Allah says: "And hold fast, all of you together, to the Rope of Allah, and be not divided among yourselves." (Quran 3: 103)
It was predicted well ahead by many moon sighting researchers that there was going to be a united start of Ramadan 1438 (from 27 May 2017), but there was most likely to be a divided Eid-ul Fitr because of the differences between the Saudi Ummul Qura Calendar (UQC) and the predicted visibility of the moon on the UK/Morocco horizon (i.e. Sunday - Monday, 25 - 26 June 2017), which turned out to be true.
The question arises, is there a valid method of celebrating Eid on the same day by the people following either position of Saudi Arabia (SA) or Morocco (MA), which both parties consider to be valid in their own understanding of the Fiqh (Jurisprudence)? To answer this question, please consider the following two authentic ahadith from Sunan Abu Dawud about Eid-ul Fitr.
Narrated Rib'i bin Hirash (رضي الله عنه): On the authority of a man from the Companions of the Prophet (صلى الله عليه وسلم): People differed among themselves on the last day of Ramadan (about the appearance of the moon of Shawwal). Then two bedouins came and witnessed before the Prophet (صلى الله عليه وسلم) swearing by Allah that they had sighted moon the previous evening. So the Messenger of Allah (صلى الله عليه وسلم) commanded the people to break the fast. The narrator Khalaf has added in his version: "and that they should proceed to the place of prayer (for 'Id)". (Abu Dawud, Book 14, Hadith 27) / https://sunnah.com/abudawud/14/27
Narrated AbuUmayr ibn Anas (رضي الله عنه): AbuUmayr reported on the authority of some of his paternal uncles who were Companions of the Prophet (صلى الله عليه وسلم): Some men came riding to the Prophet (صلى الله عليه وسلم) and testified that they had sighted the new moon the previous day. He (the Holy Prophet), therefore, commanded the people to break the fast and to go out to their place of prayer in the morning. (Abu Dawud, Book 2, Hadith 768) /https://sunnah.com/abudawud/2/768/
It is reported in the commentaries of the above ahadith that once the Prophet (صلى الله عليه وسلم) and the Sahabah (رضي الله عنهم) did not sight the moon of Shawwal on 29 Ramadan (perhaps due to clouds), so they decided to fast the next day. However, later on the day, a caravan from about 20 miles outside reached Madina and two Bedouins gave testimonies to the Prophet (صلى الله عليه وسلم) that they have sighted the moon of Shawwal on the previous evening. The Prophet (صلى الله عليه وسلم) accepted their testimonies and commanded the people to break their fast, but told them to pray Eid in the next morning (2nd Shawwal). This means it is permissible to postpone Eid-ul Fitr until the next day and up to 3 days for Eid-ul Adha for valid reasons.
However, it will be wrong to use the time delay in the above ahadith of the news reaching the Prophet (صلى الله عليه وسلم) from outside Madina as an excuse to obtain news from far distant places around the globe. This is because (a) the news in the above ahadith came from the same region and not from a very far distant place, (b) it would contradict the Kuraib hadith not to act on news from far distant places and (c) it would contradict the moon sighting practice of the Prophet (صلى الله عليه وسلم) and the Sahabah (رضي الله عنه) as understood from the dates of the Farewell Hajj in Makkah and the demise of the Prophet (صلى الله عليه وسلم) in Madina (see fatwa by Shaykh Ibrahim Memon).
The first day’s crescent moon will be moving to the Northern Hemisphere from 2018 CE (1439 AH) when the Ramadan moon will be on the UK/Morocco horizon and it will continue to be so for at least 10 years. Therefore, if the moon is not sighted on the UK horizon after exhausting all efforts (eg. due to clouds) then it will most certainly be sighted on the Moroccan territories. Furthermore, it will not be possible for any countries from the east of UK/Morocco to reliably sight the moon a day earlier (see crescent visibility maps).
Unfortunately, it is possible for Saudi Arabia to announce Ramadan and/or Eid a day earlier than the predicted crescent visibility of the moon (Imkan e Ruyat). This may lead to further confusion because those who follow Saudi Arabia will consider it is forbidden to fast on the day of Eid and those who follow Morocco will consider it is forbidden to celebrate Eid on 30th Ramadan! Similarly, Eid-ul Adha prayer and Sacrifice (Qurbani/Udhiya) cannot be done before the due date, but can be done up to three days later.
Therefore, unless the moon is sighted in both Saudi Arabia and in the UK/Morocco region on the same date, it is proposed that whoever started the month earlier should delay their Eid prayer by a day according to their own start date (i.e. on 2nd Shawwal), in the light of the hadith quoted above. Similarly, if the start date of Ramadan differs, then the Quran Khatam in Tarawih prayer should be delayed by a day (i.e. from 2nd Ramadan), so that both parties may hear the complete Quran from the beginning. Likewise, if the start date of Dhul Hijjah differs between Saudi Arabia and UK/Morocco region than those who started the month early should delay the Eid-ul Adha prayer until the 2nd day (i.e. 11th Dhul Hijjah) for greater unity, InshaAllah.
The social benefit of a united Eid is that the UK Muslims can all rejoice together on this happy occasions leading to greater bonding and strengthening of, not just family ties, but crucially different communities. It will be much easier to request a day off from work and/or schools by having the certainty of Eid date in advance. The financial benefit will include the cost savings of booking Eid venues in large conference centres or outdoors from 2 days to 1 day with additional cost savings for logistics and security arrangements.
The predicted start dates of Ramadan/Shawwal (Eid-ul Fitr) for 1439 - 1443 AH (2018 - 2022) are given below.
If you are a Imam/Mufti and agree to the above proposal, please send us your name/contact details via our on-line Contact Us form.
Checked by Mufti Sajid Patel