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