icouk new logo2For many decades it was commonly believed that the moon cannot be sighted in the UK due to cloudy weather, but with the establishment of the Islamic Crescents Observation for the UK (ICOUK) in 2008 to revive the Sunnah of Local Moon Sighting, this misconception has been significantly reduced and we have over 4-years observation data to prove it, Alhamdulillah. Therefore, in November 2021 we have asked the following question (Istiftaa) to a number of renowned Darul Ulooms in the Indian Subcontinent together with the 4-years (1439-1442) data.

Question: From our actual moon sighting experience over many years, we strongly believe that the Hilal can be easily sighted in the UK and request your advice if we are allowed to follow our own Local Moon Sighting, InshaAllah?

Answer: We have received the fatawa from a number of major Darul Ulooms which can be downloaded from the ICOUK website at www.moonsighting.org.uk. However, the summaries of the responses are given below:

Jamiah Islamiah, Dabhel (India): “If the sighting of the crescent moon is proven in the UK according to the prescribed method, then it is necessary to follow it in fulfilling the related commands of the Shariah. In such a case, there is no need to follow any near or far distant countries.” (Mufti Abdul Qayyum Rajkoti/Mufti Abbas Daud Bismillah, 20/11/2021)

Jamiah Darul Uloom Karachi (Pakistan): “The reason for following the Moon Sighting reports of nearby Muslim countries in the past was because it was not possible to sight the Hilal in Britain. But that difficulty no longer exists. Therefore, discuss with those who follow Saudi Arabia and invite them to the Local Moon Sighting.” (Mufti Sayed Hussain Ahmed/Mufti Abdul Rauf Sakharvi, 21/1/2022)

Jamiatul Uloom Al-Islamia, Karachi (Pakistan): “When the moon sighting is possible in your country (Britain), then relying on the sighting of another country will not be permissible.” (Mufti Mustafa Amin/Mufti Muhammad Ibrahim, 26/1/2022)

Nadwatul Ulama, Lucknow (India): “We are delighted to learn that it is now possible to sight the Hilal in Britain. In this situation, [the Muslims of] Britain should follow the base rule of Local Moon Sighting. There is no need or necessity now to follow the news of near or far distant countries.” (Mufti Mohammad Zafar Alam Nadwi/Mufti Niyaz Ahmed Nadwi, 5/3/2022)

Markaz Al-Dawah, Dhaka (Bangladesh): “We believe that if serious efforts are made and mutual dialogue is continued, it is possible, that everyone will agree on Local Sighting, because the excuse that led to the following of the foreign countries has now disappeared, Alhamdulillah.” (Mufti Abdul Malek/Mufti Abul Hasan Muhammad Abdullah, 10/3/2022)

Darul Uloom Deoband, Utter Pradesh (India): “We say, if the local scholars and credible moon sighting committees agree with these [UK Moon Sighting] research findings, then they should organise and follow Local Moon Sighting. (Mufti Habibur Rahman/Mufti Waqar Ali, 5/4/2022)

In conclusion, the above fatawa clearly state that there is no reason for the UK Muslims to follow any distant countries if the Hilal can be sighted in the UK according to the rule of Shariah. Therefore, we urge all the UK Muslims to support their Mosque Committees, Imams and Scholars to unite on Local Moon Sighting, InshaAllah.

Reference: UK Moon Sighting Fatawa 1443/2022 (English/Urdu PDF, 56 pages, 38 MB)

By Maulana Yaqub Qasmi, Fazil-E-Deoband / Translated by Dr Ayyub Patel (First Published in 1993)

INTRODUCTION

Allah (سبحانه و تعالى) has revealed the religion of Islam as a source of guidance for the whole of mankind for all places and all times. The HOLY QURAN and the Noble sayings of Sayyidina Muhammed (ﷺ) (The AHADEETH­ E-NABAWIYYA) are two torches which illuminate the Straight Path (the Siraat-e-Mustaqeem) for the mankind. Verily, the Quran is a book full of guidance and an ailment for the diseased hearts. It is not a textbook on Medicine, Astronomy, Mathematics, Physics or Chemistry. Nor was it revealed to explain in detail these various branches of knowledge.

The Holy Quran is an ocean of knowledge. It enlightens the ways for universal research and encourages its law-abiding fellows to discover the beauties and wonders of the world thereby giving mankind universal control. When a person ponders into the unprecedented signs of the universe while accepting the call of the Quran, his nature compels him to submit to the one and only Creator and thus out of true emotion he screams:

In every atom, there is the Noor of the Sustainer

Certainly, there is a supreme creator for all things. (Poetic couplet)

It is impossible for the human eye to see Almighty Allah (سبحانه و تعالى) while remaining in this world. However, the people with Imaan and Yaqeen do experience the Noor and manifestation of Allah and thereby gain an increase in their faith. For the non-Muslim, the Quran details the amazing and magnificent creations of Allah together with His explicit inward and outward "signs". Doing so it invites him to the Belief in the Oneness of Allah.

"Soon will We show them our signs in the (furthest) regions (of the earth), and in their own souls, until it becomes manifest to them that this is the truth." (Quran 41:53).

It is the wonderful miracle of the Quran that it provides guidance to people of all ages at one and the same time. It addresses the Bedouin of the bygone camel era and at the same time addresses the modem day intellectual of the sputnik age. In this manner, it shall continue until the day of judgment.

The Sun and the Moon are two out of the innumerous "signs" of the Almighty Allah (سبحانه و تعالى). They have been created for the well-being of mankind. Both have been ordained predetermined orbits by which the night & day and months & years comes into existence.

"We have made the night and the day as two (of OUR) signs: the sign of the night have we made dark while the sign of the day we have made light, that ye may seek bounty from your Lord and that ye may know the number and count of the years." (Quran 17:12).

Among the various commands of Shari'ah, there are some which are associated with the Sun. e.g. times of Salaat depend upon sunset sunrise and midday, crops and vegetation are linked with the seasons, and the Fasting is dependent upon Subh-e-sadiq and sunset. Similarly, the stay in Arafat during Hajj together with the other Arkaan of Hajj are linked with particular days which are dependent upon sunset and sunrise. Besides these, there are other commands which are associated with the lunar months. e.g. Commencing and ending Ramadan, Eid-ul-Adhaa, Qurbani, The days of Hajj are all dependent on the determination of the lunar month. In addition, the Zakat of wealth, gold and silver also depends on the lunar year. The Iddat after Talaaq (specific period after divorce) or death of the husband, age of puberty etc. are likewise determined by the lunar calendar.

In Islam, the start of a particular month is dependent on the sighting of the crescent moon (by the naked eye="RU'Y AH"). This is the simple, practical and straight forward way for all times because it is possible to sight the crescent moon from anywhere on the globe, be it the desert or an urban city.

The lunar year is shorter than the solar year by eleven days. This is why the lunar months circulate throughout all seasons of the solar year. Inevitably, this results in occasions such as Ramadan, Eidain and Hajj falling in winter as well as summer. Another benefit of the lunar year is that when Zakat on wealth, Gold and Silver is based on it, an extra year’s due will be given to the poor and the needy every 33 solar years thus providing additional help.

ISLAM AND SCIENCE

There is absolutely no contradiction between Islam and science, especially Astronomy. In actual fact science is of service to Islam, verifying many of its realities and mysteries.      ·

Modem day progress of the West .and all its impact upon society is greatly indebted to those Muslim philosophers and scientists who utilised their God-given talents and opened the doors of the different branches of knowledge. Whilst accepting the scientific advance of the west, we are not ready in the least to forget and forgo our inherited contribution. An article of this size is not the proper place to explain in detail this contribution; "For this ocean, a big ship is required". It is great pity to find a large group amongst us who ignorant of their own past achievements have fallen under the influence of the West and are engrossed in mental and intellectual anarchy.

The house that once illumined the whole world

 Alas! has within it no lamp today. (Poetic couplet)

Here I give you a few examples of Muslim contributions to science. In the 8th century (Christian Era=C.E.), Abu Ishaaq ibne Jundub was the first astronomer in history to invent an ASTROLABE (before the invention of SEXTANT) to observe the altitudes of celestial bodies above the horizon and so determine the observer's position on earth. Muhammed ibne Ahmed Al-Bairuni, another astronomer of the 8th century (C.E.) calculated the circumference of the earth for the first time. Using modern day computer technology, this figure was found to be erroneous by only 0.3% which is insignificant bearing in mind the difference in the instrumentations.


RAMADAN AND EIDAIN IN MODERN TIMES

In determining days of Ramadan and Eidain, many countries, especially the gulf states such as Dubai, Abu Dhabi, Qatar, Oman, Kuwait, Bahrain, Lebanon, and Jordan adopt a casual approach in sighting the crescent moon within their own frontiers and instead rely upon the declaration of Saudi Arabia. For this reason, it is submitted that Ramadan and Eidain in the Middle East is more of a political issue than a religious one. On the contrary, the religious scholars of countries such as India, Pakistan, Bangladesh and Morocco etc. have always treated the Saudi announcement with scepticism and to date have relied more strongly on the actual sighting of the crescent moon within their own countries.

The experience of the past 26 years has shown that in Saudi Arabia the declaration of Ramadan and Eidain is usually one or two days and sometimes even 3 days before the declaration made on the basis of "True Ru'yah" in the rest of the Muslim world. Many people including some religious scholars, due to their emotional and sentimental links with Saudi Arabia have started to claim that the Ru'yah in Saudi Arabia which occurs one or two days ahead of anywhere else is not just a possibility but a certainty. Their ignorance only goes to show that people are willing to accept something which is wholly improbable and a figment of their imagination. This complex paradox is explained in some detail in the following paragraphs.

THE ISLAMIC CALENDAR

The Islamic legal system includes the administration of the Islamic calendar with appropriate machinery. The Islamic State places a special emphasis on Astronomical Research and it becomes a standard element in formal religious and legal education. Dr Mohammed Ilyas, Head of Astronomy and Atmospheric Research, University of Science, Malaysia, describes the following general rules in his recent publication[1].

  1. Maximum number of consecutive months of one type:
    30 days-months: 4
    29 days-months: 3
  2. Length of month:
    not less than 29 days
    not more than 30 days
  3. Length of year:
    not less than 354 days
    not more than 355 days
  4. (a) Each new month begins with the first moonlight of the new crescent on the western horizon after sunset.

(b) Try sighting on the 29th but if cannot be sighted (even due to cloud), then complete the month as of 30 days.

(c) The sighting report must be supported through a witness report according to Shari'ah rule.

(d) The person must be reliable, adult, truthful, sane with good eye-sight (implied).

(e)  The sighting report should not conflict with basic scientific understanding and natural laws; indeed, a professional scientist's involvement is essential to ascertain the reliability of the reported sighting. The scientific test would include a check on related parameters: the shape of the crescent position in sky and altitude time of observation sky conditions

(f) Sighting must be carried out in an organized way for each month.

(g) There is an inherent strength in the Islamic system, which helps avoid the accumulation of an error. Shari'ah also allows for the correction of a mistake; suppose on the 28th of an Islamic month, the new moon has been sighted, a correction will be made to the beginning of the month since a month should have 29 or 30 days only. Suppose the concerned month is Ramadan, then an extra fast would have to be completed after Eid.

The Islamic lunar month commences at the time of sunset upon sighting of the crescent moon and ends on the first sighting of the next crescent moon which can be after 29 or 30 days. In his book "Bidayat-ul-Mujtahid", Allama lbne Rushd (renowned Muslim scholar and jurist) has quoted the unanimous opinion of the Ulema that the Islamic month has 29 or 30 days and that the basis of its start and finish is upon the physical sighting of the crescent moon. Furthermore, the sighting has to occur after the period (2 days) when the moon is hidden because of its conjunction with the sun; one day before the conjunction and one day after. Revered Muslim scholars also maintain that the Islamic month is never 28 or 31 days. Islamic Shari'ah states therefore, that the beginning and the ending of the Islamic month depends on the physical sighting of the crescent moon. This will only occur on the 29th day of the on-going month after the MAHAAQ (CONJUNCTION TIME, Astronomical New Moon), when the moon has moved such a distance out of the sun's rays that it can be seen by the naked eye m the form of a crescent after sunset. From this it is also clear that one cannot see the moon (in the form of a crescent) before or immediately after the Astronomical New Moon. A claim of sighting at or around this time would be termed extremely dubious if not completely false.


MAHAAQ (CONJUNCTION=ASTRONOMICAL NEW MOON, ANM)

The term "New Moon" in astronomical terms means the position when the Sun, Moon and Earth are in conjunction (in one plane). At this time the dark side of the moon is towards the earth hence it is unobservable at this juncture. Whilst explaining the verse:

"By the sky, with its constellations" (Quran 85:1)

 many Commentators have mentioned the twelve prescribed paths on which the Sun and the Moon orbit throughout the days and nights. The sun completes its 12 paths (1 path per month) in a year due to its slower speed whereas the moon completes its paths in a month. The example of the sun is like that of the small hand in the clock and the moon that of the bigger hand.

Fig1 MoonPhases
Figure 1: Moon Phases

Every month, the moon orbits the earth until a stage where it confronts the sun. The sun rises in the east. Its rising place moves uniformly north-south during the year. As opposed to this, the visibility of the crescent moon is not uniform. Its visibility areas if plotted from the earth, looks like an ellipsoid (egg-shaped). This ellipsoid again is not uniform. It moves north-south throughout the year. Sometimes it covers northern areas (Alaska, Japan) and sometimes the southern areas (South Africa, New Zealand). The sighting of the crescent moon is completed all over the world in 24 hours. The reason for this becomes obvious when we learn that the moon moves in different orbits during every month and thus passes over different places of the globe.

When there is a sighting at a place that is within the visibility parabola, there will also be a positive sighting on the same day at all places that lie on the west. Places that are outside this visibility parabola (North, South and East of the place of sighting) will observe the crescent moon on the following day. This is the "law of nature" as defined by Allah (سبحانه و تعالى) regarding sighting of the crescent moon (Ru'yat-ul-Hilaal).

Fig2 VisibilityParabola

Figure 2: Visibility Parabola

Fig. 2 Schematically illustrates how along the latitude circles, the probability of visibility decreases to the east of ILDL (growing dark circles) and increase to the west of ILDL (growing white circles).

If the Islamic world follows this authentic sighting for Ramadan and Eidain, then most places will celebrate Ramadan & Eidain on the same day. Furthermore, with respect to their geographical locations (East or West), there will at the most be a difference of one lunar day (not solar day).  With respect to the lunar day, (there occurs a difference of two and sometimes three days between Middle Eastern countries and the rest of the Islamic world due to the unauthentic manner in which Ru'yah is made.


THE LUNAR DAY/DATE

The reference point for the Islamic day/date almost everywhere is the time of sunset. In this way 24 hours will have elapsed on the following day at sunset. There are two days (day of Arafat & day of Qurbaani) which are an exception and even these are only for the Pilgrim in Makkah. The 9th of Dhul Hijjah (Arafat day) commences at SUBH-E-SAADIQ and ends at SUBHE-E-SAADIQ of the 10th Dhul Hijjah. Similarly, the day of Qurbaani (10th of Dhul Hijjah) commences from daybreak.

CONVENTIONAL DAY/DATE

In contrast to the lunar day, the conventional solar day begins at 12 o'clock midnight and continues until 12 o'clock on the subsequent night. This conventional day has been divided into 24 time zones. All places in one zone will have a common time (eg 12 o'clock) while a place which is only a few meters away in the west will be an hour behind (11 o'clock) and a place on the east will be an hour ahead (1 o'clock).

Fig3 WorldTimeZones
Figure 3. World Time-Zones

The difference between lunar and conventional solar day/date/s may be summarised as follows:

LUNAR DAY/DATE: From SUNSET TO SUNSET=one day (sunset-night­ sunrise-day-sunset).

CONVENTIONAL DAY/DATE: From MIDNIGHT TO MIDNIGHT=one day (midnight-sunrise-day-sunset-midnight).

This means that the lunar day (Islamic day) always cycle between two solar dates.

BACKGROUND TO THE ISLAMIC LUNAR CALENDAR

There was no standard calendar in the Arabian Peninsula before Islam. Every Tribe and Area had its own method. Among these, a version of the "Nasa'ee" calendar was also in use. When the Holy Prophet (ﷺ) arrived in Medina and met the Jewish clans, he found them using the Hebrew solar/lunar calendar which differed in some ways to the Arab calendars. In the 4th Century (C.E.), Hillel, a Jewish leader took into account the past 1000 years and formulated a calendar which he recommended to the Jews the world over. This calendar is still in use to date by the Jews.

The Jewish calendar is a lunar/solar calendar similar to the "Nasa'ee". Every third year an extra month is added to bring the year in accord with the solar year and with the season. In this calendar, the new month is commenced with the Astronomical New Moon (unobservable by the naked eye). This is the reason why there used to be a difference of usually one and sometimes 2 days between their months and the months of the Muslim (Arab) calendar.


HADEETH: "WE ARE AN UN-LETTERED UMMAH"
  1. The Jews based their months on the Astronomical New Moon (ANM, as discussed earlier). It is well known that the ANM occurs at any time during the day and night. Thus, such a lunar month will be of 29.5 or 29.75 days duration.
  1. Whilst the Jews have used many other ways to perpetuate their hatred for the Holy Prophet (the final Messenger of Allah, ﷺ), they have also exploited the fact that the Muslims did not have an exclusive calendar of their own at the time. Upon this basis, they criticised the Holy Prophet (ﷺ) and His Ummah as illiterate (may Allah forbid) and unsuitable for the leadership of mankind.
  1. In the light of this background, if we look at the saying of the Holy Prophet (ﷺ); "We are an un-lettered nation" [see Sahih Muslim, Hadith 2376], we learn not to follow the method of the Jews and thereby make our months of 29.5 or 29.75 days duration. On the contrary, we are to adopt a simple, natural and universally applicable formula in the determination of the lunar month. i.e. commence fasting by the sighting of the crescent moon by the naked eye and end fasting by means of a similar sighting of the crescent moon. In the case where a sighting is not reported, we are instructed to complete the 30 days of the ongoing month.

    Furthermore, the Muslim Ummah is clearly advised to be cautious against the Jewish method of dubiously miscalculating the lunar months. To take the literal meaning of the above Hadeeth (whilst deliberately ignoring the great wisdom and true lesson being delivered to the Ummah) in support of the argument that we should remain ignorant of the physical sciences is to go against the Quranic teaching: "He (Allah) taught man of what he knew not". (Quran 96:5)
  1. Some latter-day Muslims have mistakenly thought it wrong to use the astronomical knowledge and a few even considered it as an innovation in religion. Whilst the clear aim of the Holy Prophet (ﷺ) in the above saying is simply to advise us not to follow the Jewish calendar in which the month commences with the Astronomical New Moon as against to the Islamic calendar in which the month begins with the sighting of the crescent moon.
  1. Astronomers, both modem and old, and renowned Commentators of the Quran are all agreed that towards the end of every month the moon goes through a stage of alignment. The period when the moon is invisible by the naked eye, is a reality and that at the CONJUNCTION TIME it is impossible to observe the crescent moon from anywhere on the earth. At no time in history has there been a difference of opinion amongst the astronomers about this basic fact. Even today, it is universally illustrated.
AN ANSWER TO A QUERY

Throughout the Muslim world, the month of Ramadan (1412 AH, 1992 C.E.), commenced on the following four days based on claimed sightings:

CONJUNCTION TIME (Astronomical New Moon): Wednesday, 4 March 1992, 1:22 GMT.

  1. Claimed sighting in Saudi Arabia: Tuesday, 3 March 1992, 22 hours prior to CONJUNCTION TIME. Ramadan commenced in Saudi Arabia on Wednesday, 4 March 1992. (also, some places in USA and Europe who followed Saudi Arabia).
  1. Claimed sighting in Egypt: Wednesday, 4 March 1992, 2 hours 34 min after CONJUNCTION. Ramadan commenced in Egypt on Thursday, 5 March 1992.
  1. Morocco, Lisbon (Portugal), Pakistan, a number of African countries: Sighting on 5 March 1992, approximately 30 hours after Conjunction. Ramadan commenced in Morocco on Friday, 6 March 1992.
  1. India, Pakistan, Reunion, Bangladesh, Mauritius, New Zealand: Sighting on Friday, 6 March 1992. Ramadan commenced on Saturday, 7 March 1992.

As per the above, there were 4 different claims of a sighting. Which one from these is correct? Besides astronomical calculation, is there a Shar'ee and Fiqhi basis upon which this question may be answered? If we are to accept all of the above as valid then should we accept the difference in geographical locations (Ikhtilaf-e-mataale') and follow the FIQH rule (Every country has its own sighting)? Or are we to ignore the difference in locations and accept the earliest claim of sighting; Thereby those who fasted later will have to compensate fasting of 1, 2 or 3 days?

The question arises -

ls it really possible that the crescent moon is sighted in different places of the globe with the difference of 3 to 4 days? Or are we to understand that the crescent moon is sighted after sunset at one place (say Riyadh). There is no sighting the next day. On the third day it is sighted in another place (say Rabat).


SOME BASIC PRINCIPLES OF RU'YAH AFTER SUNSET (CRESCENT MOON SIGHTING)
  1. The world is like a globe and not a flat field. Hence a sighting at one place does not necessarily mean a sighting throughout the globe at the same time (Crescent moon sighting is after sunset and sunset occurs at different times around the globe).
  2. The moon has no light of its own. The rays of the sun are reflected from it. This light is dim with respect to the reflection of other celestial bodies. On the first night, the moon is only 1% illumined.
  3. Only one half of the moon is facing the earth. The other half is unseen and it is this half which faces us at the time of Conjunction. Hence the Conjunction is unobservable by the naked eye. A claim of having seen a crescent moon at this time is absolutely false and is most certainly an optical illusion.
  4. The surface of the moon is uneven (mountains, craters). Hence there is a delay in the reflection of the sun's rays after the Conjunction caused by the obstruction of these mountains and craters. This delay is in the range of 14-50 hours depending upon the place on the globe.
  1. Basic fundamental rules of Astronomy allow us to calculate the orbit of the moon very accurately (1/1000th of a second). These calculations are not based on guesswork, estimates or astrological predictions. The HOLY QURAN has removed this doubt by the verse:

    "The Sun and the Moon follow courses (exactly) computed." (Quran 55:5)
  1. One day before and after the CONJUNCTION TIME, the moon can rarely be sighted by the naked eye (SOLAR ECLIPSE is a form of conjunction; the day the solar eclipse is noted, after sunset the crescent moon is never sighted anywhere on the globe). Occasionally one can see a crescent on the day of CONJUNCTION i.e. when CONJUNCTION is in the early hours (just past midnight) and sunset is late (say around 1800.1900 hours). The moon would be about 16-18 hours old and may be sightable if in proper configuration. It appears as a crescent moon (after sunset in the WEST) on the 29th or the 30th day of the ongoing month. Its brightness grows until it is full and then decreases in the reverse order until it is a crescent moon seen early in the morning in the EAST. During the lunar month, the moon is always seen half complete on the 7th night and complete (BADR) on the 14th night. The following Quranic verse points to this principle of moon cycle.

"And the Moon, We have measured for her stations to traverse till she returns like the old (and withered) lower part of a date-stalk." (Quran 36:39)

  1. When a crescent is sighted, the 1st date of a particular lunar month begins. On the 30th day of the same month the crescent moon for the next month will invariably be sighted after sunset. If the crescent is not sighted on the 30th day despite a clear sky then the claim of previous sighting for the month is rendered false (HUKM-E-SHAR'EE). Hence to commence Ramadan or Eid by saying that 30 days have been completed irrespective of moon sighting, is totally against the principles of Ru'yah. Furthermore, it is against the opinions of the illustrious Muslim scholars (FUQAHAA').
CRESCENT MOON SIGHTING FROM ALL OVER THE GLOBE
  1. The beginning of the crescent moon sighting is always from a different place every month. Unlike the solar IDL, there is no definite INTERNATIONAL LUNAR DATE LINE (ILDL) fixed for a particular latitude/longitude marking (e.g. Makkah Mukarrama). The initial place of sighting changes every month both latitudinally and longitudinally.
  2. The first sighting of the crescent from a point x is in a parabola shape (unlike observing the sun which is north-south), increasing towards the western zenith. This ellipsoid becomes wider in a north-south direction covering 0-45 degrees (latitude north and south) in 24 hours. A further day will be required before it is seen in the areas outside this ellipsoid circle.
  3. When a sighting is made at a point, then all places on the west of it and within the parabola range will definitely witness the sighting (Provided the atmospheric conditions (clarity etc.) are about the same). It can never happen that after a definite sighting at a place, the sighting is not confirmed at places on the west of this place. This incidentally has been the case with the claimed sighting of Saudi Arabia. Time and again we have witnessed that on the day when Saudi Arabia has claimed Ru'yah, places on the west e.g. Morocco, Tunis, Europe and as far away as the USA do NOT confirm this sighting on the same day and on some occasions not even on the next day. This is unequivocal and cogent evidence that the claimed sighting of Saudi Arabia is inaccurate.

IMPORTANT FACTORS FOR CRESCENT MOON SIGHTING

There are many governing factors for the moon to be sighted as a crescent from ground level. Some of these are detailed below:

  1. Moon's elongation (angular distance from the sun).
  2. The time difference between sunset and moonset.
  3. The age of the moon after the Conjunction.
  4. Weather conditions.
  5. Aid and assistance of instruments.

Fig4 SunMoonAngles
Figure 4. Sun Moon Angles

After sunset, the moon should be at least 11-12 degrees further away from the sun on the horizon. At the time of sunset, the moon should be at least 8 degrees high on the horizon. By this time there will be sufficient darkness on the horizon for the human eye to differentiate between the natural light and the light of the sun reflecting from the crescent. If during the initial 15 minutes after sunset the moon is only 4-5 degrees high on the horizon, its sighting will be difficult by the naked eye. This is due to the fact that there is still sunlight present on the lower horizon and that only 1/100th of the moon is illumined (for the 1st night crescent).

NATURAL LIGHT ON THE HORIZON: People with normal vision will be able to distinguish between the natural light on the horizon and the light of the crescent if, together with other factors being favourable, the age of the new crescent is about 20 hours. When factors are exceptionally favourable the crescent may be sighted earlier than 20 hours. (e.g. favourable angle and altitude, exceptionally clear sky, weather free from storms and dusty winds etc.).

THE PERSON SIGHTING THE CRESCENT: A keen and an observant eye together with past experience and knowledge of the shape of the crescent in the quest are all factors which effect the sighting. e.g. The moon is in the north of a particular place at sunset and the people are searching for it in the south, thus there will be no chance of a sighting.


THE EGYPTIAN CALENDAR

Due to the influence of the late Jamaal Abd-un-Naasir, the scholars of Egypt had accepted a calendar based on the CONJUNCTION TIME (Astronomical New Moon). They adopted a unique principle according to which the mere presence of the crescent on the horizon for 5 minutes or more will automatically be assumed as a sighting irrespective of an actual sighting of crescent moon by the naked eye. This would lead to the next month commencing the following day. From 1986 onwards, the previous 5 minutes criterion was further reduced to 1 minute.

In Egypt to date, the principle of MERE PRESENCE of moon on the horizon rather than the ACTUAL SIGITTING is used to base Ramadan and Eid. Therefore, one finds their calendar running hand in hand with the Saudi Arabian calendar. Ramadan and Eid sometimes differ in Egypt when Saudi Arabia makes a declaration even before the CONJUNCTION TIME based on a falsely claimed sighting. In this case Ramadan and Eid in Egypt are a day later as was witnessed in 1992.

THE SAUDI ARABIAN UMM-UL-QURA CALENDAR

In my 1989 (1410 AH) correspondence with Dr Fadl Ahmed (originally from Pakistan but now a resident in Saudi Arabia), the publisher of the Umm-ul-Qura calendar wrote:

"Alhamdulillaah, due to the grace of Almighty Allah, in 1972 I was able to make the first Islamic calendar based on astronomical data which is accepted as the official calendar in Saudi Arabia.

The term "New Moon" means the time when the sun, moon and earth are in one plane. It is called IQTIRAAN in Arabic and CONJUNCTION in technical terminology. A crescent shape comes into existence after this time. When it moves away from this CONJUNCTION by 6 to 7 degrees, it will be possible to observe the crescent given favourable weather conditions.

Generally, in a clear sky, the crescent will be sighted by the naked eye if it is away from the sun by 10.5 degrees. i.e. If the moonset is around 42 minutes after sunset it will be visible pending good visibility."

(2nd reply).

"WHAT do you mean by the sighting of the crescent? This is a very complex question. The answer demands a lot of explanation considering several factors. This sighting will have to be decided by the Muslim Scholars.

With the aid of astronomical calculations, one is able to predetermine an accurate sighting.

Whilst explaining further about sighting He wrote:

3 deg. after CONJUNCTION, 6 deg., 10.5 deg. etc. can all be calculated for any place. Only the time of CONJUNCTION (not the crescent moon sighting by the naked eye) is independent of place and time of observation. This astronomical phenomenon (CONJUNCTION TIME) occurs at the same time throughout the world. It can be adopted universally thus I have used this formula (based on CONJUNCTION TIME rather than CRESCENT MOON SIGHTING) to prepare the Umm-ul-Qura calendar."

Yours... Fadl Ahmed.

From Dr Fadl Ahmed's above correspondences, the following can be inferred:

  1. The crescent is formed after the CONJUNCTION and not before.
  2. The crescent is not visible immediately after CONJUNCTION. (While Saudi Arabia has claimed crescent moon sighting on many occasions immediately after CONJUNCTION or even before.)
  3. For the CRESCENT MOON to be sighted there has to be a distance of at least 10.5 deg. from the sun.
  4. The CONJUNCTION TIME (unobservable ASTRONOMICAL NEW MOON) itself has been accepted as Ru'yah in Saudi Arabia for the Umm-ul-Qura calendar.
  5. By astronomical calculations, any sighting of the moon can be accurately predetermined (the actual sighting of the crescent moon by the naked eye is not necessary).
  6. In the Umm-ul-Qura calendar, the day after the CONJUNCTION TIME is taken as the first day of the new month.

TABLE 1

1st of Islamic Date
(1413)
Date of ANM CALENDAR Difference between sunset
and moonset in Makkah
Predicted sighting
calendar
    Umm-ul-Qura Egyptian    
Muharram 30.6.92 1.7.92 2.7.92 +3 min 2.7.92
Safar 29.7.92 30.7.92 30.7.92 -20 min 1.8.92
Rabi Al-Awwal 28.8.92 29.8.92 30.8.92 +6 min 30.8.92
Rabi Al-Akhar 26.9.92 27.9.92 28.9.92 -11 min 29.9.92
Jamad Al-Awwal 25.10.92 26.10.92 27.10.92 -28 min 28.10.92
Jamad Al-Akhar 24.11.92 25.11.92 26.11.92 +3 min 26.11.92
Rajab 24.12.92 25.12.92 25.12.92 +19 min 26.12.92
Sha'baan 22.1.93 23.1.93 24.1.93 -9 min 24.1.93
Ramadan 21.2.93 22.2.93 22.2.93 together 23.2.93
Shawwaal 23.3.93 24.3.93 24.3.93 +8 min 25.3.93
Dhul Qa’da 21.4.93 22.4.93 23.4.93 -21 min 24.4.93
Dhul Hijjah 21.5.93 22.5.93 22.5.93 together 23.5.93
ANALYSIS OF THE UMM-UL-QURA CALENDAR

Dr Fadl Ahmed has confirmed that the Umm-ul-Qura calendar is prepared on the basis of CONJUNCTION TIME rather than on PREDICTABILITY OF CRESCENT MOON SIGHTING. As explained earlier, the solar month commences from midnight and the lunar month commences from sunset after sighting of the crescent moon. This basic fact is not taken into consideration in the preparation of the Umm-ul Qura calendar. Furthermore, the calendar is based on Greenwich Mean Time (GMT) and does not take into account the local Saudi time. For example, if the CONJUNCTION TIME is at 23:59 GMT, the new Umm-ul-Qura calendar month is commenced from the previous evening even though in Saudi Arabia the CONJUNCTION TIME is on the next solar day (3:00 am local Saudi time). A recent study has further highlighted this problem in Saudi Arabia[2].

BEGINNING OF THE LUNAR MONTH

When a crescent moon is not sighted on the 29th day of a month, the 1st day of the next Islamic lunar month will commence only after 30 days of the ongoing month are completed. This is the standard accepted principle for the beginning of the next month when the previous month commenced on the basis of a GENERAL PUBLIC sighting of the CRESCENT MOON by the naked eye. However, when the month was commenced due to the claimed sighting of a FEW WITNESSES, and a subsequent sighting on the 30th day was not made despite a clear sky)', then according to FIQH principle in this case, the next month will not be commenced merely on completion of 30 days. Rather it will be accepted retrospectively that the ongoing month was commenced on doubtful or false sighting of the witnesses. If their claimed sighting was correct then surely, a general public sighting of the crescent moon on the 30th day of the month would have been confirmed. There is no FIQH principle which says that the new month commences simply because 30 days of the ongoing month have been completed without referring to Ru'yah.

AN ISLAMIC CALENDAR BASED ON ACTUAL CRESCENT MOON SIGHTING

Countries like India, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Morocco and some African countries base their months on the actual sighting of the crescent moon. They adopt this natural way of determining Ramadan and Eid and other Islamic lunar months. Their yearly calendar is based on the principle of PREDICTABILITY OF CRESCENT MOON SIGHTING. This is the very reason why the months of these countries are usually 1 day later than the Egyptian or Saudi Arabian calendar which are based on the principle of CONJUNCTION TIME which sometimes results in the Islamic lunar month starting even before the birth of the new crescent.

Today’s modern Media Information technology (TV, Satellite, cable etc.) allows news to travel all over the globe within seconds. Whilst this advancement has brought with it comforts and luxuries for the human society, it has also produced new religious problems. Among these is the issue of conflicting news regarding Ramadan and Eidain coming from various Muslim countries.

Muslims are naturally inclined to be influenced by the news coming from Saudi Arabia because of the high respect and honour for, the Two Holy Cities (Makkah and Madinah), the respect of the Ka'ba, and the dignity of the places of Pilgrimage. The premature declaration of Crescent Moonsighting (at occasions of Ramadan and Eid) emanating from Saudi Arabia is therefore accepted throughout the Muslim world and especially by Muslim minorities residing under the rule of others (in Europe, USA and other countries). This information does not usually tally with the news coming from the rest of the Muslim countries. This causes a sense of confusion among Muslim communities which often leads to heated arguments and unnecessary division in the Ummah.


An Analysis of the Saudi Arabian declaration regarding Ramadan and Eid shows that in order to accept their claims as valid, one has to swallow the following unbelievable factors:

  1. Accept a witness's claim of sighting while the moon has gone beneath the horizon at this time.
  2. Accept a witness's claim of having sighted the crescent moon for the MONTH OF RAMADAN even on the 27th of Sha'baan.
  3. Accept that Allah (The Almighty) has not ordained any specific laws for the moon and thus it orbits the earth randomly.
  4. Accept yet another person's claim of sighting when the moon has not even taken the form of a crescent (i.e. before the CONJUNCTION time). Believing this is like believing someone who claims to have seen a baby playing in its mother's lap before birth.

There are some people who without question accept Saudi Arabia's declaration as a valid Ru'yah. Have they ever taken the trouble of enquiring from the Saudi Arabian sources whether at the time of their claimed sighting, there is a possibility of crescent moon sighting or whether the moon is even present on the horizon?

For example: 1st Ramadan 1992 (1412 AH) according to Saudi Arabia was on 4th March. This means that the crescent in Saudi Arabia was sighted on the 3rd of March. The CONJUNCTION TIME was on Tuesday 4th March, 4:22 pm local Saudi time. Enquire from any observatory in the world whether a sighting was likely anywhere on the globe on Monday 3rd March 1992. Their unanimous answer will be in the negative. The moon cycle for the previous month (Sha'baan, 1412 AH) had not yet been completed. How could it be seen by the naked eye when the crescent moon was not even present on the horizon! If their claim was correct, it would have been surely confirmed by places on the west of Saudi Arabia on the same evening. In reality, it was not even seen on the next day (4th March 1992). All over the globe, the actual sighting was confirmed 2 or 3 days after the claimed sighting of Saudi Arabia.

TESTIMONY OF SIGHTING

Pre-requirements for a valid testimony of sighting includes the following:

  1. The qualifications of the witness (e.g. justice and truthfulness, reliability and validity, freedom from calumniation and slander, good eyesight).
  2. Predictability of crescent moon sighting as verified by the Observatory. i.e. what was the possibility of sighting like? Since for the crescent moon to be sighted, it has to be present on the horizon.
  3. Another rule of thumb for accepting a claimed sighting is that the sighting should be confirmed (pending good weather) at places on the west of the place where the claim was made. If despite good visibility the sighting is not confirmed at places on the west of the place of "claimed sighting" then such a claim should be rendered dubious and must be rejected.

We understand that SHARI'AH RULING should be based on the testimony which is genuine and totally free from any sense of doubt.

FINAL WORD

In view of recent epidemics of dubious and unreliable reports of moon sighting and over reliance on "prematurely imported" CRESCENT MOON from Saudi Arabia (even before the birth of CRESCENT MOON), the British Muslim community is left with no other plausible alternative than to rely heavily on THE ACCURATE PREDICTABILITY OF CRESCENT MOON SIGHTING IN THE UNITED KINGDOM based on ASTRONOMICAL CALCULATIONS (as confirmed by Greenwich Royal Observatory) before VALIDATING the news of any "claimed moon sighting", especially from abroad.

Regarding the orbit of the moon, astronomical calculations allow accuracy to the 1/1000th of a second for all places on the earth. However, other factors and restrictions may come in the way of a possible sighting by the naked eye. These limiting factors do not nullify the astronomical calculations nor will Ramadan or Eid be commenced solely on the basis of the calculated predictions of a sighting under circumstances of clear visibility. In clear weather conditions, the Islamic month starts/ends upon the sighting of the crescent moon by the naked eye.

There has never been a disagreement amongst the expert astronomers, both past and present, Muslim and non-Muslim about basic astronomical facts. All, including the publisher of the Umm-ul-Qura calendar of Saudi Arabia, are agreed upon the fact that the sighting of the crescent moon is impossible before or immediately after the CONJUNCTION TIME at any place on the globe. Any person can experience this fact practically and be convinced of its correctness. Those residing in Saudi Arabia or those who will be fortunate to be there from Ramadan to Hajj (1413) may wish to note the following dates:

  1. 21st February 1993 (Ramadan)
  2. 23rd March 1993 (Eid-ul-Fitr)
  3. 21st May 1993 (Dhul Hijjah)

For at least 30 minutes after sunset on these dates they should try to endeavour sighting the crescent moon. On 21 February and 22 May, there is no possibility of a sighting as the sunset and moonset times coincide. On 23rd March, the crescent will remain on the horizon in Makkah for about 8 minutes[3]. Fix your gaze on the horizon and search for the crescent for the next 15 minutes. If you do not see the crescent however, don't be disappointed. If the weather is clear and the crescent is not sighted then celebrating Eid-ul-Fitr the following day will only mean that you have missed an obligatory fast of the blessed month of Ramadan.


TEN INSTANCES OF IMPOSSIBLE SIGHTING IN THE LIGHT OF ASTRONOMY AND EXPERIENCE.
  1. If the moon is seen after SUBH-E-SADIQ and prior to sunrise towards the end of the Islamic month, then it will be impossible to see it on the eve of that day because the moonset will be before the sunset.
  2. On the basis of a sighting testimony the new Islamic month was commenced on the 29th day of the ongoing month. If on the next day there is no general sighting (pending good weather) then the testimony of the previous day will have to be rejected because the CRESCENT MOON seen on the previous evening must also be seen on the subsequent evening.
  3. The claimed sighting of a few people despite the sky being clear of dust, fog, clouds etc., will not be accepted because if the crescent was really on the horizon a general sighting would have been inevitable.
  4. If the claimed sighting is made at a time when, according to the basic fundamental astronomical rules and calculations a sighting is not possible, then that claim will have to be rejected.
  5. The Islamic month was commenced on the testimonies of a few people on the 29th of a month on a day when it was cloudy. If on the completion of 30 days, the CRESCENT MOON was not seen despite a clear sky then the testimonies will have been proved false. At the completion of 30 days of the lunar month (commenced on the basis of a true sighting) a definite CRESCENT MOON sighting is inevitable.
  6. A claimed sighting at the time of a SOLAR ECLIPSE is absolutely impossible. (e.g. Saudi Arabia claimed a sighting on 1st Muharram 1412, 12 July 1991 when there was a total eclipse in America).
  7. If places on the west of "the place" where the sighting is first made, do not confirm the sighting despite good weather conditions then the sighting on "the place" is false.
  8. A sighting before the birth of the CRESCENT MOON (i.e. before CONJUNCTION TIME) is totally incorrect.
  9. If the moonset is before sunset, then a sighting is impossible.
  10. If the sunset and moonset times coincide then a sighting on that day is impossible.

In all of the above ten circumstances, Saudi Arabia has always maintained the following phrase and made their declaration.

"Two Witnesses have testified and a decision was made..."

The information as to WHEN, WHERE and by WHOM in Saudi Arabia, the claim was made is seldom disclosed.

ISLAMIC RESEARCH INSTITUTE OF GREAT BRITAIN

The Institute was founded primarily for providing solutions to religious and social problems encountered by the Muslim community residing in the West. New issues arise by the day as the Muslim nation especially the young generation becomes increasingly concerned about their religion. The Institute aims to educate Muslims and instil Islamic awareness through publications.

Islamic Research Institute of Great Britain, c/o Masjid-e-Heera, Thornhill Road, Dewsbury, WF12 9BX (UK)


Ref: Scan of the original book (PDF) | Related: The Psychological Effect on Sightings of the New Moon By Dr. Ayman Kordi [PDF] 

[1] Islamic Thought and Scientific Creativity, Vol. 4, No. 1, J 993

[2] A H. Maniar, "Study and analysis of the Ummul Qura Calendar", paper distributed at the world conference on International Islamic calendar, Penang, October 8-1 0, 1991

[3] Saudi Arabia claimed crescent moon sighting on Monday 22nd March, 1993 even before the CONJUNCTION TIME which was 10:14 local Saudi time.

A Proposal to Solve the Problem / by Allamah Dr Khalid Mahmud, MA, PhD (Manchester, UK) / President of Jamiat Ulama, Britain [1974]

Foreword

In Britain, the sky is almost always cloudy and here it is difficult to sight the first moon with the naked human eye. This weather condition affects some of the Muslim Religious affairs which depend upon the sighting of the first moon, for example, the beginning of Ramadan, the fasting month, and the celebration of Eid. The friction among and dissensions of various religious factions and the heretical attempts to dismember Religion bypassing proper guidance from the Mosque have made this situation more adverse and complicated. The commencement of Ramadan on different dates and the celebrating of Eid on simultaneous days do mar the image of true Muslim National life.

The parties who take these variant decisions are perhaps not unaware of the awkward position of the Muslim manual workers and of the white-collar workers who get Eid leave from their employers on different dates and this state of affairs really affects their position at work. The British population composed of various nations gives a smile to this position of Muslims and this fact brings sorrow to them rather than happiness and pleasure. If this difference of opinion occurs again on the second Eid which falls on the 10th of Dhu al-Hijjah these sorrows add to the sorrows of Muharram. It is very sad that in this age of material advancement, the spiritual values are going so low and those responsible are not seeking to reconcile to each other under the guidance of the Prophet (ﷺ).

It is also a fact that our younger generation and educated classes do not fully grasp the real subject of dissension and points at issue. Everyone explains these differences in his own way. The articles in the press raise new points, create new differences and among the writers, there are some who have no background of proper religious knowledge. They only write for the sake of writing. Then there are so many explanations that the text is completely veiled.

In the light of this sad state of affairs, it is necessary to get the public acquainted with the actual point of dispute and to mention all the other basic points on which there is no dispute among the various Muslim organisations in Britain. This is the only way to discourage those who without any understanding of the real point of dispute attempt to widen the circle of dissension. Such people without properly introducing themselves give their opinions on the issues which they have never studied in any depth.

We affirm that even in these times of so much variation the differing parties agree on most of the basic points, and we further admit that the points on which there are differences have also an academic background. We have suggested here a line of an agreement to bridge these differences and that is not only a matter of compromise but also has its origin in jurisprudence.

The points on which all the Muslim organisations agree
  1. In fixing the first of Ramadan and celebration of Eid the basic commandment of Islam is concerned with the sighting of the first moon and not with the birth of the moon. We are not concerned with the position of the moon but we are concerned with its visibility.
  2. The sighting of the moon means its sighting with the naked human eye[1]; and its sighting from the earth and not from the space.
  3. Each of these three conditions fulfils the principle of sighting the moon: (a) Sighting of the moon by so many people that they do not need any further witness, (b) The sighting of the moon by few people who may give their witnesses fulfilling the requirement of Law, (c) The sighting of the moon in another country whose lawful decision could be obtained through a reliable source.
  4. It is very difficult to fix the commencement of a lunar month by completing (counting) the thirty days of the previous month because it is not easy to sight here any new moon and it is also not acceptable that all the lunar months may have been counted of thirty days.
  5. The commandments of Islam are not based on deep acquired sciences. Instead, they reconcile with the factors of nature. The holy Prophet (ﷺ) has completely rejected to fix the first moon mathematically.
  6. Observatory gives information regarding the birth of the moon and the moon-set but as to its visibility, they do not fix any point of time. In the same way, they are not definite about the span of twilights but their findings generally differ from each other.
  7. The Quran states that the Muslim Religious Affairs and pilgrimage times are to be fixed with the appearance of the new-moons. The Prophet (ﷺ) also directed to start the month of Ramadan when the moon is sighted and end this month when after the next moon is sighted.

The question which needs our attention relates the geographical limits to which this advice of the Prophet (ﷺ) could be extended. If the moon is sighted in one country, should Ramadan be commenced in the whole world or only in the countries on and near the same latitude where the moon was sighted? Does it prove as a conclusive argument for all the zones of the world? Or is it restricted to the areas of that zone? In either case, we have to see whether the evidence of this advice of the Prophet (ﷺ) on any aspect of this decision is definite and clear-cut or if it is based on analogy. It is apparent that no scholar from among the early scholars of Islam has ever claimed certainty of any such explanation. So, the only points of dispute are as follows:

  1. If the legal decision of a Muslim country is rightly communicated to this country, does this carry authoritative value here in every respect? Should we accept such decision of the near Muslim countries or should we accept such decisions irrespective of wherefrom it is communicated to us in this country? Should the decisions from the far and from the near countries be regarded as equal?
  2. Are decisions of the other Muslim countries binding (themselves authoritative) in this country or do they attain authoritative status here only after the decision of the Islamic council of this country?

These are the points of dispute between the Islamic Cultural Centre, London [Regent’s Park] and the Jamiat al-Ulama, Britain. The former is mostly under the influence of the Ulama from Egypt who mostly agrees with Shafi’i school of thought and the latter is under the influence of the Ulama from Pakistan and India who belong to the Hanafi school of thought. The former does not take the different [moon] rising-times into consideration when they have to determine the first of Ramadan or the first of Shawwal. They follow any first authoritative report communicated to them from any Muslim country. The committee of Jamiat al-Ulama does not accept the decision of far Muslim countries when the decision of the near Muslim countries is contrary to that. They hold that in the far distance the difference in rising-times should be taken into account and the decision of the far countries should not be followed particularly when it is contradictory to the decision of the near Muslim countries.


A matter of principle

 Islam agrees with the natural phenomena of the world. We expect its legal findings to be agreeing with laws of nature. In principle, all the nations are addressed in view of the affairs of their own geographical position. When it is commanded to offer prayer after sun-set it means the sun-set of that Area. If someone in Munich [Germany] communicates the report of sun-set to his friend in Glasgow [UK] where the sun has not yet set the Muslims of Glasgow would not be allowed to offer their Maghrib prayer if the sun is shining there. The people of every zone shall have to adjust their prayers with the sun-rise and sun-set of their own zones. The saying of the Prophet (ﷺ) that "do keep fast when you sight the moon and end this fasting (month) when you sight the moon" should also be interpreted in the light of this principle that every nation is addressed in view of the affairs of their own zones[2] and the difference in rising-times should be taken into account when determining the first of Ramadan. It is not right to decide for the people of the West by sighting the moon in the East.

We accept that the areas of the same or near latitude may communicate the fact of their sighting and decision to one another. The zones whose rising-times are not so much different from those of one another can help one another in this respect but it is hard to decide for New York [USA] when the moon has been sighted in Calcutta [India]; because every nation is addressed in view of the affairs of its own conditions.

The jurists state in Hajj discussion[2] that the days of animal sacrifices for those people who are not on Hajj are 10th, 11th and 12th of Dhu al-Hajj of their own zones. When it is the 13th of Dhu al-Hajj in Mecca and it is not the day of animal sacrifice there it is the day of sacrifice for all those for whom it is the 12th of Dhu al-Hajj. In Islamic instructions, there is no evidence that Eid al-Adha in all the world should necessarily be celebrated on the next of the 9th Dhu al-Hajj at Arafat [Mecca]. It is true that at Arafat the 10th of Dhu al-Hajj is necessarily the next day of Hajj but it is not necessary that the 10th of Dhu al-Hajj at Arafat should everywhere be accepted as the 10th of Dhu al-Hajj everywhere else as well. Eid al-Adha in far countries shall be celebrated on the 10th of Dhu al-Hajj of their respective areas.

We further admit that there is some provision in all the four schools of jurisprudence that different rising-times may not be taken into account in fixing the first of Ramadan and the day of Eid but as regards the founder Imams of these four schools most of them take these differences in rising times into account and do not impose the decision of one country on the other. Abu Hanifah [d.150 A.H.], the Imam, does not take these different rising-times into account and allows one country to decide in accordance with the visibility and decision of the other; and this is the most authentic finding of the Hanafi school. But we should like to restrict this verdict of the Hanafi school to the distance which could be covered in the conditions and means of communication in those days. The eminent Hanafi jurists like al-Kasani (the author of Al-Bada’i wa al-sana’i) and al-Zayla’i (the commentator of Kanz al-Daqa’iq) do not regard that opinion of Abu Hanifah as general as to apply to East and West but restrict that opinion of Abu Hanifah only to the countries which are not far apart. This is really the longest possible distance, which could be covered in those days by available means of communication, to enable one area to take the decision in accordance with that of the other.

In these days travel facilities, telephone, radio and television have united East and West and a message from far East can easily be communicated to the West in a matter of seconds. Is it admissible to adjust that opinion of Abu Hanifah (which was given in the second century of Hijrah) to the current means of communication available in this century? Would it be right not to take into account differences in the rising-times of the different parts of the world and decide for New York by the visibility of the moon in Calcutta? Did Abu Hanifah mean by that opinion of his to cover such long distances?

It should be noted here that the jurists who take the view of non-considering the difference in rising-times so general as to unite East and West is their own explanation of Abu Hanifah's statement; otherwise, Abu Hanifah is not so explicit in his non-consideration of different rising-times.

The basic difference between the verdict of the Prophet (ﷺ) and the decisions of the jurists

The decisions of the jurists which are mostly based on analogy should be explained in the light of the conditions prevailing at that time. They had taken those decisions in the currents of that time with that background. The geographical application of the general sense of their verdicts had its limitations because of comparatively poor travel facilities in those times. They were not endowed with Divine light which could enable them to foresee the 'impossible' of their times changing into 'possible' a few centuries later. But the Prophets (AS) speak not from their experience and conditions of their own time but by virtue of Divine light which is connected with Allah’s guidance and protection.

The extension of the general sense of the instructions of the Prophet (ﷺ) and the application of analogy on the basis of their guide-lines are the streams of Religious knowledge. But the same status cannot be given to the conclusions of the later jurists if they argue by the general sense of the early theorists who had given their opinions in the light of their experience and humanly acquired knowledge. Their decisions were necessarily governed by the conditions of their own times.

Abu Hanifah has not taken the different rising-times into account but this outlook is explainable if we consider the conditions at that time. This is the reason why most of the late Hanafi scholars like Shah Wali Allah, Anwar Shah the ex-Principal of Deoband School and Allamah Uthmani, Shaykh al-Islam of Pakistan do not agree on the principle of the universal application of the general sense of Abu Hanifah's verdict to both East and West. In India and Pakistan, the scholars of Hanafi school of thought do take into account the different rising-times between places separated by long distances.

We do not intend here to favour or oppose any side of the issue but want to give an introduction to these two opinions of the jurists so that the Muslims in Britain may understand for themselves, what principles are followed in deciding commencement of Ramadan and celebration of Eid on different dates. It is a fact that both the opinions have some evidence in their favour and it is also a fact that both opinions are based on analogy and jurisprudence. There is no clear-cut verdict in the Qur'an and the Sunnah of the Prophet (ﷺ) on this issue. There are jurists on both sides. If one side of the issue has been taken as accepted in one age it does not mean that it was explicit, certain and definite in its implication in Muslim Law; especially when streams of law have different flows in different times and different places. The accepted opinion (in its time of acceptance) is an opinion which has been given preference and not a definite verdict of law.


The prevailing conditions in Britain

We have already discussed the cause of dissension between the two circles. The prevailing state of affairs, as has been noticed, is as follows:

  1. Islamic Cultural Centre is under the influence of the scholars of Egypt who mostly agree with the Shafi’i school of thought. Al-Shafi’i, although, took the different rising-times into account but the later scholars of that school have inclined towards disregarding this difference. The scholars of the Islamic Cultural Centre do not take the different rising-times into account and as soon as the Cairo Radio announces the decision of Egypt, they take the decision in accordance with that and announce their decision in Britain.
  2. The Ruyat Hilal Committee of Jamiat Ulama, Britain is under the influence of the Hanafi scholars of Pakistan and India. These scholars do take different rising-times into account in countries far apart. They, in general, take the decision in accordance with the decision of Morocco which is taken under the supervision of the Moroccan Government and the guidance of the scholars of Islamic Studies. They make their decision on the basis of the visibility of the first moon and it is recorded in the record book of the Jamiat Ulama, Britain. The decision of Morocco is communicated to this country by the identifiable voices of one or two reliable and trust-worthy Muslims through the telephone. When this communication with the support of other considerations, bears celebrity and certainty these scholars of Jamiat Ulama take their decision in agreement with that. According to these scholars, the decision of the other country is not authoritative in itself but it becomes authoritative after the agreement of the Committee of scholars here in this country in accordance with that.
Jamiat Ulama's outlook in regard to Muslim Unity

Jamiat Ulama always honours any attempt to Muslim unity. In 1972 they had compromised with Anjuman Tabligh al-Islam (Bradford), the Barelvi group of Hanafis, in determining the first of Ramadan and the celebration of Eid. The basis of this compromise was that both the groups belong to Hanafi school of thought and both of them agree to take a decision in accordance with the Moroccan decision. The first meeting of the two groups was held in Jami Mosque Howard Street, Bradford on 8 October 1972 and they took one decision for the beginning of Ramadan. The second meeting of the two parties was held on 7 November 1972 in 68 Southfield Square. and one decision was taken for the celebration of Eid al-Fitr. Then both the parties agreed on one-day of Eid al-Adha. The Ramadan of 1973 and the Eid al-Fitr were also celebrated unanimously. This agreement of the two parties was highly appreciated by the Muslim masses in Britain that the two Sunni groups have joined their hands to begin their Ramadan from one date and celebrate their Eid on one day. But everyone felt sorrow that on account of a misunderstanding the two Sunni groups departed from each other and celebrated their Eid al-Adha on different days; the Jamiat on the 4th and Anjman on the 5th January 1974.

The press reports indicate that certain political groups are also taking measures to form their separate committees to determine the first of Ramadan and the day of Eid; but no one can deny that Islamic Cultural Centre, London and Jamiat Ulama, Britain are the only two oldest organisations under whose guidance the Muslims in Britain have been commencing their fasting days and celebrating their Eid, for the last fifteen years. May Allah cause these newly born groups to think again and join one of these two old organisations and the Muslims in Britain may not suffer from more dissensions and dissections; May Allah causes these two organisations also to join their hands.

How the two organisations can unite? / Formation of an Islamic Council

The differences based on clear-cut verdicts of the Qur'an and the Sunnah cannot be liquidated or overlooked for the sake of compromise or unity of the community. Surely one side is on the right path and the second one misled. But the differences that are based on analogy and in which all the jurists have some evidence in their support can easily be overcome by the Muslim ruler[3]. If he takes the decision in accordance with any of the two it becomes binding[4] upon all of them and the Muslims in that country will be relieved from the minor dissensions. The Qur'an has stated obedience to Ulu al-Amr (the possessors of authority from among the Muslims) as next to the believers' obedience to Allah and the Prophet (ﷺ); provided it is in no way contradictory to the instructions of the Qur'an and the Prophet (ﷺ).

The countries in which there is no Muslim ruler the Muslims living there can appoint an Imam under whose guidance they can perform the religious rites[5]. The decision of this Imam can thus solve their problems that are based on analogical opinions. If it is difficult for them to agree upon one Imam, they can constitute an Islamic Council in his place with powers to enforce its authority to solve such problems of the community. The decision of such a council will then be binding upon all the Muslims of this country[6]. This council shall decide whether to take the different rising-times into consideration or not to take them into account in determining the first of fasting month and the day of Eid. This will relieve the community from these dissensions and analogical differences and it will be Islam's requirement to act upon its decisions. All the considerations for choosing an Imam in a non-Muslim country should be applied when constituting such an Islamic council which will give guidance to the Muslims here in Britain, in their religious rites and requirements. However, we suggest here the necessary considerations which should be taken into account when constituting such an Islamic Council.

  1. The members of this council should have acquired complete religious knowledge regarding the moon problems and fully aware of the instructions of the Qur'an and the Prophet (ﷺ) in this respect.
  2. They should be acquainted with the different opinions of the jurists with their evidence regarding the consideration of different rising-times and should be capable of tracing them back to their original sources.
  3. They may be taking consideration of different rising-times or their non-consideration only on an analogical level and may not be taking any opinion in this respect as equally authoritative as any clear-cut verdict of the Qur'an and the Sunnah.
  4. They should be representing the whole Muslim population in Britain and their decision, on the basis of their religious knowledge and their influence among the community, should be acceptable to their own circles.
  5. They should have accepted the status of Ulu al-Amr (and in their absence of the Islamic Council) as next to the Qur'an and the Sunnah.

In Britain, the joint decision of Islamic Cultural Centre, London, Jamiat Ulama, Britain, Anjman Tabligh al-Islam, Bradford and Bangladesh Muslim Association can faithfully be accepted by all the Muslims living in Britain. We request all the Muslims in Britain to stress their religious guides, leaders and their associations who are managing the Mosque here to jointly constitute such an Islamic Council. The Council shall certainly relieve the Muslim community in Britain, from such minor dissensions and be a healthy step to solve a national problem.

We further request our brethren that up to the establishment of such a council they should meanwhile abide by the decisions of their learned scholars who take care of their religious responsibilities and not to fall in dispute on these issues, neither in the press nor in mosques. We are grateful to the scholars of Mecca for suggesting to us a line of action which can unite all the Muslim organisations here on this issue. We append here a 'Fatwa' from them which has really benefitted us in reaching the aforesaid conclusion. This would be a decisive step to Muslim unity in this field of dissension.


Appendix

KINGDOM OF SAUDI ARABIA

Bureau of the Presidency of Scientific Research, Legal Opinion,
Propagation and Guidance Departments. Office of the President.

Legal Opinion No. 319 Dated 19 Dhu al-Qa'idah 1392 (24 September 1972)

Praise be to Allah and blessings and peace on his Prophet (ﷺ) and his kindred. The Permanent Committee for Scientific Research and Legal Opinions has reviewed the questionnaire submitted by His Excellency the Head of Islamic Centre, London, through Mr Nayar ul Haq al-Pakistani to HR The President of Scientific Research, Legal Opinion, Propagation and Guidance Departments, which was referred to it by the Secretariat General of the Senior Jurists Committee under (cover of letter) No. 133/2, dated 19 Muharram 1392 (5 March 1972). Following are the three questions submitted as well as the answers thereto:

Q.1 Can any country in the world rely on fasting Ramadan on sighting the new moon in any other Muslim country and consider that conclusive evidence for the start of Ramadan or Eid al-Fitr festivals?

A.1 Jurists have agreed that the rising times of the new moon are different; which theory has been necessarily known physically and mentally. However, they have disagreed on applying it to the beginning and end of the fast in Ramadan. Some jurists believe that the different rising times of the new moon should be taken into consideration in determining the start and end of the fast in Ramadan, while others disagree. Each group has quoted evidence from the Quran, the Traditions and Analogy, and in certain cases, both used the same quotations to support their views, such as the Quranic verses, "who is present (at home) during that month should spend it in fasting", and "They ask thee concerning the new moons. Say: They are but signs to mark fixed periods of time in (the affairs of) men", and the Prophet (ﷺ)'s saying, "Start the fast when you sight the new moon and end it when you sight the following new moon". Each group interprets the text differently and follows a different course in applying it. In general, the subject question is a theoretical matter in which independent judgement may be exercised and for this reason, jurists are disagreed on it at present and in the past. The people of any country are at liberty if they do not see the new moon on the night of the thirtieth day, to be satisfied with the sighting of the new moon at a different time in other countries if it has been established to them. If they disagree, they should follow the decision of their ruler if he is a Muslim since his adoption of either view settles the dispute and obligates the nation to act accordingly. If the ruler is not a Muslim, they should adopt the decision of the council of the Islamic Centre in their country to maintain uniformity in Ramadan fasting and Eid prayers in their country.

Q.2 There is a time difference of about 2 hours between Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Syria, Lebanon, Jordan and Yemen on the one hand and England. If the sighting of the new moon has been established in any of these countries, can we in England follow suit and start the fast in England or are we supposed to sight the new moon in England in order to start the fast?

A.2 Both this question and the first one inquire about the same matter and our above answer should cover this question.

Q.3 It is not possible to sight the new moon with the naked eye before it is 30 hours old, and then it is not possible to sight it due to the weather conditions. If we take this into consideration, can the inhabitants of England use astronomical calculations for this country in determining the expected time for sighting the new moon and the beginning of Ramadan, or should we sight the new moon before starting the fast in Ramadan?

A.3 Observatory instruments may be used in sighting the new moon but astronomical sciences cannot be relied on in establishing the beginning of Ramadan or Eid al-Fitr. Allah has not prescribed that for us in his Book or in the Traditions [of the Prophet (ﷺ)], for He ordained that the beginning and end of Ramadan should be established by sighting the Ramadan moon at the start of the fast and sighting Shawwal moon for ending the fast and performing Eid al-Fitr prayers. He has designated moons as signs to mark fixed periods of time in the affairs of men and pilgrimage without which a Muslim cannot fix periods of time for religious observances including Ramadan fasting, [two Eid] holidays, pilgrimage, [days of feasting after Hajj] and divorce expiation etc.

Allah says, "Who is present (at his home) during that month should spend it in fasting" and, "They ask thee concerning the new moons. Say: They are but signs to mark fixed periods of time in the affairs of men", and the Prophet (ﷺ) says, "Start the fast when you sight the new moon and end it when you sight the following new moon; if you cannot see clearly, make it 30 days". Therefore, those who do not sight the moon at its rising time in their country when it is clear or cloudy should make the month 30 days if it is not sighted by others at a different rising time. If the sighting of the moon at a different rising time in another country has been established to them, they should follow the decision of the Muslim ruler in their country calling for fasting or not fasting, since his judgement in this issue settles the dispute between jurists regarding the applicability or non-applicability of the different rising times. If their ruler is not Muslim, they should act according to the ruling of the Council of Islamic Centre in their country calling for fasting on the grounds of sighting the moon at a different rising time or not fasting on the grounds that the moon rising times are not the same in all countries.

Permanent Committee for Scientific Research and Legal Opinions.

Sd/-

'Abd ar-Razzaq 'Afifi, Vice Chairman

Members:

Abd Allah ibn Sulayman ibn Mani

Abd Allah ibn 'Abd ar-Rahman ibn Ghaydyn

The words, “God” and “Prophet” in the original texts has been replaced with “Allah” and “Prophet (ﷺ)”, respectively as per tradition - Editor


References

[1] See, al-Bukhari, Al-Sahih, v.3., p.35, Muslim, Al-Sahih, v.1., p.347. The eminent traditionist Mulla al-Qari comments upon this tradition: 'This tradition indicates that to act upon the conclusions of the astronomists is not our way nor our Sunnah; instead our finding is concerned with the visibility of the first moon'. (Mirqat, v.4., p.244). The eminent jurist Ibn Abidin al-Shami agrees with this principle and says: 'The Prophet (ﷺ) has no trust in the mathematical conclusions but he has completely rejected that suggestion'. (Radd al-Muktar, v.2, p.126). The eminent astronomist Abu Rayhan al-Bayruni agrees with the common standpoint of the experts that the conclusions of the astronomical instruments are not conclusive and definite. (See al-Bayruni, Al-Athar al-Baqiyah, p.198). In his work on the jurisprudence of the Four Schools, Abd al-Rahman states: 'Despite their deep base we do not find the opinion of the astronomists, conclusively set and their frequent differences in arriving at a decision bear testimony to it. This is the opinion of the three Imams (Abu Hanifah, Malik and Ahmed). As regards the Shafi’i School they also do not regard it authoritative for the generality of the public'.  (Al-Fiqh alal al-Madhahib  al-Arba’ah, p.551). Majd al-A’immah al-Tarjumani reports that all the companions of Abu Hanifah and al-Shafi’i agree that the opinion of the astronomists cannot be depended upon. (See, al-Shami, op.cit., v.2, p.126).

[2] Fakhr al-Din Zayla’i (d.743 A.H.) states in his commentary on Kanz al-Daqa’iq: the evidence supports that address to every nation should be considered in view of their own conditions. (Al-Zayla’i, Tabyin, v.1., p.321). Ali al-Qari states: “The cause of commencement of the fasting days is the month of Ramadan. When, on the basis of the sighting of the moon, it is established for a nation it is not necessarily established for the other nation where there is a difference in the rising-times. When the sun comes down or sets upon a nation and not upon the other there will be the timings of the Zuhr or Maghrib prayer for the former and not for the latter because the cause has not been established for them. This is the legal opinion of al-Quduri and the other teachers who have taken the difference in rising-times into account”. (Sharh al-Niqayah, v.1., p.172). The eminent Hanafi jurist Ala al-Din al-Kasani (d.587 A.H.) also agrees to take the difference in rising-times into account in determining the first of Ramadan and Eid. (See, Al-Bada’i, v.2., p.83). Shah Wali Allah, the eminent traditionist of Delhi corroborates this opinion that difference in rising-times of the long-distant zones should be taken into account. (See, Al-Musaffa, the commentary on Muwatta, v.1, p.226).

See, Ibn Abidin op.cit., v.2., p.132.

[3] See, S 5:39,"0 you who believe, obey Allah and obey the Prophet (ﷺ) and those in authority from among you; then if you fell into a dispute (with them) about anything, refer it to Allah (the Qur'an) and the Prophet (ﷺ) (the Sunnah) if you believe."

[4] See, the Abidin, op cit, v.1. p.780,"Obedience to the Imam is obligatory provided it may not cause disobedience to Allah and the Prophet (ﷺ)". For further evidence on this issue, See, ibid, v.3 p.428" It is obligatory to obey the Imam, the just or unjust, provided it may not contradict the Law (Shariah) ".

[5] See, al-Nasafi, AlqaEid, p.181, 'The Muslims cannot do without an Imam who is to administer their affairs". The eminent jurist Ibn Hammam (861 A.H.) states that if because of the non-Muslims' prevalence there is no Muslim ruler (living in that country) it is obligatory for the believers (living in that country) to appoint an Imam under whose administration they fulfil their religious requirement. like Friday service and celebration of Eids (See Ibn Abidin, op cit, v.4. p.42).

[6] See, ibid, v.1 p.754, "If (the majority of) the Muslims agree on a Muslim to administer their religious affairs he shall have to be accepted as Obiter (Qadi)". For further evidence, see, ibid, v.4. p.427, "It is allowed to administer the Friday service and the celebration of Eid in such countries and on the basis of the believers' agreement the Qadi shall have the authoritative command".

Ref. Re-typed: [English] [Urdu] | Scan of original booklet: [English/Urdu]

[Download pdf] - Related: The Importance of Jame Ghafeer (Large Group) | The History of the UK following Saudi Arabia

By Mufti Muhammad Yusuf Danka, Croydon Masjid, UK (published 2011, updated 2019)

Allah (سبحانه و تعالى) has stated in the Holy Qur’aan: “They ask you (O Muhammad صلي الله عليه وسلم) about the crescent moons. Say: They are signs to mark fixed periods of time for mankind and for the pilgrimage.” Quran (2: 189).

Muhaqaq Ruyat Basari (محقق رؤيتِ بصرى): The Shari’ah of Islam have classified the regulation of time (months) by means of sighting the crescent moon. Every person who has the faculty of sight can look at the sky and determine the start of the new month (by viewing the crescent moon). Despite great leaps being made in the field of astronomy as well as scientific calculations being formulated on the birth of the new moon, the scientific analysis is not a verified proof in Islam to commence the new month. To stipulate Ramdhan and Eid (commencement of end of the month) calendar dates by calculations alone is Haraam. In the commencement of every month, it is necessary to verify and validate the sighting of the moon (Muhaqaq Ru’yat Basari). Whosoever leaves this methodology has left the guidance of the Shari’ah in Sunnah. (Dars-e-Tirmidhi vol 2, p 520-521)

Shaykhul Tafsir Allamah Muhammad Idrees Khandhlawi رحمه الله writes: ‘In the Shari’ah; Zakaat, Hajj, and Ramadhan fasting, issues of Islamic jurisprudence (i.e the waiting period of women etc) are based upon the lunar month. There is no reference made to the solar calendar or its calculation in Shariah. It is for this reason that the knowledge of the lunar months and conditions of Ruyat-e-Hilal are Fard alal Kifayah upon the Muslims. If all the Muslims were to abandon attaining knowledge related to these matters, they would be committing a sin. (Ma’riful Qur’an, vol 1, p380)

The Final Prophet to Mankind, Sayyidina Muhammad bin Abdullah (ﷺ) has related many signs before Qiyamah [Day of Judgement] to warn Mankind. The books of Hadith are filled with authentic chain of narrations in respect of these signs. One sign among the signs of Qiyamah is that there will be disagreement in regards to Ruyat-e Hilal. It has also been related that near the end day of Qiyamah the crescent moon of the first day will be seen to be large. The Prophet (ﷺ) also stated: ‘When seeing the crescent moon of the first day people will state, this looks like the moon of the 2nd day.’ In books of Hadith this type of incident took place during the time of Sahaaba (رضى الله عنهم) where some people saw the crescent for the first day and said: ‘This moon looks like the 2nd night and some said it looks like the 3rd night.’ The Prophet (ﷺ) further told us to abstain from saying such things. (Musannaf Ibn Abi Shayba, #37553/ Sahih Muslim, #1088/ Mishkaat Masabih, ch. Ruyat-e Hilal)

In this time, not only the laymen but also certain groups among the scholars are proclaiming these matters. The scholars are not mindful of the fact that their statements are going against the advices made by the Nabi (ﷺ). For example, in 2019 UK’s Jamiatul Ulama Britain shared a video of the moon two days after Eid with themselves appearing in the video. They never sent a video of the crescent moon on the night of the sighting (29th Ramadhan) which is very strange and something that raises doubt. This has been their common practice for the last few years.

Nowadays people totally forgo the Sunnah of sighting the moon when deciding upon any calendar event. In fact the norm is that people try to cause controversy after the full moon is evident by working back on dates and justifying that there date of celebration or commencement of fasting was correct. We can see the reality in the statements of the Prophet (ﷺ) 1432 years on, when we are hearing and seeing people making statements exactly as the Prophet (ﷺ) described. People are saying today: ‘Is the moon of the 1st night really this big?’ or ‘does the moon of the 1st night stay on the horizon for such a long time?’ then they say: ‘This means that it must be the moon of the 2nd or 3rd night.’ Such statements are made as accusations rather than questions and are evident to signs preceding Qiyamah as foretold by the Prophet (ﷺ).              

The requirements of Shari’ah are to sight the moon of the 29th night and if it is not viewed then 30 days are to be completed for the month. The size of the moon is not entertained or given any weight in Shari’ah, as this is the view of ignorant and irreligious persons. In Islam, we have specific stipulations clearly laid out which is the law of Allah  revealed to Mankind for their betterment.

Signs of Qiyamah - Sighting a large moon of the 1st night:
  1. عن أبى هرير ة   قال : قال رسول الله  من أقتراب الساعة إنتفاخ الأهله وإن يرى لليلة ، فيقال لليلتين. {مجمع الزوائد لإبن أبى بكر الهيثمى جلد3 ص146}
    Sayyidina Abu Hurairah (رضي الله عنه) related that the Prophet (ﷺ) stated: ‘A sign from among the signs of Qiyamah is that the moon of the 1st night will be large and upon seeing this people will say: ‘This is the moon of the 2nd night.’ (Majmuz-Zawahid, vol 3, p146)
  2. عن عبدالله بن مسعود  قال : قال رسول الله  من أقتراب الساعة إنتفاخ الأهله. {مجمع الزوائد لإبن أبى بكر الهيثمى جلد3 ص146}
    Sayyidina Abdullah bin Masood (رضي الله عنه) related that the Prophet (ﷺ) stated: ‘Close to the day of Qiyamah, the moon will be seen as being large.’(Majmuz-Zawahid, vol 3, p146)
  3. انظر – البانى : صحيح الجامع الصغير (5/214) اشراط الساعة (ص193)
    Remember the Ghair Muqalideen cannot debate the validity of these Ahadith, even Shaykh Albani (rah) has stated their authenticity.
    عن أنس بن مالك  يرفعه إلى النبى  قال : ان من أمارات الساعة أن يرى الهلال لليلة ، فيقال لليلتين. {مجمع الزوائد لإبن أبى بكر الهيثمى جلد7 ص325}
    انظر – البانى : صحيح الجامع الصغير (5/214 ح5775) اشراط الساعة (ص194)
    Sayyidina Anas bin Malik (رضي الله عنه) related that the Prophet (ﷺ) stated: ‘Verily, a sign of Qiyamah is that the moon of the 1st night will be large and upon seeing this people will say: ‘This is the moon of the 2nd night.’ (Majmuz-Zawahid, vol 7, p325)
Signs of Qiyamah - The new month being commenced before sighting the crescent moon:
  1. عن أنس  قال : من أقتراب الساعة أن يرى الهلال قبلا، فيقال لليلتين ...الخ {مجمع الفوائد جلد4 ص714}
    Sayyidina Anas bin Malik (رضي الله عنه) related that the Prophet (ﷺ) stated: ‘A sign from among the signs of Qiyamah is that the moon will be seen before it is sighted. Upon sighting the moon of the 1st night it will be said: ‘This is the moon of the 2nd [night]’ (Majmul-Fawahid, vol 4, p714)


Nowadays, certain governments of Muslim countries (Turkey, Indonesia etc) are commencing Ramadhan and Eid upon pre-calculated lunar calendars. This results in them commencing the new month 1 or 2 days before the crescent moon can be sighted. The Saudi government base the commencement of the new month, especially Ramadhan, Eid and Hajj on the possibility of the new moon being present (not witnessed) on the horizon for 1 minute after the sun sets. If a calculation proves this is phenomenon, they deem the new month to have commenced and it is upon this that the Umm al-Qura calendar is formulated and printed for the entire year. It is the desire of the Saudi government that the entire Muslim world follows their lead in adopting this principle. It is for this reason that they announce the commencement of the new Islamic month before the crescent moon of the 1st day is visible anywhere in the World. Shaykh Ul Hadith Moulana Muhammad Zakariya Kandhalvi رحمه الله, writes: “In Saudi, the Umm al-Qura calendar is followed.” (Aap Beeti, vol 7, p211)

Signs of Qiyamah - The moon of the 1st night will be called the moon of the 2nd night:
  1. عن عاصم بن بهدلة عن الشعب رضي الله عنهما أن رسول الله  قال : من أقتراب الساعة إنتفاخ الأهله وإن يرى الهلال إبن ليلة، كانه ليلتين. {السنن الوارده جلد4 ص791}
    Asim bin Bahdala رحمه الله relates from Sayyidina Shu’aib (رضي الله عنه) that the Prophet (ﷺ) stated: ‘A sign witnessed close to the day of Qiyamah will be that the moon of the 1st night will seem like that of the 2nd(As Sunnanul Waarida, vol 4, p791)
  2. عن عمارة بن مهران قال سمعت الحسن  يقول : قال رسول الله  أن من أشراط الساعة أن يرى الهلال لليلة، فيقال هو لليلتين. {السنن الوارده جلد4 ص791}
    Sayyidina Amara bin Mehran (رضي الله عنه) relates: I heard Sayyidina Hassan (رضي الله عنه) state: ‘The Prophet (ﷺ) stated: ‘A sign from the signs of Qiyamah is that the moon of the 1st night will be sighted and it will be said: This is the moon of the 2nd night.’ (As Sunnanul Waarida, vol 4, p791)
  3. عن أبى سعيد الخدرى رضي الله عنه قال :: أقتراب الساعة إنتفاخ الأهله، يراه الرجل لليلة، يحسبه لليلتين. {السنن الوارده جلد4 ص791} 
    Sayyidina Abu Saeed Khudri (رضي الله عنه) related that the Prophet (ﷺ) stated: ‘Close to Qiyamah the moon will be seen as being large. Upon seeing the moon of the 1st night a person will have doubt it is the moon of the 2nd night.’ (As Sunnanul Waarida, vol 4, p791)

There are many reports that corroborate with these narrations, including At-Tabarani, each of which strengthens the other according to the science of Hadith. There are also those narrations which are related through Sahih and Hasan chains of narration.

Signs of Qiyamah - The disagreement in the sighting of the Ruyat-e Hilal:
  1. Abu Baktari (Saeed bin Firoz Kufi رحمه الله) stated: ‘We went out with the intention of Umrah, when we reached Batane Nakhla (an area between Makkah and Taif) we gathered in a place to sight the moon. (After seeing the moon) Certain people said: ‘This moon looks like the 2nd night and some said it looks like the 3rd night.’ Following this, we met Sayyidina Abdullah ibn Abbas (رضي الله عنه). We described our experience to him, he asked: ‘What night did you see the moon?’ We replied: ‘such and such a night.’ Ibn Abbas related that Nabi (ﷺ) stated: ‘Allah has based the month of Ramadhan upon the sighting of the moon. Therefore, the moon is of the night that you people viewed it (that is the 1st night).’ It is found in another narration: ‘If you people did not view a clear sky and the moon is not sighted, complete the month with 30 days (Sh’abaan) and after this keep the fasts of Ramadhan.’ (Mishkaat Masabih, ch. Ruyat-e Hilal/ Musannaf Ibn Abi Shayba, #37553/ Sahih Muslim, #1088)

In the present day and age, many people go to Saudi Arabia during the month of Ramadhan to perform Umrah. On the day when the Saudi government announces the commencement of the new month, when there are clear skies, none of the millions present sight the moon. Even the responsible persons of the Saudi Ruyat-e Hilal committee are not able to view the moon with the use of an observatory standard telescope in numerous locations in the kingdom. However, in accordance with the Umm Ul Qura calendar, the announcement is made 1 day before the new crescent moon can be sighted. Confusion and quarrels are found in the entire Muslim world, only due to the incorrect announcement of Saudi Arabia. The signs of Qiyamah as mentioned in the Ahadith are a result of this.

In the countries where the Muslim leaders of centres and organisations follow the Saudi announcements or adopt it for their purpose of establishing a new month, even they do not view the crescent moon on the night of the Saudi announcement. They view the moon 2 or 3 days after Saudi makes their announcement and instead of making this the 1st night, they say: ‘maybe the Saudi announcement was right then, this looks like the moon of the 2nd or 3rd night.’ They will prefer to protect and preserve the Umm Ul Qura calendar rather than taking the advice of the Prophet (ﷺ): ‘If you people did not view a clear sky and the moon is not sighted, complete the month with 30 days…’

The Statements of the Scholars:

سماحة الشيخ علامة شبير احمد عثمانى رحمه الله : اي أن الله تعالى يخلقه كبيراً ليكون أظهر للأبصار ويخلقه صغيراً، فقد يرى وقد لا يرى فتكمل العدة ثلاثين كما تكمل فى الغيم. {فتح الملهم جلد3 ص115}

Hadhrat Allamah Shabir Ahmed Uthmani رحمه الله writes: ‘Allah at times creates the moon in a large form so that the people may see it easily. At times it is witnessed as being small and at times, it cannot even be seen. The order of the Shari’ah is that if the moon is not witnessed then 30 days are to be completed in the month. There are times when it is possible to sight the crescent moon, but the sky is cloudy and the moon is not visible, in this instance 30 days will be completed.’ (Fathul Mulhim, vol 3, p115)

Hadhrat Allamah Nawab Muhammad Khutubudeen Dehlawi رحمه الله writes: ‘In conclusion, it can be understood that the basis of Ramadhan is upon sighting the crescent moon. There is no reliance or weight to the size of the crescent moon, be it large or small. However, it is found in narrations that the viewing of a large moon of the 1st night is from amongst the signs near the End of Times (Qiyamah). (Mazahir Haq, vol 2, p309)


Presently, people who are not witnessing the new crescent moon in the stipulated nights, instead of adopting the advice of the Shari’ah to complete 30 days, follow the announcements of the another country and government to where they are living. In doing so, they commence Ramadhan in the month of Sh’abaan. When they view the moon the following day, they hide their fault and proclaim the moon of the 1st night as being that of the 2nd. The same is true for the completion of Ramadhan, when the moon is not sighted for the commencement of Shawwal on the 29th night, 30 days should be completed. In this instance, 1 fast of Ramadhan is wasted and Eid is performed in Ramadhan. It is unfortunate, that those who follow the Sunnah and Mustabat 11 months of the year, leave aside a Fardh on this occasion and it does not affect their conscience.

The Prophet (ﷺ) stated: ‘My Ummah will never unite on a wrong.’ It is for this reason, that those who call to the Truth, announce the reality of this wrong to the masses even though they come under a barrage of ridicule for their stance.

What is the logic behind the moon of the 1st night being large?

الشّمس والقمر بحسبان، سوره الرحمن آيت  سورج اور چاند كيلئے ايک حساب هے. (ترجمہ شيخ الهند قدّس سره) يہ سب ايک خاص حساب اورضابطہ اورمضبوط نظام کےماتحت هے. مجا ل نہیں كہ اسكےدائره سےباهرقدم ركهسكيں. (تفسير عثمانى)

There are 2 important conditions for the sighting of the Hilal:
  1. The moon (light) must be distinguishable from sunlight, so as not be engulfed in the rays of the sun.
  2. The moon should be high in the sky. For the moon to be viewed on the 1st night, it needs to be at least 10 degrees above the horizon. The crescent moon can only be viewed a minimum of 18 hours after the birth of the new moon. The crescent is visible only after the strong rays of the sunset have subsided, this occurs when the sun is 5 degrees below the horizon. The crescent will only be visible if it is at 10 degrees or more above the horizon after the sun has ‘set’ (5 degrees below the horizon). This process takes approximately 15-20mins from sunset to the sighting of the crescent moon. Whosoever, claims to have sighted the crescent moon before this stipulated time, either they have been deceived by their sighting or they are lying. It is not possible for there to be Ruyate Aama (majority sighting) before the conditions stated above.

Unseen Time: The last time that the moon is seen in the month is the morning of the 27th or 28th day. After this, the moon is hidden from the sight of anybody on Earth. The time the moon is hidden to the 29th or 30th night, when the new Hilal becomes visible is referred to as Mahaaq (unseen time). Usually, the timeframe for ‘unseen time’ is between 36 – 60 hours [New Moon Phase].

شهادت كى روسے چاند كى عمركا پہلا دن پہلى تاريخ قرار پارهاهے يہ بد يہى البطلان هے اسلئے كہ اسكا مطلب تو يہ هوا كہ هلال پدائش سے بهى قبل نظرآسكتا هے. (احسن الفتاوى جلد4 ص418)

It should be noted that the moon constantly circulates the Earth. The time taken to complete a lunar monthly cycle is 29 days, 12 hours, 44mins, 2.9secs. It is for this reason that the Prophet (ﷺ) stated: ‘sight the moon of the 29th night and if it is not viewed then complete 30 days (for the month)’.

The full moon of a lunar monthly cycle occurs 14 days, 18 hours, 22mins, 1.5 secs after the birth of the new moon (14.75 days). This is when the moon is seen at 100% coverage in the sky, a full moon. Therefore, in 1 hour the crescent occupies 0.2821932 % of the moons surface area, this denotes the thickness of the crescent on any given day. In 1 day the moon is covered 6.7726385% of the surface area.

By understanding the scientific principle of the crescent size formation above, the following will become clear. For example: on the 29th August 2011, the Saudi government announced the sighting of the crescent moon for Eid ul Fitr in accordance with the Umm Ul Qura calendar. Scholars throughout the Islamic world rejected this announcement. Hadharat Mufti A.S. Desai Sahib حفظه الله of Mujlisul Ulama South Africa, has written in his article of 16 Shawal 1432 (15/9/2011): ‘Despite clear skies, the Hilal was not sighted in Saudi Arabia, neither by the Hilal committees nor the masses.’ This is a statement made in light of the Shari’ah and Sunnah.

The reality is also clearly against the possibility of a sighting on this night; on the 29th August 2011, sunset was at 6.40pm, the moon set at 6.44pm. Therefore the moon was only present of the horizon for 4 mins after sunset, the moon was 12 hours 36min old at this time. The altitude of the moon on this day was zero degrees above the horizon.

The following day; on the 30th August 2011, sunset was at 6.39pm, the moon set at 7.27pm, the moon was present on the horizon for 48 mins after sunset and was 10 degrees above the horizon. It was possible for Ruyate Aamah to take place on this night according to the requirements of Shari’ah. This was, in reality, the 1st day of the Islamic month which many thousands of people have witnessed. The moon was seen on the horizon 10 minutes after sunset and was visible for 30 mins. On seeing the large crescent moon on this night, people in Saudi Arabia said: ‘This is moon of the 2nd night.’

The birth of the moon can be ascertained exactly with current science and technology but there is a difference of opinion on when the crescent can be first seen with the naked eye. Crescent moon sighting is only possible when the moon is between 18 hours and 30 hours old. The fact is that the moon needs to be at least 18 hours old for the crescent to be seen with the naked eye. It also needs to be at least 10 degrees above the horizon and for the moon to remain above the horizon for at least 45 minutes after sunset. That is why Sheikhul Islam Mufti Taqi Usmani  حفظه الله says in Saudia even when a crescent is 4-5 hours old the Government announces. This is impossible because the moon has to be at least 18 hours old. This is why Mufti Saheb says Pakistan does not act according to the Saudi declaration.


It should be understood that it was not possible to see the moon on the 29th August 2011 as it was only 12 hours 36mins old. As stated before, it is not possible to view the crescent moon when it is less than 18 hours old. On the 30th August 2011 the moon was 36 hours 35 mins old. The reason this crescent moon looked large of the horizon was because it covered 10.26% of the moons surface area (1/10th of the moons area) (1hour - 0.2821932% x 36.35hrs = 10.26%). We should look at how accurately the Nabi (ﷺ) foretold of these occurrences and words people will utter in respect of the Ruyate Hilal near the day of Qiyamah, they are playing out in front of our own eyes.

May Allah  unite us in this time of Fitnah and grant us the correct understanding of the Deen. آمين Ameen!

صبح صادق والله وحده هو المسؤول والمستعان وهو الهادي إلى سبل الخير والسّلام .

 فتى محمد يوسف ڈنكا (عفاالله عنه)

{Mufti Muhammad Yusuf Danka, Croydon Masjid}