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Tuesday, May 28, 2019

Should we follow the Saudi moon sighting for Ramadan and Eid/'Id?

This is something that is being discussed by many people now. Why aren't we following Saudi and why are we not fasting together?

Unity argument

This is perhaps the most vocal argument of them all. We should have unity and all do the same things. This is perhaps the weakest argument because what people want is conformity and not unity. Unity is being together and respecting differences. Conformity is when everyone agrees which is akin to communist thought.

Caliphs used to decide

Also note in a time gone by the caliph of the region would declare 'Id so there was an official announcement and therefore no need for carrier bags at twenty paces! The moon sighting would be made the judge would inform the caliph and the annoucement would be made. 

In the UK, the Muslims follow their group or sect rather than recognising authority. In other Muslim countries, they follow the governments. Therefore, there is no problem in those countries and it is a localised problem.

How was it explained in hadith?

‏صُومُوا لِرُؤْيَتِهِ وَأَفْطِرُوا لِرُؤْيَتِهِ فَإِنْ غُمَّ عَلَيْكُمْ فَاقْدُرُوا ثَلاَثِينَ"

"Fast when you see it [the moon] break when you it, if it cloudy then complete thirty days."


The hadith makes everything clear on the 29th night at Maghrib if you can see the moon the next day is Eid and if not then you complete 30 days and the day is Eid. It is that simple but because we have complicated things then Eid could be 4 days based upon both opinions.

Imam Ibn Hummam said book Fath Al-Qadir, “The manifest of the school of Imam Abu Hanifah is that when the sighting is evident in a place, then all the people around them must fast. As such, fasting upon the people of the east will be binding through the sighting of the people of the west”.

"Whoever witnesses the month should fast." Quran: 2:185.

The witness is linked to seeing and this has a link to witnessing the moon.

Hanafi and Witnesses

In Labab fi Sharh Al-Kitab, commonly known as Quduri, by Imam Al-Ghunaymi Al-Maydani said, "If one person sees the moon of Ramadan then he fasts even if the imam rejects it. When there is an obstruction in the sky then one testimony is [can be] accepted of one just persons testification, in seeing the moon be they: man, woman, slave or free. If there is no obstruction then testimony is not accepted until a great deal amount [of people] see it for knowledge to be confirmed by it." (p.155-156)

The great deal of people has no exact number but it has to be without doubt for the Qadi to accept so this has to be considered the same as mass transmission in hadith. So around seventy would be agreeable or just a number that would be undeniable. But two witnesses when there is no obstruction is not acceptable.

It needs one upright witness according to most Hanafi books and if the sky is clear then if it is unclear then the Shafi madhab said the day after is Eid (Reliance of the traveller p281 i1.8).

A Qadi of an area would be sufficient. (Rad al-Mukhtar by Imam Haskafi p.145)

In Fatawa Tatakhaniyyah p.93, he says that Abu Hanifah accepts the testimony of two witnesses but permitted one person. 

Tahfah Al-Mulk by Zayn Al-Din Al-Razi said that one just witness is accepted to begin and the end of the month needs two witnesses. (p.137 -8) Hidayah p.252.

Imam Tahawi said the veracity of the witness is not considered but this was already unacceptable by Abu Hanifah.

Rejection of astronomical data

The following scholars reject the usage of astronomical data for the moon to be seen. In other words using that data and not moon sighting to declare Eid. This could also be considered to include following calanders because that is not based upon sighting rather calculations.

The following scholars reject the usage of astronomical data:

Al-Subki Al-Shafi in Fataawa al-Subki vol.1 pg.209

al-Jassas al-Hanafi Ahkām in al-Qur’ān 1/280

al-Baji al-Maliki in Al-Muntaqa Sharh al-Muwata 2/38.

Ibn Rushd al-Maliki in Bidāyah al-Mujtahid 1/283-284.

Ibn Taymiyyah Majmu’ in al-Fatāwa 25/132-133

Ibn ‘Abidin Al-Hanafi  in Hashiyah Ibn ‘Abidin 2/387.

Sheikh Hisham Burhani p.51 A believers guide to fasting.
Sidi Ahmed Zarruq and Ahmed Ad-Dardir, both Malikis, Ibn Nujaym, Sahib Al-Hidayah, Imam Al-Suhrbulai, Imam Hilwani, and Imam Sarakhsi all reject the use of astronomical data.

Some scholars have said that if the calculations match the moon sighting by the eye then we can use it and if it does not then we reject it.

Moroccan moon sighting?

Following the moon sighting in Morocco has become an issue, because it was agreed as a comprise between following local and global sighting. Albania is the closest Muslim country and this is ignored. It is true that Morocco is on the same latitude but it is too far for it to be considered. The main reason for not following this moon sighting; because it is not a classical opinion rather it is a new one based on weak reasoning. 

Imam Zayla'i allowed it but Kamal ibn Hammam said it was more precautionary to take the relied upon opinion. (Rad al-Mukhtar by Imam Haskafi p.145). The more precautionary position is that we do not accept testimony from other countries. Imam Shafi also agrees (Nur Al-Idah p320) but this might not be the standard position of the Shafi school.

In Fatawa Tatakhaniyyah p.95 confirms that a vision of the moon in one area is not necessary on another area. Similar is confirmed in the Hashiya Al-Tahtawi on Nur Al-Idah P.657.

These are also two evidences that confirm that following a sighting in another country other than the one the person is in, is not accepted.

How is decided in the UK

Local masjid committee decide when it is 'Id/Eid. Based on one of the four methods explained which does work out to be global or local.

There are times in which the date to end fasting is different.

Calculations and sighting

The two classical opinions are local moon sighting and global sighting. The global sighting is the opinion of Abu Hanifah and the local is Imam Muhammad and Imam Shafi.

The modern opinions are based on calendars and what has so and so country declared?

The Saudi calendar is 30-32 years forward so there are bound to be errors. Majlus Al-Qadhaa a’Alaa set the Saudi calendar years in advance.

Reasons not to follow Saudi moon sighting

1. Saudi reject fellowship -mufti Menk and other Wahabi clerics reject the notion that people should be following them. 

2. Invalid method - we are unaware if they are following the calendar or valid sightings.

3. Blind following - how do you its right? Just because you like Wahabi's you think, they are right and everyone else is wrong. This is also believe their group is right over everyone else.

4. Innovation - no Quran and no hadith that explicitly say that you should follow the Saudi moon sighting.

5. The calendars are 30 -32 years in advance.

6. Errors made - in 16 years of observing the notices about Eid they have made an error just about every year.

We can use our local sighting here but what about when we are on Hajj? 

Well, this is an interesting question because we have no choice but to use the Saudi government sighting. Some say this lacks consistency to use a different sighting in the UK.

In the UK, we have the choice and at Hajj, we have no choice. 

Therefore, it is not about consistency rather it is about being compelled. Rules of Islamic law can change dependent on circumstances, so if one has no food but pork and he eats what he needs to survive. It is the same principle here, we can choose the local sighting but when performing Hajj one has no choice. Just like making prostration on the back on the person in front of you is allowable at Hajj but that would not be permitted elsewhere.

So we can follow the local sighting in the UK and use their sighting when at Hajj. As I am sure that the local authorities will not allow you to make Hajj on a different day.

Which sighting will we use?

We have proven that Saudi global sighting is not reliable and looking for Moroccan sighting is not accepted. This leaves us with local sighting. If we follow the local sighting then this should bring more unity.

Know that some Hanafi groups go with Saudi sighting and many Arabs will also follow it. Therefore, when there is no acceptable method for the global opinion we must follow the second which is the local sighting.

Can the sighting be declared before the sighting?

For Ramadan the moon must be sighted before the moon is declared. But for Eid/'Id al-Idha the start of month decides the date. So as soon as the first of Dhu Hijjah is declared then we can work out that ten days later is Eid. Nevertheless, this cannot be used for Ramadan; end or beginning.

Is it such a major problem?

Even if we start on different days the most we miss fasting together is one or two days. One at the start and one at the end of the month. Most of the month we are fasting together.

We should just accept the fact we are fasting on different days and not harm the other for fasting on the 'wrong' day. We will always have differences and that will never change but there are bigger fish to fry in our time. In Western countries there are myriad of social issues that need to be addressed as well as fighting for the truth by nullifying the voice of fools. Rather than saying the least we should do is fast together, in reality we do all fast together with the exception of a day or two.

Please do not make it an issue in your families or work places, just let it go and move on. 

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