation experience?

The early Muslims were inspired by the Quran to look for the phases of the moon as stated below:
وَالْقَمَرَ‌ قَدَّرْ‌نَاهُ مَنَازِلَ حَتَّىٰ عَادَ كَالْعُرْ‌جُونِ الْقَدِيمِ

"And (as for) the moon, We have measured for it mansions (to traverse) till it returns like the old dried curved date stalk (Urjoonil Qadim)." [Quran 36:39]

The Mufassiroon (i.e. commentators of the Quran) have stated that "Urjoonil Qadim" mentioned above is the last waning crescent moon and not the first waxing crescent moon (called Hilal in Arabic) as mentioned by some translators of the Quran (2:189)!

By Eng Qamar Uddin (ICOUK[1]), which was sent to Darul Uloom Bury on 10 April 2017 [download pdf] [Urdu/اردو]

The Darul Uloom Al-Arabiyyah Al-Islamiyyah, also known as Darul Uloom Bury is one of the oldest Islamic seminary (Muslims College) of its kind in the UK, which was established in 1973 by Maulana Yusuf Motala (حفظه الله). It is a boarding school for about 375 students (12 – 23 years old), to attend it’s 6 years Alim (Darse-e-Nizami) course. The vast majority of the students are from the UK residents of Asian parents, who subscribe to the Hanafi (Deobandi) Maslak and is connected to the Dawah & Tabligh efforts. It is estimated that a significant portion of the Imams in the UK mosques have been produced by this seminary, which is a great contribution to the religious needs of the UK Muslim communities, alleviating the need to import Imams from abroad.

The Darul Uloom Bury has always been a proponent of following Moon Sighting news from Saudi Arabia when the UK Muslims split from following Morocco in 1986 (see the History of UK following Saudi Arabia). In the early years of the split, the errors of Moon Sighting news from Saudi Arabia was not known so following Saudi Arabia was more of a convenience rather than a necessity for the UK Muslims. It was not until 1998 when ICOP (an International Moon Sighting volunteer group) was formed, who shared the monthly moon sighting news via the Internet, the obvious errors of Saudi Arabia news became very apparent, as stated below.

On Wednesday 17 March 1999, the New Moon Conjunction was at 18:48 GMT (21:48 Saudi LT). The Bolton (Bury) sunset was at 18:16 GMT and moonset was at 17:57 GMT.  The Makkah sunset was at 18:31 LT and moonset was at 18:18 LT. This means the moon was not even born until after both Makkah and Bolton sunset; and had gone below the horizon before the sunset of both places. As a result, the moon was impossible to be sighted anywhere in the world on that date. Yet, Saudi Arabia claimed the sighting of the moon earlier in the day (3.5 hrs before it was born) followed by 8 Darul Uloom Bury students (0.5 hr before it was born)! See link


On Wednesday the 17th of March 1999, seven of my colleagues and I were instructed by the principal of Darul-Uloom Bury, Maulana Yusuf Motala to attempt to sight the moon. We left the Madressah at 5.50 pm to climb the local Holcombe Hill upon which Peel Tower is situated. We reached the top at 6.05 pm and situated ourselves at the highest points in two different places. The sky was clear at the time of sunset and we managed to sight the moon at 6.30 pm. The moon remained visible for at least three to five minutes before we lost sight of it. The students who sighted the moon are:

Rashid Ahmed Esakjee, Age: 27 Imran Mulla, Age: 20 Shabbir Mulla, Age: 22
Mahmood Miah, Age: 20 Shakir Pandor, Age: 21 Ismail Badat, Age: 22
Shahzad Khan; Age: 21 Zainul Abedin Yakub, Age: 22  

Note: It is the duty of the Hilal Committees to establish the truth without blaming the witnesses for their errors [or innocent mistakes].


Many moon sighing experts are well aware that the news from Saudi Arabia is influenced by their pre-calculated Ummul Qura calendar, biasing the witnesses towards it and hence they made an improvement in 2004 (which eventually came into effective from 2012). This improvement has shifted their Hijri date closer to predicted visibility for some months, but not all. [see Saudi Dating System, New Criteria]

Unfortunately, the scholars of Darul Uloom Bury have not changed their position from following Saudi Arabia over past 30 years and do not examine the accuracy/validity of reports required by Shariah. And, since their students are the Imams of many UK Mosques, the division/split at Ramadan and two Eids continues year-after-year on an ongoing basis.

Therefore, our ICOUK members would like to request the scholars of Darul Uloom Bury to review their moon sighting position and consider adopting the Regional Moon Sighting Criteria for the UK (, which has been proven to work satisfactorily under the UK adverse weather conditions over many years.

Ref: Solar eclipse proves the inaccuracy of the Saudi Ummul Qura calendar (