[LEAPSECS] Do lawyers care (know) about leap seconds?

Kevin Birth Kevin.Birth at qc.cuny.edu
Thu Oct 2 09:00:38 EDT 2014

>It's a shame that the representative from the Muslim community didn't
>manage to
>make it to the consultation session I was at.  I suspect that in fact the
>community are less concerned that you might think, because the sighting
>of the
>moon for the purposes of the end of Ramadan is done optically, not by
>and only sets a day, rather than a time, anyway.  I can't think of any
>(country, religion) pairs where the religion has a deep embedding of
>solar time
>and the country is sufficiently in hock to the religion that it would
>alter its
>civil timescale to suit.  If churches want to keep a different time they
>after all.

Islam is divided between those who want a global Islamic calendar so that
Ramadan is easily predicted and everyone celebrates Ramadan at the same
time and those who insist on direct observation.  Here in Queens, NY,
where there is a large Muslim population, the beginning and ending of
Ramadan is always a bit confusing since it is on different days for
different congregations and different traditions.  It is common for some
people to be celebrating Eid and feasting while their friends are still

The biggest precise timing issue in Islam is in relationship to prayer
times (Salat). It is important to know the precise local time of sunrise
and noon.  This is because prayer is strictly prohibited at these two
moments.  Since the prayer times as defined by the Qur'an predate clock
time, clock time standards are not really an issue.  The issue in Islam is
the techniques used in converting back and forth between the traditional
times and clock time. Most Muslims don't worry about how this is done, but
simply consult software applications that automatically do it.

As the more observationally minded Muslims would put it, clock time is
European time not Muslim time and there is a danger of relying on it too
heavily as opposed to direct observation of the skies.  Even the Muslims
I've talked with who rely on smartphone apps to know the prayer time say
that they often prefer to check what their phone says against the sky if
they can . . . And then some complain about working in windowless




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