Posted by: wasim | 2nd Oct, 2007

A short history of the end of Moonsighting in Boston, 2002-2007

2002:  Islamic Society of North America (ISNA) was still using moonsighting as the basis for its Ramadan decision.  Boston area masajid had united under ISNA, and awaited a decision from their national moonsighting committee.  Harvard Islamic Society (HIS) also had the policy of following ISNA’s decision, and continued the practice in 2002.  However, in 2002, Boston’s decision to follow ISNA led to some major last-minute trouble.  At slightly after sunset Pacific Time, 2 men spotted the Hilal in Arizona.  ISNA confirmed the report around 10 PM EST.   Bostonians were being phoned at 10:30-11 PM that night they had to fast 6-7 hours later.  Some managed to hold an impromptu taraweeh at the masjid.

2004 or 2005:  The imams in Boston formalized their own Ramadan and Eid Committee.  This committee retained the moonsighting process as the basis for determining the beginning and end of the month.  The announcement released stated that their decision would not come from any actual moonsighting in Boston, but from the decision of the “majority of Muslim countries” overseas.  The whole ISNA thinking of the late 90s had been to sight the moon in N. America, but Boston returned to the old practice of the 80s in order to avoid another mess like 2002.

The first year this new decision-making process was in place, the Burlington, MA imam attempted to force his masjid to accept the Boston-area decision.  The mosque board overturned him and continued to support ISNA.  Thus, the Boston area masajid split on the issue for the first time, with the northern suburbs following one day and the south and west suburbs following another.

2005 – 2006:  The practice as established in 2005 continued, where Boston would follow the “majority of Muslim countries” overseas, and there was largely unity among Boston’s mosques, with the exception of Masjid An-Nur in Roxbury, which continued to sight the moon for itself (or follow decision of like minded mosques in NYC/NJ). 

There was, however, a major unspoken flaw in the system.  The majority of Muslim countries often went with a different date than the one followed in Boston.  Boston often took the decision of Saudi Arabia or Egypt, even when Pakistan, India, Bangladesh, Iran and Indonesia were united on one date (2005?)

2006: ISNA formally abandons the moonsighting process, relying exclusively on astronomical calculation as the basis for determining the start/end of Ramadan.  Groups such as Zaytuna oppose the decision.  Hilal sighting committees form in NYC, Toronto, California and Chicago.


The date for the beginning of Ramadan was announced on the ISB website.  Although the statement notes the importance of the moonsighting process, it does not indicate how Boston concluded the first day of fasting before it was possible to sight the moon. 


this is really weird but my name is asad too.

crap… again wrong website.