Yes To Seeing the Crescent, No to Calculations

Muhammad Saalih al-Munajjid

1.We should rely on sighting of the moon, not on calculations

2.Can Muslims living in Western countries form committees to sight the moon?

3.Do different times of moonrise matter, and what should Muslim communities in the West do

4.Is there a certain length of time that the new moon has to be in the sky?

5.It is permissible to use telescopes etc., but not calculations, to sight the new moon

6.Sighting the moon not following astronomical calculations

We should rely on sighting of the moon, not on calculations

Question 1: As-salamo Alikum Wa Rahamtu Allah Wa Barakatoh, I pray that Allah grant your Tech. by his mercy. Still he in sha;a Allah got the reward of this valuable home page. Please, visit the following web-site, XXXX it is concerning Hilal sighting and calculation, they claimed that in XXXX they never sight the moon and every thing run according to astronomy calculations. My question, Is this information is right or wrong, and what is the real authentic way to decided the begining of Hajrii month?

Answer:

Praise be to Allaah.

Islam is easy and its rules apply to everyone, mankind and jinn alike, regardless of whether they are scholars or illiterate, settled or nomadic. So Allaah made it easy for them to know the times for the acts of worship, and made their beginning and end signs which everyone can know. He made the setting of the sun the sign for the beginning of Maghrib and the end of ‘Asr, and He made the disappearance of the red glow in the sky the sign of the beginning of the time of ‘Isha’. He made the sighting of the moon after its disappearance at the end of the month the sign of the beginning of the new lunar month and the end of the previous month. He did not give us the task of knowing the beginning of the lunar month from something which is known to only a small number of people, namely astronomy and its calculations. Thus the texts of the Qur’aan and Sunnah make the actual sighting of the new moon the signal for the Muslims to start fasting Ramadaan; they stop fasting when they see the new moon of Shawwaal; the dates of Eid al-Adhaa and Yawm ‘Arafaat are similarly determined. Allaah says (interpretation of the meanings):

"… So whoever among you sights (the crescent on the first night of) the month (of Ramadaan), he must observe sawm (fast) that month…" [al-Baqarah 2:185]

"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]

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."

The Prophet (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) made the beginning of the fast conditional upon the confirmed sighting of the new moon of Ramadaan, and the ending of the fast conditional upon the confirmed sighting of the new moon of Shawwaal; he did not connect this to calculations of the movements of stars or other heavenly bodies. This is how it was done at the time of the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him), during the rule of the Khulafa’ al-Raashidoon, at the time of the four imaams, and during the three centuries which the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) said were the best. Referring to calculations of the lunar months to start and end periods of worship, instead of actually sighting the new moon, is a bid’ah (reprehensible innovation) that has no good in it and has no basis in sharee’ah. The best of all is to follow the salaf in religious matters, and the worst of all is to follow newly-invented innovations in religion. May Allaah protect us and you and all the Muslims from tribulation, both obvious and hidden. Fataawaa al-Lajnah al-Daa’imah, 10/106.

Can Muslims living in Western countries form committees to sight the moon?

Question 2: Is it permissible for Muslims who are living in a non-Islamic country to form a committee to confirm the sighting of the new moon for Ramadaan, Shawwaal, Dhoo’l-Hijjah or not?

Answer:

Praise be to Allaah.

The Muslims living in non-Islamic countries are permitted to form committees to take on the responsibility of confirming the new moon for Ramadaan, Shawwaal and Dhoo’l-Hijjah.

Fataawa al-Lajnah al-Daa’imah, 10/112

Do different times of moonrise matter, and what should Muslim communities in the West do

Question 3: Assalamu'alaikum, Since the prophet said "Begin fasting after sighting the moon", how can muslims be fasting one on Tuesday in one part of the world and Wednesday in another part. We should all begin our fast at the same time regardless of where we live.

We are students in the U.S. and Canada, and we face the same problem every year at the beginning of Ramadaan, because the Muslims are split into three groups:

1.A group that fasts when the new moon is sighted in the city in which they live.

2.A group that fasts when fasting starts in Saudi Arabia.

3. A group that fasts when they hear news from the Muslim students’ union in the U.S. and Canada which watches for the new moon in different parts of America, and as soon as the new moon is sighted in one city, they spread the news to different Islamic centers so that the Muslims in America can start fasting on the same day, despite the great distances between the different cities.

Which group should we follow? Whose sighting of the moon should we rely on? Please give us a fatwa, may Allaah reward you.

Answer:

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 countries.

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

Is there a certain length of time that the new moon has to be in the sky?

Question 4:

What is the method of confirming the beginning of every lunar month? Is there a certain length of time that the new moon has to be in the sky?

Answer:

Praise be to Allaah.

The saheeh ahaadeeth reported from the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) indicate that when the new moon is seen by a trustworthy person after the sun has set on the thirtieth night of Sha’baan or the thirtieth night of Ramadaan, this sighting is considered to be valid, and the first of the month is established without any need to consider the length of time that the moon stays in the sky after sunset, whether twenty minutes or more or less. There is nothing in the saheeh ahaadeeth to indicate how long it should take for the moon to set after the sun has set. Fataawa al-Lajnah al-Daa’imah, 10/91.

It is permissible to use telescopes etc., but not calculations, to sight the new moon

Question 4: It is not possible to see the new moon with the naked eye before it is 30 hours old, and in addition to that, it is sometimes not possible to see it at all because of the weather conditions. On this basis, is it permissible to resort to using astronomical information to calculate the likely time for sighting the new moon and the start of Ramadaan, or do we have to actually sight the new moon before we start fasting the blessed month of Ramadaan?

Answer:

Praise be to Allaah.

It is permissible to use telescopes etc. to sight the moon, but it is not permissible to rely on astronomical data to confirm the beginning or end of the blessed month of Ramadaan, because Allaah has not prescribed that for us in His Book or in the Sunnah of His Prophet (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him). What He has prescribed for us is to confirm the beginning and end of Ramadaan by sighting the new moon of Ramadaan to start fasting, and the new moon of Shawwaal to end the fast and gather to offer the Eid prayers. Allaah has made the new moons to mark fixed periods of time for mankind and for the Hajj, so it is not permissible for Muslims to use any other method to determine the times for acts of worship such as fasting, celebrating Eid, performing Hajj, fasting for two months as expiation (kafaarah) for killing someone by mistake or divorcing one’s wife by zihaar, and so on. Allaah says (interpretation of the meanings):

"… So whoever among you sights (the crescent on the first night of) the month (of Ramadaan), he must observe sawm (fast) that month…" [al-Baqarah 2:185]

"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]

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." On this basis, the one who does not see the new moon from the time it rises on a clear or cloudy night must complete the month (of Sha’baan) with thirty days. (Fataawa al-Lajnah al-Daa’imah, 10/100). This is the case if the sighting of the new moon is not confirmed in another country; if the moon is sighted according to the guidelines of Sharee’ah, then fasting is obligatory, according to the majority of scholars. And Allaah knows best.

Sighting the moon not following astronomical calculations

Question 6: we are a group of Muslim students living in North Cyprus where the beginning of Ramadhan is determined by calendar and not by the legal religious way. should we fast according to their timing. or are there any other ways such as following our countries or Mecca??? wa jazakumullah anna kulla khayr

There is a big dispute among Muslim scholars concerning the timing of the beginning of Ramadaan and ‘Eid al-Fitr. Some of them act upon the sighting of the new moon, because of the hadeeth, "Fast when you sight it [the new moon] and stop fasting when you sight it…"; others rely on the calculations of astronomers, saying that these scientists have progressed so far in the science of astronomy that they are able to know when the lunar month begins. Who is right in this matter?

Answer:

Praise be to Allaah.

Firstly: the correct opinion which must be acted upon is that indicated by the words of the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him): "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." That is the basis for determining the beginning and end of Ramadaan by the actual sighting of the new moon. The Islamic sharee’ah with which Allaah sent our Prophet Muhammad (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) is universal and everlasting, until the Day of Resurrection. (It is valid for every time and place, whether worldly sciences are advanced or otherwise, whether there are telescopes etc. or not, whether there are any people in the population who are able to do astronomical calculations or not. Sighting the moon is something that people of all places and times can do, unlike calculations which may or may not be within the reach of the people, and telescopes which may or may not be available)

Secondly: Allaah knew what progress would be made in astronomy and other sciences, but despite that He still said (interpretation of the meaning): "… So whoever among you sights (the crescent on the first night of) the month (of Ramadaan), he must observe sawm (fast) that month…" [al-Baqarah 2:185] and the Messenger of Allaah (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) said: "Fast when you see it [the new moon] and stop fasting when you see it…" So the beginning and ending of Ramadaan are connected to the actual sighting of the moon, and not to the calculations of astronomers, even though Allaah knew that the astronomers would develop their science to the point where they would be able to calculate the positions of the stars and heavenly bodies. The Muslims are obliged to follow what Allaah has prescribed for them through His Prophet (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him), basing the beginning and end of the fast on the sighting of the moon. This is like the consensus of the scholars, whoever differs with this and relies on calculations is shaadhdh ("odd") and his opinion cannot be relied on. And Allaah knows best. Fataawa al-Lajnah al-Daa’imah, 10/106.

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