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Moon Sighting vs Calculations

Regarding Calculations:

“Aadam narrated to us: Shu`bah narrated to us: al-Aswad ibn Qays narrated to us: Sa`eed ibn `Amr narrated to us: that he heard Ibn `Umar – radiyallaahu `anhumaa– report from the Prophet (Peace be upon him) that he said: <We are an unlettered nation, we do not write, nor do we reckon. The month is like this – and like this> – meaning once twenty-nine, and once thirty.”

al-Haafiz ibn Hajr said in “Fathul-Baaree‟ (4/137):

“…This is not rebutted by the fact that there were people amongst them who could write and count – since the ability to write was rare amongst them, and what is meant by reckoning here is reckoning the stars and their movements. They had not used to know that either, except for a tiny few of them. So the ruling for Fasting and other than it is connected to sighting the moon, to remove any difficulty from them – so they do not have to go to pains to calculate astronomical movements, and this ruling for Fasting continues even if there appears after them people who know that. Indeed what is apparent from the context indicates a denial that the ruling is to be connected to astronomical calculations at all. This is also made clear by his saying in the previous hadeeth: < So if it is cloudy for you then complete thirty days> – and he did not say: Ask the people of calculations. The wisdom in this is that the number (of days) when it is cloudy will be something which the people are the same about, so disagreement and dispute will be avoided.

Some people hold that the astronomers are to be referred to in this – and they are the Raafidah. It is related from some of the fuqahaa· (jurists) that they agreed with them. al-Baajee said: “But the ijmaa` of the Salafus-Saalih (pious predecessors) is a proof against them”,

and Ibn Bazeezah said:

It is a false and futile (baatil) stance, since the Legislation has forbidden us from delving into knowledge of the stars, since it is surmise and estimations, not based upon certainty and predominant consideration – along with the fact that if the affair were connected to it, then it would cause difficulty since it is known only by a few… .”

Regarding the Moon Sighting:


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?


There are as many as six different opinions amongst the scholars concerning this issue. However, there are two main points of view.

  • The first is that everyone should sight the moon in their own country and those countries where the moon rises at the same time should follow them. The reason for this is that the time at which the moon rises, varies from place to place.

  • The second opinion is that the beginning of the new month need only be confirmed in any one of the Muslim countries. If the sighting of the new moon is confirmed in any Muslim country, it is then obligatory for all Muslims to use that sighting to begin the fast of Ramadhaan or end it. According to this last opinion, if the new month is confirmed in Saudi Arabia it is obligatory upon all Muslims, in all parts of the world, to fast if it is the beginning of Ramadhaan and to end their fast if it is the beginning of Shawwaal. This is the most common opinion held by the followers of the madhhab of Imaam Ahmad Ibn Hanbal.

However, the first opinion is more correct because of the evidence in the Qur’aan, Sunnah and because of analogy. With regards to the Qur’aan, Allaah (Subhaanahu wa Ta’aala) says:

{The month of Ramadaan in which was revealed the Qur’aan, a guidance for mankind and clear proofs for guidance and the criterion (between right and wrong). So whoever witnesses the month should fast it…}, [Soorah al-Baqarah, Aayah 185].

This last sentence is a conditional sentence, and the ruling contained in a conditional sentence is established for whomever the condition applies to and it is annulled for anyone for whom the condition does not apply. So the sentence: «Whoever witnesses the month should fast it» implies that whoever does not witness it does not fast it.

It is well known amongst astronomers that the time the moon rises differs from place to place. The moon might be seen in one place and not in another. Therefore, according to the verse, whoever does not see it is not obliged to fast.

With regards to the Sunnah, the Prophet (sal-Allaahu `alayhe wa sallam) said:

«If you sight it (the new moon of Ramadaan), then fast and if you sight it (the new moon of Shawaal),then end the fast. And if it is obscured from you, then complete thirty days (of Sha’baan»).

He (sal-Allaahu `alayhe wa sallam) said:

«If you sight it».

He therefore linked the ruling to the sighting and if a ruling is linked to an effective cause, then that ruling is annulled in the absence of that cause.

With regards to analogy, we say that in as much as the times for beginning the fast and breaking the fast every day vary from place to place so, in the same way, the times for the beginning and ending of the monthly fast also vary. We here in Riyadh, for example, begin our fast every day before the people in Al-Hijaaz and we also break our fast before they do. It is, therefore, obligatory upon us to start fasting while they are still eating. On the other hand, at the end of the day we are eating while they are still fasting. If, therefore, each place has its own ruling due to the variation in the time that the sun rises and sets, the same also applies due to the variation in the time that the moon rises and sets.

Therefore, the answer to the question is clear. It is obligatory for you to follow the sighting of the new moon in the place where you are.

Shaykh Ibn ‘Uthaymeen

al-Aqalliyaat al-Muslimah – Page 84, Fatwa No.23

Source: https://abdurrahman.org


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