3.6 Meeting with Sheikh AlOthaimeen (RH) in Unayzah
Alhamdulillaah Sheikh AlOthaimeen (RH) welcomed us at his big Masjid in Unayzah after the Friday prayers on 15/02/1421H (date per UmmUlQura Calendar) and gave us a special private audience after the ‘Asr prayers. We found that Alhamdulillaah Sheikh AlOthaimeen was himself aware of some of the errors from other complaints, including one where a person saw the waning crescent at Fajr and the same day evening, Hilal sighting was announced! But he indicated it would take time for most scholars to understand and fix the problem. He asked us to write a letter to the Majlis AlKabair AlUlema (Council of the Senior Ulema), which I believe meets twice a year in Taif. I personally did send a letter, but somehow did not receive any response. I also learned that scholars like Sheikh Abdullaah bin Sulaiman AlManea (Makkah Mukarramah) support using calculations to reduce errors.
So we should write to the scholars of Saudi Arabia that since there are numerous possibilities of errors, perhaps due to so many artificial objects in the sky today, the people who want to sight the Hilal should accompany one of these official Hilal sighting committees which include scholar, astronomer, and local official. This would help check the testimony and reduce the errors. Also we should support scholars like Sheikh Abdullaah bin Sulaiman AlManea (Makkah Mukarramah) who are in favor of using calculations to reduce errors. [It is believed the UmmUlQura calendar psychologically biases the early-sighters - Editor]
Sheikh AlOthaimeen also gave us Fatwas for using local sighting for all months including DhulHijja which I have mentioned in a later section.
4. Local vs. Global vs. Saudi Sighting
4.1 “Only follow Saudi sighting” is neither Local, nor Global sighting and hence invalid
Ikhtilaaf AlMataale – Multiple Horizons – Local sighting and Ittihaad AlMataale – Single Horizons – Global sighting are two well know Fiqhi positions. However these days there is a 3rd new position being promoted i.e. “Follow Saudi Arabian sighting”. This position is different from Ittihaad AlMataale which would accept the first sighting report whether from Nigeria, Egypt or America etc., without restricting that report to be from Saudi Arabia. This new position of “Follow Saudi sighting” has no basis in Shariah, and can be proved wrong with the following very simple argument:
Let us at Makkah Sunset time, the Hilaal was too small to be seen. Now after about 11 hours you happen to be in California where the Sun is now setting. In these 11 hours, naturally the Hilaal would become bigger and let is say it becomes big enough to be visible. I am sure no Scholar can justify saying that you ignore your own sighted Hilal and wait for next day’s announcement of Saudi sighting! This is a simple proof that “Only follow Saudi sighting” for countries other than Saudi Arabia is an invalid position.
Previous Grand Mufti of Saudi Arabia, Sheikh Bin Baz is reported to have ruled:
“As for those who say that it is necessary to follow the sighting of Makkah, then let it be known to them, that there is no proof or basis for this in the Qur’aan and Hadith”. (Sheikh Abdullah bin Baz RA, AlBa’ath ul Islaaami, Zil Hijjah 1399 Hijri).
4.2 The chances of the Hilal being seen in California before Saudia are quite high
The time difference between Saudi Arabia and California is 11 hours, while the total time around the world is 24 hours. Thus the chances that the curve for first visibility of Hilaal falling between Saudia and California is about 11/24 = 45%. Thus for little less than half the occasions, California should sight the Hilaal one Date BEFORE the Saudi! In reality this does not happen because of Saudi errors as explained later. In fact this is a simple proof without resorting to complicated calculations that the Saudi dates are very often incorrect!
4.3 Ittihad AlMataale corresponds to “Flat Earth” and is impossible to implement
If the Earth were Flat instead of Spherical, there would be One Matla or Single Horizon. Then the Hilaal would have been seen at the same time all over the world. Also there would be no time zones, and the Prayer times would also be same everywhere. But due to Spherical Earth, there are differences in time zones. Thus when the Sun sets in California and if the Hilaal is first seen there, it is already about Fajr time in Makkah and next day around ‘Asr in Indonesia. How can Makkah or Indonesia start fasting by California Hilal Sighting? It is impossible to implement Ittihaad AlMataale! Also it is difficult to authenticate far away sightings, and Ittihaad AlMataale (Global sighting) makes us prone to the frequent errors in Saudi Arabia and elsewhere.