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2 Table of contents: 1. Purpose of this report Page 1 2. About this report...pages Background..Pages Findings....Pages Methodology...Pages About the authors.pages Contact us...page 9 8. Endorsed by...page 9 9. Appendices...Pages A-D 1. Purpose of this report: The purpose of this report is to present the dates for when to close the New York City ( NYC ) Department of Education ( DOE, Public Schools, School System, or Schools ) on the occasion of the Two Annual Muslim High-Holy-Days of Eid-ul-Fitr and Eid-ul-Adha ( Two Holidays ), for the next 30 school years, 2015/ / About this report: This report is presented to the NYC DOE by the Coalition for Muslim School Holidays ( Coalition ), and is endorsed by NYC Muslim religious and lay leaders, as well as local and national Muslim organizations. Please see the Endorsed by section. The report presents the findings of study of the dates for when the NYC School System would close on the occasion of Eid-ul-Fitr and Eid-ul-Adha. The study comprehensively and conclusively resolved the related theological and logistical issues, and the methodology used resulted in the most definitive guide for determining these dates. It is important to note that this report is not a religious document, and that by adopting these dates, the DOE is not making a religious determination on behalf of Muslim students, staff, or the NYC Muslim communities, for when to observe these Two Holidays. The DOE will simply be closing the School System on the dates presented in this report based on the endorsement of the local and national Muslim organizations and religious and lay leaders of the Muslim communities. NYC Muslims, Mosques, and other Muslim organizations, are free to determine for themselves when to religiously observe these Two Holidays, but these dates will be when Schools close for the occasion. 1

3 A detailed explanation of why this is the case and how these dates were determined is included in the following sections of the report. Any questions, concerns, or if further explanation is needed, should be directed to the author at: NOTE: The findings of this study can also be applied in any other public or private school or university, municipality, organization, or firm in North America, with slight customization, if need be. Please contact the author for assistance with customization to your entity s needs. 3. Background: Muslim dates are based on a lunar calendar year, which is days shorter than the solar (Gregorian) calendar year. As a result, the dates of the Two Holidays shift back 10, 11, or 12 days every Gregorian year, leading the Two Holidays to often fall on weekends, summer recesses, or other Public School holidays. Eid-ul-Fitr falls on the day following the end of the month of Ramadan, during which, able Muslims fast from dawn to sunset. Eid-ul-Adha falls during the time of the Hajj (pilgrimage to Mecca) where pilgrims literally follow the footsteps of Prophet Abraham. These Two Holidays are observed by every Muslim in the world. In about 50 Muslim-majority countries, these holidays are often national holidays, and each can last for a week or more, similar to the Christmas holiday in NYC Public Schools. Activities on the day of the holiday typically include waking up early, showering, putting on one s best cloths, going to the Mosque for prayer and sermon, visiting family and friends, enjoying group festive meals, and going out for fun; especially for children. There are many similarities between these and the observations of Christmas, Easter, Yom Kippur, and Rosh Hashanah, which are all official holidays in NYC Public Schools. In addition, NYC is unique with its combination of a large number of Muslim residents, and their wide diversity. This diversity is unmatched anywhere in the world, except during the pilgrimage to the holiest sites of Islam; the cities of Mecca, Medina, and Jerusalem. There are almost one million Muslims who live in the five boroughs of the city. In comparison, there are more Muslims in NYC than the entire population of states such as Vermont or Alaska. Also in comparison, there are more Muslims in NYC than in Bahrain; the Muslim majority Arab Gulf Kingdom. 2

4 With roots from every corner of the globe, the native born and immigrant NYC Muslims come from many cultures and backgrounds. These include Native American, African American, continental African, Middle Eastern, Asian, Latino, and European. As a result of this diversity, NYC Muslims follow several Islamic theological schools of thought, and significant numbers of them often observe each of the Two Holidays on two different (but consecutive) days. We took this in consideration and used the two potential consecutive dates for when each of the Two Holidays would fall. The findings happily confirmed that despite using two potential dates for each holiday, only 1 day per holiday (i.e. two days per regular school year) would be needed, on average, for the next 30 years. In fact, during the regular school years of 2015/2016 through 2044/2045, a maximum grand total of 60 days would be needed to close the School System on the occasion of the Two Holidays combined. See Appendix A for these exact dates and breakdown by school year. The study considered regular school years to begin the day after Labor Day and last through the following June, while summer school was considered to begin July 1st and last through Labor Day. Since summer school is more flexible in scheduling, the study also provides the dates for when the Two Holidays fall during summer recess, which is a total of 15 days during the same 30 school years. For planning purposes, please see Appendix A for the dates needed to close the Schools. The full set of dates (two dates for each of the Two Holidays, for 30 years) is presented in Appendix B, marked and color coded. For implementation purposes, these two appendices are all that is needed. The rest of this report is explanation of how and why the dates were determined. 4. Findings: 1) Over the next 30 regular school years (2015/ /2045), the study concludes that a maximum grand total of 60 days would be needed to close the School System on the occasion of the Two Holidays, combined. Please see Appendix A for the exact dates and breakdown by school year. The following table lists the number of years out of the included 30 years and the corresponding number of days needed to close the School System on each. Among the 30 years, for the Two Holidays combined, 22 years will need to close the School System on 0, 1, or 2 days, while 6 years will need 3 days each, and 2 years will need 4 days each. 3

5 If need be, a cap of 2 days per year can be applied in the 8 years where 3 or 4 days are needed. In that case, the total number of days needed for the Two Holidays combined, over the included 30 years, drops down from 60 to 50. In these 8 years ( Appendix A or B, index number 8, 11, 12, 14, 16, 19, 22, and 24), the School System would only need to close on the 2 bolded dates within each. For the other 10 days, if feasible, we respectfully request that no student activity would be scheduled. This table show the impact for the Two Holidays combined without the 2-day cap Out of the Included 30 Years Total Number of Days Needed 1 year will need to close schools on 0 days 8 years will need to close schools on 1 day each 13 years will need to close schools on 2 days each 6 years will need to close schools on 3 days each 2 years will need to close schools on 4 days each 30 Years 60 Days 2) The study also concludes that over the same 30 school years, these Two Holidays would fall during summer recesses (potential summer school days) on a grand total of 15 days. Please see these dates in Appendix A, bottom right. 5. Methodology: It is understandable that this technical part is not for everyone and that most would only need to know the dates for when to close the School System as found in Appendices A or B. For those who would like to learn how these dates were determined, verify the dates for the included 30 years, or for calculating the dates beyond the included 30 years, please continue reading. If you have any questions, comments, or concerns, please it to: The methodology is divided into four parts. Part one is the reasoning used in this research. Part two is determining the potential two dates for each of the Two Holidays. This is where Mr. Khalid Shaukat s expertise came in. It is the scientific/astronomical calculations part, which should only be performed by individuals who are trained in that field. Part three takes these potential dates and performs calendar projections to determine the dates for when to close the School System. Part four is a testimony to the accuracy of the findings. 4

6 Part one: The Reasoning: Eid-ul-Fitr is the first day of the 10 th month of the Muslim lunar calendar, called Shawwaal ( SHW ). Eid-ul-Adha is the 10 th day of the 12 th month of the Muslim lunar calendar, called ZulHijjah ( ZHJ ). Muslim dates, including these Two Holidays, are determined by the lunar cycle, and thus determining when the Muslim month (lunar month) actually begins is the key. Significant numbers of Muslims follow different accepted schools of thought for when these lunar months begin. These schools of thought include using the methods of local naked-eye visibility of the new crescent moon, local optical aid visibility, or following the announcements of visibility in other countries. These methods require waiting till the day/night before the new lunar month to achieve actual visibility. These methods cannot be followed for the purposes of closing NYC Public Schools on the occasion of the Two Holidays for two main reasons: 1) The Public School calendar, which includes holidays and other school closings, is prepared months before the beginning of the school year. 2) Families of students need to plan ahead for child care and other tasks if their children will be off from school. It is impractical to expect these families would wait till the night before to know if tomorrow is off or not because of a Muslim Holiday. Therefore the only available method to determine the dates to close the School System on the occasion of the Two Holidays is the scientific astronomical calculations. The question still is, calculations based on what criteria and for which location? In other words, how to produce dates that would be accurate for when Muslim communities would actually observe the Two Holidays? That is why this study took in consideration the two potential dates for when each holiday would fall. In addition, the study takes in consideration the possibility of sighting the crescent of the new moon (visibility) in the United States, in the vicinity of Mecca (the holiest site of Islam), as well as any other earlier possible sighting, anywhere in the world. For each location, the calculation took in consideration using naked-eye visibility and optical aids visibility, resulting in a total of 6 categories for calculation, making this study the most comprehensive and accurate in determining these dates. As a result, this study is by far the most definitive guide for determining the dates for when to close the School System on the occasion of the Two Holidays, anywhere in North America. It is almost impossible that the Two Holidays would fall outside of the dates provided in this study. 5

7 Despite using two potential dates for each of the Two Holidays, because they often fall on weekends, summer recesses, or other school holidays, only a maximum grand total of 60 days would be needed to close the School System for the Two Holidays combined, over the next 30 regular school years. That is an average of 1 day per holiday or 2 days per year. In comparison, closing the School System on the occasion of Two Holidays of Eid-ul-Fitr and Eid-ul-Adha combined would have less or the same impact as the one holiday of Rosh Hashanah, which is 2 days every year. Part Two: Determining The Potential 2 Dates For Each Of The Two Holidays: As mentioned, Mr. Shaukat calculated the dates based on the visibility criteria (possibility of sighting the crescent of the new moon), using naked-eye or using optical aids, for the United States, for Mecca, and for any other earlier sighting in the globe. Mr. Shaukat provided these dates for every month for the included 30 years. The following table shows these 6 categories for the beginning of the Islamic months that fall during the Gregorian year of 2015: Inside the first bordered column on the left, titled Islamic Date : - The first column on the very left is the abbreviation of the name of the Islamic month. - The second column indicates the first day of that month. - The third column indicates the number of the Islamic (Hijri) year. The 6 bordered columns following to the right are the 6 categories of calculation mentioned above, with their corresponding dates. As you will notice, the beginning of each Islamic month can be on 2 different dates, depending on the criteria being used. In very rare occasions, there might be 3 different dates for the beginning of the Islamic month, but that did not happen when calculating the dates for the Two Holidays for the included 30 years. 6

8 The formula to perform these calculations (by trained individuals only) as provided by Mr. Shaukat is as follows: The Best Time (BT) to attempt crescent moon sighting for a given day, is calculated as follows: =+ BT = Best Time --- MT = Moonset Time --- ST = Sunset BT, calculate the following: ARCL = Arc of Light [i.e. angular separation (elongation) between sun & moon (from earth)] ARCV = Arc of Vision [i.e. difference in altitude between sun & moon (as seen from earth)] WOC = Width of Crescent [width of the illuminated area of moon, measured along its diameter] = Where the moon s SD = =. Then a q-factor is calculated as follows: = [ ] The resulting value of the q-factor indicates the likelihood of sighting the moon at BT: So when: >.. >.. >.. >.. >. then it would be easily visible with naked eye; then it would be visible if perfect conditions; then optical aid is needed to find it; then it would be visible with optical aid only; then it will NOT be visible, even with telescope 7

9 Part Three: Determining The Dates For When To Close The School System: In this part, we took the product from step 2 (the 2 potential dates for each of the Two Holidays) and conducted research into the school calendar, the dates for the other school holidays, weekends, and summer recesses. As an example to illustrate these steps, we used the Gregorian years of 2015, 2016, and Please see Appendix C for details. We used spreadsheet software to complete parts 3 and 4. Part Four: Comparison With Other Methods of Calculation And The Previous 5 Years: To add an extra level of confidence in the comprehensiveness and accuracy of this study and its findings, we compared the actual dates when Muslims observed the Two Holidays over the past 5 years with the dates the study produced. As expected, every one of them matched. See the top part of Appendix D. In addition, we also compared the dates produced by other criteria of calculation with the dates this study produced for the next 6 school years. Again, as expected, every one of the dates matched. See the bottom part of Appendix D. In conclusion, the methodology used in this study is unprecedented in its comprehensiveness and the resulting findings are the most accurate. The dates produced in this study can be used by any school system or other entities in North America, with slight adjustments, if need be. 6. About the authors: Hesham El-Meligy is a member of the leadership of the Coalition for Muslim School Holidays since 2007, and its last coordinator from 2009 through He has more than a decade of experience in researching the processes of moon sighting, Islamic dates, and prayer times. He is an interfaith and community leader who co-founded the Building Bridges Interfaith Coalition and lectures at universities, churches and synagogues about Islam, Interfaith, Liberty, and Tolerence. He is the founder of the Islamic Civic Association and received the Peacemaker award from Peace Action in Engineer Khalid Shaukat, MS, is the founder of the landmark website and the Moonsighting Committee Worldwide (MCW). He is an internationally known scientist/engineer and a consultant to the Islamic Society of North America (ISNA), and Fiqh Council of North America (FCNA), on the issues of moon sighting, Islamic Calendar, Prayer Times, and Qibla Direction. His calculations of the visibility of the new moon have consistently proven to match with actual sighting every month since He was acknowledged for his 8

10 work by the Washington Post (August 19, 2006), by the International weekly science journal (published by the American Association for the Advancement of Science-AAAS), and by the Science Magazine (September 2006). More here: Special thanks to Engineer Ramy Osman, MS, for his design and editorial assistance. 7. Contact US Any questions, concerns, requests for further explanation, or requests for customization to other entities should be directed to the author at: The Coalition s Facebook Page: The Coalition s Website: 8. Endorsed by: This study, report, and findings are endorsed by the organizations and religious and lay leaders of the Muslim communities in NYC and nationally. The list is in formation and endorsements will be continuously added and updated on the Coalition s website: 9

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