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. See scan of original booklet [English/Urdu, PDF]

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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}

[Download pdf] - Related: Sighting of the Crescent Moon and the Signs of Qiyamah | The History of the UK following Saudi Arabia

By Mufti Muhammad Yusuf Danka, Croydon Masjid, UK (published 2012, 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).

It is necessary to view the crescent moon with the naked eye as proof of the Hilal. If the sky is clear, the Hanafi scholars state that Jame Ghafeer (a large group) is required to have witnessed the crescent moon. In the matter of Jame Ghafeer, there is no difference of opinion from the time of the Salaf to the present day. In Saudi Arabia, even though the skies are clear, there is never a report of Jame Ghafeer. It is unfortunate that the Jamiat and Hizbul Ulama of the UK are blindly following the Saudi announcements, after claiming to be followers of the Hanafi school of thought. They give no regard to the Shari’ah or the rulings of their predecessors behind a guise of a hallucinated unity.

 عن إبن عمر أن رسول الله  قال: الشهر تسع وعشرون ليلة فلا تصوموا حتى تروه، فإن غمّ عليكم فأكملوا العدة ثلاثلين .(صحيح بخارى ص306 صحيح مسلم ص347) اس حديث ميں " فلا تصوموا حتى تروه جمع كا صيغه هے۔"

Sayyidina Ibn Umar  relates from Nabi (ﷺ) that there are twenty nine nights in a month, do not fast until all you see it (the Hilal), if it is hidden from you then complete thirty days. (Sahih Bukhari p,306/ Sahih Muslim p,347)

The word in the Hadith فلا تصوموا حتى تروه، which can mean that when a lot of people sight it (the Hilal) then fasting should begin. Throughout the lifetime of Prophet (ﷺ) ‘Ruyat e A’amah’ i.e. a large group as could be understood by this Athar (speech of Sahabah or Tabi’een ) was practised. Only on one occasion in Madina moon was not sighted and RasulAllah (ﷺ) accepted the witnessed statement of a Nomad Arab. But consideration needs to be taken that the person who accepted the testimony was the Messenger of Allah (ﷺ) and the witness himself was a just Sahabi (In essence, both parties have no element of doubt). The practice of our Pious Salaf us Saliheen clearly indicates that they insisted upon the ‘Ruyat e A’amah’.

The statements of the Companions (رضى الله عنهم):

Kurayb (رضى الله عنه) related: Sayiddina Abdullah ibn Abbas (رضى الله عنه) sent me to Sayiddina Muawiya  in Syria. I completed my errand there, the moon of Ramadhan was viewed on Friday night in Syria. I returned to Madinah Munawarrah, Ibn Abbas (رضى الله عنه) asked me about my journey and the sighting of the moon. I said: ‘The moon was sighted on Friday night in Syria.’ Ibn Abbas  asked me: ‘Did YOU yourself see the moon?’ I replied: نعم ورآه الناس)) ‘Yes, I and other people also. The next day Muawiya  and the others kept a fast.’ Ibn Abbas  stated: ‘We saw the moon on Saturday night, either we will see the moon for Eid or we will complete 30 days.’ I asked: ‘Is the sighting of Muawiya  not enough for you?’ Sayiddina Ibn Abbas (رضى الله عنه) said: ‘No, The Prophet (ﷺ) has ordered us to do this’ (to act upon their own moon sighting). (Sunan Abu Dawood #562, Sunan Nasai #2115)

It is proven from the above hadith, due to the question and answer of the Companion Ibn Abbas (رضى الله عنه) , it was the requirement of the Sahaba that Jame Ghafeer be performed on the occasion of sighting the crescent moon. Certain people have the belief that due to the blessing of the Haramain Sharifain, Allah  allows the moon to be seen there before anywhere else in the World. It is proven from the above hadith that the Muslims of Syria in the time of the Sahaba sighted the moon before the Arab peninsula.

The Statements of the Tabi’ee رحمه الله :

قلت لعطاء: أرأيت لو أن رجلا رأى هلال رمضان قيل الناس بليلة أيصوم قبلهم أو يفطر قبلهم؟ قال لا، الا ان يراه الناس، أخشى أن يكون شبه عليه. (مصنف عبدالرزاق، باب كم يجوزمن الشهودعلى رؤية الهلال ج4 ص130)

Tabi’i Ataa رحمه الله (who was from amongst the teachers of Imam Abu Hanifah رحمه الله), was asked that if a person was to see the Hilal of Ramadhan a night before the others could see it, should he fast before them, or should he celebrate Eid before them? He replied يراه الناس)) ‘No, not until the people see it. I fear that he is mistaken’. (Musannaf Abdur Razzaq vol 4, p130)

Hadhrat Shaykh Moulana Zakariya رحمه الله relates the statement of Imam Abu Hanifa رحمه الله from the well known book of the Hanbali Fiqh, Al Mughni: ‘If the sky is clear, then a witnessing cannot be accepted without the testimony of a large group of the Muslims. (Aujazul Masalik vol 5, p21)

شيخ الحديث شيخ محمد زكريا قدس سره حنبلى فقه كى معروف كتاب المغنى (جلد3 ص157) سے نقل كرتے ہيں۔ وقال أبوحنيفة رحمه الله في الغيم كقولنا وفي الصحو لا يقبل الا الاستفاضة لأنه لايجوز أن تنظرالجماعة إلى المطلع وأبصارهم صحيحة والموانع مرتفعة فيراه واحد دون الباقين۔ (اوجزالمسالك جلد5 ص21)


The Statements of the Taba Tabi’een  رحمه الله – Zahirul Riwayat:

When the sky is clear and Jamme Ghafeer witnessing of the crescent moon takes place, only then will the Hilal be established. For this, Imam Azam Abu Hanifa رحمه الله‘s student Imam Muhammad Shaybani رحمه الله writes in his 1st book, Kitabul Asal Mabsoot:

وإن لم يكم بالسماء علة فلم أقبل شھادة رجل حتّى يكون أمرا ظاھرا –

 (كتاب اصل،  مبسوط .لامام محمد رحمه الله ، باب تتمته نوادرالصوم، جلدثانى ص280)

Imam Muhammad bin Shaybani رحمه الله writes: ‘If the sky is cloudy, the witness of just one Muslim person for sighting the crescent moon will be accepted for Ramadhan. If it is for Eid ul Fitr, the Hilal cannot be established without the presence of two male witnesses. If the sky is clear, even the witness of one male cannot be accepted until the situation is made clear, with (a large group of the Muslims sighting the crescent).’ (Kitabul Asal Mabsoot, vol 2, p280)

In the commentary on this saying by Allamah Abu Wafa Afghani رحمه الله states: ‘This means that the sighting of the crescent moon is not well known and common knowledge (absence of Jamme Ghafeer).’

All the books that have been written in light of the Hanafi Fiqh have taken the ruling of Imam Muhammad Shaybani رحمه الله above as a fundamental basis for establishing the new crescent moon through Jamme Ghafeer.

وإذا لم تكن با لسماء علة لم تقبل الشهادة حتى يراه جمع كثير يقع العلم بخبرهم.. لأن التفرد بالروية فى مثل هذه الحالة يوهم الغلط فيجب التوقف فيه حتّى يكون جمعا كثيرا. (هدايه- جلد1 ص125، لعلامه على بن أبى بكرالمرغيناني هجرى 592/ مختصرالقدورى مع الشرح ص224، لعلامه احمدالقدورى هجرى428 / نورالإيضاح ص167/ مراقى الفلاح ص236)

‘If the sky is cloudy, the witness of one just Muslim person for sighting the crescent moon will be accepted. If the sky is clear then the witnessing will not be accepted until a large group from the Muslims testify to viewing the crescent, not until there is no doubt of the witnessing.’ (Quduri, p46, Hidayah, vol1, p125)

If the Qazi gives a ruling against the Qur’an or Sunnah of Ijma, it should not be accepted:

اخبرنا عبدالرزاق عن الثورى قال إذا قضى القاضى بخلاف كتاب الله او سنة نبى الله او شئ مجتمع عليه فإن القاضى بعده يرده (مصنف عبدالرزاق، باب ھل يرد قضاء القاضى او يرجع عن قضاه؟ ج8 ص234# ،15377

It is related from the Tabi’een Sufyam Thawri رحمه الله’: If the Qazi gives a ruling against the Qur’an, the Sunnah of the Prophet (ﷺ) or a matter upon which there is Ijma, then his ruling will be rejected.’ (Masanad Abdur Razak, vol 8, p234)

It can be said that the ruling of the judge of Saudi Arabia is binding upon the inhabitants of Saudi Arabia. However, it cannot be incumbent upon all Muslims to follow this ruling. Therefore it is necessary for those scholars who blindly follow the Saudi rulings in respect of the new crescent moon, to take note of the advices and rulings of their predecessors. When in Saudi the announcements for the commencement of the new moon is not done in accordance to the required principle and is against the Ijma of the predecessors, it cannot be accepted. The scholars of the UK in particular: the Darul Ulooms, Markaz and scholarly organisations should make an informed decision for their country of residence in accordance with the rulings of their school of thought.

Mufti Rashid Ahmed Luhdyanvi رحمه الله write: The news of the sighting in Saudi Arabia reaching the status of ‘Istifaadha’ is questionable and further, due to the sighting in Saudi being against the principles of the Hanafi Maslak (Fiqh) and logic; it is unacceptable. According to Hanafi Fiqh when the skies are clear, a large group (Jamme Ghafeer) is a condition. (Ahsan ul Fataawaa Vol 4 P 426)

Hadhrat Mufti Sayed Abdur Raheem Lajpuri رحمه الله writes: If the skies are clear the testimony of the two or four people will not be enough. A testimony of such a large group is essential to the extent that the Qadhi, Aalim or Mufti is fully confident and satisfied that the Hilal has been sighted, and no doubts remain. (Fataawa Rahimiyah vol 10, p 169 فتاوى فتاوى محموديہ جلد3 ص129/)

Imam Abu Yusuf رحمه الله requires 40 witnesses to establish Jame Ghafeer as taking place.

وإذا لم تكن بالسماء علة لم تقبل الشهادة حتي يراه جمع كثير يقع العلم بخبرهم لأن التفرد بالرؤية في مثل هذه الحالة يوهم الغلط فيجب التوقف فيه حتي يكون جمعا كثيرا.....ثم قيل في حد الكثير أهل الملة وعن أبى يوسف رحمه الله خمسون رجلا اعتبارا بالقسامة ...۔ (فتح القدير جلد2 ص328، لعلامه إبن همام حنفى 861هجرى) وقيل بلا علة جمع عظيم يقع العلم) الشرعي وهو غلبة الظن (بخبرهم وهو مفوض إلى راى الإمام من غير تقدير بعدد) على المذهب۔ (درمختار كتاب الصوم- جلد3 ص410)

In the Shari’ah of Islam the sighting of the crescent moon is stipulated with the following conditions: If the sky is clear on the 29th night of the month, then for Ramadhan and Eid to be established, Jame Ghafeer has to be witnessed. In the books of Fiqh the number of witnesses required for Jamme Ghafeer to be established range from 50 to 500. Allamah Shami رحمه الله states in respect of the number of witnesses: ‘If by receiving the testimony of the witnesses the Qazi is satisfied, together with 2 conditions: (1) it is possible to sight the moon on that day (2) a large group of the Muslims witness the sighting of the crescent moon.’ For this reason when the sky is clear, the testimony of 3 or 4 people cannot be accepted. (Fatawa Haqqania, vol 4, p137)

شريعت مقدسہ ميں چاند كى رؤيت كيلئے قانون يہ هے كہ اگر (29)انتيس كى رات كو مطلع بالكل صاف هو تو پهر جم غفير كى رؤيت روزه اورعيد كيلئے ضرورى هے. جم غفيرکى تعداد کے بارے ميں مختلف اقوال ذخيره فقه ميں درج ہيں بعض سے پچاس اوربعض سے پانچ سو وغيره مروى ہيں البتہ امام علامه إبن عابدين شامى رحمه الله نے تعداد سے قطع نظر كرکے قاضى کے مطمئن هونے كو ترجيح دى هے ليكن قاضى كا اطمينان بهى دو شرائط کے ساتهہ مشروط هے (1) امكان رؤيت (2) كثرت شهود.. اسلئے صاف مطلع کےدوران تين ياچار آدميوں كى گواهى نا قابل قبول هے-كذافي ردالمختار جلد2 ص101 (فتاوى حقانيہ جلد4 ص137)


The Statement of the Founders and Senior Scholars of Deoband:

Hadhrat Aqdas Sheykh Moulana Ashraf Ali Thanwi نوّرالله مرقده writes “If the skies are clear then the testimony of two or four people will not be sufficient, whether it is for Ramadhan or whether it is for Eid. On the other hand, if so many people came forward with testimonies, that it becomes clear that they are not lying, nor can such a large group lie, then the testimonies will be accepted and the new month will commence. (Bahishti Zewar part 3 p6/ Ilm ul Fiqh vol 3 p425 By Moulana Abdul Shakur Farooqi رحمه الله/ Ta’limul Islam vol 4, p69 By Mufti KifayatulAllah رحمه الله)

The ruling of Mufti Shafi Uthmani رحمه الله which was authorised by signatures of the senior Scholars and Jurists, Hadhrat Molana Zafar Ahmed Uthmani, Hadhrat Molana Muhammad Yusuf Binori and Hadhrat Mufti Rashid Ahmed Ludyanwi رحمهم الله, in respect of witnessing 2 Eids: ‘When the horizon is clear and 2 or 4 people have witnessed to sighting the crescent, it is not correct to accept their sighting according to the Shariah. Not until a large group of the Muslims do not verify this sighting also, only then will it be acceptable. The sighting of the 2 or 4 people will be ruled as being incorrect or a false statement.’ (Jawahirul Fiqah vol 1, p399-400)  

بہركيف هلال عيدين كيلئے شرعى ضابطہ شهادت کےبارے ميں، حضرت مفتى اعظم پاكستان مفتى محمد شفيع عثمانى نوّرالله مرقده اور اس وقت کےفقہاء كامتفقہ فيصلہ تها كہ "جب چاند كى رؤيت عام نہ هوسكے صرف دوچار آدمي نےديكها هو، تويہ صورت حال اگرايسى فضاميں هو كہ مطلع بالكل صاف هو، چاند ديكهنے ميں كوئى بادل يا دهواں غبار وغيره مانع نہ هو توايسى صورت ميں صرف دوتين آدميوں کى رؤيت اور شهادت شرعاً قابل اعتماد نہیں هوگى، جب تک مسلمانوں كى بڑى جماعت اپنےديكهنے كى شهادت نہ دے چاند كى رؤيت تسليم نہ كى جائےگى- جو ديكهنے كى شهادت دےرهےہيں اسكو انكامغالطہ ياجهوٹ قرار دياجائيگا"- (جواهرالفقه جلد1 ص399-400) (’دستخط كنده 10 1386هجرى، حضرت مفتى محمد شفيع عثمانى، حضرت مولانا ظفراحمد عثمانى، حضرت مولانا محمد يوسف بنورى، حضرت مفتى رشيد احمد لدهيانوى رحمهم الله) 

In Saudi Arabia, there is never a report of a large group that witness the sighting of the crescent moon (Muhaqaq Ru’yat Basari). The reality of the condition is that Saudi Arabia claims to have sighted the crescent moon, yet the continents nearby: Africa, Asia etc do not report a sighting. This makes the Saudi statement very doubtful. It is a unanimous decision of the jurists of Islam, when the sky is clear, it is a necessary condition that the sighting of the crescent moon be witnessed by a large group (Jame Ghafeer). (Fatawa Mazahirul Uloom Saharanpur, Mufti Maqsood & Mufti Muhammad Tahir)

It is wajib alal khifayah to sight the crescent moon, it is for this reason in the UK, when the skies are clear and it is possible to sight the crescent moon (the correct nights of the month), we should not sit at home accepting the announcement of the Saudi government as gospel. (Fatawa Darul Uloom Kandariya, Mufti Abdullah Kawi)

In Saudi Arabia, there is no principle of following the Hanafi Fiqh and the system for observing the crescent moon and commencing the months is also other than the guidance of the Shariah and Sunnah. It is for reason that it is not necessary to accept or recommended for the Muslims in the UK to follow the Saudi announcement, especially for Eid ul Fitr and Eid ul Adha. (Fatawa Jamia Hussainiya Gujrat, Mufti Ismail Wari & Molana Zaheerudeen Faid Abadi, 7/7/2007)

اگر مطلع صاف باشد دررمضان وشوّال جماعت عظيم مےبايد۔ (مالابدمنه ص93 – از قاضى ثناءالله پانى پتى نوّرالله مرقده)      

وقال أبوحنيفة رحمه الله في الصحو لابد من جمع كثير۔ (الروضة الندية جلد1 ص292)

The news of the sighting in Saudi Arabia reaching the status of ‘Istifaadha’ is questionable and further, due to the sighting in Saudia being against the principles of the Hanafi Maslak (Fiqh) and logic; it is unacceptable. According to Hanafi Fiqh when the skies are clear, a large group (Jamme Ghafeer) is a condition. (Ahsan ul Fataawaa Vol 4 P 426 by Hadhrat Mufti Rasheed Ahmad Luhdyanavi رحمه الله)

In conclusion, it can be understood from the time of the Salaf to the present day the same conditions have been upheld for the sighting of the crescent moon. However, the Saudi announcements disregard all of these requirements and adopt a way other than the way of the Shari’ah and Sunnah. ‘It is not acceptable for a Mufti Qadhi or Scholar to ignore the principles of the Shari’ah, in the guise of a hallucinated unity, to give rulings against their Fiqhi Maslak’. (Sharah Uqood Rasmul Mufti)

The laws and restrictions of obeying the order of a Judge (Qadhi) in an Islamic court:

It is proven from the Sahih Ahadith that the Prophet (ﷺ) sent Companions and representatives to different areas of the Islamic kingdom, to act as a judge and governor. For example: Muadh bin Jabal  was sent to Yemen. The responsibility of these governors was to give rulings within their own stipulated districts. They only held the authority to give rulings within their own governorship. This was also the case in the time of the Khulafa Rashideen, independent governors were sent to each district of the Islamic Kingdom. They had a responsibility to enforce the rulings of the Shari’ah for their subjects, in Syria, Egypt, Yemem, Iraq etc… ‘The Shari’ah has placed restrictions upon a judge appointed by the Ameer of an area or country. These restrictions apply both to regions (vicinity of a town or country) and in specific fields (Zakat, Talaq, Iddat etc). The Judge can only decide matters upon topics that he has been appointed to the position for. Further, his ruling will only be enforceable and binding in the area that he is appointed over. A Judge will not have the jurisdiction to enforce a ruling in an area that is not within their appointed dominion, nor will the ruling be established outside of the appointed region’. (Fathul Qadir, vol 7, p254 / Al Bahrur Raiq, vol 6, p259 / Fatawa Hindiya, vol 3, p315 / Adhahul Nawadir, vol 2, p124)


If there is no other way to encourage the masses to follow the Saudi moon sighting, the laymen are told that the order of the Chief Judge in Saudi Arabia has to be followed and it is Wajib to do so. This is incorrect, in accordance to the Islamic teachings and rulings. A layman should not be blackmailed emotionally in this manner by those who hold more knowledge and a better understanding of the Deen.

Z-Hijjah ١٣٩٩هجرى (1979) Sheykh Bin Baaz رحمه الله: The grand scholar Mufti of Saudi Arabia (after doing extensive research on this moon issue, he concludes with this statement). ‘As for those who say that it is necessary to follow the sighting of Makkah (Saudi Arabia) then let it be known that there is no proof or basis for this in the Holy Qur’an and Sunnah’. (Al Ba’thul Islami p. 63)

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

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

مفتى محمد يوسف ڈنكا (عفاالله عنه)

{Mufti Muhammad Yusuf Danka, Croydon Masjid}

This question comes up every year at the time of Eid-ul Adha and so, many eminent scholars of the past and present have looked into the Seerah (biography) of Prophet Muhammad (ﷺ) and found that following Makkah by foreign countries (i.e. those living outside Saudi Arabia) have no basis in Shariah. Here are few quotations from fatawa issued by renowned scholars from Arabia/Asia:

  1. Mufti Muhammad Taqi Usmani (حفظه الله) said: “I would like to inform you that the question of sighting the moon for each lunar month including Zul-Hijjah was thoroughly discussed at the annual sessions of the Islamic Fiqh Academy (held in Jordan, October 11-16, 1986) attended by more than a hundred outstanding scholars of Shari'ah. The academy adopted the resolution recommended that all Muslim countries should determine all the lunar months including Zul-Hijjah on the same basis for both Eid al-Fitr as well as Eid al-Adha [i.e. based on regional moon sighting].” [Fatwa, Darul Uloom Karachi, Pakistan] / ISNA's Eid al-Adha Evaluated by A Renowned Scholar
  2. Mufti Habibur Rahman (حفظه الله) said: “There is a far greater distance between Britain and Saudi, whereas Morocco is a lot closer to Britain. To abandon a close country’s sightings and to accept Saudi’s sighting, is in contradiction with the principles of Fiqh.” [Fatwa Darul Uloom Deoband, India] / Moon Sighting and Following Neighbouring Countries (pdf)
  3.  Shaykh Muhammad Ibn Saleh Al-Othaimeen (رحمه الله) said: “You should fast and break your fast along with the people of the country where you are living, whether that is in accordance with your country of origin or not. Similarly, on the Day of Arafah [9th Dhul Hijjah], you should follow the country [moon sighting] where you are living”.  Majmoo’ al-Fataawa, 19 [Saudi Arabia] / Fasting of Ramadan and the day of Arafah
  4.  Shaykh Muhammad Ibn Saleh Al-Othaimeen (رحمه الله) was asked: “Should we fast and end our fast according to the sighting of the new moon in Saudi Arabia or should we do it according to the sighting of the new moon in the country where we are?” He replied: “It is obligatory for you to follow the sighting of the new moon in the place where you are” Ref: Al-Aqalliyaat Al-Muslimah - Page 84, Fatwa No.23 [Saudi Arabia] / Should we fast according to the new moon in Saudi Arabia
  5. Shaykh Mohammed Ibrahim Memon (حفظه الله) said: “Eid-ul-Adha was established in Islam in the 2nd year of hijra and the first Hajj in the Islamic calendar was performed in the 9th year of hijra. This means that for nearly seven years, the Sahabah (رضى الله عنهم) celebrated Eid and slaughtered their animals even though the Hajj had not yet begun. If the day of Eid is associated with the day of Arafah the way some think it is, then both would have been brought into the Shari'ah at the same time. Never in the history of Islam has any Islamic country tried to follow the moon sighting of Saudi Arabia based on the idea that its Eid should follow the day of Arafah, except only until very recently” (Darul Uloom Al Madania, USA) / Moon Sighting
  6. Shaykh Abdul Aziz Bin Baaz (رحمه الله) said: "As for those who say that it is necessary to follow the crescent moon sighting of Makkah, then let it be known to them, that there is no proof or basis for this [in the Quran and Ahadith]" (فأما قول من قال إنه ينبغي أن يكون المعتبر رؤية هلال مكة خاصة ، فلا أصل له ولا دليل عليه) [Saudi Arabia] / (Ref: Fatwa of Shaykhul Imam, Shaykh Bin Baaz)

[The first sighting of the moon starts from different locations on the earth each month, hence to follow one fixed location every month in a foreign country is both illogical and unscientific. Furthermore, it has no basis in Shariah as quoted above – Editor]

Related: What is the ruling on the Day of Arafah fasting for other countries if the moon sighting differs with Saudi Arabia? [English] [Arabic]