The vast majority of UK Muslims obtain the crescent moon (Hilal) sighting news from nearby countries such as Morocco (or Saudi Arabia) due to the adverse weather conditions in the UK. However, some UK Ulama started to follow South Africa a day before Morocco from Shawwal 1430 AH (September 2009) until 1433 AH (August 2012). The Crescent Visibility Map for Shawwal 1430 (September 2009) is shown below.
As from Shawwal 1434 (2013), it was no longer technically possible for the Hilal to be sighted in South Africa a day before Morocco and it will continue to be the case for next 30 years, at least. This is because the Hilal only appeared from Southern Africa region for only few (3 – 4) years when Ramadan is in the Summer/Autumn season in the Northern Hemisphere, while it is the Winter/Spring season in the Southern Hemisphere.
The reason is, the lunar Hijri calendar year (354 days) is 11 days shorter than the solar calendar year (365 days), causing the lunar months to cycle through all the solar seasons (Summer, Autumn, Winter, Spring) of the year. This cycle is completed once every 33 years approximately (i.e. 365/11). The next time the Hilal may appear over Southern Africa, similar to Shawwal 1430 (September 2009) will be in Shawwal 1465 (September 2042), but even in that year it will also be on Morocco horizon. The Crescent Visibility Map for Shawwal 1465 is shown below.
Looking at future years after the 33 years’ cycle from 2042, it appears the Hilal sighting area (or parabola) will no longer miss Morocco horizon when it’s also over Southern Africa and hence it can be deduced that it is not possible for Southern Africa to sight the Hilal one day before Morocco for another 33 years (or a life-time of 66 years, at least!).
Therefore, it is not necessary for UK Muslims to look for Hilal news from South Africa and limiting to Regional Moon Sighting Criteria for the UK is more than sufficient, which is closer to the Nearest Latitude (Aqrab Al Balad) Fiqh rule for reliable moon sighting reports.
Reference: Accurate Times 5.3 by Mohammad Odeh (ICOP)
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