Does Wifaqul Ulama rely on Science instead of Moon Sighting?

(Qari) Muhammad Shoyaib Nurgat

Maulana Marghoob Ahmed Lajpuri

Question: Please explain as to why Wifaqul Ulama relies on Astronomical Calculations and Science instead of (actual) Moon Sighting?

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).

In a nutshell and in the most direct manner, Wifaqul Ulama DOES NOT advocate reliance upon or using Astronomical Calculations for the determination of Islamic months. Wifaqul Ulama has a system of monthly Moon Sighting in place for over a decade. We coordinate these Moon Sighting activities and inform the British Muslims every month in detail of the results of (actual) Moon Sighting. The ultimate authority is the judgement of Ulama, their analysis, scrutiny and acceptance of the eyewitnesses. All scientific evidence is subject to judgement of the Ulama and their decision.

Sharia commands reliance on Moon Sighting for 12 Months

It is incorrect as per the principles of Hanafi Madhab to rely on the (sole) calculations for the determination of Islamic Months.

ولا عبرة بقول المؤقتين ، ولو عدولا على المذهب مطلب لا عبرة بقول المؤقتين في الصوم ( قوله : ولا عبرة بقول المؤقتين ) أي في وجوب الصوم على الناس

The words of timekeepers is not authentic i.e. it is not an obligation upon people to fast according to their calculations [Shami].

The command of reliance on Moon Sighting with regards to the scared month of Ramadhan is explicit in the Authentic Hadeeth of Allah’s Messenger (Sallallaho Alaihe Wassallam) as follows:

حدثنا آدم، حدثنا شعبة، حدثنا محمد بن زياد، قال سمعت أبا هريرة ـ رضى الله عنه ـ يقول قال النبي صلى الله عليه وسلم أو قال قال أبو القاسم صلى الله عليه وسلم ‏”‏ صوموا لرؤيته، وأفطروا لرؤيته، فإن غبي عليكم فأكملوا عدة شعبان ثلاثين

Sayyidina Abu Huraira (RA) narrated that the Messenger of Allah (Sallaho Alaihe Wassallam) 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 month is) concealed from you (on account of cloudy sky), then count thirty days. [Muslim]

The noble Ulama of Islam have extended this command of Moon Sighting to months other than Ramadhan, Shawwal, Dhul-Hijjah by evidence and by deduction. We mean to say by deduction that it makes no sense to rely on Moon Sighting for 3-4 months but to rely on Astronomical calculations or science for the other 8-9 months. We mean by evidence that there are plenty of narrations of Nabi where he explicitly stated Duas for the sighting of “New Moon”, if the Moon is not being sighted these noble Sunan of reciting the Duas would seem to become superfluous and may Allah (SWT) guard us against any carelessness or laziness with regards to the Sunan (Ameen). Please observe the following narrations:

حَدَّثَنَا مُوسَى بْنُ إِسْمَاعِيل ، حَدَّثَنَا أَبَانُ ، حَدَّثَنَا قَتَادَةُ ، أَنَّهُ بَلَغَهُ ” أَنَّ النَّبِيَّ صَلَّى اللَّهُ عَلَيْهِ وَسَلَّمَ كَانَ إِذَا رَأَى الْهِلَالَ ، قَالَ : ” هِلَالُ خَيْرٍ ، وَرُشْدٍ هِلَالُ خَيْرٍ ، وَرُشْدٍ هِلَالُ خَيْرٍ ، وَرُشْدٍ آمَنْتُ بِالَّذِي خَلَقَكَ ثَلَاثَ مَرَّاتٍ ، ثُمَّ يَقُولُ : الْحَمْدُ لِلَّهِ الَّذِي ذَهَبَ بِشَهْرِ كَذَا ، وَجَاءَ بِشَهْرِ كَذَا “

Sayyidina Qatadah (RA) narrates that it has certainly reached him that when the Prophet of Allah (Sallaho Alaihe Wassallam) sighted the moon, he used to say three times: “A new moon of good and right guidance; a new moon of good and right guidance; a new moon of good and right guidance. I believe in Him Who created you”. He would then say: “Praise be to Allah Who has made such and such a month to pass and has brought such and such a month.” [Abu Da’wud]

أخبرنا عبد الرزاق قال: أخبرنا معمر عن قتادة أن النبي صلى الله عليه وسلم كان إذا رأى الهلال كبر ثلاثا، ثم قال: هلال خير ورشد، ثلاثا، ثم قال: آمنت بالذي خلقك، ثلاثا، ثم يقول: الحمد لله الذي ذهب بشهر كذا وكذا، وجاء بشهر كذا وكذا

Sayyidina Qatadah (RA) narrates when the Prophet of Allah (Sallaho Alaihe Wassallam) sighted the moon, he used to proclaim the Greatness of Allah (SWT) three times by Saying Allahu-Akbar and then pronounce three times: “A new moon of good and right guidance” and then say three times “I believe in Him Who created you”. He would then say: “Praise be to Allah Who has made such and such a month to pass and has brought such and such a month ” [Al-Musanaff]

عَنْ قَتَادَةَ ، قَالَ : كَانَ النَّبِيُّ صَلَّى اللَّهُ عَلَيْهِ وَسَلَّمَ إِذَا رَأَى الْهِلالَ كَبَّرَ ثَلاثًا ، وَهَلَّلَ ، ثُمَّ قَالَ : ” هِلالُ خَيْرٍ وَرُشْدٍ ” ثَلاثًا ثُمَّ قَالَ : ” آمَنْتُ بِالَّذِي خَلَقَكَ ” ثَلاثًا ثُمَّ يَقُولُ : ” الْحَمْدُ لِلَّهِ الَّذِي ذَهَبَ بِشَهْرِ كَذَا وَجَاءَ بِشَهْرِ كَذَا

Sayyidina Qatadah (RA) narrates when the Prophet of Allah (Sallaho Alaihe Wassallam) sighted the moon, he used to proclaim the Greatness of Allah (SWT) three times by Saying Allahu-Akbar, then rejoice and then pronounce three times: “A new moon of good and right guidance” and then say three times “I believe in Him Who created you”. He would then say: “Praise be to Allah Who has made such and such a month to pass and has brought such and such a month ” [Al-Jam’i  Li Muammar Ibn Rashid]

حدثنا محمد بن بشر قال حدثنا سعيد عن قتادة أن نبي الله صلى الله عليه وسلم كان إذا رأى الهلال قال : ‘ هلال خير ورشد ، هلال رشد وخير ، هلال خير ورشد ، آمنت بالذي خلقك – ثلاثا ، الحمد لله ذهب هلال كذا وكذا وجاء هلال كذا وكذا

Sayyidina Qatadah (RA) narrates when the Prophet of Allah (Sallaho Alaihe Wassallam) sighted the moon, he used to say three times: “A new moon of good and right guidance; a new moon of good and right guidance; a new moon of good and right guidance. I believe in Him Who created you”. He would then say: “Praise be to Allah Who has made such and such a month to pass and has brought such and such a month.” [Al-Musanaff Ibn Abi Sahybah]

أخبرنا عبد الرزاق قال أخبرنا معمر عن رجل عن بن المسيب قال كان النبي صلى الله عليه وسلم إذا رأى الهلال قال آمنت بالذي خلقك فسواك فعدلك

Sayyidina Ibn Musayyad (RA) narrates when the Prophet of Allah (Sallaho Alaihe Wassallam) sighted the moon, he used to proclaim “I believe in Him Who created you , then perfected you, then brought you in due proportion?” [Al-Musanaff Ibn Abi Sahybah]

أخبرنا عبد الله بن إسحاق الخراساني العدل ، ثنا أحمد بن زياد بن مهران ، ثنا أبو عامر العقدي ، ثنا سليمان بن سفيان المديني ، حدثني بلال بن يحيى بن طلحة بن عبيد الله ، عن أبيه ، عن جده – رضي الله عنه – : أن النبي – صلى الله عليه وآله وسلم – كان إذا رأى الهلال قال : ” اللهم أهله علينا بالأمن والإيمان والسلامة والإسلام ، ربي وربك الله “

Sayyidina Bilal Ibn Yahya Ibn Sufyan (RA) narrates from his father who narrates from his father that when the Prophet of Allah (Sallaho Alaihe Wassallam) sighted the moon, he used to say “O Allah, make the new moon shine on us with security, belief, safety and Islam! My Lord and your Lord is Allah” [Al-Mustadrak]

أَخْبَرَنَا سَعِيدُ بْنُ سُلَيْمَانَ عَنْ عَبْدِ الرَّحْمَنِ بْنِ عُثْمَانَ بْنِ إِبْرَاهِيمَ قَالَ حَدَّثَنِى أَبِى عَنْ أَبِيهِ وَعَمِّهِ عَنِ ابْنِ عُمَرَ قَالَ : كَانَ رَسُولُ اللَّهِ -صلى الله عليه وسلم- إِذَا رَأَى الْهِلاَلَ قَالَ :« اللَّهُ أَكْبَرُ ، اللَّهُمَّ أَهِلَّهُ عَلَيْنَا بِالأَمْنِ وَالإِيمَانِ وَالسَّلاَمَةِ وَالإِسْلاَمِ وَالتَّوْفِيقِ لِمَا يُحِبُّ رَبُّنَا وَيَرْضَى ، رَبُّنَا وَرَبُّكَ اللَّهُ »

Sayyidina Ibn Umar (RA) narrates when the Prophet of Allah (Sallaho Alaihe Wassallam) sighted the moon, he used to say “O Allah, let this moon (month) pass over us with blessings, Iman, safety, and in the belief of Islam. Grant us the ability to act on the actions that You love and Pleases You. (O moon) My Lord and Your Lord is Allah”.” [Sunan Ad-Darimi]

عَنْ يَحْيَى بْنِ طَلْحَةَ بْنِ عُبَيْدِ الله , عَنْ أَبِيهِ طَلْحَةَ بْنِ عُبَيْدِ الله , أَنَّ النَّبِىَّ صلى الله عليه وسلم كَانَ إِذَا رَأَى الْهِلاَلَ قَالَ اللهمَّ أَهِلَّهُ عَلَيْنَا بِالْيُمْنِ وَالإِيمَانِ وَالسَّلاَمَةِ وَالإِسْلاَمِ رَبِّى وَرَبُّكَ الله

Talha ibn ‘Ubaydullah narrates from his father who narrates from his father that when the Prophet, (Sallaho Alaihe Wassallam) saw the new moon, he would say, “O Allah, make the new moon shine on us with security, belief, safety and Islam! My Lord and your Lord is Allah.” [Ibn HIbaaan]

حَدَّثَنَا مُحَمَّدُ بن الْفَضْلِ السَّقَطِيُّ , حَدَّثَنَاسَعِيدُ بن سُلَيْمَانَ , عَنْ عُثْمَانَ بن إِبْرَاهِيمَ بن حَاطِبٍ , عَنْ أَبِيهِوَعَمِّهِ، عَنِ ابْنِ عُمَرَ , قَالَ: كَانَ رَسُولُ اللَّهِ صَلَّى اللَّهُ عَلَيْهِوَسَلَّمَ , إِذَا رَأَى الْهِلالَ , قَالَ:اللَّهُمَّ أَهِلَّهُ عَلَيْنَا بِالأَمْنِوَالإِيمَانِ , وَالسَّلامَةِ وَالإِسْلامِ , وَالتَّوْفِيقِ لِمَا تُحِبُّ وَتَرْضَى, رَبُّنَا وَرَبُّكَ اللَّهُ.

Sayyidina Ibn Umar (RA) narrates when the Prophet of Allah (Sallaho Alaihe Wassallam) sighted the moon, he used to say “O Allah, let this moon (month) pass over us with blessings, Iman, safety, and in the belief of Islam. Grant us the ability to act on the actions that You love and Pleases You. (O moon) My Lord and Your Lord is Allah”.” [Tabarani]

حدثنا أبو موسى هارون بن عبد الله الحمال ، حدثنا أبو عامر ، حدثني سليمان بن سفيان ، قال : سمعت بلال بن يحيى بن طلحة بن عبيد الله ، يحدث ، عن أبيه ، عن جده ، قال : كان النبي صلى الله عليه وسلم إذا نظر إلى الهلال قال : « اللهم أهله علينا باليمن والإيمان ، والسلامة والإسلام ، ربي وربك الله

Talha ibn ‘Ubaydullah narrates from his father who narrates from his father that when the Prophet, (Sallaho Alaihe Wassallam) saw the new moon, he would say, “O Allah, make the new moon shine on us with security, belief, safety and Islam! My Lord and your Lord is Allah.” [Musnad Abd Ibn Humayd]

أخبرنا الحسن بن سفيان ، قال : حدثنا محمد بن يحيى المروزي، قال : حدثنا سعيد بن سليمان الواسطي ، قال : حدثنا عبد الرحمن بن عثمان بن إبراهيمبن محمد بن حاطب ، عن أبيه ، وعن عمه ، عن ابن عمر ، قال : كان رسول الله صلى اللهعليه وسلم إذا رأى الهلال ، قال : « اللهم أهله علينا بالأمن والإيمان ، والسلامة والإسلام، والتوفيق لما نحب وترضى ، ربنا وربك الله

Sayyidina Ibn Umar (RA) narrates when the Prophet of Allah (Sallaho Alaihe Wassallam) sighted the moon, he used to say “O Allah, let this moon (month) pass over us with blessings, Iman, safety, and in the belief of Islam. Grant us the ability to act on the actions that we love and Pleases You. (O moon) My Lord and Your Lord is Allah”.” [Tabarani]

أورد شيخُ الإسلام ابن تيمية -رحمه الله- في كتابه “الكلم الطيب” تحت (فصل في رؤية الهلال) حديثَ عبدِ اللهِ بْنِ عُمَرَ رضي الله عنهما, قَالَ : كَانَ رَسُولُ اللَّهِ صَلَّى اللَّهُ عَلَيْهِ وَسَلَّمَ إِذَا رَأَى الْهِلالَ , قَالَ: (اللهُ أكبَرُ ! اللَّهُمَّ أَهِلَّهُ عَلَيْنَا بِالأَمْنِ وَالإِيمَانِ , وَالسَّلامَةِ وَالإِسْلامِ , وَالتَّوْفِيقِ لِمَا تُحِبُّ وَتَرْضَى , رَبُّنَا وَرَبُّكَ اللهُ )

Ibn Taymiyyah (RA) has mentioned in his book Al-Kalimut-Tayyib under the chapter of concerning the sighting of the moom that  Sayyidina Ibn Umar (RA) narrates when the Prophet of Allah (Sallaho Alaihe Wassallam) sighted the moon, he used to proclaim Allahu-Akbar and then say “O Allah, let this moon (month) pass over us with blessings, Iman, safety, and in the belief of Islam. Grant us the ability to act on the actions that we love and Pleases You. (O moon) My Lord and Your Lord is Allah”.”

Is Astronomical Science Permissable? Isn’t it explcitly forbidden in Islam?

It is possible that your views are formulated by this narration which is put forth by certain people.

في صحيح البخارى ( باب قول النبي صلى الله عليه وسلم -: لا نكتب ولا نحسب ) ، ( عن إبن عمر – رضي الله عنهما – عن النبي – صلى الله عليه وسلم – أنه قال : إنا أمّة أميّة لا نكتب ولا نحسب ، الشهر هكذا و هكذا : يعني مرة تسعة وعشرين ومرة ثلاثين ).

Imam Bukhari in his Sahih has narrated on the authority of Ibn ‘Umar (May Allah pleased with them both) from the Prophet (May Allah send benedictions and peace on him) that he said, “We are an unlettered community – we do not write or calculate. The month is like this and this”, i.e. sometimes 29 [days], and sometimes 30.”

We have consulted the Ulama in this matter and we have been assured that this (particular) narration doesn’t prohibit or exclude the Astronomical sciences at all. The Ulama have put forth the following explanations from previous Masters of Hadeeth as follows:

Allamah Subki (RA)

وقال السبكي في العلم المنشور صفحة 4 : فصل

في معنى قوله – صلى الله عليه وسلم – (( الشهر هـكذا و هـكذا و هـكذا – وعقد الإبهام في الثالثة – والشهر هـكذا و هـكذا و هـكذا ، يعني تمام الثلاثين )) وهو حديث صحيح رواه البخاري ومسلم من حديث عبد الله بن عمر– رضي الله عنهما – ، وفي أوله : (( إنا أمّة أميّة لا نكتب ولا نحسب )). ومعناه والله أعلم : أن الشهر تارة يكـون ثلاثين ، وتارة يكـون تسعة وعشرين ، لا يخرج عن هـذين الأمرين ، وليس كما يقوله أهل الحساب والنجوم ، فإن عندهم دائما تسعة و عشرون وكسر ، لأن السنة القمرية ثلاثمائة وأربعة وخمسون يوماً وخمس يوم وسدس يوم ، وعدة الشهور اثنا عشر شهرا ، كما قال الله تعالى . فإذا قسمت هـذه الأيام على اثنى عشر كان كل شهر تسعة وعشرين وشيأ . والقمر يجتمع مع الشمس في كل شهر مرة ، فإذا فارقها فهو أول الشهر عندهم إلى أن ينتهي إلى مثل تلك الحالة ، وقد يكـون ذالك في أثناء النهار ، وقد يكـون في أثناء الليل ، فأبطل النبي – صلى الله عليه وسلم – إعتبار ذالك وجعل ما بعد مفارقته الشمس إلى تمام تسعة وعشرين ، إن رئي ، أو إلى تمام ثلاثين إن لم ير من الشهر الأول ، وسواءٌ رأيناه ليلة الثلاثين أو أكملنا ثلاثين فأول الشهر غروب الشمس من إحدي الليلتين ، واستفيد ذالك من إشارته – صلى الله عليه وسلم – وقول الراوي عنه : عشرا عشرا وتسعاً . فإن ذالك يقتضي دخول الليالي في حكم الأيام ، لأن حذف التاء يدل على إعتبار الليالي وهي الأصل في التاريخ ،

( وقوله – صلى الله عليه وسلم – :- إنّا ) يعني العرب ، لأن الغالب عليها ذالك ، وإن كان قد يعلم بعضهم الكتابة والحساب ، وكـونهم لا يكتبون ولا يحسبون شرف لهم ، لما سبق في علم الله من أنهم أمّة النبي الأمّي ، فذالك معجزة له – صلى الله عليه وسلم – وشرف لهم ، لاتصافهم بصفة من صفاته ، وجعل ذالك علماً في الشريعة على الشهر ليكـون ضبطاً بأمر ظاهر يعرفه كل أحد ولا يغلط فيه بخلاف الحساب ، فإنه لا يعرفه إلا القليل من الناس ويقع الغلط فيه كثيراً للتقصير في علمه ومقدماته ، وربما كان بعضها ظنّياً ، فاقتضت الحكمة الإلهيّة والشريعة الحنيفية السمحة ، التخفيف على العباد وربط الأحكام بما هو متيسر على الناس من الرؤية ، أو كمال العدد ثلاثين . وليس معنى الحديث النهي عن الكتابة والحساب ولا ذمّهما وتنقيصهما ، بل هما فضيلة فينا وليس في الحديث أيضا إبطال قول الحاسب في قوله : إن القمر يجتمع مع الشمس أو يفارقها ، أو تمكن رؤيته أو لا تمكن رؤيته والحكم بكذبه في ذالك ، وإنما في الحديث عدم إناط الحكم الشرعي وتسمية الشهر به .

Al-Subki (RA) writes on page 4 of his treatise:

“Chapter regarding the meaning of his statement (May Allah send benedictions and peace on him) “The Month is like this, this and this” rolling his thumb in the third [round], “and the month is like this, this and this” i.e. the full 30

It is an authentic narration reported by al-Bukhari and Muslim from the narration of ‘Abd ‘llah bin ‘Umar (May Allah pleased with them both).

In its beginning is “We are an illiterate community – we do not write or calculate.” Its meaning – and Allah knows better – that the month is sometimes 30 and sometimes 29 with no third option.

It is not like what the astronomers say, as for them, it is always 29 days and a fraction [of a day], as the lunar year is 354.37 days. The number of months is twelve as Allah (Most High) said. When these days are divided over twelve months, every month would be 29 days and a bit. The moon aligns with the sun once a month, and when it parts from [the sun], it would be the beginning of the [lunar] month according to them until it [returns] back to this state. That may happen in during the day or the night.

So the Prophet (may Allah send benedictions and peace on him) nullified the consideration of that [method], and assigned as part of the first month [the duration of] when [the moon] parts from the sun up to the full 29 days if [the moon] is seen, or up to the full 30 if it is not seen, regardless of whether we see it on the night of the 30th or we complete 30 [days]. And thus, sunset on either night would be the beginning of the month. This was gained from His (May Allah send benedictions and peace on him) indication and the statement of the one narrating from him “ten, ten and nine”, as that requires the inclusion of [preceding] nights under the ruling of days, because the removal of Ta’ is indicative of the consideration of nights, and [that] is the founding principle in [the annals of] dates.

His (May Allah send benedictions and peace on him) statement “We” means the Arabs, as that [illiteracy] was the predominant [state] for them despite some knowing how to write and count. The fact that they did not write or count was an honour for them, as had passed in the knowledge of Allah that they are community of the illiterate Prophet, which was a miracle for Him (may Allah send benedictions and peace on him) and honour for them, as they were ascribed with one of his attributes. He assigned that to be a sign for the month in the Shariah, so that it may be coherently aligned with an apparent matter that is known to everyone and cannot be mistaken in, as opposed to calculations as only a few people would know it and mistakes therein would occur frequently due to a lacking in its knowledge and its premises. Sometimes, some [premises of calculation] are tentative.

Divine Wisdom and the straight, easy Shariah wanted to lessen the burden from the servants and connect the laws to sight or the completion of 30 [days], which is easy for the people. The narration does not mean the prohibition of writing or calculation, not does it condemn or belittle them; rather they are a virtue for us. It is also not the meaning of the narration that the astronomer’s [calculation for conjunction], [sun-moon] separation, or the possibility or impossibility of seeing [the moon] is nullified or to declare him a liar in that; rather what the narration only contains is not to connect the legal ruling or [starting off] the month based on [his statements].”

Allamah Bakhir (RA)

وقال الشيخ بخيت في رسالته صفحة 103 : وقوله – صلى الله عليه وسلم – (( إنا أمّة أميّة لا نكتب ولا نحسب )) ليس فيه ما يدل على تخطئة الكتّاب والحسّاب ، بل يدل على تصويبهما وتصديقهما ، فإن صدوره في معرض إظهار المعجزة وبيان أن معارفه الإلهيّة بوحي يوحى من عند الله تعالى ، فإن حاصل المراد منه أنّا نعرف ذالك بإعلام الله تعالى ، وتعريفه لنا لا بغيره لأنا أمّة أميّة لا نستعمل الحساب ولا نتداول الكتابة ، وإنما يعرفه الحسّاب بمزاولة حسابهم والكتّاب بالكتابة عن غيرهم ، قال تعالى : ( وما كنت تتلوا من قبله من كتاب ولا تخطّه بيمينك إذًا لارتاب المبطلون* بل هو آيات بيّنات في صدور الذين أوتوا العلم وما يجحد بآياتنا إلا الظّالمون ))

وقال أيضا صفحة 101 : وقد عرف بأن الشهر بالحساب المبني على القواعد القطعيّة لا يكـون إلا تسعة وعشرين يوماً وكسراً . وإنما الشارع أوجب الصوم عند رؤية هلال رمضان أو إكمال عدة شعبان ثلاثين ، رحمة بالناس وشفقة بهم ، حيث أناط الصوم بأمر ظاهر يعرفه الخاص والعام ، وكذالك قد أناط وجوب الفطر برؤية هلال شوال أو إكمال عدة رمضان ثلاثين يوما لما ذكرناه واحتياطاً للصوم ، وذالك مما توافق عليه العقل و النقل و ثبت من جهة الشريعة و من جهة الحكمة ، فإنه قد ثبت بطريق الحساب ثبوتاً لا مردّ له ، أن القمر إلى نقطة فارق فيها الشمس في مدة سبعة و عشرين يوماً وسبع ساعات وثلاث و أربعين دقيقة و أربع ثوان . ويجتمع معها مرّة أخرى في مدة تسعة و عشرين و نصف يوم وأربع وأربعين دقيقة وثلاث ثوان ، وأن مدة السنة القمرية ثلاثمائة يوم وأربعة وخمسون يوماً وخمس يوم واحد وسدسه وكسر. والحسابات كلها أمور قطعيّة برهانيّة لا سبيل إلى مجاحدتها فإنكارها مكابرة اه .

“His statement (may Allah send benedictions and peace on him) “We are an illiterate community – we do not write or calculate” does not contain any indication that scribes or astronomers are wrong; rather it indicates they are correct and truthful. The coming of [this narration] was in the context of uncovering the miracle and explaining that his godly realisations were via revelation that was revealed to him from Allah (Most High). The basic meaning of it is we know that via the Allah (Most High) teaching us and making us aware, not anyone else, because we are an illiterate community that does not use calculation nor writing – that is only known by astronomers by their usage of their calculation, and by writers via writing about others. He (Most High) said, “You did not used to recite a book before it, nor did you write with your right hand; the people of falsehood would have then doubted. Rather, it is clear verses in the hearts of those who have been given knowledge. Only the unjust deny about our verses.”

He also said, p. 101:

“It is known that the month based on calculations on definite rules is only 29 days and a bit. The legislator, out of mercy and compassion for the people, only obligated fast upon seeing the crescent of Ramadan or upon] the completion of 30 [days] of Sha’ban, as He (Most High) connected fasting to an apparent matter which the specialists and public [all] know. Likewise, He (Most High) connected the obligation of terminating the period of compulsory fasting to the seeing of the crescent of Shawwal or the completion of 30 [days] of Ramadan for the reasons we have mentioned and for safeguarding the fast. That is what logic and narration mutually agree on, and is proven from the angle of the Shariah and from the angle of wisdom. It is most definitely established via calculation – and there is no turning back from [this fact] – that the moon to the point it de-aligns itself from the sun is 27 days, 7 hours, 43 minutes and 4 seconds, and aligns itself another time in the period of 29 days, 12 hours, 44 minutes and 3 seconds. It aligns itself with [the sun] at another time in the period of 29 days, 12 hours, 44 minutes and 3 seconds. The period of the lunar year is 354.37 days. Calculations are all definitive matters – there is no way to rebuff them, as denying them is tantamount to being quarrelsome for no reason”

Allamah Mohammad bin Abd-ur-Razzaq Al-Marakishi (RA)

أولا ترا إلى ما يقوله كثير من الفقهاء من أنه إذا ثبتت رؤية الهلال في بلد ، فإنها تعم كل بلد يوافق بلد الرؤية في المطلع . ومن المعلوم أن المطلع لا يعرف إلا بالحساب . وتقدم قول السبكي في رسالته صفحة 13 : وفي لزوم رؤية بلد بلداً آخر أقوال ، إلى أن قال : السادس : يلزم كل بلد يوافق بلد الرؤية في المطلع ، وهـذا هو الصحيح عند العراقين من أصحابنا وغيرهم . وفيه جنوح إلى الحساب ، لأن المطلع إنما يعرف بالحساب . والمراد بالمطلع ، مطلع الهلال . ومعرفة توافق البلدين في مطلع الهلال يحتاج إلى حظ جيد من علم الهيئة . ولا يستنكر نظر الأكثرين إلى الحساب ها هنا وإعراضهم عنه إذا لم ير الهلال ، لأن هناك تجرد الحساب وحده ، وهنا انضاف إلى الرؤية في البلاد. فمن هنا نأخذ أن الحساب ليس ملغى لكن الرؤية شرط في الجملة للحديث . صفحة 466 العذب الزلال في مباحث رؤية الهلال

The statement of al-Subki in his treatise, p. 13, has passed previously: “There are [various] opinions in a city’s sighting obligating another city[…] The sixth position is that it would be binding on every city whose horizon is in accordance with the city of sighting. This is the correct position according to our Iraqi disciples, and others. There is an inclination therein for [the legitimacy of astronomical] calculation, because the horizon can only be known via calculation. By horizon, the place where the crescent appears is meant. Knowledge of two cities being the same in terms of the crescent horizon requires a good portion of [awareness with] astronomy. The opinion of the mass majority does not consider calculation wrong [in ascertaining horizons] and disregarding it when the crescent is not sighted, because calculation by itself is alone [in the latter], whereas [calculation] comes in addition to sighting in the cities [in the former]. From this, we take that calculation is not rendered redundant, but sighting is a requisite as a general principle due to the prophetic narration.” (Al-Azb-uz-Zulal fi Mabahithi Ruyat-il-Hilal, pg 466)

Is Astronomical Science Reliable?

We hope that the issue has been crystal clear that Astronomical calculations CANNOT be solely relied upon for the establishment of Islamic months.

We now turn the discussion in a different direction and ask are Astronomical calculations reliable? Is it blameworthy or praiseworthy to acquire the knowledge of Astronomy?

We find that even hunderds of years ago the calculations of the orbits and timings was reliable as Imam Ahmed Ibn Hanbal (RA) states:

 وقال أحمد بن حنبل : إن حساب محاسبي منازل القمر معتبر

That the calculations are to be regarded in the phases of the moon as reliable.

Our Hanafi Madhab states with regards to utilising Astronomical calculations:

وفي مختارات النوازل لصاحب الهداية أن علم النجوم في نفسه حسن غير مذموم ، إذ هو قسمان : حسابي [ ص: 44 ] وإنه حق ، وقد نطق به الكتاب . قال الله تعالى – { الشمس والقمر بحسبان } – أي سيرهما بحساب . واستدلالي بسير النجوم وحركة الأفلاك على الحوادث بقضاء الله تعالى وقدره ، وهو جائز كاستدلال الطبيب بالنبض من الصحة والمرض ولو لم يعتقد بقضاء الله تعالى أو ادعى الغيب بنفسه يكفر ، ثم تعلم مقدار ما يعرف به مواقيت الصلاة والقبلة لا بأس به

It is in “Mukhtarun-Nawazil” (the) Author of Hidaya (says) that to seek the knowledge of Astronomy (in its own right) is not blameworthy. It has two branches and the first one is calculations which is correct and Allah (SWT) has also alluded to it in the Qur’aan. The second is deductive which involves predicting and prophesizing (events) according to the movement and orbits of the stars according to the Power of Allah (SWT) and Islamic belief of predestination then it is also correct and it is akin to a physician performing pulse diagnosis and making deductive analysis of the health of the patient according to the condition of the pulse. However, to deny the Power of Allah (SWT) and Islamic belief of predestination or to claim to have knowledge of the unseen is Kuf’r (disbelief). In summary, there is nothing wrong in acquiring enough knowledge of these (Astronomical) sciences which is necessary to determine Salah times and to (accurately) determine the direction of the Qiblah for prayers.

Sayyidina Umar (RA) permitted learning the science of Astronomy to the extent that the directions (of land and seas) can be determined and identified.

حَدَّثَنَا الْحَسَنُ بْنُ عَلِيٍّ ، ثنا الْحَسَنُ بْنُ شَوْكَرٍ ، ثنا إِسْمَاعِيلُ بْنُ جَعْفَرٍ ، ثنا مُبَارَكُ بْنُ فَضَالَةَ ، عَنْ عُبَيْدِ اللَّهِ بْنِ عُمَرَ ، عَنْ نَافِعٍ ، عَنِ ابْنِ عُمَرَ ، أَنَّ عُمَرَ ، قَالَ : ” تَعَلَّمُوا مِنَ النُّجُومِ مَا تَهْتَدُوا بِهِ فِي ظُلُمَاتِ الْبَرِّ وَالْبَحْرِ

Is it permissable to use Astronomical Science as a tool?

The experts of Astronomy and calculations (of the past) have stated that when it is impossible to sight the moon the sighting testimony of 1-2 people should be rejected. In this day and age when lying has become widespread as per the (end time) predictions of Nabi (Salallaho Alaihe Wassallam) the experts at Astronomy should be consulted. If there is no chance of moon sighting then these testimonies should be rejected.

Now, we will produce text from some of our (Senior) Akabir Scholars which clearly state that the calculations cannot be entirely rejected.

Shaykh (Mufti) Syed Abdur-Raheem Lajpuri (RA)

Shaykh (Mufti) Syed Abdur-Raheem Lajpuri (RA) writes, “Moon sighting should be attempted in Britain with the help of geographical (calculated) sighting possibility”. He then further elucidates that the method stated in the (noble) Sunnah should be adopted. Source: Fatawa-e-Raheemiyah, Vol 9, Page 417

It should be noted that Shaykh (RA) has considered that the method of geographical (calculated) sighting possibility as Sunnah.

Shaykh (Mufti) Nizamuddin (RA)

Shaykh (Mufti) Nizamuddin (RA) writes, “If a person testifies to seeing the crescent before the conjunction then such a testimony is rejected because it is against logic, science and all other criteria.”

Shaykh HazratJee (Maulana) In’amul Hasan Kandhalwi (RA)

Shaykh HazratJee (Maulana) In’amul Hasan Kandhalwi (RA) writes in his letter, “As far as testimony the day before the (experts of Astronomy) predict the sighting possibility by their calculations then such testimony has no weight and it is also against the actions of the majority”

Shaykh (Mufti) Yusuf Ludhyanwi (RA)

Shaykh (Mufti) Yusuf Ludhyanwi (RA) writes, “Starting of (Islamic) month is dependent upon the sighting of the moon. Consultation with the experts of Astronomy about the chances of the moon being sighted on a (particular) day is minimal help which can be accepted” Source: Aap Kay Masail Aur Unka Hal, Vol 3/Page 261

Shaykh (Mufti) Taqi Usmani (DB)

Shaykh (Mufti) Taqi Usmani (DB) writes, “With regards to the Saudi moon sighting contemporary Scholars are of the opinion that when sighting is deemed to be impossible but testimony is still being advanced then such a testimony is doubtful and due to (the testimony) being doubtful a decision shouldn’t be reached on its basis”

Shaykh (Mufti) Taqi Usmani (DB) has signed a Fatwa from the Daul-uloom which reads, “It is our opinion that not every testimony is absolute and it has the possibility of being wrong versus laws of Astronomical science are absolute with the possibility of error in their application. Therefore testimony when it opposes Astronomical calculations should be rejected unless the experts of Astronomy have discussed the possibilities and offered an explanation”

Shaykh (Mufti) Taqi Usmani (DB) responds in a lengthy Fatwa, “In an Islamic country whether an announcement is made by the (Muslim) Qadhi of that country in his own voice or news is transmitted on his behalf it is the same as long as sighting is possible in that country for that day” Fatwa Darul-uloom Karachi, 1419 AH

Shaykh (Mufti) Faisal (DB)

Shaykh (Mufti) Faisal (DB) writes, “When Astronomical calculations state that moonset is before sunset then it is just as believable as Maghrib time according to our prayer timetables. In the case of moonset before sunset there is scope for rejected (rejecting) the moon sighting testimony”.

Shaykh (Maulana) Burhanud-deen Sunbuli (DB)

Shaykh (Maulana) Burhanud-deen Sunbuli (DB) writes, “In addition it should be kept in mind that Islam is a natural religion and the laws of (Islamic) Sharia don’t defy established common sense as has been proven by Imam Shatibi Al-Maliki (RA) in his infamous treatise of Fiqh entitled Al-Mufaqat in which he writes: أن كل معنى لا يستقيم مع الأصول الشرعية والقواعد العقلية لا يعتمد عليه It implies that it would not be wrong to assert that if it is categorically proven that on a day the moon cannot be sighted then testimony (of sighting) by a reliable person for that day would be cast aside and not accepted because it will be against Islamic Sharia because such a sighting is impossible. Experts of Astronomy state that the velocity (and orbital positioning) of the sun and the moon is predictable and they are able to calculate it and Qur’aan affirms this (claim) in various verses. Therefore, if a person claims to have sighted the moon when there is no (logical or scientific) possibility of such a sighting then we have to say that such a person has made a mistake. Maujuda Mas’ail Kay Masail Ka Sha’ri Hall, Pages 76-78

Islamic Fiqh Academy (Jeddah)

Islamic Fiqh Academy (Jeddah) resolution states, “It is obligatory to use sighting (for commencement of Islamic months) but help should be taken from Astronomical calculations and Observatories so principles of Hadeeth and science can both be regarded and benefitted from” Shari Faislay Page 95

Shaykh (Maulana) Muhammad Umar Palunpuri (RA)

Shaykh (Maulana) Muhammad Umar Palunpuri (RA) writes, “The desire came in my heart that a booklet in easy to understand language should be published containing timings for conjunction and new moon for important locations throughout the world. This booklet should be made available to all those in authority so they can be cautious in accepting testimonies when it is impossible for the moon to be sighted at their location” Sawanih Maulana Muhammad Umar Palunpuri (RA), pages 212-214

Jamia Dabhel

Jamia Dabhel gives a Fatwa and writes, “When it comes to the question of arranging local sighting and seeking assistance from Astronomical Calculations then as long as these Calculations are not considered as the last word (meaning binding on their own) then there is room for (their usage)” Fatwa Jamia Islamia Dabhel, attested by Mufti Ahmed Khanpuri (DB)

Jamia Farooqia (Karachi)

Jamia Farooqia (Karachi) writes in a Fatwa, “It should be noted that Islamic Sharia has based commencement of Islamic months on (moon) sighting so this is the method which should be relied upon. However, to assist in this endeavour (experts of) Astronomy can be consulted on local sighting conditions and possibilities etc but these calculations are not be exclusively used (instead of sighting” Darul-Iftaa Jamia Farooqia (Karachi)

Shaykh (Mufti) Saeed Ahmed Palunpuri (DB)

Shaykh (Mufti) Saeed Ahmed Palunpuri (DB) the Shaykhul-Hadeeth of Darul-uloom Deoband writes, “I would like to point something out here…Astronomical calculations are not be solely and exclusively relied upon (for commencement of Islamic months) but we have seen some (weak) Muslims who try to confirm Saudi sighting by giving (false) testimonies. In such circumstances if Astronomical Calculations are to be relied upon to reject such (impossible) sightings then in my humble opinion there is scope for this”

Shaykh (Mufti) Khalid Saifullah Rahmani (RA)

Shaykh (Mufti) Khalid Saifullah Rahmani (RA) writes, “Astronomical calculations can be utilised to the extent that if there is no chance of moon being present then testimonies on that day shouldn’t be accepted without thorough investigation and rigour and to the extent that testimonies become irrefutable. When chances of moon being (physically) present are ample then slightly (lesser) number of testimonies can be accepted” Jadeed Fiqhi Mas’ail Vol 2, Page 26

Closing remarks:

It is true that Wifaqul Ulama in the light of evidence from the Qur’aan, Sunnah, Ijm’a, Qiyas and in line with the practise of our teachers and elders considers the use of Astronomical Science as a tool to negate impossible sighting. However, it should be categorically stated that the (absolute) reliance is upon Moon Sighting. Please understand the distinction and the difference.

Furthermore, Wifaqul Ulama uses Astronomical calculations as a tool. Therefore, if there is sufficient evidence according to the judgement of Ulama, Astronomical calculations will be cast aside and judgement of Ulama and the weight of (eyewitness) testimonies will be given precedence. The ultimate authority is the judgement of Ulama, their analysis, scrutiny and acceptance of the eyewitnesses.

We would like to close the discussion by requesting Ulama and honourable readers to listen to this excellent Arabic discussion on this topic by Maulana Salman Nadwi in London with Ulama.

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