Why does Wifaqul Ulama rely on Moon Sighting from South Africa?
(Qari) Muhammad Shoyaib Nurgat
Question: Please explain as to why Wifaqul Ulama relies on Moon Sighting from South Africa?
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, Moon Sighting from South Africa in certain circumstances and under certain conditions is acceptable to the Scholars Wifaqul Ulama. This was widely discussed, scrutinised and approved by other Ulama. The acceptability of South African Moon Sighting for British Muslims was endorsed by Darul-uloom Deoband in 2007. This was part of our criteria from the very beginning from circa 2006, onwards.
Local vs Global Sighting?
Shaykhul-Islam (Mufti) Taqi Usmani (DB) explains that errors come from misunderstanding the concept of global Moon Sighting. He explains:
People generally tend to believe that if a place is further (in distance) it should be considered “global” and if it is closer it should be considered “local” with regards to Moon Sighting. This is not true. The fact is that the new Moon visibility is in an arc (as opposed to a straight line). Areas which are within the arc will be able to sight the Moon and areas which are outside of the arc will not be able to see it. Distance between the two points is not the primary factor here but whether the two points (of observation) are within the arc of visibility are of primary consideration. Imagine that this desk of mine is a projection of a map and now imagine an arc (of Moon Sighting probability). Sometimes people standing at two different (and opposite) ends of the desk may be inside the arc of visibility while at other times they may not be.
To illustrate the point of Shaykhul-Islam (Mufti) Taqi Usmani (DB) and demonstrate the arc of visibility, please take a look at Moon Sighting possibility for Ramadhan 1438 on the evening of Friday, 26th of May 2017. In this scenario, testimony from both Morocco and South Africa is relevant and acceptable to British Muslims because the Crescent is present on the British horizon.
There is no objection to British Muslims accepting credible sighting from Morocco which is not local to Britain. South Africa also falls under the general category of “global Sighting” when considered from United Kingdom. Both are not in Europe but in the content of Africa.
There may be times when Moon will be present on British horizon but not present on South African horizon and vice versa. Moon Sighting testimony from both Morocco and South Africa needs to be thoroughly investigated before acceptance and its application scrutinised for Muslims of United Kingdom. These testimonies are not simply taken at face value and by default and applied without due deliberation and consideration.
There have been times when Wifaqul Ulama has accepted the Moon Sighting testimonies from South Africa and there have been times when Ulama have not applied the Moon Sighting testimonies from South Africa.
Practically, we have looked at the Moon Sighting systems prevalent in many parts of Africa and apart from Morocco, there are many countries which either don’t have an independent verifiable system or rely on South Africa (for some months). In such circumstances, it makes sense to go to the source. There may be countries with independent verifiable Moon Sighting systems in place in Africa but we have not been able to forge an agreement which will enable us to receive the information in a trusted and credible manner, yet.
As it stands, we are satisfied with accepting Moon Sighting testimonies from South Africa. This has also been discussed (in depth) and agreed by other Ulama. We have extensive contacts with South African Scholars and have discussed these matters with them in person and in writing. I invite you to carefully read and consider the information provided to us by South African Ulama and the endorsement by Darul-uloom Deoband.
We will continue to expand our relationship and forge alliances with other Muslims. Our Moon Sighting criteria is also not set in stone and it is subject to revision and amendments (as reviewed by Scholars).
- Darul-uloom Deoband
- Mufti Radhal Haq (general agreement)
- Mufti Ebrahim Desai (Approval of Wifaqul Ulama agreement)
جزاك اللهُ خيرًا