Madinat al-Muslimeen Islamic Message Board
|Ramadan: Sighting the Crescent Moon|
|08/25/01 at 14:53:29|
|Ramadan is coming soon .. tentatively November 17 inshaAllah .. and we all know that the fights will begin. We can't ever be unitied in agreement regarding the sighting of the moon and when Ramadan should actually start or end...|
I can understand people having different Starts and Ends for Ramadan in different countries... but it's completely ridiculous to have two neighboring masjids beginning Ramadan or celebrating Eid on different days. And it happens :(
If someone sights the Crescent moon first in China, is it binding upon the whole Muslim Ummah to start Ramadan at the same time?
Should we wait until someone in our own area sights the crescent moon, and *then* begin Ramadan?
Or should we just follow Saudi?
What do you guys think?
“Do not fast unless you sight the crescent, and do not break your fast until you sight the (following) crescent.” [Al-Bukhari, Vol. 3:130)
It has been reported that the Prophet (PBUH) said, “Fast upon sighting the crescent and break your fast upon sighting it, and if it is over-clouded, complete thirty days, or make an estimate.”
“And hold fast, altogether, to the rope of Allah that stretches for you, and be not divided among yourselves.” [The Holy Qur’an 3:103]
|Re: Ramadan: Sighting the Crescent Moon|
|08/25/01 at 18:35:00|
I forgot if this topic was discussed in great detail here or not, if it was insha'Allah Se7en can pull up the link. I'll post the opinions of some well known scholars. First here is brother Suheil Lahrer (imaaam over at MIT)
In the Name of Allah. Praise be to Allah.
Every year, towards the start of Ramadan, some Muslim communities are plunged
into confusion and disarray over the issue of determination of the start of the
blessed month. In some cases, this may further lead to argument and division
within the community. In view of this unfortunate state of affairs, it is
useful for us to acquaint ourselves with the authentic Islamic verdicts about
crescent-sighting and related issues, and this article shall, Allah willing,
summarize these, in order that we may thereby discard unworthy opinions which
have no sound basis, and in order that we might tolerate legitimate scholarly
differences of opinion.
1. Sighting or Calculation?
The start of Ramadan is determined by the sighting of the crescent-moon
(hilal). The Prophet (may Allah bless him and grant him peace) has said, "Fast
at its sighting, and terminate the fast at its sighting." [Bukhari, Muslim]
This hadith is an explicit proof-text that the month is based on sighting, not
The reasoning of the proponents of calculation is hinged on two main arguments:
1) The saying of the Prophet (may Allah bless him and grant him peace), "Do not
fast until you see the crescent-moon, and do not break the fast until you have
seen the crescent moon, but if conditions are overcast for you then enumerate
for it." [Bukhari] The proponents of calculation cite the statement, "then
enumerate for it" as evidence for the permissibility of calculation. This
reasoning, however, is unacceptable on two counts : Firstly, assuming that
"enumerate" in the above hadith is in fact referring to calculation, the hadith
would only indicate the permissibility of calculations in overcast conditions.
Secondly, the meaning of "enumerate" is clarified by another narration of the
hadith, also extracted by Bukhari, as well as by Tirmidhi, Abu Dawud, Ibn
Khuzaymah, Ibn Hibban and al-Tayalisi, "Then complete the number of [days of]
Sha`ban as thirty." [Nasb al-Rayah, 2/437-8] This hadith clarifies beyond
doubt that what is meant by "enumerate" in the first narration is to count
thirty days, for the first narration is general and imprecise (mujmal),
whereas the second is explicit (mubayyan), clarifying the imprecision in the
first. Ibn Rushd says, "It is obligatory to refer the mujmal to the mubayyan,
and this is the way of the scholars of usul, without any disagreement."
[Bidayat al-Mujtahid, 1/284]
2) The saying of the Prophet (may Allah bless him and grant him peace), "We
are an unlettered nation; we neither write nor calculate. The month is so-much
and so-much (i.e. sometimes 29 days, sometimes 30)" [Bukhari] The proponents
of calculations argue that the only reason calculations were not used by the
Prophet (may Allah bless him and grant him peace) was that people at that time
were illiterate and uneducated. Thus, they reason that since we are now
educated and advanced in astronomy, there is no harm in determining the start
of Ramadan purely by calculations. The refutation of this reasoning is as
It is obvious that the Prophetic statement, "We neither write nor calculate"
is not meant literally, for it has been established that numerous Companions
did in fact write, and in the Farewell Pilgrimage, when a Yemeni man named Abu
Shah asked for a written copy of the sermon, the Prophet (may Allah bless him
and grant him peace) told people, "Write for Abu Shah." [Bukhari and Muslim]
Also, Bukhari has reported that a census-like enumeration of the Muslim
population was carried out in Medina, in which the total number of Muslims came
to 1,500. Furthermore, we know that the Arabs at the time used to engage in
trade, which inevitably requires calculation, and also that astronomical
knowledge, such as recognition of the phases of the moon, and its waxing and
waning, were present even in that time.
In reality, the hadith is merely stating a characteristic of this ummah, namely
that their means for determining the month are simple, not requiring
sophisticated science or education. Islam is a universal religion, and its
regulations are meant to be equally accessible to all people, scientists as
well as non-scientists. The progress of astronomy cannot abrogate the laws of
Islam, for the religion was completed and perfected in the time of the Prophet
(may Allah bless him and grant him peace) himself. [See "Sighting of the
Hilal", by the Majlis al-`Ulama' of South Africa]
As further reinforcement of the invalidity of basing the Islamic month purely
on calculation, it is worth noting that all of the four juristic schools of
thought, are unanimous on this point. The Hanafi scholar, Al-Haskafi says, in
"al-Durr al-Mukhtar", "The word of forecasters carries no weight, even if they
are Islamically upright, according to the [Hanafi] madhhab." "Sharh al-Ghayah"
states the same of the Hanbali madhhab. Sheikh Khalil, the Maliki, states in
his "Mukhtasar", that the month is not established by the saying of an
astronomer. Al-Ardabili, the Shafi`i scholar states in "Al-Anwar," "[Fasting]
does not become obligatory by knowledge of the phases of the moon."
2. Can calculations be used as a guide?
We have already established that calculations alone cannot be used to determine
the start of an Islamic month. However, at the same time, Islam does not ask
us to divorce reason. So, given that astronomy today can accurately establish
the time of birth of the new moon, and the time interval when it is absolutely
impossible to see the crescent-moon due its not yet being present, there is no
harm in using this astronomical basis to reject a claimed sighting which cannot
possibly be correct. Indeed, this is similar to rejecting the claim of someone
who claims to have seen the crescent-moon on the twentieth night of Sha`ban!
Shatibi said, in "Al-Muwafaqat", "Anything which is not in keeping with the
principles of the shari`ah or rational concepts is not to be relied upon."
And, Ibn Hajar said, in "Sharh Nukhbat al-Fikr", "Among the associated
circumstances by which fabrication [in hadith] can be recognized are [things]
which detract from the value of the narrator, and [others] which detract from
the value of the narration, such as it being in contradiction to the text of
the Qur'an, or mass-narrated sunnah, or decisive ijma` (consensus of scholars),
or clear common sense."
So, if a sighting is reported when it was absolutely impossible for it to have
occurred, it will be rejected, even if the one reporting it is an upright
Muslim, although in that case we will attribute the error to genuine
misjudgment which does not diminish his Islamic uprightness and acceptability
as a witness. Verdicts in this vein have been given by the renowned Shafi`i
mujtahid, Taqi al-Din al-Subki, as well as by numerous recent and contemporary
scholars, among them `Ali Tantawi, Ahmad Shakir and Muhammad Sanbheli.
3. How many people?
Having established that the month's start is determined by moon sighting, we
turn now to the issue of how many people must see the crescent in order for
fasting to be obligatory.
2.1 According to the Hanafis: If the sky is clear, the testimony of at least
two upright Muslim men, or one man and two women, is sufficient to establish
the start of Ramadan [Ibn `Abidin, "Daw' al-Shams", 2/49], but if the sky is
cloudy then the testimony of a single, upright person will be accepted. [Sarakhs
i, "Al-Mabsut", 2/139]
2.2 According to the Malikis: The testimony of no fewer than two upright
Muslims is necessary to establish the start of Ramadan. [Ibn Rushd, "Bidayat
2.3 According to the Shafi`is : the testimony of a single upright Muslim man
is sufficient for the start of Ramadan. [Nawawi, "Al-Minhaj"]
2.4 According to the Hanbalis: The Hanbali text, "Al-Muntaha" states,
"[Fasting of Ramadan] is obligatory at the sighting of its the crescent-moon.
If it is not seen on the night [before] the 30th of Sha`ban, in spite of the
sky being clear, they shall not fast, but if clouds or dust obscure [the sky]
it is obligatory to fast [the next day] as a precaution . . . . The report of a
sane, adult, upright [Muslim] is accepted [in sighting], even if it be a woman,
and even if the wording of testimony is not used." (All the schools are in
consensus that for the crescent-moon at the end of Ramadan, two sightings are
The differences above arise from giving priority to different narrations on the
matter, based on factors relating to the authenticities of the reports and on
different methodologies of usul in reconciling different narrations. The
i) Abu Dawud has reported that the Prophet (may Allah bless him and grant him
peace) said, "Fast at its sighting, and terminate fasting at its sighting.
But, if [conditions] are overcast for you, then complete thirty [days]. But,
if two witnesses testify then fast and terminate fasting [as the case may be]."
ii) Tirmidhi has reported that a Bedouin came to the Prophet (may Allah bless
him and grant him peace) and said, "I saw the crescent-moon tonight." The
Prophet (may Allah bless him and grant him peace) asked him, "Do you testify
that there is no god but Allah, and that Muhammad is His servant and
messenger?" He said, "Yes." The Prophet said, "O Bilal! Make adhan amongst
the people, for they should fast tomorrow."
iii) Abu Dawud has reported that people were in the last day of Ramadan, when
two Bedouins stood up and testified to the Prophet (may Allah bless him and
grant him peace) that they had seen the crescent-moon, whereupon the Prophet
(may Allah bless him and grant him peace) ordered people to break their fast.
4. Is a sighting in one area binding on Muslims in other areas?
This is a point on which scholars have differed. According to the Shafi`i
school, the sighting is not binding beyond 81 km, as stated by both Rafi`i
and Nawawi. The authentic view of the madhhab is that it is binding on a
strip of thickness 81km in either direction of the place of the sighting.
This strip extends from the North Pole to the South Pole. The verdicts
in the standard classical references for the Hanafi, Maliki and Hanbali
schools state that one sighting is binding on the whole world.
[See "Fath al-Qadir", "Mukhtasar Khalil" and "al-Mughni" respectively.]
However, the Maliki scholar, Ibn Rushd has cited consensus of the scholars
that the obligation of fasting based on a sighting in another area is not
observed for places which are very distant from one another, such as Spain
and Arabia. ["Bidayat al-Mujtahid", 1/288] This verdict was also
explicitly stated by the Hanafi scholars al-Kasani, al-Zayla`i
and al-Kashmiri. Sheikh Muhammad Burhanuddin Sanbheli says, "Contemporary
scholars in general have gone by [the view of different sightings for]
different rising-places [of the moon]." [Qadaya Fiqhiyyah Mu`asarah, p. 94]
The primary evidence for a sighting not being binding on distant places is the
hadith narrated by Muslim, Abu Dawud, Tirmidhi and Nasa'i, in which Kurayb
traveled to Syria and encountered the start of Ramadan there on a friday. When
he returned to Medina, he informed Ibn `Abbas that he had seen the
crescent-moon on the night of friday, and that the people in Syria, including
Mu`awiyah the governor, had fasted on friday. Ibn `Abbas replied that they (in
Medina) had seen the crescent-moon on saturday, and that they would not stop
fasting until they either saw it again, or had completed thirty days. Kurayb
asked, "Will you not suffice with the sighting of Mu`awiyah?" Ibn `Abbas
replied, "No, that is how the Messenger of Allah (may Allah bless him and grant
him peace) commanded us." The hadith is quite clear in this respect, and
although it does not state the limit beyond which a sighting is not binding,
this latter issue becomes a matter of ijtihad for the scholars.
Rational evidence which supports this view is that just as Muslims around the
globe will not pray Zuhr simultaneously, rather each area will pray based on
their perspective on the sun, similarly, it is not necessary for them all to
start and end fasting simultaneously. Zayla`i reports, in his commentary on
"Kanz al-Daqa'iq", that Abu Musa, a Hanafi jurist, was asked by some Muslims in
Alexandria about someone who climbed the minaret, and could therefore see the
sun for a long time after it had [apparently] set for the people below : is it
permissible for him to break his fast? The reply was, "No, although it is
permissible for the people below, for each is held responsible based on his own
As for the argument that following a single sighting worldwide is in the
interests of unity, this is weak, for we have seen already that the Pious
Predecessors themselves differed about the start and end of Ramadan, and they
are the best of generations. This difference did not cause disunity amongst
them, and so there is no reason why it should for us. Rather, the disunity we
see today arises from other causes, such as ignorance, intolerance and
fanaticism. Furthermore, it is not practically possible for Ramadan or `Id to
coincide exactly for all the Muslims, due to the fact that day and night occur
at different times around the globe.
And Allah, the Flawless, knows best.
[References : "Tanbih al-Ghafil wal-Wasnan ila Ahkam Hilal Ramadan" by Ibn
`Abidin; "Fath al-Qadir" by Ibn al-Humam; "Nasb al-Rayah" by Zayla`i; "Bidayat
al-Mujtahid" by Ibn Rushd; "al-Mughni" by Ibn Qudamah; "al-Siyam" by Wahbi
Ghawiji; "Sighting of the Hilal" and "Answer to al-Azhar's Fatwa" both by
Majlis al-`Ulama' of South Africa; "Qadaya Fiqhiyyah Mu`asarah" by Sanbheli.]
From: Hisham Hamed, Hamed@canon.kaist.ac.kr
Here is the hadeeth in question, from the chapter on fasting in Sahih
Muslim, and also in the corresponding chapter of Sunan Et-Termidhy.
The translator is Abdul Hamid Siddiqi.
Book 6, Number 2391:
Narrated Abdullah ibn Abbas:
Kurayb said: Umm Fadl, daughter of Harith, sent him (Fadl, i.e. her
son) to Mu'awiyah in Syria. I (Fadl) arrived in Syria, and did the
needful for her. It was there in Syria that the month of Ramadan
commenced. I saw the new moon (of Ramadan) on Friday. I then came
back to Medina at the end of the month.
Abdullah ibn Abbas asked me (about the new moon of Ramadan) and said:
When did you see it? I said: We saw it on Friday night. He said:
(Did) you see it yourself? I said: Yes, and the people also saw it so
they observed fast and Mu'awiyah also observed fast. Thereupon he
said: But we saw it on Saturday night. So we shall continue to
observe the fast until we complete thirty (fasts) or we see it (the
new moon of Shawwal). I said: Is the sighting of the moon by
Mu'awiyah not valid for you? He said: No; this is how the Messenger
of Allah (peace_be_upon_him) has commanded us. Yahya ibn Yahya was in
doubt (whether the word used in the narration by Kurayb) was Naktafi
|Sheikh Uthaimen's opinion|
|08/25/01 at 18:38:14|
Question: Appearance of Ramadan Hilal or Shawwal Hilal differs between Muslim countries. So should the Muslims fast if the Hilal appears in one of those countries?
Answer: The scholars have difference of opinion regarding the issue of Hilal. Some of them view that if Ramadan Hilal appears in a place per Islamic rules, so all Muslims should start fasting. And if Shawwal Hilal appears, all Muslims should break fast.
And this is famous in the Fiqh of Imam Ahmad. And from this eg. if we see the Hilal in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, then it is incumbent on all Muslims in all countries to follow this sighting for fasting in case of Ramadan and for breaking the fast in case of Shawwal. And it was based on an open statement of Allah (SWT) in the Qur'an: "Fa man shahida minkum ash-shahr fal yasumh". and the open statement of the Hadith from our Prophet (PBUH): ): if you saw it fast, and if you saw it, break the fast.
And some scholars who say that it is not necessary to fast from the appearance of Ramadan Hilal, nor to break fast in Shawwal, except for the one who saw the Hilal or agreed on the sighting in the Matale of Hilal, because Matale of Hilal differs, as agreed by people who know. So if there are any differences (of Matale), each country must follow their own sighting. If a country agrees in the Matale of Hilal, it follows, otherwise not.
And this is what the Sheikhul Islam Ibn Taimiyah RHA chose. And he based this on the word of Allah (SWT): "Fa man shahida minkum ash-shahr fal yasumh". and the Hadith of the prophet (SAW): if you saw it fast, and if you saw it, break the fast. i.e. by the same daleel / method, which was used by the ones who obligate (all to follow one sighting), but Ibn Taimiyah who bases on the same Ayah and Hadith, differs (in his conclusions). If the ruling was to follow the witness and the sighter, so the ones who did not witnessed or saw it, the ruling will not be obligated on them. And if the Matale (sighting) differs, so the ruling of Hilal cannot be generalized (for them).
And this is for sure a strong argument to use, based on proof (daleel) and strengthened by viewpoint and qiyas (analogy).
Sheikh Muhammad Ibn Saleh Othaimeen (may Allah (SWT) have mercy on his soul), Saudi Arabia.
Translated from Arabic book: "Fatawah Islamia", (Vol. 2, p. 113), Compiled by Muhammad bin Abdul Aziz Al-Musnad,
Published by Dar Al-Watan, Riyadh, Saudi Arabia.
|Chief Justice Taqi Usmani's view|
|08/25/01 at 18:40:32|
[NOTE: ISNA has since changed their view and it is in line with the view expressed by Chief Justice Taqi Usmani, and the other scholars I have posted in this thread]
I have gone through the article of ISNA and with the utmost respect for their sentiment for Muslim unity, I am forced to say that the view expressed in the article (Eid al-Adha on next day of Arafat) is in total disagreement with the teachings of Quran and Sunnah, and with the Shari'ah position recognized throughout the centuries. This is an unprecedented view which has never been adopted by any of the Muslim jurists during the past 1400 years, and it has a number of intrinsic defects and anomalies, some of which are summarized here.
The article admits that the celebration of Eid al-Fitr should be tied to the sighting of the moon in each country and should not be linked with the celebration of Eid al-Fitr in Saudi Arabia. At the same time, however, the article calls for celebration of Eid al-Adha according to the Saudi Calendar regardless of the local dates, which means Eid al-Adha will be celebrated in North America on 8th or 9th of Zul-Hajjah. It is thus clear that the theory proposed in ISNA's article is impractical.
The article has laid much emphasis on the concept of unity of the Muslim Ummah, which no one can deny. At the same time, however, one must appreciate that unity does not mean that the entire Muslim Ummah throughout the world should perform their acts of worship at one and the same time, because it is physically not possible. It is evident that when people in Saudi Arabia are performing their Fajr prayers, those in North America may still have not completed their Isha prayers of the previous day. Similarly, when Musliis in Los Angeles offer their Fajr prayers, those in India and Pakistan are offering their Maghrib or Isha prayer of the same day.
If it is made obligatory on all the Muslims in the world to offer their acts of worship at one and the same time for the sake of unity, such unity can never materialize (because of the time differences). It is, therefore, obvious that offering one's acts of worship at different times do not affect the concept of Muslim Unity.
What does the Muslim unity mean?
It means that all Muslims should treat each other with brotherly sympathy and affection and should not spread disorder and dissention among them. Nor should they invent new ideas foreign to the teachings of Quran and the Sunnah which may lead to division and conflict among Muslims.
It is also astonishing that the article views the celebration of Eid al-Adha on different days as being against the concept of Ummah while in the matter of celebration of Eid ai-Fitr, this concept is dispensed with. If the celebration of Eid al-Fitr on different days does not affect the concept of unity, how can it be said to harm unity in the case of Eid al-Adha?
It is true that Eid al-Adha falls immediately after the day of Arafat in Saudi Arabia, but it is not necessary that the Muslims in every country should follow the same dates in their respective areas. Hajj, no doubt, is tied with a particular place but the celebration of Eid al-Adha is not confined to that place alone. It is celebrated everywhere in the world and cannot be tied to the Saudi calendar.
The article admits that the celebration of Eid al-Adha in other countries was never linked with its celebration in Saudi Arabia throughout the past 14 centuries. This, the author's claim was because of a lack of communication facilities. With vastly improved communication today, they argued that everyone almost anywhere can find out the day of Hajj, and should celebrate Eid al-Adha based on Saudi calendar.
There is a clear admission in this argument that it is not obligatory according to Quran or the Sunnah to celebrate Eid al-Adha according to Saudi calendar. Had this been so, Muslims would have tried their best to find the exact date of Hajj in Saudi Arabia. It is not correct to say that it was not possible in those days for people living outside Saudi Arabia to know the exact date of Hajj, because this date is normally determined on the first night of Zul-Hijjah. There is a nine day period until which is more than sufficient to acquire this information. However, no jurists has ever stressed that such information be collected in order to celebrate Eid al-Adha according to Saudi dates.
Further, if the argument of the article is accepted and it is held that the real intention of Quran and Sunnah was to link the celebration of Eid al-Adha with the Saudi dates, as a mandatory provision for all Muslims in the world, it means that the Shari'ah has stressed a principle which was not acceptable for 1300 years. Is it not against the Quranic declaration that Allah does not make a thing mandatory unless it is practical for the human beings.
If the authors argue that the celebration of Eid al-Adha was not linked with the dates in Makkah in the past but it has become a mandatory requirement of the Shari'ah now, then the question arises, who has abrogated the previous principle and on what basis? There is no provision in Quran or the Sunnah which orders the Muslims to celebrate Eid al-Adha according to their local dates up to a particular time and to link it with the dates in Makkah thereafter. Whoever considers this and similar questions arising out of this unprecedented theory advanced in the article can appreciate its fallacy.
Finally, I would like to inform you that the question of sighting the moon for each lunar month including Zul-Hijjah was thoroughly discussed at the annual sessions of the Islamic Fiqh Academy (held in Jordan, October 11-16, 1986) attended by more than a hundred outstanding scholars of Shari'ah. The academy adopted the resolution recommended that all Muslim countries should determine all the lunar months including Zul-Hijjah on the same basis for both Eid al-Fitr as well as Eid al-Adha.
This resolution represents the consensus of Muslim jurists throughout the world. The proposal contained in the ISNA article, however, goes totally against this consensus.
Before parting with the subject, I would like to emphasize that such unprecedented proposals can never advance the cause of Muslim unity. Rather, they may create a new point of disunity and dissention among Muslims. Before venturing such opinions as definite "Fatwa", these should be discussed at some responsible international forum of contemporary Muslim jurists like the International Islamic Fiqh Academy in Jeddah.
|ISNA's view, Sheikh Bin Baaz's view, and Sheikh Munajjid's view|
|08/25/01 at 18:43:31|
> First Sheikh Munajjid:
> Praise be to Allaah.
> Firstly: the fact that the moon rises at different times in different
> places is a well-established fact; no scholar disputes this. However,
> the scholars differ as to whether this matters or not.
> Secondly: the question as to whether different times of moonrise is
> something that matters is a theoretical question in which ijtihaad is
> permissible. Those who have knowledge of science and religion differ
> on this matter, and this difference of opinion is permissible; the one
> who has the correct opinion will have two rewards, one for being right
> and one for making ijtihaad; the one whose opinion is wrong will still
> be rewarded for his ijtihaad.
> The scholars' differences on this matter may be described as one of
> two: some of them thought that the differences in the times of the
> moon's rising was of significance, and others thought that it was not.
> Both groups cite evidence from the Qur'aan and Sunnah, and maybe
> even quote the same text, such as the aayah (interpretation of the
> meaning): "They ask you (O Muhammad) about the new moons. Say:
> these are signs to mark fixed periods of time for mankind and for the
> pilgrimage." [al-Baqarah 2:189] and the hadeeth, "Fast when you
> see it [the new moon] and stop fasting when you see it." The
> difference is one of interpretation of the texts, as each group has its
> own methods of deriving evidence.
> Thirdly: the committee has looked at the issue of confirming the new
> moon by calculations and what was said on this matter in the Qur'aan
> and Sunnah, and they have studied the opinions of the scholars on this
> matter. They decided unanimously that astronomical calculations do
> not count when it comes to confirming the new moon for shar'i
> purposes, because the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allaah be
> upon him) said: "Fast when you see it [the new moon] and stop
> fasting when you see it." and also: "Do not fast until you see it [the
> new moon] and do not stop fasting until you see it.", and because of
> the evidence that is derived from these ahaadeeth.
> The Standing Committee on Scientific Research and Fatwas
> (al-Lajnah al-Daa'imah li'l-Buhooth al-'Ilmiyyah wa'l-Iftaa') thinks
> that the Muslim students' union (or any other group representing the
> Muslim community) in countries where the government is not Islamic
> should take the place of an Islamic government in the matter of
> confirming the new moon for the people living in those non-Islamic
> On the basis of the above, this union has the choice of two options:
> either to consider the differences in times of moonrise to be of
> significance, or not to do so. Then they should inform all the Muslims
> in their country what their opinion is, and the Muslims have to follow
> what they have been told, so as to unite the Muslims in their fasting
> and to put an end to disputes and confusion. Everyone who lives in
> those countries should try to sight the moon in the place where they
> are living, and if one or more trustworthy persons sight the moon,
> they should fast according to that and tell the union to spread the
> news. This is at the beginning of Ramadaan; at the end of the month
> there has to be two witnesses to see the new moon of Shawwaal or
> the completion of thirty days of Ramadaan, because the Prophet
> (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) said: "Fast when you see
> it [the new moon] and stop fasting when you see it, and if it is cloudy
> then complete the month with thirty days." And Allaah knows best.
> Fataawa al-Lajnah al-Daa'imah, 10/109
> Now Dr. Siddiqi (President of ISNA):
> The Prophet -peace be upon him- said that
> "Fast when you see it [i.e. the Crescent] and
> finish your fast when you see it." He also said,
> "Fasting is when people fast and Eid is when
> people make Eid." It is important that we follow
> both Ahadith. We should observe the crescent
> for the beginning of the month of Ramadan, but
> we should also organize ourselves in such a way
> that we all do it together as much as possible.
> In the Muslim countries as well as in countries
> where Muslim communities have been for long
> time (such as India, China, some African
> countries) Muslims have organized themselves.
> They have established a Hilal Committee or
> Darul Ifta or Darul Qada.' People generally
> follow the decision of these authorities for
> observance of Ramadan and Eids. These
> authorities are human. Some time they are right
> and some time they make mistakes, but people in
> those areas still follow their decision. Individual
> Masajid in those countries do not make this
> decision. This is the right thing that must be done.
> Our problem in Canada and US (in UK also) is
> that some of us do not want to organize
> ourselves. Some of us say that we must follow
> some Muslim country in the Middle East. Some
> others say that we must see the Crescent in US
> and Canada and must make our own decision in
> our own Islamic center. Some say that we should
> follow the astronomical calculations. Some say
> that we should follow astronomical calculations
> without any need for observance and some say
> that we should follow the sighting, but we must
> corroborate it with the definite astronomical data
> that is available to us. So we are divided in at
> least five groups and we are in confusion and
> increase the confusion for our people.
> Few years ago, Alhamdulillah, four major Islamic
> organizations in North America came together.
> They established what is known as the North
> American Islamic Shura. It includes ISNA
> (Islamic Society of North America) ICNA
> (Islamic Circle of North America), MAS
> (Muslim America Society of Imam WD
> Muhammad), NIU (National Islamic Ummah of
> Imam Jamil al-Amin). The member organizations
> in North American Islamic Shura decided that
> for Ramadan and Eidul Fitr they will make one
> decision on the basis of north American sighting
> that is not contradicted by the indisputable
> "nbsp; astronomical information. Alhamdulillah the
> mechanism is available now to resolve this
> confusion and to come to one unified decision.
> But it is up to us and to our Islamic centers to
> follow it.
> Also, the following was taken a few years back, and insha'Allah
> might be helpful, Sheikh Bin Baz (may Allah (SWT) have mercy on
> his soul) was a member of this committee at the time:
> The following was taken from:
> "The Fatawaa of The Standing Committee for Islamic
> Research and ifta (Fataawa al-Lajnat -ud-daaimah
> lil-buhuth al-Ilmiah wal-iftaa)", Volume 10: Zakaat and
> Siyam, Gathered and organized by Sheikh Ahmad bin
> abdur-Razaaq ad-Duwaish, Dar al- 'Aasimah, 1413h."
> Question # 3 from fatwa # 2266
> Q) The fasting of Ramadhan came in Sudan and we
> fasted on Saturday, and I travelled to one of the
> bordering countries on Sunday and found its people
> fasting Sunday. The people of Sudan broke their
> fast on the 29th day, and the other country which I
> was in did not break their fast on the 29th day. What
> is the ruling in that, knowing that I completed 29
> days and 30 days with the bordering country and the
> month was 29 days?
> A) Your ruling for the ending of the month is the same as
> the ruling for the country you travelled to, so it is not
> permissable for you to break your fast, but what is
> obligatory upon you is that you complete the fast with
> them because of your inclusion in the general statement
> intended for them. But if the one who moved to another
> country in the last of the month did not fast except for 28
> days, then it is incumbent upon him to make up another
> day after 'Eid until he completes by it 29 days, because a
> month is not less than 29 days as it does not exceed 30.
> And from Allah is tawfeeq, and may the Peace and
> Blessings of Allah be on His messenger, his family, and his
> Question # 2 Fatwa # 3594
> Q) A person saw the hilaal (crescent) of Ramadhan
> in his country and started the fast. Then he travelled
> to another country and when the 28th [fast] came
> upon him, the people of that country saw the hilaal of
> Shawwaal. So does he pray 'Eid with them with the
> fact that the period of his fast lasted 28 days?
> A) What counts in the start of the fast of Ramadhaan is
> the sighting of the hilaal the day he was in his country, and
> also the same situation is the breaking of the fast, what
> counts is the sighting of the hilaal of Shawwaal in the
> country he travelled to. And on that, it is obligatory to
> break his fast and pray 'Eid with those in the country
> which was seen in it the hilaal of Shawwaal, and he is
> amongst them, and he is to make up the shortage from the
> days of fasting until what he fasts is 29 days, because the
> month is sometimes 29 days, and sometimes 30.
> And from Allah is tawfeeq, and may the Peace and
> Blessings of Allah be on His messenger, his family, and his
> Question # 2 Fatwa# 1693
> Q) If the fasting person was on a plane and found out
> by means of a watch or telephone about the breaking
> of fast of the nearest country from him, then is the
> breaking of fast pertain to him, knowing that he sees
> the sun due the due to the altitude of the plane, or
> no? After that, what is the ruling if he broke the fast
> in a country then he took
> off and saw the sun?
> A) If the fasting person was on the plane and he found out
> by watch or telephone about the bbreaking of fast of the
> nearest country from him and he sees the sun because of
> the altitude of the plane, then it is not for him that he
> breaks his fast, because Allah, Ta'aala said, "Then
> complete the fast until the night."[Baqarah:187] And this
> intent is not realized, pertaining to him, as long as he sees
> the sun. And if he breaks fast in a country after the ending
> of the day [where he is] then the plane took off then he
> saw the sun, then he continues to be muftir (not fasting)
> because his ruling is the ruling of the country he took of
> from, and the day had ended and he was in it.
> And from Allah is tawfeeq, and may the Peace and
> Blessings of Allah be on His messenger, his family, and his
> Fatwa # 5468
> Q) What is the time of breaking fast in Ramadhan in
> a plane?
> A) If the person was ont he plane during the day in
> Ramadhan and he was fasting, and he wanted to continue
> his fast until the night, then it is not permissable for him to
> break fast until after the setting of the sun pertaining to the
> flyer [the sun must set where the person is, not depending
> on any other place].
> And from Allah is tawfeeq, and may the Peace and
> Blessings of Allah be on His messenger, his family, and his
> The Standing Committee for Islamic Research and Ifta:
> Member: Abdullah bin Qu'ud
> Member: Abdullah bin Ghudayaan
> Vice President: AbdurRazaaq Afifi
> President: Abdul-Aziz bin baz
|Re: Ramadan: Sighting the Crescent Moon|
|08/25/01 at 23:21:05|
|JazakAllahukheiran .. and once again.|
no personal opinions?
|Re: Ramadan: Sighting the Crescent Moon|
|08/26/01 at 03:11:02|
|[quote]I forgot if this topic was discussed in great detail here or not, if it was insha'Allah Se7en can pull up the link[/quote]|
From the ummah community center:
[url=http://www.jannah.org/cgi-bin/yabb/YaBB.pl/YaBB.pl?board=general&action=display&num=2040]ISNA announcement on moonsighting[/url]
From the ark:
[url=http://www.jannah.org/cgi-bin/yabb/YaBB.pl/YaBB.pl?board=ark&action=display&num=1151]anyone seen the moon?[/url]
[url=http://www.jannah.org/cgi-bin/yabb/YaBB.pl/YaBB.pl?board=ark&action=display&num=1154]fatwa on the beginning of ramadhan[/url]
|Re: Ramadan: Sighting the Crescent Moon|
|08/26/01 at 03:12:48|
according to my memory, according to our imam there are two opinions on the subject.. both pretty much equally valid 1 is that local sighting is valid, the other is that global sighting is valid... but the best course in our day and age when we don't have a khalafah to make these decisions is to try to stick together as much as we can to groups that are trying to unify us.
as for my opinion (like anyone cares :)) i posted it before.. and it was that why don't we follow one date.. if both are equally valid..even if u think one is stronger than the other go with the majority and my example is the xtians.. they have one date for xmas... some say jesus as was born in spring, some say fall but NONE of them say it was Dec. 25!!! BUT they ALL celebrate it on that date unified.
|Re: Ramadan: Sighting the Crescent Moon|
|08/28/01 at 15:24:11|
The following is from Albalagh site.
Hilal Sighting in Saudi Arabia: A First Hand Report
By Salman Zafar Shaikh
[Note: Saudi Arabia is one of the few countries in the world today that employs the Hijri calendar for every day use. That is great. It is a practice that needs to be followed in the rest of the Islamic world also. Unfortunately, the way the calendar is established in Saudi Arabia leaves a lot to be desired. Because of Saudi Arabia’s status in the Muslim world, the problems with Saudi calendar have spilled over into other areas as well, especially in Muslim communities in Europe and America. Here is some information that could help Muslims in those areas sort out the issue. Editor]
Muslims in North America have made a good effort Alhamdulillah to do local sighting, especially with the coordination of ISNA, ICNA, WDM and NC, which together formed the Islamic Shura Council of North America. But still some insist on following the announcement from Saudi Arabia, which is often ahead of sighting (including my personal sighting) in America, and also almost always one or often even two days ahead of sighting reported from countries east of Saudi Arabia e.g. India, Pakistan and Bangladesh.
So the natural question is - is there some problem in the Saudi announcement? If the Saudi sighting is correct, then the Hilal should be more easily seen in USA where the sunset is several hours later. Also, how come at times the Saudi announcement indicates sighting of Hilal when the moon sets before sunset there, and even before the birth of the dark invisible astronomical new moon! Further even the following simple reasoning casts doubt on Saudi dates: The world being a globe, any place round the world (on the same latitude), should over time be equally likely to be the first place to sight the Hilal. Hence for some years, the sighting in USA should be before sighting in Saudi Arabia. But if every year the Saudi announcement is ahead of the sighting in USA, the question arises: Is something wrong going on?
Stay in Saudi Arabia
Allah gave me a chance to work and stay in Saudi Arabia for about 5 years (1416-1421 AH / 1995-2000G). I wanted to use my stay to find out about the system for Hilal sighting there, and to check my personal sighting attempts there. I had also heard a lot about the "Umm-ul-Qura Calendar". I wanted to locate the people making this calendar and meet them. It was not easy to find this. I was surprised that the local brothers usually do not know such things. Also, most people there do not suspect any mistakes in the Hilal announcements and hardly anyone of my local practicing Muslim friends had ever attempted to sight the Hilal in their life!
Finally I learned that the source of Umm-ul-Qura calendar is KACST - the prestigious King Abdul Aziz University for Science and Technology in Riyadh. After several calls to their offices, I was able to narrow down the names of the brothers involved and finally communicated with them and set a time to meet them!
I met the brothers at KACST who were calculating the Umm-ul-Qura Calendar for Hijri dates. The brothers were very warm and welcoming. I was able to find out first hand, the details behind the Umm-ul-Qura Calendar. I found that there has been a major change in the computation criteria starting 1420 AH. Before that year, the Umm-ul-Qura calendar was based on Greenwich and not Makkah. Also it was based on the dark invisible Astronomical new moon being born. Thus it was totally different from the actual Hilal observation. Starting about 1420 AH, the new criterion is that the Moonset be after Sunset in Makkah (even by one second). Starting 1423 AH Insha’Allah, it will again change slightly to directly take the astronomical new moon (conjunction) into account. But the main input I got was that the Umm-ul-Qura calendar was for civil use only, and not for predicting the Hilal for religious dates. The author of the calendar is well aware that the moonset needs to be after sunset by a long time, and not just one second (along with other factors) for the Hilal to be visible. But the point was that the Umm-ul-Qura calendar neither attempts nor claims to predict the Hilal. It is merely used for the official dates in the Ministries, schools, Saudia Airlines, and indeed all over the country.
I was a bit hesitant to introduce the issue of errors in the Saudi announced dates for fear of offending my hosts. But Alhamdulillah they themselves expressed that they knew there were a lot of errors.
Official Saudi Hilal Sighting Committees
I was told that after the Saudi Government became aware of the complaints of errors in the announced dates, around 1419H, the ruling council ordered the formation of Hilal sighting committees. Each such committee includes:
one member of Qada (Islamic Scholar/Justice department),
one member of KACST/Astronomer,
one member of Imarah (ruling council of the city), and
Currently there are six such committees in Saudi Arabia - near Makkah, Riyadh, Qassim, Hail, Tabuk and Asir. While they may carry a telescope with them, the official sighting of the committee is with naked eye only. (Saudi scholars like Sheikh Al-Othaimeen are against use of telescopes. Sheikh Al-Othaimeen for example indicates that using telescopes increases the "Takalluf" (Burden) on Muslims, which Allah does not want.)
While the establishment of the committees is an excellent idea, these committees have not been given exclusive jurisdiction over the issue of moon sighting, thereby reducing their usefulness. The Justice department still accepts the witness of "any" Muslim. Thus, often the new month is declared while none of these six official Hilal sighting committees saw the Hilal. In fact, most people, including scholars are unaware of the existence of these official committees.
Eid-ul-Fitr 1420 AH
In the case of Eid-ul-Fitr 1420 AH, I myself went with the Makkah committee to a sighting point on a hilltop of Shamesi outside the city of Makkah Mukarramah on Thursday evening. Neither I, nor the other 5 committee members sighted the Hilal. But we came back to the Haram Shareef and were astounded to hear the announcement that Eid-ul-Fitr was next day (Friday). In fact moonset was before sunset in Makkah for Thursday evening. In this case the error was quite brazen. Later I learned that Sheikh Yusuf Al-Qaradawi issued a fatwa indicating that Muslims who celebrated Eid 1420 AH on Friday following the Saudi announcement should make up one missed Ramadan fast.
Further, the solar eclipse of Feb 5, 2000 also proved the mistake in Eid date, according to Sheikh Al-Othaimeen’s fatwa, which implies that if there is a solar eclipse anywhere in the world after sunset in your city, then next day is not the 1st of lunar month for your city.
I also learned that apparently it is the same few people at certain locations, reporting on those occasions when the claims are extraordinarily early in Saudi Arabia, year after year. WAllahu A’alam!
While Saudi Astronomers are quite aware of the problems, there seemed to be negligible awareness in the community at large. But that is changing. I saw an excellent article in Arab News of February 11, 2000 about the inaccuracy of Eid-ul-Fitr 1420 AH. Subsequently I also saw nice articles in Arabic in Ad-Dawah magazine, 6 Shawwal 1420 AH etc., and the article of Sheikh Al-Manea (of Makkah Al-Mukarramah) in Al-Jazeerah, December 12, 1999. So while the coverage was still limited, at least there was some acknowledgement of the errors, albeit not officially.
Views of Islamic Scholars of Saudi Arabia
I started writing letters to a lot of the respected Ulema of Saudi Arabia, mentioning in particular the Eid-ul-Fitr 1420 AH error as proven from the Solar Eclipse also, and I attached the Fatwa of Sheikh Al-Othaimeen about solar eclipse and Hijri dates. Most scholars seemed to be totally unaware of the problem. However, some scholars like Sheikh Al-Othaimeen and Sheikh Al-Manea (of Makkah Al-Mukarramah), we found have a broad knowledge in this field. We did not get much response to the scores of letters we sent. But then Alhamdulillah we managed to get a meeting with Sheikh Al-Othaimeen!
Meeting with Sheikh Al-Othaimeen in Unayzah
Sheikh Al-Othaimeen welcomed us at his big Masjid in Unayzah after the Friday prayers and gave us a special private audience after the ‘Asr prayers. We found that Alhamdulillah Sheikh Al-Othaimeen was himself aware of some of the errors from other complaints. But he indicated it would take time for most scholars to understand and fix the problem. He asked us to write a letter to the Majlis Al-Kabair Al-Ulema (Council of the Senior Ulema), which I believe meets twice a year in Taif. I personally did send a letter, but somehow did not receive any response. I also learned that scholars like Sheikh Abdullah bin Sulaiman Al-Manea (Makkah Mukarramah) support using calculations to reduce errors.
Sheikh Al-Othaimeen Supports Local Sighting
I mentioned to Sheikh Al-Othaimeen that for Muslims in America, the error in Saudi date announcements causes big problems, since some Muslims follow that, while others follow local sighting, thus resulting in multiple Eid celebrations in the same city, if not the same Masjid! I learned that Sheikh Al-Othaimeen supports Ikhtilaf Al-Matale (local sighting) - Muslims outside Saudi Arabia should do their own local sighting (instead of calling Saudi Arabia). This is already published in the book: Fatawa Islamiya (Sheikh Bin Baaz, Sheikh Al-Othaimeen & Sheikh Al-Jibreen, published by Darul-Watan Lil-Nashr.
Sheikh Al-Othaimeen also writes that Sheikh Ibn Taimiya supported Ikhtilaf Al-Matale. In fact Saudi Arabia itself practices Ikhtilaf Al-Matale (e.g. they did not follow Yemen’s earlier sighting in 1420 AH). I mentioned that while most Muslims in America agree to local sighting for 11 months, some want to follow the Saudi announcement for Eid-ul-Adha. Sheikh Al-Othaimeen (RH) indicated that he supports Ikhtilaf Al-Matale for Eid-ul-Adha also (Muslims outside Saudi Arabia should do their own local sighting for Eid-ul-Adha also, instead of calling Saudi Arabia). He wrote a fatwa on this and gave me the original paper, while keeping a photocopy for his records. Thus in his opinion, Muslims in North America should not have multiple dates for Eid etc. and just go by local sighting, unaffected by the errors in Saudi announcements including Eid-ul-Adha.
There are also other references to Sheikh Al-Othaimeen supporting local sighting for Eid-ul-Adha. (See http://www.ummah.net/moonsighting/fatawah/saudalim.htm). Also see at http://www.ummah.net/moonsighting/fatawah/isnaqa.htm that the Annual Session of Fiqh Academy, held in Jordan, October 11-16, 1986 attended by more than 100 outstanding scholars of Shari’ah adopted a resolution recommending that all Muslim countries should determine all the lunar months including Dhul-Hijjah on the same basis. Also available on the website is the Fatwa of Mufti Taqi Usmani from Pakistan supporting Ikhtilaf Al-Matale for Eid-ul-Adha as well.
Further, even those scholars who support Ittihad Al-Matale, say categorically that one cannot fix any one point on earth (e.g. Saudi Arabia) for worldwide decision on date. Thus, sighting in USA / India / Yemen / Nigeria / Fiji etc. should be as valid in establishing the date worldwide including Saudi Arabia as the sighting in Saudi Arabia. Further, if we fix Saudi Arabia sighting to decide the Eid in America, what if Hilal is sighted in America before Saudi Arabia (the world is round, in certain years this should be true). Would we then ignore our earlier sighting in America? Clearly wouldn’t this violate the hadith of fasting on seeing the Hilal and breaking on seeing it? (Compiled by Bukhari 3-124: Abu Huraira (RA) has narrated that the Prophet (SAW) said: "Start fasting on seeing the crescent (of Ramadan) and give up fasting on seeing the crescent (of Shawwal) and if the sky is overcast (and you cannot see it) complete thirty days of Sha’ban").
Use Astronomy to Negate Erroneous Sighting, Not to Replace Sighting
As a Muslim, we believe that all knowledge is from Allah, who is the ultimate source. Thus we find that the Qur’an has no contradiction with established facts of science. In fact the description of the embryo in the womb of the mother, the stability provided by the mountains, the hydrology / water cycle, composition of living matter mostly with water, origin of the universe and the movement of both the sun and the moon are among the amazing examples of how accurately the Qur’an revealed about 1400 years ago describes scientific facts discovered recently. The Qur’an states in Sura Ar-Rahman #55,Verse 5: (Yusuf Ali translation): The sun and the moon follow courses (exactly) computed.
Saudi Arabia is Slowly Catching On
Thus I was happy to learn that several scholars including Sheikh Al-Manea (of Makkah Mukarramah) support using calculations to negate erroneous sightings. Similarly, historically, great Islamic Scholars like Imam Subki have also supported using Astronomy to negate erroneous Hilal sighting. Also, Sheikh Ibn Taimiya has written on how long it takes for the Hilal to appear after the "old moon" (seen at Fajr) disappears. Of course, none of the Saudi scholars I know, support calculations to completely replace sighting.
I learned from reliable sources that that last Eid-ul-Fitr (1421 AH), several "early witnesses" in Saudi Arabia were turned down due to the solar eclipse. This is perhaps the first time I hear of "witnesses" being turned down in Saudi Arabia due to contradiction with basic scientific facts. Insha’Allah this seems to be a new and good trend in Saudi Arabia, but there may not be a solar eclipse every time! (There is a solar eclipse on 29th of Ramadan 1422 AH - next year though).
Astronomical Support for Ikhtilaf Al-Matale (Local Sighting)
Since the world is round like a globe, the first Hilal sighting ("Lunar Date Line" for a month) can occur anywhere around the globe. Programs like MoonCalc of Dr. Monzur Ahmed (obtain software from http://www.ummah.net/ildl/mooncalc.html) can predict the first Hilal sighting curve.
Thus we see that Astronomy supports Ikhtilaf Al-Matale (Local sighting) since areas outside the "Lunar Date Line" curve see the Hilal on the next day (Cross International Solar Date Line). Hence we should aim towards Eid-ul-Fitr and Eid-ul-Adha celebration around much of the world in about 24 hours (But two "solar dates" because of the artificial International solar date line). We should not force an effort to artificially make the worldwide lunar date coincide with a solar date. Also, note that at any one given moment of time, one part of the world has one solar day/date while another part of the earth has the next solar day /date! For example, at the exact time of my writing this sentence, it is Wednesday evening in USA, but Thursday morning in China / Japan! So we should focus on Eid prayer around the globe in about 24 hours rather than one solar date. Local sighting for Eid is as natural as local timings for prayer. After all, New York does not pray Fajr by Tokyo time!
Prof. Muhammad Ilyas of Malaysia, a pioneer in the calculations of Hilal prediction, Masha-Allah has hence proposed for civil use, a Tri-zonal Hijri calendar: dividing the earth into 3 zones: Americas; Europe-Africa-West Asia; Asia-Pacific and calculating Hilal visibility separately for each region. Please see http://www.starlight.demon.co.uk/ildl/zone3 for details. Thus for example, sometimes Hilal sighting in North America can be one date before Hilal sighting in Saudi Arabia. See http://www.ummah.net/moonsighting for more details.
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