“THE GOATMILK DEBATES” will be an ongoing series featuring two debaters tackling an interesting or controversial question in a unique, irreverent manner.
Each debater makes their opening argument. They can elect to post a rebuttal.
The winner will be decided by the online audience and judged according to the strength of their argument.
The motion: “Muslims Should Adopt Moon sighting to Establish Ramadan”
For the motion: Irfan Rydhan
Against the motion: Aziz Poonawalla
IRFAN RYDHAN FOR THE MOTION: “Muslims Should Adopt Moon sighting to Establish Ramadan”
My Answer: Yes.
Why? Simply Because the Qur’an and Hadith tell us to. But at the same time there is a great spiritual benefit in looking for the Hilal (new crescent moon) with our eyes, which will be lost if we are to forgo this sacred tradition for the sake of convenience and so called “unity”!
Let’s begin by looking at what the Holy Qur’an says:
“The month of Ramadan is the one in which the Qur’an was revealed as a guidance for humanity and clarifications of that guidance and a standard. So whoever witnesses (shahida) the month among you, let him fast” (2:185).
Many Islamic scholars state that in the above verse the word “Month” here actually refers to the crescent moon of the month and was called “the month” (al-shahr) due to everyone knowing of its arrival.
The Prophet Muhammad (Peace Be upon Him), clarified this further in the following Hadith:
Narrated by Abu Hurayrah:
The Messenger of Allah (peace_be_upon_him) made a mention of the new moon and (in this connection) said: Observe fast when you see it (the new moon) and break fast when you see it (the new moon of Shawwal), but when (the actual position of the moon is) concealed from you (on account of cloudy sky), then count thirty days.
There are many narrations of this same Hadith, which very clearly states that we Muslims should go out to witness (see with our own eyes) the Hilal (visible crescent moon) to start the Islamic months – in this case the month of fasting: Ramadan.
Since the Lunar months are either 29 or 30 days, we are only allowed to “calculate” if on the 29th day of the previous month (in this example the month of Shaba an), we cannot see the Hilal due to an overcast and cloudy sky which blocks our view.
Some people may ask, “We all know the new moon is there, and we now know (with current technology) when exactly the new moon will be “born”, etc. so why can’t we just calculate the whole Islamic calendar in advance?”
First some definitions are needed:
Hilal, an Arabic term, refers to the bright waxing crescent when it becomes visible to a normal observer by naked-eye.
The “New Moon” is a modern astronomical term. It refers to the completely invisible moon at the start of a synodic cycle (29 days 12 hours, 42 minutes and 2.8 seconds).
This “new moon” occurs when the Moon, in its monthly orbital motion around Earth, lies between Earth and the Sun, and is therefore in conjunction with the Sun as seen from Earth. At this time, the dark (unilluminated) portion of the Moon faces almost directly toward Earth, so that the Moon is not visible to the naked eye.
Often Muslim and non-Muslim experts alike confuse astronomical “New Moon” for “Hilal”. During the time of the Prophet Muhammad (S), the Arabic language had only “Qamar” (Moon), and Hilal (Visible crescent moon) terms. It had no word for the astronomical New Moon. Thus, both the Qur’an and Sunnah instruct Muslims to start the lunar months after visually seeing the new crescent moon (hilal) with their naked eyes. No fancy telescopes, binoculars or other equipment are needed.
Now, let’s put aside these verses of the Holy Qur’an and Hadith for a moment, and look at it this question from a more universal view.
Human beings have 3 components: Physical, Intellectual and Spiritual. Most of us take care of the first two fairly well. We eat, exercise, study and excel in our school and careers. But unfortunately many of us, including myself, are lacking in our spiritual development.
All human beings whether they consider themselves “religious” or not, need some type of spiritual nourishment in their lives. Many people around the world, especially those people living in the “West”, with all the emphasis on science, technology and busy career oriented lives, are looking toward Eastern cultures which are more focused on family and spirituality. Many Westerners are employing many Eastern techniques such as Yoga, meditation, etc. to fill that spiritual void in their lives.
Muslims are no different. Although we have many rituals in our religion of Islam, which can help us to develop our spirituality, such as five daily prayers, fasting in the month of Ramadan, going on the pilgrimage to Mecca, etc. We still find ourselves sometimes feeling empty or missing something.
This is where the physical action of moon sighting prescribed by our religion can help us bridge that gap. When we go out to look for the Hilal with our own eyes, we are not only fulfilling a great Sunnah of the Prophet Muhammad (S), but we are also connecting with nature and the creations of Allah.
There is a great feeling of astonishment, wonder and excitement when one spots the newly born crescent moon in the sky. We become in awe of what Allah has created. It is like the birth of a child – where we are witnessing creation happening right in front of our very eyes! Our Iman (faith) in Allah increases greatly and this is definitely one of the reasons why we were instructed by the Prophet Muhammad (S) to go out and see it for ourselves!
Some people still argue the point of Unity of Muslims (either across North America or even globally) is lost by not using a calculated calendar to determine the start of the Islamic months.
Unfortunately, ISNA (Islamic Society of North America), in the false name of Unity, has set a new criteria of starting Islamic months using the calculated date of when the new moon will be astronomically born (not visually sighted) in Mecca, Saudi Arabia. If the Prophet Muhammad (S), wanted us to be united in this way, he would have instructed us to follow whatever time that Mecca started the Islamic months, but he did not do this.
This basically ignores the Qur’an and Sunnah requirements of visual sighting and tries to make a living Islamic calendar which is based on the celestial lunar movements into an averaged and incorrectly calculated system for mere convenience of when people can plan to take off a day from school or work! There is no reason why Muslims need to celebrate Eid on the same exact day everywhere in the world!
The Prophet Muhammad (S) emphasized the importance of Muslims to go out and look for the Hilal themselves. Many scholars even emphasized that their own local sighting is preferred. Such with the following narration:
Kurayb reported that Umm al-Fadhl Bint Al-rith sent him on a mission to Mu`awiyah (Radiya ‘Llahu `anhu) in Damascus. He accomplished his mission and was still in ash-Sham when Ramadan started. He saw the new moon on Friday evening. He then returned to al-Madinah, arriving therein near the end of the month. He met Ibn `Abbas who asked him when the new moon of Ramadan was sighted in ash-Sham. Kurayb said, we saw it on the night of Friday. Ibn Abbas inquired, Did you see it yourself? Kurayb replied, Yes I saw it; and People did too. Based on that, they fasted and Mu`awiyah fasted as well. Whereupon Ibn Abbas said, But we saw it on the night of Saturday; and we shall continue to fast until we complete thirty days or see it [the new moon of Shawwal]. Kurayb asked, Wouldn’t you accept Mu`awiyah’s sighting and fasting. Ibn Abbas answered: No! This is how Allah’s Messenger commanded us. [Narrated by Muslim]
In our modern world with digital clocks, calendars, daylight savings time, etc. we forget that these are all man-made systems to help us organize our busy day to day lives, but in reality a real day is not 24 hours, but 23 hours and 56 minutes. We are programmed to eat, sleep and work at certain times every day. But our religious and spiritual lives cannot be forced into a set man-made calendar. We cannot control everything. Just like we cannot control when we are born or when we die. And that is the whole point of going out and looking for the new crescent moon. We do not know for sure if we will be able to see it. Even if it is expected that it will not be seen, due to atmospheric conditions, we could see it. Same as if we are anticipating it to be seen, but for some reason we cannot see it. It is all in Allah’s hands, and we are just God’s servants who are obeying his command to look for the Hilal to mark our religious months. This is a sacred tradition and Sunnah which has been passed on from generation to generation for over 1400 years of Islamic History. Do we really want to throw it all away; just so that we can say we are united on one day out of the year and perhaps get a special “Eid Day” sale at Macy’s in the future (they can give us 2 or 3 days instead of just 1J)?
I for one would rather be united in following the Sunnah of Prophet Muhammad (S) and go out and look for the new moon to reconnect with nature and remember that Allah is the creator of the universe and in control of this world; Not a calendar on my refrigerator which I printed from a website.
 Cesarean Moon Births, Part I by Hamza Yusuf, 2006
 From www.islamicmoon.com, “Confusing Hilal” page, URL: http://www.islamicmoon.com/Moonsighting%20Confusing%20Hilal.htm
 Wikipedia, “New Moon” page, URL: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/New_moon
83 thoughts on ““Muslims Should Adopt Moon sighting to Establish Ramadan” – The Goatmilk Debates”
your article is not intellectually honest. You have:
a. not mentioned any opinion, again derived from Ahadith of Prophet (Pbuh), and actions of Sahaba (May Allah be pleased with them), that goes against your position. You simply chose to hide them away.
b. One place where you refer to Quran to support your opinion. You do it by changing the translations of choice Arabic words, to fit your position.
c. Few places you refer to scholars and Ahadith, but no name concrete reference is forthcoming.
d. You don’t mention that a number of traditions that people held sacred have transitioned to the relevant utilitarian forms in the current times. Some of these were changed by the very Sahaba (may Allah be pleased with them), that were the close companions.
I’ll give you an example. SBIA and almost all mosques publish and follow daily prayer schedule that is synchronized by Clock-time. No one goes out to check the position of Sun or Shadow anymore.
Whereas in the time of Prophet (pbuh), there was a Sahabi appointed for calling the Azaan exactly at the right time, based on Sunlight and Darkness.
e. I like to know, if In your daily life, do you consult/refer/use common Time. Or are you running your life with Daylight estimates?
f. How about the calendar, are you referring to Hijri calendar in all your affairs ? Are you planning to switch ? At least for Ramadan ?
g. If you have been in administrative positions (and I know you have been), you would agree that uniting People is a far greater cause than checking the height of everyone’s trouser ankle bottoms. (BTW, are you wearing traditional Arabic dress in the month of Ramadan ?)
I can go on. And I am only basing upon common sense arguments. Without quoting religious texts.
Thanks for your comments. You bring up some valid points. Since this article was about moonsighting specifically, that is what i focused on. There will be another brother who will be debating me on the subject and will post his article shortly.
In regards to your comments. Majority of the Quran and Hadith do in fact refer to naked eye visual sighting, and I did not change any translations to meet my needs. In fact, this is the majority opinion, and the people who support “calculations” are the ones who have really strecthed the meaning of the translations to fit their needs!
If you look at my footnotes, you will see the references I used and you can look up those articles and websites if you would like more information on the names of the Fiqh jurists and scholars with those opinions I was summarizing. My article was limited to 1500 words, so I had to keep it to the point and just gave the references so people can look up if they want to.
The 5 daily prayer times and the lunar month times are two separate items. I’m only discussing moonsighting here.
I am no longer on the Board of SBIA, but our mission has always been to follow the Sunnah of Prophet Muhammad (S).
Wearing Arab dress is a cultural thing, and not required Islamically.
Thanks again for your comments.
Dear Brother Irfan
Please simplify. i have some doubts.
1) What Age prophet (SAW) had Mai’raaj ?
ANS : aprrox 40.year
2) What Age prophet (SAW) has passed away to jannah ?
ANS : approx 63 year.
3) As an understanding prophet must have Fasted in Ramazan for approx. 23 Years. How many year if documented must have prophet(SAW) fasted for 29 days.
ANS : ???????
4) Are there any recorded events says prophet (SAW) gathered people for Crescent Sighting for Ramazan. ?
ANS : ???????
5) If it would be 29 days of any Ramazan then why does Quraan (Afzalo ma kullo shai’n dun ALLAH (SWT)) Prescribe 2 MONTHS fasting to leave Single Fasting purposely or feeding 60 masakin.. Why not 29 + 29 ie 58 or 29+30 ie 59.
6) in the verses “O ye who believe! Fasting is prescribed to you as it was prescribed to those before you, that ye may (learn) self-restraint.” Holy Quran (2:183). people before us were “Christians” and “Jews” they do fast but they never see the “Crescent”. Why do muslim see ?
Thanks for you reply.
Salaams. Thanks for your comments. Our religion, Islam is suppossed to be simple and easy for us. There are many Hadith where the Prophet Muhammad (S) stated that Islamic months are either 29 or 30 days. Here are a couple more, besides the ones I listed in my piece above, for your reference:
Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) took these differences in months into consideration and emphasized that Ramadan may sometimes be 29 and sometimes 30 days:
Abdullah Ibn-i Umar, may Allah be pleased with them both, narrates:
Allah’s Messenger (PBUH) said:
“The Month of Ramadan is so-and-so (Meanwhile he shook both hands with all fingers for two times; in the third shake, he closed the thumb of either his right or left hand.)
In a narration by Muslim and Nasai, the Prophet (PBUH) said:
“We are an illiterate nation; we know neither how to write nor how to calculate. The moon is so-and-so.” It is said that at one time he showed twenty-nine and at another thirty. (Bukhari, Sawm: 13; Muslim, Sawm: 13-15; Abu Dawud, Sawm: 4; Nasai, Sawm: 17)
This shows that you do not need to be a scientist or astronomist or expert to witness or look for the new Hilal moon. All you need is your eyes, InshaAllah.
In regards to your questions below about following the Christians and Jews. We do not follow their calendars for our Islamic dates. We have our own calendar and our own procedures which are stated in the Qur’an and in the Hadith, some of which I referenced for you already. So it doesnt matter if the Jews and Christians look for the new crescent moon. It is part of our religion, so we need to do it, and they do not. Just like we have to fast in Ramadan and they do not. We also have to pray 5 times a day and they do not. You get the idea.
really right response
You make some good points. One thing I noted is that Arabs also had a word for the full moon – Badru.
I would have liked to see more development of the spiritual aspect. I think this is really what missing in the lies of everyone, Muslim of otherwise. The creation is a sign, a proof of the existence of the Creator, just like the tracks of an animal left in the mud indicate that an animal was there some time earlier.
But the world we live in was not just created by Allah and left to itself. Allah is the Creator and the Destroyer AND the Sustainer at every instant. Each instant of time is Created, then Sustained and the Destroyed by Allah in such rapidity that it appears to us to be continuous while it is in fact a “digital” existence that is constantly going “On” and “Off” and if at any instant Allah does not want something to be in existence anymore it is just not “turned back on”.
So too is the new crescent moon. Frequently when the new crescent is seen it tends to appear before our eyes and then for a brief instant vanishes again and reappears. When we can witness that, and actually be in audience to seeing the Creator at work, it throws the heart into AWE! And this brings the soul that much closer back to it Lord, the Lord that created it, The Lord that asked it “Am I not your Lord” and it replied “Indeed you are my Lord”, and the Lord to which our souls will all return. Our souls that were breathed into these bodies of ours, long to return to it source and be in bliss with its Maker. This is what sighting the moon brings of benefit to us. When our individual souls can experience that joy, they will by default come into unity all on their own in perfect resonance glorifying Allah with the rest of creation.
JazakAllah Br. Youssef
At last! Someone who undrsetnads! Thanks for posting!
The Quran and Hadeeth both state the beginning and end of the months shall occur only upon the “sighting” of the Hilal. Enough said.
Proponents of the calculation based method are clearly contradictory in nature–on the one hand they follow the Quran and Sunnah to Fast during Ramadan, however, disregard the same to base the arrival of Ramadan.
Unity is extremely important in Islam and for all mankind. However, it was never contemplated that unity be achieved by clearly disregarding the Quran and Hadith. To hold otherwise is actually considered, “disunity.”
Here’s a thought: If “unity” is indeed what we’re after, let’s first try to unite by following the
as salaam. hope yous are well.
where in the holy Quran does it mention “sightimg” of teh hilal please ?
Very well written article that clearly proves that it is very important to continue the Sunnah of Moonsighting without the use of any optical aid.
If unity is all we are after, then uniting one day of the year is not the answer or the way to go. Let us first stop killing one another. There are more Muslims killed at the hands of Muslims than by anyone else.
I totally agree with Irfan’s viewpoint on moon-sighting. Religion is revealed as COMPLETE. It needs neither edition nor subtraction. The Noble Qur’an and Hadith are very clear on this point. Furthermore, the question of identity is simply not the case here. This is because even when there used to be one Khilafa-State, Muslims in various regions like Sham, Iraq, Najd, Hijaz, Egypt and Mawaraa-Nahr used to have different fasting depending on nothing but moon-sighting…
و الله من وراء القصد
JazakAllah Br. Isselmou
Those who think that we will achieve that unity through superficial uniformity (calculated start of Ramadan) are mistaken. There are more fundamental issues impacting us than the start of Ramadan or the day of Eid that we need to be united on.
Moonsighting re-invigorates our spirituality. The very act of moonsighting is an act of submission to Allah swt, where we acknowledge His mastery over the creation, admitting that we do not know what the next instance entails. It is a reminder to us that we don’t know when our last moment will be.
Let us endeavor to follow the sunnah in the best way possible.
JazakAllah Br. Arif
Thank you for your article. It is well articulated, and I totally agree with your point of view. The crescent moon is a sign of Allah’s majesty. Ramadan and Shawwal provide us with great opportunity to witness his majesty, by looking for the crescent moon in the sky. This is unity. When Muslims all over the world look for the crescent moon, so that they can start or end their fast, it brings them in harmony with the nature. And nature is what we should be attuned to. Not some man-made calendar. Following some calendar is not going to unite us. What is going to unite is adhering to the sacred traditions of our beloved Prophet(S), and his rightly guided companions(R).
Abdul Rahim Rydhan
JazakAllah Rahim uncle
The author does not indicate any alternatives for places where it is PHYSICALLY IMPOSSIBLE to sight the crescent moon. I live in Singapore and the highest point that can be found in my country is Bukit Timah, which is a mere 164m tall (around 530ft) – not high enough to peek through the skies in hopes of a glimpse of the new moon. The Islamic council here uses astronomical calculations to overcome this limitation; it’s only practical.
I see from the photo above the crescent-sighting party is at the top of some hill with clouds! You can’t get that anywhere here.
Thanks for your comment. I do not believe you need to go to a high mountain or hilltop to view the new crescent moon. You just need to look near the horizon where the sun sets. You can use the moonsighting charts, software, websites, etc. to help you predict where the Hilal should be seen in your area.
As the Hadith states, if you do not see the new crescent moon on the 29th day of the month, then you just complete 30 days, InshaAllah.
p.s. In the photo which I posted with my article, we are not above the clouds – that is actually fog:) Although we were in the Santa Cruz Mountains, but it was not necessary to go that high (just makes it easier sometimes).
Yes, it seems most of the possibility for consistent moon-sighting occurs in deserts where cloud cover is relatively rare. They don’t seem to have thought of the needs of those of us who don’t live in a desert…
Omar – the moon can be visible from most areas on earth and not just in the desert. check crescentwatch.org (and other sites) for visibility curves and you will see that it varies from month to month on what the best place to see the new moon will be, but it is not just the desert.
I have alwasy argued that, as moonsighting for determining the dates is a critical necessity for all Muslims to observe certain acts of worship, it needs to be something that can be done by ALL people, regardless of education level, etc. Thus, as Islam is a religion in which we do not have a priesthood or anything similar whereby only the “experts” can tell us when and how to perform the critical basic acts of worship, we should be relying on moonsighting (which everyone can do) rather than rely on calculations (which only an elite group of people with a particular type of education can do).
You are correct. Moon sighting can be done by anyone who can see. No specialy knowledge or equipment is needed. Very simple and easy, Alhamdullilah.
While I appreciate the discourse on this issue, I think it is a potentially slippery slope when “lay” individuals, as opposed to Islamic scholars, are deciding how to proceed on issues like this. The Fiqh Council of North America, comprised of respected Muslim scholars from across the continent, has recognized calculations as an acceptable means to determining the start and end of Ramadan: see http://www.fiqhcouncil.org/. Surely, there are scholarly opinions that differ with the Fiqh Council of North America. Masajid leadership should consider these legitimate opinions and make decisions for their communities. Their memberships should follow suit. I follow the calculation method because the leadership of the MCA in Santa Clara chooses to do so. Who am I, a lay Muslim, to argue with my masjid’s leadership and the scholars that comprise the Fiqh Council of America?
Clarification: Our leaderships should consult with scholars and make the decision that is best for their communities. As an MCA community member and participant, I choose to follow their leadership’s educated decision to follow the Fiqh Council of North America’s scholarly opinion.
The so called scholars at the Fiqah council are at the best semi learned. Neim hakeem Khatra-e-Jan Neem Mullah Khatra Iman. I am not a scholar either but I have tried to expose their fallacies in an article ” Revisiting moon sighting versus calculation Issue.” available in the article section on http://www.yanabi.com. Here is the abstract of the 15 page article.
Revisiting the Moon Sighting versus Calculation Issue
Dr. Shahid A. Shaheen, Visiting Foreign Faculty, Physics Department, Comsats Institute of Information Technology, Islamabad.
Permanent Address: Department of Physics, Florida State University, Tallahassee, Florida 32306
In this article the religious and scientific arguments presented by the proponents of calculations have been analyzed and fallacies of those arguments have been highlighted. The limitations of the astronomical calculations and difficulties associated with using those calculations for ascertaining the beginning of a new lunar month have been shown. Allah created a natural celestial order between Sun, Earth and Moon when he created the Heavens and Earth. He associated certain religious practices of the mankind with the rotation of the moon around earth but mankind has been tempering with that order. Prophet Mohammad (peace be upon him) had restored that order more than 1400 years ago when he introduced the system of local Hilal sighting and Muslims throughout the World have preserved it by following his directions and practices. Astronomical knowledge reveals that every month is 29 days in some parts of the Earth and 30 days on the remaining parts of the Earth, according to the natural celestial order of Allah, and is a consequence of the fractional form of the Moon time period (29 days + fraction) relative to Earth and circular nature of Earth surface. The criteria of local Hilal sighting given to us by Allah and his prophet Mohammad (peace be upon him) is the best to preserve the natural order created by Allah for the planet Earth. It is easy in its use and is universally applicable irrespective of the literacy or scientific ability of the mankind. Astronomical knowledge reveals that, according to celestial order of Allah, conjugation occurs any time during the day or night and the region of Earth that faces the Moon at the time of conjugation keeps on changing. These realities pose difficulties regarding using conjugation data for ascertaining the beginning of the month, as it is not possible to fix a space or time on Earth with the conjugation of Moon from where a month may begin. The myth of the definitiveness (Qati) of conjugation calculations for ascertaining the lunar month has been exposed. It has been shown that any use of conjugation data has far more uncertainty (Zann) than use of eye sighting for ascertaining the beginning of the month. Any form of current calculation methods using conjugation data and an arbitrary criteria for Hilal visibility (such as um ul Qura criteria) at the best point to the possibility (Imkan) of seeing the Hilal on a particular evening and none can warrant the Hilal sighting with certainty, required according to the Islamic Sharia’h. The current attempts to force the global sighting in lieu of local sighting and associating it with Mecca or using calculations to make any global declarations in absolute terms for the whole World are modern innovations (bidah) and amount to tempering with Allah’s celestial order and consequently with the Abadah of Muslims at least in some regions of Earth, where the Muslims will be forced to abondon the month of Allah’s reconning in the favor of the calender month produced by the Fiqah Council of north America.
Video explaining the Fiqh Council of America’s decision to use “calculations” method… http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GfKYkZCS_ho
Thanks for the comments.
As a former board member of SBIA masjid, I know that our leaders are sometimes not the most knowledgable to make these type of decisions that affect our religious practices. Many times things are done for the sake of conveience and/or people become lazy. I’m not saying that all of our leaders are like this or anyone specifically at MCA or SBIA, but we are all human beings and we make mistakes. So as Muslims, if we feel something is being done incorrectly, we should speak up and question the decisions our leaders make. This is our right and also our responsibility.
Thanks for sharing the information about the Fiqh Council’s decision. I have in fact read and watched those videos a couple years ago when they first came up with the decision for calculations. They do have some valid points, but i suggest you also read and look into the other side (in support of moon sighting). Here is a good article by Sh. Hamza Yusuf, which I also referred to in my post. The link to Part 1 of his article is here:
Click to access Cesarean_Moon_Births_Pt_1.pdf
After reading it, let me know what you think.
I agree with the spirit of this article. Thanks, Irfan, for standing up for your views and taking the time to post them.
In addition to the points that have been raised, I’d just like to make a further point on calculations. Personally, I’d be fine with using a calculation to determine the start of the month if I knew for sure that that calculation was accurate. However, the mere fact that people who follow calculations and people who follow moonsighting tend to celebrate occasions on different days implies that the calculation method employed does not yet accurately project when the moon will be sighted. If the calculation’s methodology was accurate, then there wouldn’t be an issue – the celebrations would all be on the same day and the debate would be purely academic.
This is the main difference between using calculations to determine the start of months and using calculations to determine prayer times. Whether I look up the timetable or I measure the sun’s zenith by hand, I end up with the same result. Simply put, if my pocket calculator did not always provide me the same result for 5 + 5 that I got by manually counting my toes, I wouldn’t trust it.
The problem, of course, is not that we don’t have the right equations, but that we don’t all agree on the right definitions for all of the variables used. I’ll stop here as I’m quickly starting to talk about things that I have little knowledge on, but until we agree on a calculation methodology that correctly predicts the sightability of the moon as manually measured by moonsighters, we will continue to have this debate.
Good points Imran!
I love moonsighting it’s the way of our Beloved (s).
This is not the first time this issue is being debated. There has been many extensive debates on this topic since 2006 when ISNA announced the “fixed” Islamic calendar.
I beg to differ with Sajid Khan’s comment above that ““lay” individuals, as opposed to Islamic scholars, are deciding how to proceed on issues like this”. Irfan’s position on moonsighting as the only criteria for determining the beginning of an Islamic month, is certainly not a lay man’s opinion. With all due respect to the scholars of the Fiqh Council, there are hundreds of renowned scholars, muftis and Imams who refute ISNA’s decision of following a fixed Islamic calendar which is based on scientific calculations. Please see the document in the link below, signed by many San Francisco Bay Area scholars, Imams and Muftis.
Click to access iscc-refutes-isnas-decesion.pdf
Personally, I have the same problem like Imran above, for following the ISNA calendar. I can only be convinced that it is correct, if and only if it is 100% synchronized with the actual moonsighting.
May Allah (SWT) guide us to do what is right and protect us from doing any wrong..Ameen
WaSalaams Br. Aziz
Thanks for your comments and also for sharing the document from the Islamic Sharia Council of California.
Unfortunately, I know a couple of the Imams on that list have no changed their opinion on the use of calculations.
Also Imam Zaid Shakir and Crescent Watch have recently changed their opinion to accept global sighting. Are you aware of this? Any response from the Islamic Sharia Council on this latest development?
Thanks again for your support.
Our Mosque goes with Saudic Arbaric moon sighting. The Saudic use moonsighting and the calaration to demine if the moon will be possible to sight At all. If the moon set before the sun you cannot see the moon at all.
Those who profess moonsighting, they look nothing beyond Ramadan. All hadeeth they quote are about Ramadan. What about after Ramadan? Fall back on Gregorian Calendar? Can’t the Islamic calendar support the modern life? If it is prescribed by Allah, how could it not work in the modern times? No, it will not work if we insisted on naked eye moonsighting.
Just imagine booking a flight using moonsighting? The agent would say, “Sorry we do not know the dates yet.” How often would you miss your flights. Then one airline would use ISNA and another would use ICNA, the third would use Zaytuna. Yeah, we will have suffix to the calendar: Hijri-ISNA, etc. Forget about countries, different cities within the same country would have different dates. If an airline had a booking office in New York, then the Californians will definitely miss their flights.
Just imagine international business meeting using moonsighting calendar. Hijri calendar, prescribed by Allah, will not survive. How would you track your documents, your birth certificates, your passport and visa expiry dates.
Shaikh Tahir Qadri has clarified in his lecture that the word “Roya” in hadeeth does not always mean “naked eye sighting.” He quoted Surah Feel as an example when the word “Tara” (same root as Roya) is used. “Have you not seen how your Lord dealt with the owners of the Elephant? ” But the Prophet, peace be upon him, was not even born then so how could he “see” the event? That means, the word means “knowledge” and not actual sighting with the eye.
In Islam, many things are adaptable to the development, and the calendar is one of them. The Muslims are debating this issue like crazy because some of them do not want to progress.
It is time Muslims looked beyond Ramadan. Think about the broader issue here. All we need to do is find out if calculations are permitted. If yes, then go for it
Dear Imran. Your points are valid. I have the same views.
In response to Zaheer Hussain, I would say that if it were not for violating the sacred plan of Allah, we could have chosen any method, for example choosing 6 months of 29 days and choosing 6 month of 30 days make the 354 days in an year and that is closest to the 12 lunar cycles (354 days + fraction) and much easier than performing astronomical calculations but we have to follow what Allah and his Rasool told us. There are so many complications following the caculation methods that they can never be in sink with the eye sighting: simply because according to Allah’s celestial order month is 29 days on some part of the earth and 30 days on some part of the earth and these regions keep on changing every month and astrronomers can not predict it precisely, but they may confirm it after it happens. If you watch the calculations of moon visibility curves, you will notice that on 30 the evening (completion of 29th day) of the month only less than half of the planet earth is projected for the moon visibility in those curves but on the next day almost whole planet is in the visibity region, confirming that month is of 29 days in some regions and 30 days in remaing regions. Only local sighting can determine it precisely for the entire earth. Any global decleration will violate Allah’s natural plan.
Regarding your refering to Dr. Tahir ul Qadari and “feel” incidence, most religious people do not have deep understanding of the complications of the astronomical calculations and they are misinformed about their precision. Conjunction calculations which are claimed to be precise can not be used as such as a criteria and there are multiple elements of doubt (Zann) in using those caculations with other criteria like um ul Qura criteria. You may send me a mail and I may send you a detailed 20 page analysis on all scientific and religious aspects of moonsighting.
Regarding “feel” issue there are multiple references like that where the Prophet is referred to recall the incidences where he was not physically present or was not born yet, but most muslims consider the Prophet hadir nadir and they use these incidences in support of his being Hadir Nazir before coming to this world.
So nothing is that simple and clear cut.
In your long reply you didn’t propose how you would resolve the issues that prevail in the current times. How would you book a flight using the naked-eye sighting calendar? How would you hold an international business meeting?
What you are proposing is separation of church and state. You are in fact saying saying follow the Gregorian calendar for your daily life and follow Hijri calendar for your fasting and eids. This is a greater violation.
You talk about Allah’s violation. Who set up international date line? Why does date change at that point and not according to where the moon was sighted first? Why do you accept that?
You got to look at the issue rationally and not emotionally. What they are proposing is not violating Allah’s order. They are still using moon’ phases. They only thing new is finding out when it is new. And if we can perfect it what better way to resolve the issues facing the Hijri calendar!
Dear Zaheer Hussain:
I am not making any emotional rhetoric. Your questions are rather trivial and are based on arguments of Qiyas and you should understand that in any religious matter when Nuss from Quran and Sunnah is available, arguments of Qiyas have no value. This is an agreed upon principles of Shariah. What I am referring to is a fundamental issue of concern for Muslims, and for those it is not, it should be because the main concern of Muslims should be that what they do in this context is according to Allah’s plan or not. So what I am referring to is from Qurran and I am showing with scientific evidence that Allah’s sacred months get violated by global declaration or by what ISNA is doing. Any decleration which forces the month to be of the same number of days for the whole plant earth does not conform to Allah’s celestial order, as according to His celestial order the month is 29 days in some parts of the earth and 30 days in the remaining part of the earth and these regions keep on changing each month. Only local sighting can ascertain the month correctly for the whole plant. From Quranic evidence it can also be ascertained that astronomicall calculations are not part of Allah’s plan for acertaining the month. We should focus on understanding what method Allah uses for ascertaining the month rather than harping on our own desires. Can Allah’s way of ascertaining the month be different from what he has been teaching the mankind through his messangers from Adam to Mohammad (peace be upon them)? If not, what methodology He taught the mankind of differnt times for this purpose? Is Allah consistent in his approach or not? If we are sincere in our approach, we will get to the right answer?
The objective of the whole exercise of ascertaining the lunar months is to be in conformity with Allah’s plan, otherwise, what is wrong with the International calender (modified Gorgian calendar), the whole world is using it.
Now I come to your questions. Your questions are within quotes.
“How would you book a flight using the naked-eye sighting calendar? How would you hold an international business meeting?”
It is not difficult, it will be done the same way, as it is being done now: the meetings will be held according to the local date and time and flight tickets will also be according to the local date and time. Is it a big deal for you?
“What you are proposing is separation of church and state. You are in fact saying saying follow the Gregorian calendar for your daily life and follow Hijri calendar for your fasting and eids. This is a greater violation.”
I am not proposing it but you are assuming it. Muslims have been doing so for about a century now (since after the fall of Ottoman empire.) Allah is more concerned with religious matters of mankind rather than the wordly affairs of individuals. We are concerned about the violation and want to avoid it if we can, at least in religious matters.
“You talk about Allah’s violation. Who set up international date line? Why does date change at that point and not according to where the moon was sighted first? Why do you accept that?”
Those who did that do not follow Allah’s plan and are answerable to Him. Since I do not think that global sighting plan is in accordance with Allah’s celestial order, therefore I have nothing to gain or loose from it and whether I accept it or not is immaterial.
“You got to look at the issue rationally and not emotionally. What they are proposing is not violating Allah’s order. They are still using moon’ phases. They only thing new is finding out when it is new. And if we can perfect it what better way to resolve the issues facing the Hijri calendar!”
I am giving you scientific evidence for their being wrong and you are just insisting they are right. Wwho is being rational and who is being emotional?
You say: If there is Quran and Sunnah, there is no place for Qiyaas.
I Say: What does Quran or Sunnah say about booking airline flights? Or How do you arrange using the Quran and Sunnah an “international” meeting when some executive needs to travel by air or use video conference between, say the USA and India? You have no choice but to use Qiyaas. Otherwise you depend on Gregorian calendar. How do you issue birth certificate to a child born on 30th in one city when there no 30th in some other city? These are modern day problems that were not there in olden days. So you must use qiyaas.
My question was: “How would you book a flight using the naked-eye sighting calendar? How would you hold an international business meeting?”
Your answer: It is not difficult, it will be done the same way, as it is being done now: the meetings will be held according to the local date and time and flight tickets will also be according to the local date and time. Is it a big deal for you?
My follow-up question: I said “international” meetings.” Your answer is not the solution because first of all we will not be able to predict the date. We will not be able to say if there will be a 30th day or not. Since you yourself want to keep the date different, in India or Pakistan it will be, say 1st, and in Dubai or the USA it will be 2nd. Forget about different countries, it will be different days between cities. In Mumbai it will be 1st and in Delhi it will be 2nd. It is a very big deal. There will no flights on any 30th day of Hijri month because we would not know if there will be a 30th or not.
You say: I am not proposing it but you are assuming it. Muslims have been doing so for about a century now (since after the fall of Ottoman empire.) Allah is more concerned with religious matters of mankind rather than the wordly affairs of individuals. We are concerned about the violation and want to avoid it if we can, at least in religious matters.
I say: The scholars have researched it enough that it is not a violation. They are still using the new moon. Only they are perfecting the sighting. Regarding violation, being disunited is more serious violation.
You say: Since I do not think that global sighting plan is in accordance with Allah’s celestial order, therefore I have nothing to gain or loose from it and whether I accept it or not is immaterial.
I say: Look at it this way – you are preparing the Hijri calendar for the modern world. Allah will be happy rather than angry because you will be using His calendar and not Gregorian calendar.
You say: I am giving you scientific evidence for their being wrong and you are just insisting they are right. Wwho is being rational and who is being emotional?
I say: Look at it this way – The problem we have is that the world has shrunk and become a global village. This is a new problem that was not there more than 100 years ago. So WE need to come up with answers. The first thing we need to realize is that we have a problem then look for solutions. Right now Unity, which is Fard, is more important than the accuracy of the calculations. Yes, they may not be 100% correct all the time but Islam does not demand that kind of accuracy. If accuracy was that important, Islam would not allow 30 day in a month in case of clouds.
Dear Zaheer Hussain:
It seems to me that you have problem with comprehending or understanding what I write. For example, here is what I wrote,
” you should understand that in any religious matter when Nuss from Quran and Sunnah is available, arguments of Qiyas have no value. This is an agreed upon principles of Shariah.”
Here is what you responded,
“You say: If there is Quran and Sunnah, there is no place for Qiyaas.
I Say: What does Quran or Sunnah say about booking airline flights? Or How do you arrange using the Quran and Sunnah an “international” meeting when some executive needs to travel by air or use video conference between, say the USA and India? You have no choice but to use Qiyaas. Otherwise you depend on Gregorian calendar. How do you issue birth certificate to a child born on 30th in one city when there no 30th in some other city? These are modern day problems that were not there in olden days. So you must use qiyaas.”
It gives me an indication that we are going on tangents. I do not want to insult you or belittle your knowledge but it seems to me that apparently you do not have familarity with how Islamic law is made but you think that Quran and Sunnah have no solution for some of the problems you are addressing? I may not be able to help you in this context but would like to tell you that Allah Who is all knowing all wise has declared in Quran that he has completed the Deen of Islam for us. Allah is the source of all knowledge and he knew about every concern you are having now and he knew about what is yet to come, when he made that declaration, more than 1400 years ago. Allah must have given guidance for all times to come, before declaring that deen is complete now. Therefore, any thing that is important in religion is not left for your or my Qiyas. It is our belief that Quran and Sunnah has solution for every issue for those Allah wants to guide, and there is no exception in this case. The continued practice of Muslims for 14 centuries and agreement of all scholars of the previous 14 centuries for eye sighting the moon locally for ascertaining the month is a clear menifestation of Allah’s guidance in this respect.
Now I come to the questions that are bothering you. I have been refering to them as trivial questions and have answered them in my previous posts but since you do not comprehend the answers that I have given, I will eleborate them for you.
Firstly, for international affairs, you would use what has been agreed internationally. Since the world has agreed on using the modified Gregorian calendar, it would not be not be easy to convince other nations to to use a Muslim calendar unless the whole world becomes Muslims. Therefore, use of islamic calendar for international affairs is a wishful thinking and practically a far fetched idea with a very little or no chance of success. Having said that all your questions pose little or no difficulty in using the moonsighted Lunar calender for booking flights or international meetings or birth certificates, or video conferencing, etc. Your main concern that I can understand is that how we will be sure about the 30th of the month for advance scheduling the things. You should know that, even now, we have different timings for differents regions and some times different dates too, for example, when I book my flights from here for Pakistan, My arrival in Pakistan is 3 dates appart, while, on my return, I reach here in the U.S. on the same date, even though the travel time is the same for the both journies. So would it matter, if the date or time is different? On international flights, date and departure time is local, and arrival date and arrival time is also local, so all the concerns you are mentioning are in reality not big concerns and can be dealt with easily. On birth certificates, date and time of birth are local and are different for different places of births, so it would not matter, if we use a Lunar Calendar with different dates at different places, as we are doing the same when we use the Solar calendar. When there is chance of having confusion about the dates, then one may remove that concern by using the day and probable date and that combination will remove the confusion, for example, mentioning any event to be on Friday Shaban 30, or Ramdan 1 will clarify any confusion about the dates, it would mean that the event is on Friday and date will be 30th of Shaban if the Shaban will be of 30 days, otherwise, if Shaban is of 29 days, it will be the first day of Ramadan when the event will take place.
Regarding your concern for unity. There was unity on this issue among the Muslims for sighting the moon locally for the past 1400 years, who broke that unity. Are not those who broke the unity with previous generations, talking about the unity with them. Bani Israel fell for the same unity with the Samary and Prophet Arron (peace be upon him) kept reminding them to follow the command of Allah’s Prophet Moses (peace be upon him) and wait for his return but they fell for Samary’s ploy. May Allah save us from uniting against the clear commandments of Allah and His Messanger Prophet Mohammad (peace be upon him). By the way, what is wrong with uniting on the Sunnah of Prophet Mohammad (peace be upon him) for sighting the moon locally and be united with the previous generations of Muslims of the 14 centuries?
I agree with Dr. Shaheen. Muslims should be united in following the Sunnah of Prophet Muhammad (s), and not trying to force everyone to start or end their religious practices on the same day and time which is not important. If you want “unity” then why don’t you pray Jummah the same day and time as they do in Mecca? The reason you don’t is because you pray according to your local day and time. The same for Ramadan and Eids. There is one big problem when it comes to calculations and that is the date of Eid-ul-Adha. ISNA and their Fiqh Council do not even follow their own calculations but instead they wait to see what Saudi Arabia decides on the date of Eid-ul-Adha! Now does this make sense to you? Many Muslims incorrectly believe that Eid-ul-Adha is a celebration of Hajj- which it is not! It is on the 10th of Zul Hijja which is determined by the start of the month and Not when Saudi decides when to start or end Hajj!
So what I’m trying to say is that people should be consistent. If you follow calculations then you should do it all the time and not just for Ramadan and Eid-ul-Fitr but not follow it for Eid-ul-Adha.
Although Saudi Arabia claims to follow moon-sighting for their dates, they accept any claim of sighting and thus are almost always wrong in picking their dates.
For those who follow moon sighting there are well known and reliable moon sighted who go out every month of the Islamic calendar to sight the moon. It is not just done once or twice by them. Then it is verified by more than one person so it is based on actual hard evidence and eye witness accounts. If you go to any court of law and try to prove that ISNA and Saudi dates are accurate you will have a very hard time because they are usually not based on actual eye witness accounts and those that are have been unverifiable due to their lack of understanding of when the new moon can actually be seen by the human eye.
They use the date of conjunction which is the “astronomical new moon” which is invisible to the naked eye. The “Hilal” is the new
Moon which is visible to the naked eye.
Lastly, in regards to booking airline flights, etc. As Dr. Shaheen stated it is based on local days and times. Plus, many people incorrectly believe that “moon-sighters” do not have a set calendar to plan for events. Of course they do. The only difference is that it is always verified and confirmed to be accurate by human beings. If you are going to rely on set calendars, computers and machines to do everything for you and not have any human being to verify or confirm it then you are in for big trouble.
No, I don’t think that Quran and Sunnah don’t have a solution but what I am trying to say is that you have to look at the deeper meaning of the Quran and Sunnah and arrive at solutions when we don’t have a direct answer to an issue. I gave the example of flight reservation and international business meeting calendar as examples where the Hijri calendar as it exists now fails completely.
My debate is that Hijri calendar is not just for Ramadan or for a few religious activities and then to be forgotten till the next year. It is a calendar that was given to Muslims by Allah for everything. Insisting on naked-eye moonsighting doesn’t make it work.
You say that only naked-eye moonsighting is the valid option and any other way is a violation of Allah’s orders. My response is: No, if the naked-eye sighting doesn’t work in the modern times, and we are forced to use Gregorian calendar, that cannot be the only valid option and there must be other valid ways of moonsighting that do not violate Allah’s order.
One such other valid way of moonsighting is the ISNA system which calculates the formation of the new moon or hilal that Allah and Prophet ordered us to use for our calendar.
Now let’s analyze your answers.
No, they are not trivial questions. They are one of the reasons why Hijri calendar has been abandoned for daily use. How many grown ups can name the Hijri months in a sequence nowadays?
You say: “For international affairs you would use what has been agreed internationally.”
Doesn’t this mean separation of Church and state? Obviously, this means look for answers from somewhere else than the Qur’an and Sunnah. Isn’t this a violation of Quran and Sunnah? Did the Prophet, peace be upon him, or his sahaba ever use any other calendar for anything? Isn’t the calendar developed by ISNA better than this because ISNA applies Qur’an and Sunnah to adopt the calendar to the modern world?
You say, “Use of Islamic Calendar for international affairs is a wishful thinking and practically a far-fetched idea with a very little or no chance of success.”
Hmm. So that’s your excuse. So your answer to my question of booking a flight is to use the Gregorian calendar. Yet don’t mess with the Hijri calendar because it is perfect! This also means you have given up on the solution from the Qur’an and Sunnah and everything Islamic. Didn’t you just say that “Quran and Sunnah have answer” and “Allah has completed the deen.”
Forget about non-Muslims, even Muslims have given up on using the Hijri calendar. If Allah had not forced us to fast by lunar calendar, we would have dumped it for fasting too. But think why did we dump it. Because, as you admit it yourself, in its current format it is not working. We need to fix it, first for our own use then for the modern world.
Yes, you understood it right that my main concern is the 30th of the month as well as the advance scheduling of things. But you do not understand the date problem. With the naked-eye Hijri calendar, the 1st of a month in one area could be on Sunday, in another area it could be on Monday and it is very likely it could on Tuesday in several other areas. So, like it happened a month ago, for part of Pakistan, 1st Shawwal was on Sunday and for part of Pakistan it was Monday and I believe in some areas it was Saturday. So when do you fly from one area to another with this kind of confusion – Saturday, Sunday or Monday? Plus the airline from one area would fly on Saturday and one from the second area on Sunday and third would fly on Monday, and they will all claim they are flying on the 1st! And whose date should the airport use? And for the 30th should they wait for the moonsighting to announce the flight?
Same thing with the meeting. One person would come on Monday, another or Tuesday and the third one on Wednesday. About certificates, they would expire on different days in different parts. Let’s say you are travelling on just two days before passport or visa expiration date. You could end up travelling with expired visa and passport.
About unity, I heard there was a similar resistance when the Qur’an was first translated to another language. I still remember when even the loudspeaker use in the masjid faced resistance because people thought it was not the human voice. For 1400 years people celebrated eid on different days but it did not affect neighboring cities because the travel time was very long. Now the world has become a global village and people travel that distance in a matter of hours. Reports of moonsighting reach in minutes. So much has changed. If you do not keep up with technology, it will cause disunity. The beauty of Islam is that it allows for adaptation to the changes and advancement in technology. That is why this “deen is perfect.”
It is the work of the scholars to find out how to apply Qur’an and Sunnah to new issues that come up because of the changing times. And they are working on it. These scholars from different countries meet once or twice a year to discuss just this issue of moonsighting.
Dear Zahid Hussain:
Aslamualakum: Nobody understands deeper meaning of Quran better than the prophet Mohammad (peace be upon him) and we need to follow what he has taught us and should not pay attention to what someone else tells us. The best guidance is from Allah and his Prophet Mohammad (peace be upon him) and going against it is simply misguidance. So we should not fall for any deeper meaning suggested by someone of modern times, especially, not from those who are semi learned in religious matters.
Regarding your contention that scholars have inferred from the Ahadith a room for calculations, that is basically being done by arguing from the text what is not clear (mubhim) and leaving the text that is clear in those Ahdith, and you may understand what type of people will do that kind of interpretation. It can be clearly established from the Quranic text alone that astronomical calculations are not included in the plan of Allah as far as ascertaining the month is concerned. If calculations were the preferred method, Allah would have given that knowledge to the mankind and his prophets (peace be upon them) because ascertaining the month is a religious necessity. Allah guided us to the best method for the mankind and practice of Muslims of the past 14 centuries is an attestation to it.
I have not said that locally moon sighted calendars have any flaw or they are inferior than Solar calendar. All the faults that you and other advocates of calculations are trying to find in moon sighting method are imaginary and as I explained to you all the problems or points that you point out or either not problems but your imagination and if they are a concern, can be handled, easily.
As far as abandoning of Muslims using Hijra calendar is concerned, it is not because of its impracticality, as you think but when Muslims lost power, they had to follow the calendar their rulers were using, however, they preserved it for religious purposes. Regarding dealing with non-Muslims, you have to agree on a common ground and you have to yield to demands, especially when the other party is in stronger position. At the time of writing the agreement of Hudabia, the Meccan leaders objected to writing Mohammad, the messenger of Allah, and Prophet Mohammad had to yield to their demands, even though he was a messenger of Allah. Therefore, Muslims have to deal with others in international arena, on the terms that most nations agree to and there is nothing wrong about it, if it is not affecting your religious practices.
Since it is clear to me from the Quranic text that astronomical calculations are not the part of Allah’s plan for ascertaining the month, my approach as a scientist has been to look for the reason, why Allah did not use the astronomical calculations for this purpose. There seem to be two solid reasons for Allah to not make astronomical calculations (for ascertaining the month) as a part of his plan. Firstly, any religious necessity or criteria would be equally applicable to the mankind of all times and all intellects, irrespective of their scientific ability, social status, or place of habitation on earth, and astronomical calculations would not meet that criteria. Local moon sighting criteria fulfills that requirement with the same precision for the previous, current, and future generations of the mankind. The other reason, for not using calculation becomes apparent from the nature of the celestial order as month is 29 days on some part of the earth and 30 days on some part of the earth and the previous and current knowledge of astronomical calculations cannot ascertain precisely, which regions of earth will have the month of 29 days and which regions of earth will have the month of 30 days. Only local sighting can ascertain that aspect. Allah’s wisdom is manifested in the guidance he gave us but some of us do not understand and try to find fault in what Allah and his messenger (peace be upon him) gave us and try to find our own interpretations. May Allah give us guidance.
It seems that I am not able to help you understand my point of view and would stop arguing any further. If you are interested, e-mail me at email@example.com and may send you my detailed article which points out the fallacies of the Fiqh Council in their religious and scientific argumentation.
Salaam to all my brothers,
As for the word “tara” (you seen), I would like to offer a view after two books on the history of prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him). The books was entitled “Fiqih Sirah” (Dr. Zaid bin Abdul Karim Al-Zaid), and “Sahih Sirah Nabawiya” (Dr. Akram Dhiya al-Umuri). Apparently Allah left several peoples of the elephant, blinded, impoverished and wounded, for all Meccan to see long enough after aggression. Thus the word see should be inferred to be the same as its translation, and not to be understood otherwise.
Walaikum Salaam. He did not see the event happening with this own eyes. He did not see the elephants. He did not see the birds with stones. He did not see those people getting hit by stones brought by the birds. Somebody told him that the blindness, impoverishment or wounds, which are not mentioned in the Qur’an or hadith, was because of those persons’ participation. Otherwise blindness, etc. can happen for many reasons. So the news of someone becoming blind or impoverished or wounded was related to him by somebody else.
Could you please quote one hadith which indicates that Prophet Muhammad, pbuh, went outside and climbed a hill or some high spot to sight the moon?
Sure, Muslims should be united in following the Sunnah. But it all depends on interpretation. The Prophet, upon him be Allah’s blessings, did one Hajj and we have three types of hajj. How come? Because different scholars derived different solutions from different hadeeth.
So we have scholars who have researched whether any criteria other than naked eye moonsighting can be used to determine the start of the month. And they make convincing argument that based on the words used in the hadeeth, there is room to use calculations. And if this is really true, why not use this wonderful opportunity to fix the calendar? We will not be violating any Sunnah or Qur’an. It will unite the community, and gives us time to attend to other issues.
You brought up a good point about salah times. Comparing Jumuah times to start of the month is comparing apples and oranges. One is based on the sun and the other is based on the moon. But if you want to talk about salat times, you will not find a single place where calculations are not used to determine Fajr time, Isha time, etc. No one measures the shadow or looks for the brightness in the sky. Everyone looks at the printed timetable for salah and calls azan or iqamah. Based on Br. Shahid’s argument, aren’t we violating Allah’s order here? And who came up with those sun’s angles for Fajr and Isha times? We rely on those printed so much that we use atomic clocks. Where did that hadeeth about “illiterate ummah” go in this case? Why we don’t have an issue with the salah times but we are so resistant to the Hilal?
Regarding Eidul Adha, I agree with you. Does not make sense at all. But that’s ISNA’s decision not related to the calendar. I have found this common belief in many Arab brothers that the day of Eidul Adha is the day after Arafat so it does not matter to them whether it is 9th or 10th Zilhijjah. But if we all use the calculated calendar, they will be forced to abandon their ways.
I agree with Saudi dates too. I believe they follow calculation and tell everyone they sight the moon because there is no way moon can be esighted in Saudi Arabia. They are probably scared to reveal the true fact. But, if we all agree openly on calcualtions, we can avoid this problem too.
Unfortunately, naked eye moonsighting does not work for airline reservation regardless of computers. We need certainty of the 30th day of the month for that to work.
Again, the naked eye sighting has also into the “trust” issue. Countries may call it sighted on unexpected days, clouds could play a big role, there could be a dispute on sightings. On the top of that we have “local sighting” groups and “global sighting” groups. In short, it is totally out of control. Tell me a single country where it is without controversy.
You can use both like Saudic Arabic use now. The calculation to rule out inpossile sighting of the moon like when the moon set below the line of sight before night time. But use sighting of the moon to started fasting.
Your suggestion is practical. There is no prohibition for using caculations and where they can be use, may be used. However, the reliability of positive sighting through calculations is not at the level that they can predetermine the moon visibility with 100% accuracy, so they may not be used for ascertaining the month. Nor global predeclerations should be made on the basis of calculations, as they would violate Allah’s plan as mentioned in my earlier posts. Calculations are useful and one should keep checking them against local sighting and if their accuracy reaches to the level of certainity then they would become a norm and just like we use the calculated timings for prayers they would become a norm too. However, what Fiqh Council is doing is premature and unprofessional, and not in accordance with Islamic principles. Islamic criteria can only be given or changed by Allah and his messanger and no body else has the authority to change them, however, any other methodology that can essentially meet any Islamic criteria may be used, if there is no prohibition for its use.
As Salaam Alaikum Brothers Shahid, Irfan, AliDoust:
OK brothers. No use going crazy about naked-eye sighting or calculations. We are not achieving anything. Instead of accusations and anger, let’s just resolve this for me and that will satisfy me. Remember, you are using naked-eye sighting, and dates are different in different countries (clouds, 29/30 days, some countries ahead of others, etc.). I want a confirmed ticket/hotel/cab reservations with Hijri dates. Here is my travel plan.
I am a passenger travelling from NY to Raichur, India via Saudi Arabia. I want to fly Emirates because it is offering a big discount. I want to leave NY on 25th Ramadan, arrive in Dubai. change flight for Jeddah, take cab for Makkah, reach Makkah, stay there 3 days, then go to Madinah and stay there 3 days. Go back to Jeddah to take a flight to Dubai. From there I fly to Bangalore. Then I take a train to Raichur. I stay there a month. Then come back to Bangalore and from there via Dubai back to NY. Now you be my travel agent and set up my schedule in Hijri calendar.
Now please give me this information. All dates should be local. Dates are critical otherwise I would miss connecting flights.
1. What Hijri date I am arriving at Dubai?
2. What Hijri date I am arriving at Jeddah?
3. What Hijri date should I give the cab co to pick me up at Jeddah airport?
4. What Hijri dates is my hotel booked in Makkah?
5. What Hijri date I am leaving for Madinah?
6. What Hijri dates is my hotel booked in Madinah?
7. What Hijri date I am leaving Madinah for Jeddah?
8. What Hijri date I am arriving at Dubai?
9. What Hijri date I am arriving at Bangalore?
10. What Hijri date I am reaching Raichur?
11. What Hijri date I am leaving Bangalore for Dubai?
12. What Hijri date I am arriving at Dubai?
12. What Hijri date will I be back in NY?
Remember this not a “convenience” issue. This is a “serious” business that most of us do today. This is not a joke either. And I don’t want to hear Gregorian calendar for an answer because that is not what Allah wanted us to use.
Walaikum Salaam wa RahmatUllah Br. Shahid.
Your argument reminds me of the case mentioned in the Qur’an. Allah had people of Musa, pbuh, to sacrifice a cow. What did they do? First they asked for its description. What happened then? Their choice got reduced. Then they asked for its color. Their choice got further reduced. Then they asked for more details. Their choice got reduced even more. The end result: They had to sacrifice the most expensive cow plus earn Allah’s anger.
There is a hadith about a sahabi asking RasoolUllah, pbuh, three times whether the hajj needed to be performed every year. That sahabi got instructed not to ask for details when it is not provided otherwise it will lead to difficulties.
That’s what you are doing. First restrict the word “roya” to “naked-eye” sighting when there is a possibility of other meanings. Then you come up with some new concept of the requirement that the month must be divided into 29 and 30 days among different geographical areas otherwise it is a violation of Allah’s order. You are complicating things for people by dividing the earth into horizontal parts (or is it actually a hyperbola?) for the sake of this 29/30 day requirement. To make it even more difficult, that horizontal line moves up and down. So the month line moves both vertically and horizontally. And we know all this because we have acquired scientific knowledge. And why should we do this? Just for Ramadan because you have already surrendered to Gregorian calendar for your wordly life.
And this theory of 29 and 30 days in different regions based on the moon’s visibility curve has a big flaw because, regardless of moon’s position or visibility, the presence of clouds changes everything. Many areas of your 29 days zone could end up having 30 days. In many areas in the northern hemisphere, the clouds could be present for several consecutive months. This concept does not hold water.
I don’t know where you are located at but in the USA and Canada, the entire country is considered as “local.” People rely on the naked-eye sightings of areas thousands of miles away. Many times they have no choice but to do it this way because their area is under cloud cover month after month. So somebody has changed the definition of the “local sighting” from what it was in the days of the Prophet, pbuh. And the hard core naked-eye moonsighters have no problem with that. And who has the authority to enforce the local sighting boundaries in this age of modern technology?
According to the plan of Allah, the new month starts the moment after the conjunction of the moon. Then based on different weather conditions, geographic locations, people’s seeing capabilities, they sight the moon on different days.
I am not disputing the understanding of our Prophet, pbuh. But Shariah is not static. With new technology come new issues. Otherwise, we would not have heard about Imams Abu Hanifa, Shafi, Ahmad Ibn Hambal and Malik. These imams had to interpret what the RasoolUllah taught us. This interpretation continues as new technology emerges.
Allah does mention the word “calculate: in Surah Younus, Ayah 5: He is the One Who gave the sun its brightness and the moon its light, established its phases that you may learn to compute the years and other such counts.
We use everywhere calculations, sun’s angles, clocks, etc. for salat and fasting time without anyone debating that. Here we do not talk about scientific ability, social status, etc. I don’t see any mosque measurinf shadows to start salat or fast anywhre in the world. Why do we have this double standard? How is that different and acceptable while this is misguidance and sin, etc.?
You don’t yield your fundamental beliefs in treaties or demands. The writing or not writing of the words “the messenger of Allah” did not change the status of him as the messenger of Allah. The Prophet, pbuh, did not agree to another place for Umrah and Hajj in the Hudaibiya treaty. He agreed to do it the following year because there was no problem with that.
I am not trying to find fault with Hijri calendar but want to bring out to you the calendar’s beauty, which is adaptability to technology and modern times that you want to deny it.
Didn’t Allah give the knowledge of calculation? Not only He gave the knowledge, but he gave so much knowledge that humans landed on the moon.
Moonsighting declarations are controversial all over the world every year, and you say the problems are imaginary! Why do you think we are debating this issue in this blog if there were no problems? Why are people celebrating two and three eids if there were no problems? And I have proven that a simple flight reservation cannot be done.
Salaams Br. Zaheer
In regards to using a prayer timetable for daily salat and not using a calculated lunar calendar for Islamic months- the reason is because the movements of the earth in relation to the sun and moon are different.
The daily prayers can be accurately calculated based on the position of the sun which does not change and thus is always the same (see the comment from Imran above).
The movement of the moon, in contrast is not always the same and cannot be accurately calculated because of the requirement of visibility of the new moon, which changes month to month.
Also in regards to your comment about what is “local sighting”- there are actually different opinions per the scholars even in the US and Canada.
Some follow only continental US. Others accept US and Canada. Some in Canada accept sightings in the Carribean and then there is now a global sighting movement which my local mosque in San Jose has now started to follow.
Although i still prefer local sighting (US & Canada) for North America (because I don’t believe it makes sense to follow a moon sighted on the otherwise of the world), I am following my local mosque for global sighting for the sake of unity.
I still plan to go out and look for the new moon here locally in the Bay Area so as to keep this important and sacred tradition of the Prophet Muhammad (S) alive and well, InshaAllah.
I hope one day Muslims in the West will realize that there are somethings we are meant to do in person and to see with our own two eyes (if we are capabale of doing) and not everything can be done online or via a pre-made calendar, etc.
Next thing you know Muslims will want to do Jummah on Sundays and Do Hajj virtually in “second life” because we have the technology and it will make life easier for people!
Salam alaikum Br. Irfan
So you say the calculations CAN be used if they are accurate. But you do not believe the moon’s calculations are accurate. Did you ever wonder how accurate the eclipse timings are? Likewise, the eclipse visibility path? They predict accurate to the minute. You can google the next hundred years of lunar and solar eclipses. And what is the new moon? It takes place the moment after the eclipse.
Regarding the local area sighting, how can area this large be local?
How big area is the continental US? 3,119,884.69 square miles.
How many time zones in it? 4.
Distance between NY and LA? 2443 miles
Just think about how many days a horseman will take to reach LA from NY. Then decide what should be the local area. The local area we choose is not what is mentioned in the hadeeth. According to Br. Shahid’s criteria, the continental US area will fall into different zones of 29/30 days and you will have to devide the US into two or three horizontal zones of perpetual disunity.
Since you mentioned that moonsighting with naked eyes is an important and sacred tradition of Prophet Muhammad, peace be upon him, I am trying to find a hadeeth where the Prophet, peace be upon him, himself went out specifically to sight the moon at the start of the month. Or did he send anyone for his specific purpose to report him back the sighting information. I have seen hadith where the sahabis went to sight the moon but they went on their own. I have seen many about “Roya,” the month being 29 or 30 days, etc. but not himself going out specifically for moonsighting purpose. If you find one, please let me know.
Now please tell me where in the hadith this “sighting with two eyes” statement is?
About Jumuah on Sundays, this is not a valid argument at all. Same thing about Hajj. This thing is not about making things easy. It is about bringing order back to the Hijri calendar. Remember, unity of the Ummah is fard and the moonsighting is Sunnah. Fard prevails over Sunnah. We need to try to unite the Ummah. And think about this: Unity will not come if we stuck to our opinion.
Go back and read my original article Above or go to this link: (www.patheos.com/blogs/almihrab).
I have listed a verse from the Quran which states to fast if you have witnessed the new month (most scholars agree this means to witness or see the new moon to signify the start of the new lunar month).
Also I have shared a Hadith from Prophet Muhammad (S), where he instructs us to look for the new moon to signify when to start fasting in Ramadan.
If these two are not clear enough for you then read the links to the paper by Sh Hamza Yusuf which I also referred to in my article.
There is no Fard in having a false sense of “unity” by forcing Muslims all over the world to start fasting (and end fasting), on the same
Exact date. That is the same as saying Muslims all over the world should pray Jummah when they do in Mecca (the same criteria The ISNA Fiqh Council uses for start of Ramadan).
Lastly, unity does not mean conformity. Differences in religious understanding is a blessing- as the Prophet Muhammad (S) said.
We do not all have to use calculations or follow Saudi to be “unified.”
Instead we should be unified in following the teachings and practices of our leader Prophet Muhammad (S).
The month of Ramadan is the one in which the Qur’an was revealed as a guidance for humanity and clarifications of that guidance and a standard. So whoever witnesses (shahida) the month among you, let him fast” (2:185).
If you insist this word “shahida” in the above ayah refers to actual crescent sighting with the two naked eyes, then does it mean that the entire ummah should go out and sight the moon and whoever doesn’t do that is not required to fast? Aren’t you supposed to fast in Ramadan whether you see the moon or not?
Narrated by Abu Hurayrah: The Messenger of Allah (peace_be_upon_him) made a mention of the new moon and (in this connection) said: Observe fast when you see it (the new moon) and break fast when you see it (the new moon of Shawwal), but when (the actual position of the moon is) concealed from you (on account of cloudy sky), then count thirty days.
I have went his over previously. In the Hadith you quoted, the word is “Roya” and scholars have given several meanings to this word including knowledge, news or information. And this hadith does not instruct to actually go out in the open meadow or top of a hill for this purpose. I am looking for those specific words.
So I am still looking for evidence where the Prophet, peace be upon, actually went outside to a plain meadow or climbed a hill or a tree-top or some high spot to sight the moon for the start of the month since you claim this is a sacred Sunnah of the Prophet. Now it is strengthening my belief that since the Prophet himself does not seem to have done the actual sighting, and probably he intentionally avoided doing it so that the “naked-eye” sighting does not become the sole source of confirmation.
I give the example of Jummah timing in Mecca, because ISNA/Fiqh Council use the time of sunset and moon visibility in Mecca as their Matala for determining the start and end of Ramadan. In terms of “local moon sighting” consisting of the whole North America, it is the preferred position of scholars in North America. As you know the time difference between the east coast and west coast is only 3 hours and the different time zones are man-made (PST, EST, etc.) So it is not the same thing as specifying one particular city and time zone (as what ISNA/Fiqh Council are doing) and saying that everyone should follow that.
In regards to if the Prophet Muhammad (S) looked for the new moon (of Ramadan) himself. Yes, there are reports of him doing this and also there is a specific dua he made when he witnessed the new moon of Ramadan himself. You can read more here: http://www.duas.org/rammoon.htm
Here is also another Hadith from the Prophet Muhmmad (S) in regards to sighting the new moon of Ramadan: Ibn Umar (ra) reported Allah’s Messenger (pbuh) as saying in connection with Ramadan: “Do not fast till you see the new moon, and do not break fast till you see it” (Saheeh Muslim)
Our Mosque for the month of fasting go by the sighting of the moon in Mecca Saudic Arabric. We this for the last 3 fasting month. Before this we sent many hour figueing out which moon sighting to go by and calling up all over the world. We have muslim from all over the world plus local muslim in our Mosque. Many donot like this way of detman the start and end of the fasting month but it willnot be change as it end the fighting over which moon sighting to use.
As Salaam Alaikum Brother Brian. Although Saudi Arabia claims sighting, they are actually doing calculations. It is not possible to see the moon with naked eyes in Saudi Arabia on those days. That is why there is a lot of controversy even in Saudi Arabia. If they had really seen the moon, there would not be this controversy.
Another drawback is that you still have to wait for Saudi’s announcement, which sometimes could be surprising. Why should the life of Muslims of other countries depend on Saudi announcement? We should use the calculated calendar and be independent of Saudi announcement.
We should go all the way to calculations. More and more scholars are now supporting this. The calculations returns the respect, honor and usefulness to the Hijri calendar it once had. We can know the dates months and years ahead. Our calendar can be used for modern day affairs and we should be a roadblock regarding this with. Yes, Insha Allah it will end the fight about moonsighting for good.
People argue about naked-eye sighting as if it is absolutely mandatory. If this were true, why didn’t the Prophet, peace be upon him, himself go out to some high ground to observe the moonsighting even though he used to wait anxiously for the start of certain months? Probably it was his wisdom to allow for future calculations.
Br. Irfan tried to make calculations similar to doing Jumuah on Sundays. But isn’t global sighting the same where people start and end fast regardless of where the moon was sighted? And the global sightings has been accepted by Hamza Yusuf who was dead against calculations.
Brother Zahid Hussain: Aslamualakum.
I have already understood that you are some one who would not accept being wrong, no matter what. Therefore, I had given you my e mail that, if you want, I may send you my articles to read and would not respond to you here any further, as it is just wastage of time. It seems that you like to declare your victory any way and are not interested to listen to the argument of the other side. Your approach to this issue is obviously different from what Allah and his Rasool (peace be upon him) taught us but you want us to believe that what you or your scholars are proposing is better than what Muslims have been practicing in last 14 hundred years and scholars of the past 14 centuries were wrong in rejecting the use of calculations for ascertaing the month. You and your scholars ignore the authentic evidence from Quran and Sunnah and argue from what is vague or ambigious component of a Hadith (setting aside the authentic Ahith with clear texts) and want to interpret Quran differently from what Prophet Mohammad (peace be upon him) and his companions did, and past generations of Muslims understood and acted upon. You believe that you have right to use arguments of qiyas, irrespective of religious restrictions in this context and you see no deviation from religious principles in this matter. On the other hand you go on accusing me for the following.
“That’s what you are doing. First restrict the word “roya” to “naked-eye” sighting when there is a possibility of other meanings. Then you come up with some new concept of the requirement that the month must be divided into 29 and 30 days among different geographical areas otherwise it is a violation of Allah’s order. You are complicating things for people by dividing the earth into horizontal parts (or is it actually a hyperbola?) for the sake of this 29/30 day requirement. To make it even more difficult, that horizontal line moves up and down. So the month line moves both vertically and horizontally. And we know all this because we have acquired scientific knowledge. And why should we do this? Just for Ramadan because you have already surrendered to Gregorian calendar for your wordly life.”
All the above is slander on me and is probably due to your lack of understanding and/or ability to differentiate between facts and opinions. I did not restrict meanings of the “Roya” but said that we should go with what Prophet Mohammad (peace be upon him) understood from it, because he is the best interpreter of Holy Quran. The division of month being 29 days for some part of the earth and 30 days for some part of the earth is from the day of the creation of the heavens and earth and is a natural consequence of the celestial order of Allah. Allah knew about this (and other difficulties with calculations). It is one of the probable reasons that Allah guided the mankind to use visual sighting for this purpose, as visual sighting is more accurate than any calculations to date. Scientist knew about it since many centuries but the information has been in the scientific language. Muslim scientists of current era have mentioned about it in scientific language. They are aware of the this difficulty that a single global calendar will not work. They have proposed two and three regional calendars. What I have done is translated the scientific information in the form of month being of 29 days and 30 days in different regions of the earth so that a non scientific person may understand its impact on global declarations and its departure from the plan of Allah, as these are important aspects from religious perspective. This information is based on the celestial motion and spherical shape and rotating nature of the planet earth. It is not based on visibility curves as you understood and commented; the example of visibility curves was for the purpose of explaining the truth of the statement, otherwise, moon visibility would have been possible for the entire earth on completion of 29th day (30th evening). I have not said anything in this respect that is not supported by scientific evidence. Your comments in this respect are irrelevant because you do not understand the scientific aspect of it and want to refute it anyway. Similarly, you mention about the use of qiyas and interpretation by 4 Imams and other. They did that according to some principles. When you do not understand those principles, why are you arguing? They used qiyas when no evidence from Quran and Sunnah was available to them and they interpreted Quran how their predecessors had done. In this matter of moonsighting they all relied on information from Quran and Sunnah and they all are in agreement with local moonsighting with naked eye, and completing 30 days in case of obscurity. and none of them allowed use of calculations even in case of obscurity.
I have not surrendered to Gorgian calendar and nor I see any major difficulty with Zonal or local lunar calendar. Your arguments of qiyas are mostly the repitition of what Shura Council Scholar’s used and I and others have refuted their main arguments. Your self made examples of how a locally moonsighted calendar may not work were very trivial and I had tried to answer to you but in your mind those are impossibilities. In my view they are litteraly not an issue. Your only genuine concern was for not having certainity of 30 th day and my response was use the day to specify the date, for example, Jumma, Shaban 30 or Ramadan 1, when making advance booking and there will be no confusion, once the month gets confirmed, then those dates are adjusted according to the moon sighting, This is how it is done for the moonsighted calendar of North America, available at http://www.hilalsighting.org or http://www.islamicmoon.com. Your are trying to associate self imaginative difficulties with the Lunar calendar, for example, Muslims abandoned it because, it had problems. No it was not the case, Muslims used it for 13 centuries for all affairs but when Muslim state was disintegrated they had to use what the rulers used for the official purposes but they have been using the lunar calendar for the religious purposes and Allah’s plan is largely concerned with this aspect. Jews changed their calendar to match with the solar calenar used by their rulers (Romans), but Muslims tried to preserve it for the religious purposes, that is why it is preserved in its original form. The westernized Muslims want to modernize it accoding to their own desires, violating Allah’s sacred plan and want to insist that there is nothing wrong with their approach. Previous societies who messed with Allah’s months were also pleased with their actions and support of society was with them, Quran testifies it, but Allah equated their actions to disbelief in Him. May Allah give us guidance to be steadfast on His path and refrain from such innovations.
What Shurah Council of North America is doing may be right for you but I have to see what Allah and his Prophet Mohammad (peace be upon him) told us. I live in Tallahassee and teach physis at Florida State University. I am not a very religious person and I thought at first that religious people will resolve this issue. However, it involves science and religious scholars do not understand it well and only semi qualified individuals are advocating for the use of calculations, The scholars who are religiously qualified, have rejected the possibility of using calculation to replace moonsighting purely on religious grounds, and they are correct in doing so, as there is essentially no religious evidence in favor of using calculations. When I got myself involved with this issue, I understood the scientific aspect and I am able to understand why astronomical calculations are not part of Allah’s plan and why moon sighting is more precise than calculations in this respect. That made my belief stronger in Allah and I decided to write these articles for the awareness of masses. Here is the (partial) relevant information in this respect from my article.
“If it was not for preserving the sacredness of Allah’s months, following His prescribed plan, mankind would have had the liberty to make any choice to fix the duration of the month, year, and count of time. However, Allah did not allow this liberty to the mankind, at least in religious matters, and associated His sacred time count with the Lunar cycle (a complete rotation of the Earth around the Sun in its orbit). Allah is all knowing, all wise. He is the source of all knowledge, religious and otherwise and we submit to His wisdom in all matters. Here are the relevant Quranic references.
(1) “Surely the months with Allah are twelve in the book of Allah since the day He created the Heavens and the Earth; four of them are sacred. (9:36)”
(2) “It is He who made the Sun to be a shining glory and the Moon to be a light (of beauty), and measured out stages for it; that you may know the number of years and the count (of time). Allah has not created this but in truth. (Thus) does He explain His signs in detail, for those who may understand? (10:5)”
(3) “Verily intercalation (nasi’) is an increase in disbelief: the disbelievers are led to wrong thereby: for they make it lawful one year, and forbidden another year, in order to adjust the number of months forbidden by Allah and make such forbidden ones lawful. The evil of their course seems pleasing to them. But Allah guides not those who reject Faith. (9:37)”
Creation of the universe is a consistent theme that is mentioned in the Quran in different contexts and Allah reveals the process and purpose of His creatures to the mankind. The first of the three Quranic verses quoted here makes references to Allah’s grand plan of the creation of the universe, and His record book (which is called “loh e mehfooz”) where everything related to his grand plan is recorded, and reveals that in Allah’s plan months are 12 since the creation of the Heavens and Earth (and have not changed since then). Whether the reference to months being 12 is specific to the earthly affairs or is more general is not clear from this quote and it is also not clear whether the choice of 12 months is made randomly or there is an associated reason for it. The Quranic reference (quote (2)), where references to the Sun and Moon are made and it is revealed that stages of the Moon (Lunar cycle) are for the determination of the number of years and count of time, points to their relevance for the earthly affairs. The choice of 12 months is a natural consequence of associating the time count with the Lunar cycle, as the Moon completes about 12 orbital cycles around the Earth (in 354 days + fraction) during the time the Earth completes a full cycle of its orbital motion around the Sun (in 365 days + fraction). The Quranic reference explicitly mentions about the phases of the moon, so a Lunar cycle of 12 months is in accordance with the Allah’s plan. Any 12 months (365 days) based Solar calendar (such as modified Georgian calendar currently being used in the world) may not be confused with it.
The Quranic reference to 4 months being sacred in the quote (1) is made in the continuation of the months being twelve since the creation of the Heavens and the Earth and would mean that the sacredness of the months is from the very beginning, too. It also serves as an indication that Allah has been guiding the mankind starting from its creation to follow the lunar count in accordance with His plan, otherwise, how could the mankind have known that those months are sacred. The language of the third Quranic reference (quote (3)) establishes that pre-Islamic Arabs knew about the sacredness of Allah’s months and is an attestation that Allah has been guiding previous societies in this respect. Pre-Islamic Arabs must have gained this information from their previous generations. Otherwise, how could they have known about the sacredness of Allah’s months, if Allah had not revealed this information to the mankind? It is also pertinent that Allah must have guided the earlier generations of the mankind to a method for ascertaining the month. What is that method? From historic perspective, eye sighting the new moon has been used for ascertaining the month but proponents of calculations may contest it, as examples of deviations from it are there. Therefore, without going into that controversy, we can easily prove that astronomical calculations could not have been and are not the part of Allah’s plan for ascertaining the month from the following arguments.
Earlier generations of the mankind were not bestowed with the knowledge of astronomical calculations, and it is mentioned in the Quran that Allah does not place bourdon on any soul beyond his/her capability. Therefore, it is clear from this Quranic injunction that Allah’s sacred plan could not have included the use of astronomical calculations for ascertaining the month, at least for the generations which were not given this knowledge including the generation of the last Prophet Mohammad (peace be upon him). Allah is consistent in executing his plan and He does not make abrupt changes in his plan. The emphasis on the months being 12 since the creation of the Heavens and Earth is a testimony to Allah’s consistency in executing His plan. What guidance was necessary for the mankind has already been given to the mankind, and religious guidance (deen) was completed with the departure of his last messenger Prophet Mohammad (peace be upon him) from this world and Allah has mentioned it in the Quran. Since no new revelation from Allah is going to come for the guidance of the mankind, therefore, it can be safely said that even if later generations become well versed in astronomical calculations, Allah’s plan is not going to change. Since ascertaining the month is a religious necessity, any method for ascertaining the month should be easily accessible to the mankind of all times and of all intellects. The astronomical calculations do not meet that criteria, as they are and will remain in the domain of a few experts at all times and will not be accessible to the general masses, especially to the unlettered people. The logical choice for ascertaining the Lunar month is to eye sight the Hilal, as all previous, current, and future generations of the mankind are equally capable of using this method with the same precision. It is simple in its use and is equally accessible to the learned or illiterate, irrespective of their scientific ability, location, or social status. The wisdom of Allah and superiority of His knowledge is manifested in this choice.
Many societies of the world have been using the sighted moon based Lunar calendars. Religious rituals of Jews, ancient Arabs, and others have been associated with the Lunar calendar. Allah associated religious functions of Muslims like Hajj, Ramadan, and the Eids with the Lunar count. These are the manifestations of the fact that Allah has been instructing the mankind to perform the religious rituals according to His plan using the Lunar calendar. However, mankind has tendency to get astray from Allah’s prescribed path and in the time of Prophet Mohammad (peace be upon him), Jews had abandoned the Hilal sighting that their ancestors practiced. They were using a calculated Lunar calendar and were making intercalations to match it with the Solar calendar. Arabs were using a sighted moon based calendar but they were making other intercalations to change the Hajj dates according to their own desires. Allah disliked their actions, and equated it to the disbelief in Him. From the Quranic reference (quote (3)) it is apparent that Allah was swift on rejecting those who deviated from His path and made intercalations in his sacred plan. Allah’s rejection of those who made intercalations to the Lunar calendar, further supports the view that Allah must have given guidance to them regarding His sacred months, otherwise, He could not punish them for their deviations from His sacred plan. In the absence of any guidance from Allah, they would have been at liberty to use their own intellect to choose what seemed fitting to them and they would not be guilty of violating Allah’s sacred order by doing so. Therefore, from the above analysis of the three Quranic injunctions, it becomes clear that Allah has guided the mankind to follow His prescribed plan and deviating from it is a disbelief in Him, and His plan does not require mankind to use astronomical calculations for ascertaining the month.
Prophet Mohammad (peace be upon him) did not use the calculated Lunar calendar. The Jews of Medina used to taunt him for not knowing and using calculations for ascertaining the month, as their religious leaders were using the astronomical calculations for this purpose on routine basis. By not using the calculation method, the Prophet of Allah (peace be upon him) confirmed that astronomical calculations are not the part of Allah’s plan for ascertaining the month. If calculations were the preferred method, Allah would have taught Prophet Mohammad (peace be upon him) and his companions this method, as it is easy for Him. He says, be it, and it happens. It is apparent that Allah, who is the source of all knowledge, had given the knowledge of astronomical calculations to the Jews and other people of that era, thus, there was no reason for not giving this knowledge to Prophet Mohammad (peace be upon him) and his companions, if it were a religious necessity for ascertaining the month. If Allah wanted, he could have fixed the days of the month to 29 or 30 or any combination of them, and such calculations would have been easy for everyone. For example, alternating the month with 29 days and 30 days would make the Lunar year 354 days which is the closest number of days for 12 Lunar cycles (354 days + fraction). However, Allah and his Messenger (peace be upon him) did not do so. If Allah did not require us to use such a simple method of calculation (counting to 29 and 30 for alternate months), would He require us to make complicated astronomical calculations for this purpose?
From the above argumentation, which is solely based on common sense and Quranic text (whose authenticity cannot be contested or disputed by Muslims) and no other source, the following is established unambiguously.
(1) Allah has devised a plan for His creation on the planet Earth right from the start of its inhabitation as a part of his grand plan for the creation of the universe. His plan utilizes the Lunar count (of time), at least, for earthly affairs. Allah has made some of the months sacred, and has associated some of the religious rituals of the mankind with specific Lunar timings.
(2) Allah has been guiding the mankind to use the Lunar count in accordance with His plan, and He dislikes any deviations of the mankind from His prescribed path and equates it to disbelief in Him.
(3) Astronomical calculations are neither a preferred method nor they are a part of any methodology for ascertaining the month according to Allah’s plan.
The proponents of using calculations for ascertaining the month often refer to one of the versions of the Hadith of the Prophet Mohammad (peace be upon him) which mentions of estimating or calculating in case of obscurity of the Hilal (due to weather conditions) on the 30th evening of the month. Here is the text of the Hadith which is narrated by Ibn Umar and is mentioned in Hadith compilations by Muslim, Bokhari, and Malik with slight variations in the language used. “Do not begin the fast until you see it (Hilal) and do not break the fast until you see it. If it is obscured for you, then fa aqduru la hu.” The first component of the Hadith is very clear in its meaning and confirms the necessity of eye sighting the Hilal for confirming the month and is consistent in its meaning with other Ahadith which have reached the level of Twatur (Twatur is a term in Ahadith terminology for the highest degree of authenticity and such Ahdith are considered at the level of Quran in usul ul Fiqh terminology). The term “fa aqduru la hu” is the term that has been interpreted variably by different scholars, as it is not unequivocal in its meaning and is subject to interpretations. One meaning of it can be, estimate or calculate. Almost all past scholars of Islam including 4 Imam of Fiqh have understood it to mean counting or completing 30 days, which is also explicitly mentioned in the other versions of the same Hadith narrated by the same companion (Ibn Umar) and other companions of the Prophet Mohammad (peace be upon him), like Ibn Abbas, Abu Harrarah, and others and contain reference to completing 30 days in case of obscurity instead of the phrase “fa aqduru la hu”. Only five scholars of repute in past 14 centuries have argued for using the interpretation of the above Hadith to include the possibility of using astronomical calculations in case of obscurity, and they were criticized by the others for their interpretations. Interpreting this particular version of the Hadith (ignoring other unequivocal versions) to make room for performing astronomical calculations is stretching beyond the limits. If Allah and his Prophet Mohammad (peace be upon him) did not require us to use astronomical calculations for ascertaining the month at the first place, due to their complexity and inaccuracy or due to the unlettered aspect of the Nation (as claimed by the proponents of the calculations) or for any other reasons, would they require us to perform those calculations in a short span of time during the 30th night and base our decisions on those calculations when we fail to sight the moon on the 30th evening of the month? Does it make any sense? From the text of the Hadith, it is obvious that Prophet Mohammad (peace be upon him) is using the imperative tense (do and do not do form, i.e, Segha e Amar o Nahe) and it becomes incumbent on Muslims to follow his orders. If we accept the interpretation of the proponents of the calculations, then question arises; why would Allah and his Prophet Mohammad (peace be upon him) give such an order and place a bourdon of performing such a complex task on Muslims which is beyond their individual capability and in some cases beyond their collective capability? Allah mentions in Quran that He does not place a bourdon on any soul that he may not bear. Therefore, no astronomical calculations or complex methods are required or intended from the phrase, “fa aqduru la hu”. The only meaningful interpretation that can be drawn from the phrase is to mean counting or estimating 30 days and an overwhelming majority of the scholars (all except 5 in past 14 centuries) have accepted that interpretation. Thus any window of opportunity that modern proponents of calculations want to open with this Hadith is essentially not there or is effectively closed by the factual situation.
Allah guided Prophet Mohammad (peace be upon him) to use the same method of sighting the Hilal which He had prescribed for the previous generations and is in conformity with His natural plan. This method is easy for everyone, and provides the same precision to the societies of all times, irrespective of their technical or scientific ability. Prophet Mohammad (peace be upon him) taught us this method by explaining that a Lunar month is sometimes 29 days and sometimes 30 days, and should be confirmed by witnessing the Hilal through sighting it with eyes on the 30th night (on the completion of the 29th day), to determine whether the month will end on 29th day or will be of 30 days. Prophet Mohammad (peace be upon him) adopted and practiced Allah’s preferred method during his life in this world and talked against intercalations (nasi) to it by others. He mentioned in his Last Sermon as follows, “Today, certainly the time has returned to its original form as Allah had created it to be at the time of creation of the Heavens and the Earth.” Muslims of the later generations have preserved this sacred order by sighting the Hilal locally every month and ascertaining each month based on this sighting, and no altercations have been made since then.
From the religious perspective any use of calculations for ascertaining the month is not required per Allah’s plan and what argumentation modern proponents of calculations make hold no ground in the light of above argumentation and Quranic evidence presented here. However, to be fair in analyzing the issue, there seems to be no prohibition regarding the use of calculations for getting assistance for the affirmation or negation of the moon sighting evidence or for the optional use of calculations for determining the probability of moon sighting. Calculation methods provide useful information for estimation purposes and probabilistic determinations but the Islamic criteria of ascertaining the month by sighting the Hilal must not be bypassed or ignored in this process.”
Lets say its the 29th day and you know today is the astronomical new moon (this is true for today, 11/3/2013). So tomorrow, the crescent should become visible. But lets say that for some reason the sky is darkened for 3 or 4 days, because of a nuclear bomb or something. Do you keep this month going until the dust settles and you finally see the moon (which will be beyond the first crescent by then, obviously) or do you use common sense and say the day after the astronomical new moon is when the first crescent will be visible under normal circumstances, so lets consider that it was visible and start the month? What if you have a nuclear winter and the moon is not seen for several months (groups of 29/30 days) but you haven’t seen the moon for all that time, is it still one month to you, despite knowing that the moon has in fact lunated several times? In a way, you are treating the moon as if it lives in the Earth’s atmosphere, which we know today it does not. The moon keeps going even when you can’t see it. If the month is determined by the moon, its determined by what the moon is doing even when you can’t see the moon. So the calculations would be more accurate in these cases to reality.
I have already said the Jumuah example is totally invalid. If you keep on persisting with it, then in your vast area of local sighting of the continental US comprising of more than 3 million square miles in four different time zones, aren’t you doing the same thing?
br or sister zhussain,
There are several problems with your way of thinking and methods. First of all, moon sighting is an issue of “Ijmaa” meaning that there have been majority of consensus on the moon sighting method. The calculation is a modern new debate, and got heated after ISNA’s screwup a few years ago.
So you should know that for more than a millennium, Muslims went out and sighted the moon until very recently.
There is an entire tradition surrounding the Sunnah of moon sighting.
Seyydina Omar (ra) did not accept a moon sighting report until it was confirmed by others. He would actually go out in a group. There is a famous story of someone who said ” I see the crescent” and Omar cleared the man’s eyes, it was not the crescent, it was his eyelash; to which Omar said the famously quoted: This tiny eyelash was about to misguide an entire population!
A man named Kuraib in Medina claimed that he had witnessed the crescent in another region 30 days earlier, but Ibn Abbas rejected him and they did their own sighting. This is ibn Abbas, Prophet’s uncle. Would he do something that our Prophet did not do?!
Imams of different schools debated the distance of sighting, but never debated the actual method of sighting the moon with the eyes (remember, Muslims were pioneers in astronomy and still they stuck with moon sighting). They might have debated using tools, eyeglasses, or telescopes, but never the sighting itself.
Now you ask: Is there a hadith that says our prophet climbed a tree and looked for the crescent.
Did our Prophet climb a minaret and give the Adhaan? So why do we give the Adhaan?
This is a wake up call to all those who look for literal evidences. You can’t base your faith like that, it will only lead you to confusion (which it already has).
Furthermore, maybe our Prophet did go out moon sighting. Just because we don’t know about it, it doesn’t mean that it did not happen. What we know for sure is that he clearly talked about crescent sighting. Crescent sighting is called “Ahilla” and it is mentioned in the Qur’an.
There are numerous Ahadith that point to actual seeing with an eye (not the Ro’ya of your interpretations, but actual seeing the crescent) commanded by our Prophet. Saying that when you see the ACTUAL crescent with your EYES, start the month, and when you see the ACTUAL crescent WITH YOUR EYES, end the month…then goes to the extent of saying “If it’s cloudy, and you can’t spot the crescent, then estimate”.
Just because you and I or others can’t find the reference of Prophet looking for the crescent, does it mean that it does not exist?
Which brings me to the arrogance of many Muslims –> “I can’t find it, therefore it’s not true.” instead of saying “I can’t find it, I need to educate myself more.”
Stick to traditions, forget ISNA’s confusion.
Salaams Br Zaheer
You don’t understand what I’m saying about the Sunday Jummah- it is the idea of convenience and not unity. This is the whole point of calculations- to make things convenient for modern day Muslims.
I would support calcs if they used the proper criteria for North America- but unfortunately they (ISNA) are using time in Mecca for their calculations- which is not in the Sunnah and also does not make sense.
Did The Prophet Muhammad (s) look for the new loon himself- based on several Hadith which I have read- yes he did. There are Hadith in which the prophet Muhammad (S) recited certain Duas after seeing the new moon (of Ramadan) himself. This means that he went out and saw it himself.
In regards to global sighting- it still requires a “naked eye” sighting by a human being to verify the new moon as seen.
Also as I mentioned earlier- those Muslims who do try to follow the Sunnah of moon sighting do use technology and scientific data to predict when the new moon will be born and where is the best place to see it. So we can (and have been doing for a long time) make calendars and pre-plan events. The only difference is that it is verified by a naked eye sighting.
Salaam alaikum Br. Irfan,
First of all, if the whole effort was for convenience as you say, then they are following the sunnah because our Prophet, pbuh, chose an easy way out when he had a choice. But it is not for convenience. It has become ridiculous. People not only argue but fight over moon. There are innumerable stories about single families celebrating eid on two or three days. Ask anyone what do they want. Everyone would like eid on one day. Eids must be celebrated together as a community on the same day in the same town. But the technology has brought even distant towns closer forming a global village requiring one eid not just for one town but for the entire world. Forget the same town, we don’t celebrate eid same day in the same family.
So the global sighting refutes your jumuah example. Now why did they choose Makkah? You gotta read their explanation. Makkah happens to be in the center when measured from International Date Line. This facilitates creating a global Islamic calendar. They had to keep in mind moon sighting possibilities of the entire world and yet come up with one start date for the entire world. It is an effort to solve the problem of the entire world, not just the USA.
Regarding the Prophet, pbuh, going out specifically to sight the moon, please give me the reference. I have not read any Hadith pointing to that. He may have seen a new moon while doing other chores but did he climb a hill or some high ground like many people do for Ramadan hilal? So if the naked-eye sighting was a requirement, he would have grabbed a couple of companions to do the naked-eye sighting. He seems to have avoided this to prevent it from becoming a requiremen
For calendars to work you need certainty of dates. You cannot have both. That is the reason Saudi announcements are controversial. On one hand they have their calculated calendar. On the other hand they have left room for uncertainty by including naked-eye sightings.
Salaams Br. Zaheer
First of all let me state again, that I prefer local (North American) moon sighting myself, because I feel it is more authentic, BUT due to my home town masjid now following Global Sighting (in an effort to become more unified with the “calculators”), I have accepted to follow my mosque and also global moon sighting.
Secondly, I have already stated a verse from the Quran and a Hadith of the Prophet Muhammad (S), where it is very clearly stated that we should start fasting and end fasting when we see the new moon of Ramadan and Shawaal respectively. Here again are some ahadith which states this again for you:
Bukhari and Muslim reported on the authority of Abdullah Ibnu Omar (may Allah be pleased with them) that the Messenger of Allah صلى الله عليه وسلم mentioned Ramadhan and said: “Do not fast till you see the new moon, and do not break fast till you see it; but if the weather is cloudy complete it (thirty days).”
Bukhari reported on the authority of Ibnu Omar (R) that the Messenger of Allah صلى الله عليه وسلم said: “The month consists of 29 nights, so do not fast till you have sighted it (i.e. the new moon), and if the weather were cloudy, then complete it as thirty days.”
It is not confirmed if the Prophet Muhammad (S), went out every month to see the new moon for himself, but he did on occasion look for the new moon himself, because there is a specific dua which he recited when he saw the new moon. Here is a Hadith which states this:
Talhah bin Ubaidullah (ra) reported: At the sight of the new moon (of the lunar month), the Prophet (pbuh) used to supplicate: “Allahumma ahillahu `alaina bil-amni wal-iman, was-salamati wal-Islam, Rabbi wa Rabbuk-Allah, Hilalu rushdin wa khairin (O Allah, let this moon appear on us with security and Iman; with safety and Islam. (O moon!) Your Rubb and mine is Allah. May this moon be bringing guidance and good).”
Because of this clear commandment in the Quran (see my original article) and the above mentioned Hadith (which there are many), it has been an understanding of religious scholars for the past 1,000+ years that moon sighting by at least someone in the community is required. This is a Fard-e-Kifaya (meaning that it is not considered an obligation for every single Muslim, but someone from the community).
Lastly, you mention about the problems of Muslims in the same city, and even in the same family celebrating Ramadan and Eid on different days. Yes, this is a problem, but it is a very recent problem, and the reason is because of ISNA creating the calculated calendar for the start and end of Ramadan and the two Eids! I have been following the moon sighting and related issues for almost 20+ years now, because my late father was heavily involved with our local shura council here. ISNA (which as you know began mostly from Arab students in the US who wanted to follow Saudi Arabia) has always been trying to work their influence so that Muslims in the US would be in line with Saudi Arabia. There is no authentic scholarship to back up this newly established criteria of calculations and now they have caused this problem of Muslims in the same city and same family starting their Ramadan and Eids on different dates. It is not because of moon sighting. Before this some Muslims use to just follow their own home country dates or followed Saudi Arabia. ISNA still has the problem of Eid-ul-Adha – which everyone seems to ignore, because majority of Muslims who follow calculations think that it is to celebrate the end of Hajj, when in fact it is separate from the Hajj (The Prophet Muhammad (S) and the early Muslims celebrated Eid-ul-Adha for 9 years before Hajj became obligatory on Muslims).
Anyways, in conclusion – if you want to follow a calculated calendar, then you are free to do so. So far it has helped in creating Unity, but has made the situation much worse. Even some religious scholars in Saudi Arabia have stated that Muslims should follow their own country’s moon sighting, instead of following Saudi Arabia – because there is no requirement in Islamic law to do so.
Our Mosque doesnot stop you from useing your home country moon sighting but the Mosque use Saudic Arabic Mecca moon sighting to start the month of fasting than the Itar dinner at the Mosque the night time prayer. Ending of most activally not tie into the month of Fasting. It make life simple in running the Mosque with no more bitter fight about when the month of fasting start and end.
Salaamalaikum Br. Irfan
Local sighting: No problem, that’s your choice. But I still think the local area nowadays is too big. Just imagine a horse rider from LA riding a horse to inform people in NY! He will probably take a month to reach NY.
Global sighting: Initially mosques were hesitant to accept even this one. Now almost all mosques do. It is probably a result of frustration. But it still leaves things uncertain till the day before. As I said, still not good if we ever want to use this for civic use. Saudi uses Hijri calendar called Ummul Qurra calendar for civic use, and it does not work for them when they mix it with naked-eye sightings. And that is the source of all current problems.
I have said about the verse and hadeeth: The word is “roya,” which has been used for several different meanings than naked-eye sighting.
The hadeeth does not confirm what I have been seeking: Did he go out to a high ground with the “intention” of sighting the moon. We all often see new moons when we come out of masjid after maghrib salat. But this sighting is accidental. You may still recite the dua. But there is something different about Ramadan sighting when people go to hill tops or top floor of a building or some open ground with the “intention” of sighting the moon. This kind of action is not mentioned in a hadeeth I have read so far.
As I said earlier, the Shariah is not static. For those 1,000 years, there was no other way to confirm moonsighting than by “naked-eye” sighting. And the determination of the start of the month was important too. So the scholars probably wanted “the determination of the start of the month” to be fard-e-kifaya. For them, there was no other choice than “naked-eye” sighting. Allah knows best.
I am just wondering why a thing important enough to be fard-e-kifaya was not done by our Prophet, pbuh. I want to see a hadeeth that mentions the scene like we discuss after moonsighting: “We were with Prophet, pbuh, on a mountain looking out for hilal. We were three brothers with him on a hilltop. Sudddenly I saw a thin crescent. My companion also saw it. It lasted for 10 minutes…..”
The problem was not created by ISNA, and ISNA came up with the calculated calendar only in 2006 as a desperate measure to resolve the crisis. It started happening in seventies. And now it is happening everywhere. It happens in Europe, Pakistan, India and even Arab countries. I’d rather blame it on different mosques that want to demonstrate their autonomous authority. Why should each masjid have to decide on the start of the month? Can’t they leave it to a central authority? I have seen mosques flip-flop- one year they follow ICNA and the next year the follow ISNA. I have also seen mosques follow, of all places, Nigeria. Now they do not follow anyone but decide on their own and they call everywhere, as brother Brian said.
But blaming ISNA, Saudi Arabia or anyone else is not going to solve our problem. Just think about it yourself: How can this problem be resolved? You think naked-eye sighting, whether local or global, will solve the problem? Never, because someone will see the moon before somebody else to start the chain of chaos.
Following Saudi Arabia for Hajj does not make sense. The only way to beat it is again calculated calendar. They are getting away with it because there is so much chaos these days so nobody notices. The calculated calendar will bring everybody on one date. We can kill that problem too.
I have also been involved with moonsighting announcements for the last 20 years and I have seen it all. And have studied this subject in great detail. I too was a hard-core “naked-eye” moonsighter until two years ago. I had the same issue: Whether this new system is acceptable or not? The explanation of the word “roya” opened my heart. I had studied Arabic in university and that helped me understand the word. We got to study this issue with unbiased mind with the intention to resolve the problem.
And what I discovered in these 20 years is that people do not care what system is legal. They do not care if eid is announced by calculation or local sighting or global sighting. And when the eid is on one day, they are all happy.
Let me tell you one thing: The beauty of the Qur’an is that it is a book to last till Qiyamah. Many of its verses could not be understood by sahaba and other scholars of those times. Why? Because those verse dealt with science and technology, which was not that developed during their times. For example we can quote the verses about male and female pairs in different things, embryo, etc. There are many verses that people of current times do not understand while the earlier scholars understood them very well. So do not consider the present day scholars as totally ignorant.
Any change is always resisted. People initially resisted translations of the Qur’an. There was even resistance for using microphones in mosques. Our masjid tried to use cameras to broadcast khutbah on different floor and people objected to it. Now you see many videos of khutbahs on web sites.
I have been following this thread since it was first put up LAST year. It pains me that this debate keeps getting hotter and hotter, and I hve not only watched it transpire for the last 20 years, I have been going out each month of the last 20 years to look for the moon. So I know the practice as well as the calculations.
I do not have the exact reference to the Hadith, Zaheer, but the first instance when the Prophet Muhammad, peace be upon him, made the du’a that Irfan mentioned was on Hijrah. He saw the new moon and made that dua. Now you might call it happenstance that he saw it, but the fact is that he established the Hijri calendar on that occasion and it was not formally adopted until Sayyidina Umar when he was the Khalifah.
This calculation question/phenomena is not new to just moon sighting. Back in the early 1970’s when ISNA first became an entity, the students who came here and established it also started using calculations for the Qiblah and prayer times. Dhuhur prayer times, according to ISNA timetables places Dhuhur at Noon, you can check them, exactly at noon! A time that the Prophet, peace be upon him, categorically informed us was a haram time to pray. Yet because “Scholars” at ISNA who “knew” how to calculate the times said it would make things easier than going out and measuring our shadows. How many Muslims, and for how many years have they been praying Dhuhur at a Haram time, which means their prayer is not valid! And if they prayed Asr, Maghrib, Isha and Fajr of the next day before fixing their Dhuhur those prayers are not valid either!, according to shari’a. All due to misguided understandings and convenience.
The same is true with the Qiblah. The Qiblah in N. America is all messed up. It was not always directed to the N.E. Early Muslim immigrants to the states prayed in an easterly or south easterly direction which corresponded to common sense and also to the direction that would maintain a constant bearing to Mecca from the states. The shortest path idea to Mecca is not found in the traditional books of Fiqh. The books of Fiqh talk about line of sight to Mecca. In nearby areas it appears as a straight line. The first proponents of shortest path great circle calculations to finding the qiblah in our modern times COMPLETELY confused the definition of a straight line with the shortest path between two points while at the same time accusing those praying to the east as being backwards and ignorant for using a flat map to find the qiblah as the world is not flat. All the while completely misunderstanding that on a curved surface as the earth, the definition of a line as being the shortest distance between two points is only valid on a flat plane (Flat Earth) model. If you want a straight line between two points on any other surface it has to follow the more general definition of a curve in which is its orientation between the two points does not change, in other words a constant direction, which is what common sense pointed to in the first place.
My point with all this is that the Hubris of the western and modern Muslim “scholars” who probably can’t tell you the far’id of wudu let alone other more complicated fiqh issues is obscene. They have not devoted their lives to understanding this deen like the scholars of previous generations like Al-Biruni, Al-Tusi, Fakhraddin Ar-Razi, Al-Baghawi, Ibn Abi Zayd Al-Qayyirwani, , Ibn Al-Haytham, Shiekh Muhammad Al-Mawlud, and the great Imams. They were the founders of the very science we use today and to think that that they did not know how to calculate what we can calculate today is absurd. They did it, and painstakingly as they did not have computers to run the same algorithms that we run today.
This sunnah of Moon Sighting is one of the last vestiges that links us physically to our Prophet, peace be upon him. In one hadith, even though it is is not a strong one, the Prophet is reported to have said, if you revive one of my sunnahs after I am gone, then it is as if you have revived me. At Uhud the Sahaba were willing to die to preserve the life of the Prophet, peace be upon him. I elaborate this point more at this blog post http://www.organiclightphoto.com/blog/index.php/2012/08/guarding-mercy/. Why are we so inconvenienced to keep this sunnah of the Prophet alive in our times?
I fear that if we succumb to the “scholars” promulgating a calculated calendar for our deen activities, then it will possibly be the final nail in the coffin of Islam. We are the last people on the face of the planet that worships One God and One God alone. He gave us the moon to mark our time and we choose to exchange what he gave us for something else. Reminds me of Bani Israel asking Allah for other food besides the one food Allah provided for them. They said to Musa, peace be upon him, they can’t bear eating just one food, they wanted greens, and cucumbers, and garlic and lentils and onions. Musa asked them would you exchange that which is higher for that which is lower? Go down to the settled lands and you will get what you ask for. Shame and misery were stamped on them and they incurred the wrath of Allah, because they disbelieved in Allah’s signs and slew Allah’s messengers. This is mentioned in Surah Al0-Baqarah ayah 61. How is what we are doing now any different from that example? Even if I am the last man standing I will start and stop Ramadan on confirmed moon sightings and celebrate Eid Al-Adha on the sighting of the moon. That is the way of my Prophet, peace be upon him, and that is what pleased Allah then, and it will be as such even today. I want Allah’s Pleasure not his wrath.
The Founder of Islam said useing calculation it you know how to do so. In his time very few people where unable to calculate where the moon will be ahead of time. Some saying of the Founder turn out to be false or weak one,and many religious scholar in the past where know to make up saying of the founder of Islam to prove they point. One of the false one that than brother was only allow to see than male doctor. I have than illness I only once the best doctor even it she is than woman.
As Salaam Alaikum Br Youssef,
On one hand you name so many Arab scholars, and on the other you say the Arabs do not even know how to do wudu. That’s a very harsh criticism.
Regarding qibla, it is North-East, and it helps when we listen to the scientists rather than the common sense. We get confused because we are used to seeing flat maps. You need to see the globe to understand the direction. If you placed Kaaba as north pole and redraw latitudes and longitudes, then you will see the right direction for Qibla. Please watch this two-part video as it will Insha Allah resolve the issue you have: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=49ni6RaW4H0
Everywhere, the salaat times come with options to add minutes and to use different angles. Almost everywhere, the people are not even aware that there are options to choose from. You can add as many minutes you want to zuhr time or maghrib time. You can chose 5 different angles for Fajr and Isha. You can choose Hanafi and Shafee for Asr. And at many web sites, you can custom create your own settings. And ISNA had nothing to do with these options. They are from various schools from Egypt, Pakistan, Saudi Arabia, etc. Many web sites use the term ISNA for a set of options but I heard ISNA had nothing to do with those options.
I have said in the beginning of the debate that Muslims are focused on Ramadan and nothing beyond it. Is the Hijri calendar only for fasting and Eidul Adha, and must we switch over to Gregorian calendar for everything else? Is this where our Sunnah ends? Is this what we are fighting about? Please show me how you would book a flight on the 30th of a Hijri month. My friends have told me that they lost their hotel booking in Makkah during the Hajj season because of this 30th day date mess up. Your insistence on “naked-eye” sighting is telling me that they should give up the Hijri calendar for civic use and adopt Gregorian calendar because the Hijri calendar does not guarantee either only 29 days or the 30th day of the month. Is this the thing you want to fight for? On one hand you are killing the Hijri calendar’s civic use, and on the other hand you call it a revival of Sunnah.
Now, your statement, “Even if I am the last man standing I will start and stop Ramadan on confirmed moon sightings and celebrate Eid Al-Adha on the sighting of the moon.”
There are certain things for which you need to stay with the community. In the case of you sighting the moon and the community rejecting it, the majority of the scholars say celebrate the eid along with the community. What we face nowadays is opposite where the community is announcing the fast and you want to reject it even if you were the last man standing. You need to study if this position is allowed and is not in violation of sunnah and Allah’s order.
If you want to know how the US Muslim community responded in 2011, here is a survey by ICNA, where nearly 40% of mosques followed ISNA’s calendar, almost twice as the other methods: http://www.icna.org/us-mosques-used-3-different-methods-to-decide-eid-ul-fitr/
You reply to me as if I am ignorant of the topics that I brought out. Whereas in your reply you only expose your own ignorance into the matter. The two examples that I used, qiblah and prayer times were used to elucidate how moving from an experiential practice taught to us by the Prophet Muhammad, peace be upon him, to practices that involve abstractions that further removes us from reality. In both cases the abstractions were introduced and championed by ISNA and the “scholars”, who really are no more than engineers who self anointed themselves as Deen Scholars because they could read the Quran and Hadith in Arabic and started to come up with their own interpretations of what the original sources of our deen really mean without the proper study or training or license to do so.
In the case of prayer times, the plethora of programs and websites that you speak of all base their algorithms on the the first book titled “Prayer Times for North America” published by ISNA. I have this book, and the formulas for Sunrise, Sunset and Dhuhur mis-calculate those times with regards to how prayer times were taught by the Prophet Muhammad, peace be upon him. The argument why such timetables were needed, it is more convenient than having to go outside to check your shadow or look at the sun if it set or not and when cloudy you won’t need to guess. So instead of following our tradition, which is steeped in the experiential reality that connects us to our Creator through His creation we now have an artificial abstraction of numbers that dictate when we pray. I have seen it with my own eyes, Adhan being called for maghrib, while the sun is still in the sky because the timetable and the clock on the wall said it was time to pray. That is so incredibly sad. Prayer time is not dictated by an artificial abstraction of numbers, but rather the actual position of the sun in the sky. We do not need a website or a program to tell us when to pray.
In the case of the qiblah, this is another experiential phenomena that has been completely befuddled by another abstraction that is so insidious that it has confused everyone including the scholars of deen such that the engineers who proposed the methodology that is used to day made such a glaring mistake that it makes me wonder who gave them the degrees they rest their laurels on. The abstraction in this case is the map. Every map is flat. The earth is flat, experientially, but it is spherical in reality. Moving from the spherical earth to a flat representation introduces abstractions that most do not understand as there is some very complicated mathematics involved in that transformation. First and foremost is the definition of a line being the shortest distance between two points. The ISNA “scholars” pushing this great circle approach on the surface of the earth COMPLETELY messed up when using that definition. That definition of a straight line is ONLY valid on a FLAT surface, like on a map, not on a curved surface like a sphere which is what the earth really is. By making such a mistake the qiblah in North America was changed by nearly 90 degrees and resulted in masajid splitting and communities being torn apart. And from teh stories that I have heard from first hand witnesses of this tribulation, brothers in faith fist fighting each other inside the masajid. The more proper definition of a line is the collection of all points between the starting point and the ending point that maintains the same orientation along the path of all those points. THis definition then forces ones hand in a calculation by requiring that the coordinate system being used on that surface betaken into account in determining how that line’s orientation is determined. Given that we use a latitude and longitude that places the equator and the two poles about which the earth spins upon as the basis of the coordinate system, the great circle, the shortest distance on the surface of the sphere does not maintain the same orientation as you move from the start point to the end point no longer makes it straight. This oversight is not insignificant! You cannot use the argument that if Mecca was at a pole we would follow the great circle to it since it is not the basis of the coordinate system used on the earth. Not even among the pioneer scholars, real scholars who did know the faraaid of Wudu, and science like Al-Biruni who invented latitude and longitude and the original methods of calculating the qiblah was Mecca ever placed as the pole. The fact of the matter is they used the stars and other signs in the creation to determine the qiblah and I have seen true scholars come here to the States for the first time and use the stars and determine the qiblah by these classical methods and nail the qiblah that gives the constant direction (straight line path) to Mecca immediately. No compass, no program , no foolishness.
And now, we have ISNA once again promulagating the use of an abstraction, a calendar, to fix our holidays and months, when all we have to do is go outside once a month and look into the western sky to see if the new moon is there or not. When a month changes, the days do not change. If the last day of a month is a monday, the next day will still be a tuesday, even if it was the 30th or the 1st of the month. That does not change. And using a reservation argument for booking a flight is senseless to argue for such an abstraction that would take us away from the creation of our Creator. The number of days in a week being 7 would gointo the 354 or 355 days of the year 50 and 1/14 times. So there will be 50 full Mondays in each year and 50 full tuesdays in each year and so on. It is not that difficult to set appointments and reservations on a given named day as such the 34th Monday of the year. Then it would be that monday regardless of the month it happens to fall inif it was the 30th of rajab or the 1st of shabaan. It would still be the 34th Monday. How many months of Ramadan will we start incorrectly because of some artificially contrived calendar that does not follow what our prophet, peace be upon him, taught us to do before we realize the mistake that we are about to make?
Please brother Zaheer, don’t think me naive about these problems and don’t be naive yourself. This deen was not given to us that we might become so arrogant to think that we could do better than what Allah gave us and taught the Prophet Muhammad, peace be upon him. He could have taught the Prophet, peace be upon him, how to make maps and calcualte with numbers and come up with calendar systems so that we would follow such a practice. He could have done that, but rather he gave us an easy to understand , implement and follow system that anyone can do.
And just so that you understand who you are “speaking” to I have a Ph.D. in mechanical engineering from Stanford University and I have studied Fiqh for 14 years with qualified traditional scholars from west africa completing many books with them. I am not an ignorant internet sheikh who likse to debate and argue for no reason. Having to do this is not only distasteful to me but is in most cases haram if there is no benefit which in most internet cases is of no benefit.
This moonsighting debate has been raging on for more than 20 years and I don’t think it will be resolved here and fear for our deen if we let the calculators have their way. I am done here and have nothing else to say. May Allah forgive me for anything that I have said that is incorrect and may Allah forgive you and every other Muslim and bring us all together on the Day when the Debts fall due in submission to Him and grant us all entrance to His Paradise with out accounting.
It is good to know I am “speaking” to some Ph.D.’s here in the forum as long as I don’t hear the famous statement, “I am better than him.” I suspected that you had some “religious” education when you attacked with the “wudu” statement. Just to let you brothers know, I did my masters in Geology, so I know a little bit about earth.
Apparently, your Ph.D. is not helping you in finding the Qiblah. I‘ll tell you an easy solution: Buy a globe at some store (you can buy an inflatable one for $5), Stick with scotch tape a thread at Makkah on the globe (that represents the Kaabah), and place the thread on the globe at whatever city you live in. That’s your qiblah direction. No need to worry about coordinates. I believe you must do it as it is something that’s probably bothering you for some time.
And another thing you don’t understand: Your 34th Monday could be somebody else’s 33rd or 35th Monday if at all they remember what Monday it is. All it will take is a piece of cloud to make the 34th Monday a 33rd Monday.
I’ll talk about other stuff when you figure out the qiblah.
JazakAllah Br. Youssef for your very detailed and intelligent response to Mr. Hussain. I know first hand that Br. Youssef is a man of truth and action because he regularly goes to look for the new moon every month (not just for Ramadan) and he is an expert in this field.
Unfortunately, Mr. Hussain has fallen into the trap of ISNA- who from the very beginning have been trying to make the Muslims of North America fall in line with Saudi. If Mr. Hussain has really been following moon sighting for 20+ years as he said, then he would have seen this already from the many, many mistakes and problems they have caused by accepting false and scientifically impossible moon sightings from people who are just trying to be “united” with Saudi dates.
Mr. Hussain, for some reason you don’t seem to want to get the fact that sighting of the moon has been instructed by Allah swt in the Quran and also a teaching of the Prophet Muhammad (S). We have already given you several ayat from the Quran as well as numerous Hadith to confirm this. Also the Muslims of the past, who were founders and experts in the field of astronomy have also continued this tradition of moon sighting, although they were able to predict the calendar as well, but because it is an important aspect of our spiritual growth as Muslims, they contined this tradition.
Go back and read my original piece. The reason why Muslims are in such a sad state today is because they have lost the Ruh or spirit of Islam. They want everything to be logical, set, finite and convenient for themselves without having to actually have the spirit in their hearts.
It is a shame that you have gone in this direction yourself and it is evident from your ridiculous and very ignorant question about how to travel using Hijri dates! Let me just respond this way: Ask your buddies at ISNA how to set a date of arrival on Eid-ul-Adha one month in advance because they have to wait for Saudi to make an announcement about when that date will be! So you see my friend, you’re set calendar for ISNA will not work when it comes to Eid-ul-Adha because Saudi always decides when that date will be for them.
Lastly, as I have stated several times already- if you want to use a set calendar for the dates of Ramadan and Eids- go ahead, no one is stopping you, but don’t try to say that those Muslims who do not accept ISNA’s calendar are backward or ignorant.
Where our mosque is it is almost impossible to go by local moon sighting so after many years of noboboy being happy we went with moonsighting in Mecca an veryboby is happy, unless we sighted the moon localy which is one change out 100.
Well said brother Youssef Ismail. The so called scohlars of ICNA and their blind followeres are very casual in their approach and they do not do enough analysis of the issue before implementing it. That is the reason they are so often proven wrong and keep flipping their positions.
Came across this site at 21h38 South African local time.
In order to understand the true Islamic time-keeping system one has to step back and examine TIME and its importance in the enactment of the various forms of Fard Ibadah. We have forgotten that there may be another dimension in certain time-slots during the ordinary time that we experience.Would these special time-slots perhaps be sacred and consecrated time-periods in which we are ordered to observe and carry out our Fard Ibadah ? Mankind has never been given the right to consecrate time – this is the sole prerogative of the Almighty. How do we, as humans, measure these time-periods ?
Unity in Islam is not abstract – it is based on ‘holding onto the rope – the Laws of the Almighty and the example of His Messenger PBUH.
The way of life of a Muslim was completed 1400 years ago by the Almighty with the many future scientific advances taken into account. Take another step back and examine the time-keeping system of 1400 years ago and this is the answer to our present problems. Today, we want to act God.
as salaam all. i hope that all you brothers and sister well with the koedrat of Allah SWT insha Allah ?
the holy Quran mentions a number of times to us ” which of your Lords favours will you deny “…..
Knowledge is definitely a favour that I have been granted, and I plan to use it ot my utmost IA.
why the topic of “new month” is so important to me , because the fasting has its rules and regulations, and if we do not abide by it, then simply we are not fulfilling it properly , and therefore we will be punished rather. Time is an important factor for Ramadaan , as well as Eid. Its prohibited ( unlawful ) and not makrooh ( disliked ) to fast on Eid, so therefore we have to know exactly when EId is. If the moon is in its “new stages ” , then the new month is in. If we can calculate upto teh second of when this event unfolds, then we shoud by all means utilise it. It is after all , a favour from Allah SWT.