Has Mufti Taqi Usmani endorsed Saudi Moonsighting for Britain?

(Qari) Muhammad Shoyaib Nurgat

Ques­tion: I have come across arti­cles which indi­cate that Mufti Taqi Usmani has endorsed Saudi Moon­sight­ing for Britain, why does Wifaq then oppose his Fat­wa?

In the Name of Allah, the Most Gra­cious, the Most Mer­ci­ful.

As-salā­mu ‘alaykum wa-rah­mat­ul­lāhi wa-barakā­tuh

We would like to begin by extend­ing our grat­i­tude to you for ask­ing this ques­tion. May Allah (SWT) give you the best of rewards (Ameen).

Mufti Taqi Usmani (DB) has nev­er endorsed Saudi Moon­sight­ing for Britain (direct­ly) rather his Fat­wa and direc­tion for British Mus­lims is to fol­low the near­est Mus­lim coun­try which is Moroc­co. He (DB) states, “In sum­ma­ry I would like to say that the inhab­i­tants of Britain in the present cir­cum­stances should not con­sid­er the moon sight­ing of Saudi Ara­bia as suf­fi­cient and they should con­tact Moroc­co in case of the weath­er not being clear.”.

Hav­ing said this, we spec­u­late that per­haps you came across this arti­cle which may have led you to believe the oppo­site. We would like to exam­ine this piece in detail.

Mufti Taqi Usmani (DB)‘s commentary on Saheeh Bukhari

Background:

Mufti Taqi Usmani (DB) start­ed teach­ing Saheeh Bukhari upon the pass­ing away of his beloved teacher (Maulana) Sub­haan Mah­mood (RA) from 19th of Dhul-Hij­jah 1419 (April 1999). (Maulana) Anwar Hus­sain (DB) who is a grad­u­ate of Darul-uloom Karachi and his stu­dent, over many years com­piled the­se lessons which were final­ly print­ed on the 14th of Sep­tem­ber 2012.

Mufti Taqi Usmani (DB) writes the­se details in his fore­word and also states that since the­se are not for­mal­ly writ­ten, they have not been reviewed as they should have been. He (DB) also requests stu­dents and peo­ple of knowl­edge to inform him or (Maulana) Anwar Hus­sain (DB) of any areas which may need fur­ther clar­i­fi­ca­tion.

The­se lec­tures have been pub­lished as “Inaa­mul-Bari”.

It is in the­se lec­tures Mufti Taqi Usmani (DB) makes a state­ment (pub­lished in vol­ume 5 on pages 490 onwards) which may have led you to believe that Mufti Taqi Usmani has endorsed Saudi Moon­sight­ing for Britain.

He begins his dis­cus­sion under the fol­low­ing Hadeeth:

حَدَّثَنَا يَحْيَى بْنُ بُكَيْرٍ قَالَ حَدَّثَنِي اللَّيْثُ عَنْ عُقَيْلٍ عَنْ ابْنِ شِهَابٍ قَالَ أَخْبَرَنِي سَالِمُ بْنُ عَبْدِ اللَّهِ بْنِ عُمَرَ أَنَّ ابْنَ عُمَرَ رَضِيَ اللَّهُ عَنْهُمَا قَالَ سَمِعْتُ رَسُولَ اللَّه صَلَّى اللَّهُ عَلَيْهِ وَسَلَّمَ يَقُولُ إِذَا رَأَيْتُمُوهُ فَصُومُوا وَإِذَا رَأَيْتُمُوهُ فَأَفْطِرُوا فَإِنْ غُمَّ عَلَيْكُمْ فَاقْدُرُوا لَهُ وَقَالَ غَيْرُهُ عَنْ اللَّيْثِ حَدَّثَنِي عُقَيْلٌ وَيُونُسُ لِهِلَالِ رَمَضَانَ

Nar­rat­ed Ibn ‘Umar (RA) : I heard Allah’s Mes­sen­ger (Sal­la­ho Alai­he Was­sal­lam) say­ing, “When you see the cres­cent (of the mon­th of Ramadan), start fast­ing, and when you see the cres­cent (of the mon­th of Shawwal), stop fast­ing; and if the sky is over­cast (and you can’t see it) then regard the mon­th of Ramadan as of 30 days.” [Bukhari]

We will now dis­cuss rel­e­vant sec­tions of the com­men­tary of this Hadeeth.

Errors in Saudi Moonsighting system:

…Prob­lems occur because the sys­tem of Moon­sight­ing in exis­tence in Saudi Ara­bia is poles apart from the rest of the world which caus­es enor­mous prob­lems. Sight­ing can­not be affirmed by (mere) cal­cu­la­tions and near­ly all Schol­ars agree with this prin­ci­ple. The sec­ond prin­ci­ple is that can astro­nom­i­cal cal­cu­la­tions negate (tes­ti­mony of) sight­ing? For exam­ple if astro­nom­i­cal cal­cu­la­tions state that sight­ing is impos­si­ble for a cer­tain day or the moon isn’t even on the hori­zon then can astro­nom­i­cal cal­cu­la­tions be used to negate tes­ti­monies of sight­ing? …Schol­ars of Saudi Ara­bia dis­agree with even negat­ing an impos­si­ble sight­ing based on astro­nom­i­cal sight­ing there­fore cir­cum­stances occur when tes­ti­monies are pre­sent­ed when there the moon is not even born yet… If the Saudi sight­ing was cor­rect I would have accept­ed it for Pak­istan, but in real­i­ty there (in Saudi) they say ‘we will look at Sha­ha­dat’, irre­spec­tive of the fact that log­i­cal­ly the sight­ing is impos­si­ble as the moon is not even born, and the dif­fer­ence between Saudi and oth­er coun­tries is of two days, as I (Mufti Muham­mad Taqi Uthamani) do not agree with this opin­ion, I don’t act upon it…

Permissibility for following Saudi Moonsighting system:

…And this is the rea­son we say that in those coun­tries which don’t have an estab­lished Moon­sight­ing sys­tem, for exam­ple some coun­tries in Europe where the moon is rarely seen or the hori­zons are always cloudy and they have no choice but to rely on the Moon­sight­ing of oth­er coun­tries. If there is dis­agree­ment between Mus­lims then in order to resolve the dis­agree­ment there is some lee­way in mak­ing Saudi Moon­sight­ing the stan­dard…

Response:
  1. Wifaqul Ula­ma & Bat­ley Moon­sight­ing Com­mit­tee have a for­mal sys­tem in exis­tence now for over 10 years where Islam­ic dates are announced every mon­th.
  2. Moon has been sight­ed in Britain twice in 2016 and we are respond­ing to you in May 2016.

In the light of both of the facts above, we don’t believe that Mufti Taqi Usmani (DB) is refer­ring to the cur­rent sit­u­a­tion (2016) in Britain. It is clear that his speech was made many years ago and there is a pos­si­bil­i­ty that at that time he (DB) was not aware of the estab­lished Moon­sight­ing sys­tem in Britain.

Correspondence with Mufti Taqi Usmani (DB)

Mufti Taqi Usmani (DB) has been informed of the sys­tem and cri­te­ria being fol­lowed by both Wifaqul Ula­ma & Bat­ley Moon­sight­ing Com­mit­tee. I have also writ­ten a let­ter to him and explained our sys­tem in detail. When he (DB) arrives in Britain, we will sit down with him and explain our sys­tem and devel­op­ments over the last 10 years in detail with a del­e­ga­tion of Islam­ic Schol­ars. At the time of writ­ing, it is clear that his con­di­tion­al per­mis­si­bil­i­ty of fol­low­ing Saudi Ara­bia doesn’t apply to Britain for many rea­sons. The fore­most rea­son being that he has always advo­cat­ed estab­lish­ing con­tacts with the near­est Mus­lim coun­try (i.e. Moroc­co) and always encour­aged Mus­lims to estab­lish a Moon­sight­ing com­mit­tee and a sys­tem.

British Schol­ars have done that. Moroc­co was fol­lowed infor­mal­ly (for decades) but for the past 10 years it has been for­mal and British Mus­lims are reg­u­lar­ly informed of the Moon­sight­ing deci­sions. Moroc­co was fol­lowed infor­mal­ly (for decades) but for the past 10 years it has been for­mal and British Mus­lims are reg­u­lar­ly informed of the Moon­sight­ing deci­sions. We respect­ful­ly sub­mit that this is the posi­tion of major­i­ty of Mus­lim Schol­ars and not just Mufti Taqi Usmani (DB).

There­fore the con­di­tion­al per­mis­si­bil­i­ty of fol­low­ing Saudi is nei­ther need­ed nor applic­a­ble to us.

May Allah (SWT) give us all the abil­i­ty to under­stand, obey and prop­a­gate the com­mands of Allah (SWT) and noble Sunan of His Nabi (Sal­la­ho Alai­he Was­sal­lam) (Ameen).

جزاك اللهُ خيرًا