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:
- 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.
- 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. If he takes the decision in accordance with any of the two it becomes binding 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. 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. 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.