First published on Dec 13, 2007 at the now defunct Yahoo 360 blog. I thought since we are in Ramadhan, I would renew my call again for us to have a Mecca Mean Time. Every year, we would fight amongst ourselves on the date of end of Ramadhan, and we would look pathetic to not being able to come to conclusion even the simplest of thing.
Mecca Mean Time
Things have been getting a bit hectic here in remote Toronto.
Toronto - the KL slang for Tronoh - is located in the middle of nowhere, somewhere in the middle of Perak. For some reasons, someone decided to locate a branch campus of Universiti Sains Malaysia here in the early 90s, and later on Petronas took over this campus and made it their own. I have been stuck here getting my daily doses of the modern rendition of the Van der Waals equation of state.
Never mind; it is not my intention to be talking about classical thermodynamics. It is enough that I have to work with it; I don't want to be writing about it.
While waiting to drive to Tronoh yesterday, someone told us that the Eid-ul Adha had been changed to the 19th. I thought the Royal Keeper of the Seal had announced that the Eid will be held on the 20th; so I was a bit surprised and confused. Apparently the confusion arises due to the fact that the Saudis announced later that the Haj will be celebrated on the 19th in Mecca.
Can we not as a community decide properly a universal date for our religious festivals and activities?
Of course with Malaysia sitting on 101 East (+8 GMT) and Mecca in the +3 GMT means that Malaysia is 5 hours ahead of the holy city of the Moslem world. In other words, Malaysia would see the new day five hours ahead and based on this should be celebrating the Haj earlier than our moslem brethren in Mecca.
However this is not the case and it looks a bit odd that a country further east which should be seeing the dalylight earlier would be celebrating a new holy day a day later.
This is one of the many occasions we moslems had to endure oddity in our religious lives and we have no one to blame but ourselves. As the United Kingdom grew into an advanced maritime nation, British mariners kept at least one timepiece on GMT in order to calculate their longitude from the Greenwich meridian, which was by convention considered to have longitude zero degrees [Wikipedia]. The centre of the universe is now in London. If we moslems had the foresight to have MMT (Mecca Mean Time) instead, then Mecca would have become the centre of the universe and that all of our religious activities throughout the world would be dictated towards Mecca.
In this case, I am advocating that the MMT be the 180 degree longitude (unlike the GMT), and as far as the moslem world is concerned, Mecca would see the first dawn of daylight daily, all year round, in as far as our lunar calendar is concerned.
There would be no way that any other location would be celebrating the Eid earlier than the two holy cities of the moslem world. We would not be celebrating Eid on two different days in any part of the world; and would stop us from becoming the laughing stock of the world. As if we could not figure out how to determine the date of the holy days.
Eventhough the world revolves around GMT/UTC, I don't think there is anything wrong for us Moslems to have our own invinsible time convention of MMT. By moving the location of the longitude 180 degree to Mecca (and let's redefine it as the 0 degree longitude), we could revolve our religious activities based on this new time standard.
From what I know, the locations of the international dateline and the so-called GMT are arbitrary. While it has became the norm and accepted as the standard (and should not be changed), I see no reasons for us not to adopt MMT, just like we have a second (lunar) calendar for all our religious holy days. It is just an imaginary line.
In other words, since the time standards are arbitrary at best, we should have no qualm celebrating anything after the dust has settled in the capital of the moslem world, irrespective what international time and date said.
The MMT is to the moslems what GMT is to the universal date and time.
What say you?