Qamr al-Deen

Moon over San Francisco
I have been known to chase sunsets, or rather have somebody speed through San Francisco traffic to catch the sun as it dips into the Pacific Ocean. But increasingly, I’ve become interested in the phases of the moon and learning more about moon sighting. Part of it is because I want in to understand the ebb and flow of Islamic time and gain a better sense of the Islamic calendar. I’ve always enjoyed astronomy, one of my favorite memories in Kuwait was gazing at the moon through a telescope at with the kids. As a graduate student, I was thoroughly steeped in the postmodern critique of narratives of linear time and the march of progress. I have often pondered writing a paper on Islamic conceptions of time, of our understanding of the day divided by Fajr, Dhuhr, Asr, Maghrib, and ‘Isha, of the increasing ebb and flow of time as you move through space away from the equator, of the shifting months, of the convergence and divergence of lunar and solar calendars that Muslims have used to plant their crops, to begin their fasts, commence their feasts, convene at the House of God. We wait to calculations or reports from Saudi, but how many of us go out in anticipation of the new moon? Forget the endless debates during Ramadan on when the month really begins or when are we starting Eid. How often do we go out and gaze at the moon and the stars and reflect on our Lord’s signs? Here’s your chance. According to this article, the Brightest Moon of 2009 will be tonight. So if you have clear skies, go out just after Maghrib and look East for the biggest Brightest moon of the year.