Jakarta, Humas BRIN – Astronomical studies are believed to be the middle way in unifying the different criteria for determining the beginning of the month of Ramadan. Senior Researcher of the National Research and Innovation Agency (BRIN), Prof. Thomas Djamaludin, said that BRIN proposes to Muslims a method with the criteria that is expected to become a common ground later, namely the criteria based on astronomical studies with scientific data.

“This is the contribution of BRIN as a research institution to provide solutions for unifying the people by providing criteria and understanding of what actually happens in the observation and calculation of the new moon,” he said during an interview with one of the national private television stations, Monday (28/3).

Thomas explained that the involvement of research institutions in determining the beginning of Ramadan had actually started formally since 1996. At that time, continued Thomas, there were several opinions. The Secretary of the Minister of Research and Technology at that time wrote a letter to the Minister of Religious Affairs that the Ministry of Research and Technology had Lapan, an agency that also conducted space studies, among others using astronomy to determine the beginning of the holy month. Since then, Lapan has been involved in a work team or work discussion to determinate hisab rukyat (new moon) to provide solutions.

“At that time, I, as a senior astronomy researcher, was assigned by Lapan management to represent the agency in the deliberation on hisab rukyat at the Ministry of Religious Affairs. In 2010, I proposed a new criterion to unite criteria and since then I have continued to be active, one of which is proposing and leading astronomers to produce academic drafts for the proposed new criteria. Currently, Lapan has been integrated into BRIN, hence BRIN as the agency that conducts space research, especially astronomy, is involved in providing solutions,” explained Thomas.

On the other hand, Thomas also mentioned that so far the problem of differences in determining the beginning of Ramadan is only from the legal or fiqh aspect. When viewed from the aspect of fiqh, each school will strengthen its argument. This makes the difference even getting further away.

“Astronomy is involved to see the other side that the difference is not because of the difference in hisab and rukyat, not because of differences in observation and calculation but rather on differences in criteria. These criteria can be obtained from astronomical studies; hence astronomy plays a role in providing a middle way in providing solutions, unifying schools on determination of hisab and rukyat, including producing a calendar system that unites the people,” said Thomas proposing.

Meanwhile, for the start of Ramadan this year, Thomas said there is a potential difference. This is because the Muhammadiyah has announced in its edict that the beginning of Ramadan will fall on 2 April 2022, because then the position of the moon is already above the horizon.

The Government, on the other hand, will perform rukyat on 1 April 2022. At that time the position of the moon in Indonesia is generally less than 2 degrees. So by using the old criteria, the criterion of 2-degree moon height does have a different potential from what has been announced in the Muhammadiyah edict. “Since the beginning, there has been a prediction that there will be a difference in the decision of the istbath session with that of Muhammadiyah,” he said.

In terms of astronomy, Thomas explained that on 1 April, the elongation or the distance between the moon and the sun is only about 3 degrees. Then the height is also less than 3 degrees. This means the very thin hilal (crescent) would be disturbed by the safak light or twilight so that there can be no rukyat globally.

Based on the agreement of the ministers of religious affairs of Malaysia, Indonesia, Brunei and Singapore (Mabims countries) on 28 December 2021, they have agreed to use the new criteria for determining the beginning of the Hijri month, namely a minimum height of 3 degrees, elongation of the sun – moon distance of 6.4 degrees.

With these two parameters, the elongation shows that the crescent is very thin and dim, the height is still less than 3 degrees, which means that the safak light is still quite strong. Hence, there will be no rukyat results, and if someone reports it, it will be rejected. Thus, said Thomas, it can be estimated that at the time of the Isbath session, they will decide that the beginning of Ramadan will fall on 3 April 2022. This is a potential difference because Muhammadiyah has announced in its edict that Ramadan month falls on 2 April 2022. (jml)