The Coordinator of the League of Imams and Alfas of South West Nigeria, Sheikh Muhammad Habibullah Adam El-Ilory has announced that Ramadan 2020 will begin on Saturday, 25th April “based on the findings of Islamic Sharia complemented with Astronomical Calculations.”

In a statement jointly signed by the Sheikh, his assistant, Sheikh Abdul Razzaq Abdul Azeez and the Secretary of the Moon Sighting Committee, Ustaz Nurudeen Ibrahim, the body stated that “astronomically, the conjunction that leads to the termination of the month of Sha’ban 1441AH will occur on Thursday 23rd of April, 2020 (equivalent to 29th of Sha’ban, 1441AH) at 3:26am in South West Nigeria. Thus, leaving the Age of the Moon period between conjunction time and the next Maghrib at 15 hours 28 mins which is only enough for sighting the Moon by a powerful telescope or binocular provided the weather is suitable. It is also important to mention that the geocentric illumination for this expected new crescent is 00.50% which will make sighting even with telescope still difficult.

“This simply will mean that Ramadan will begin on Saturday, 25th of April, 2020 in Nigeria,” the statement added.

However, an erudite scholar, Sheikh Giwa Ahmed Abu-Khattab explained what he perceived to be errors in the supposed astronomical calculations of Sheikh El-Ilory.

According to him, “for the reasonable minds, this is not a war on science or its calculations. It is rather a sincere effort to call our attention to the dangers in holding on to the opinions of this man in matters of our religion with which we seek the pleasure of Allah. This man is not an authority in our dear Islam WaLlahi. How can he, when his Arabic understanding and interpretations are manifestly faulty to the true students of Arabic.

“In fact, there is no contradiction between Islam and science in this regard because science itself affirms the use of strong telescope in order to enable the physical sighting of the moon which is what the Sharee’ah requires. Then how is Islam saying the discovery of science is not correct in its calculations here? But it is not surprising to see a man whose utmost aim is to defy every established authority by trying to bring out controversy where there is none! What beclouded the understanding of this ignorant to realise that he could still make his point on his scientific evidence by just concluding by striking a compromise between the Sunnah and science,” he continued.

He also doubted El-Ilory’s leadership role in the League of Imams and Alfas in South West. “Besides, if I may ask, is there a separate League of Imams and Alfas (Raabitah) for Lagos State because I’m sure the Presisident of Raabitah for the whole of South West and Edo/Delta is our own Imam in Ado Central Masjid here, (Imam Jaamiu Kewulere, may Allah preserve him on goodness) and I don’t think he has a thumb print on this show of shame?”

The Nigerian Supreme Council for Islamic Affairs, through its National Moonsighting Committee, is the official body that announces the commencement and end of Ramadan. The religious body is yet to make an official announcement.