To establish the Hijri calendar with verified moon sightings by the human eye (Muhaqaq Ruyat Basari) is a communal obligation (Fard Al-Kifaya). The role of the public is to sight the moon and report it. The role of the Hilal Committee is to take the witness testimonies (Shahada) and declare the start of the lunar months (for Ibadah). Anyone who has sent a Hilal Report to the ICOUK website (bit.ly/SendObsReport) may be invited to give a testimony to ICOUK Ulama according to this policy, which may be shared confidentially (see below) with other UK Hilal Committees/Organisations (to avoid inconveniencing the witnesses with multiple testimonies).
The vast majority of the ICOUK members follow the Quran and Sunnah according to the understanding of the Hanafi Madhab (school of thought), which has the most stringent witness criteria. Accordingly, the witness must be (a) Muslim, (b) adult, (c) sane (sound mind), (d) has good eyesight, (e) reliable/good character etc.
Number of Witnesses
A minimum of two males or two females and a male witness will be required*, although a greater number is most welcomed. If a female is unable to provide a testimony directly to the ICOUK Ulama, then she can still provide it through a male guardian (Mahram), known as Testimony-upon-Testimony (Shahada-Ala-Shahada)!
[*Note: In the case of cloudy weather at the start of Ramadan, the witness of one trustworthy male or female is accepted. For clear skies, a large group sighting (Jame Ghafeer) will be necessary.]
To help the UK Ulama/Hilal Committees make rapid and accurate Hilal decisions, we will adopt a remote testimony procedure via an audio/video conference call (e.g. Skype/Zoom). Remote testimonies will be taken individually from those who have sent (positive) ICOUK Hilal Reports and whose full identity (ID) are known to the Admins. Therefore, it is important to keep your ICOUK database profile up to date with your contact details and a recent ID Photo (of head and shoulders).
An ID Photo is very helpful to establish the identity of witnesses with minimum delays. A remote testimony from a stranger (unknown person) is not acceptable. The identity of males and females will be verified separately by male and female Admins and Scholars, respectively. Once the identity has been established, a voice-only testimony (i.e. with video off) may be acceptable, InshaAllah.
All witnesses will be required to use the template below, by adding the details inside the angle brackets (< >).
My name is <full name> and I am from <city/town>. I testify that I saw the moon on <date/time> <before/after> sunset. The sky was <clear/cloudy> and the moon was seen on the <left/right> of sunset by <naked eye/binoculars>. The time of sunset was <hh:mm GMT/BST>.
The witnesses may be asked to provide some additional information (e.g. direction of the crescent moon horns), but the template details are the minimum required for Shariah and Scientific purposes.
Once the testimonies have been accepted by the ICOUK Ulama/UK Hilal Committees, the decision to start the month will be announced on the ICOUK website and/or social media channels. Other organisations may do the same via their own websites/social media channels. Note that the announcements for negative sighting reports are always later (than positive sighting reports), to allow the extra time for receiving all the observation results from the last sighting point/moonset time!
Related: Importance of Moon Sighting | Importance of Reporting Hilal Sightings | Regional (Hilal) Testimony Coordinator Role (pdf)
Reference: Fatwa Jamia-Uloom Islamiyyah, Pakistan (2022) | Video Testimony Fatwa by Jamia Tur Rasheed, Pakistan (2018) [p.10]
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