Big Moon

Looking at the size of the Moon?

(Qari) Muhammad Shoyaib Nurgat

Ques­tion: I saw the Moon 2 weeks ago and on the 1st it was too big to be just the first day’s moon. Tonight which is the 14th I looked at it looks to be the 15th? Did Wifaqul Ula­ma get their dates incorrect? 

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, the Sun­nah in Islam is to sight the Moon and not to mea­sure the Moon. 

On the 29th, we go out and sight the Moon. When the Moon is sight­ed the next day is the 1st of (Islam­ic month) oth­er­wise we com­plete 30 days. The moon is regard­ed from the date the sight­ing occurred.  We have explic­it and cat­e­gor­i­cal evi­dence to dis­re­gard the prac­tise of mea­sur­ing the Moon, as the fol­low­ing chap­ter of Sahih Mus­lim is entitled:

باب بَيَانِ أَنَّهُ لَا اعْتِبَارَ بِكُبْرِ الْهِلَالِ وَصِغَرِهِ وَأَنَّ اللَّهَ تَعَالَى أَمَدَّهُ لِلرُّؤْيَةِ فَإِنْ غُمَّ فَلْيُكْمَلْ ثَلَاثُنَ

Chap­ter: Clar­i­fy­ing that it does not mat­ter whether the cres­cent is large or small, as Allah the Most High, caus­es it to appear for long enough that peo­ple can see it, and if it is cloudy then thir­ty days should be completed

The Ahadeeth state:

عَنْ أَبِي الْبَخْتَرِيِّ، قَالَ خَرَجْنَا لِلْعُمْرَةِ فَلَمَّا نَزَلْنَا بِبَطْنِ نَخْلَةَ — قَالَ — تَرَاءَيْنَا الْهِلاَلَ فَقَالَ بَعْضُ الْقَوْمِ هُوَ ابْنُ ثَلاَثٍ ‏.‏ وَقَالَ بَعْضُ الْقَوْمِ هُوَ ابْنُ لَيْلَتَيْنِ قَالَ فَلَقِينَا ابْنَ عَبَّاسٍ فَقُلْنَا إِنَّا رَأَيْنَا الْهِلاَلَ فَقَالَ بَعْضُ الْقَوْمِ هُوَ ابْنُ ثَلاَثٍ وَقَالَ بَعْضُ الْقَوْمِ هُوَ ابْنُ لَيْلَتَيْنِ ‏.‏ فَقَالَ أَىَّ لَيْلَةٍ رَأَيْتُمُوهُ قَالَ فَقُلْنَا لَيْلَةَ كَذَا وَكَذَا ‏.‏ فَقَالَ إِنَّ رَسُولَ اللَّهِ صلى الله عليه وسلم قَالَ ‏ “‏ إِنَّ اللَّهَ مَدَّهُ لِلرُّؤْيَةِ فَهُوَ لِلَيْلَةِ رَأَيْتُمُوهُ

Abu’l-Bakhtari (RA) report­ed: We went out to per­form Umrah and when we encamped in the val­ley of Nakhla, we tried to see the new moon. Some of the peo­ple said: It was three nights old, and oth­ers (said) that it was two nights old. We then met Ibn ‘Abbas (RA) and told him we had seen the new moon, but that some of the peo­ple said it was three nights old and oth­ers that it was two nights old. He asked on which night we had seen it; and when we told him we had seen it on such and such night, he said that the Prophet of Allah (Peace be upon Him) had said: Ver­i­ly Allah deferred it till the time it is seen, so it is to be reck­oned from the night you saw it. (Sahih Muslim)

عن ابن مسعود رضي الله عنه قال: قال رسول الله صلى الله عليه وسلم: ((من اقتراب الساعة انتفاخ الأهلة)
أخرجه الطبراني في الكبير (10/198)

Sayyid­i­na Abdul­lah bin Masood RA relat­ed that the Prophet of Allah (Peace be upon Him) stat­ed: ‘Close to the day of Qiyamah, the moon will be seen as being large.’ (Tabarani)

وعن أنس بن مالك رضي الله عنه يرفعه إلى النبي صلى الله عليه وسلم قال: ((إن من أمارات الساعة أن يرى الهلال لليلة، فيقال: لليلتين)
أخرجه الطبراني في الأوسط (9376)

Sayyid­i­na Anas bin Malik (RA) relat­ed that the Prophet of Allah (Peace be upon Him) stat­ed: ‘Ver­i­ly, a sign of Qiyamah is that the moon of the 1st night will be large and upon see­ing this peo­ple will say: ‘This is the moon of the 2nd night.’ (Tabarani)

والمعنى كما يقول الإمام ابن الجوزي: “لا تنظروا إلى كبر الهلال وصغره، فإن تعليق الحكم على رؤيته

Mean­ing of the Hadith as stat­ed by Ibn Jauzi (RA): ‘do not look at the whether the hilal is large or small, rather the order is con­nect­ed to its sighting’.

Your query also assumes that the age (accord­ing to birth) coin­cides with age (accord­ing to sight­ing) and this is a fal­la­cy due to the fol­low­ing 3 reasons:

  1. The Cres­cent is not nec­es­sar­i­ly seen on the same day of con­junc­tion. Imag­ine that the the new moon con­junc­tion is at at 15:45 and sun­set that day is at 18:30, it will be impos­si­ble to sight it at sunset.
  2. When the Cres­cent sets before the sun­set, it can­not be sight­ed because there is noth­ing to sight.
  3. When it is rain­ing or cloudy, the Cres­cent (usu­al­ly) can­not be sighted.

No tech­nol­o­gy can enable you to sight the Cres­cent in the sce­nar­ios above. The next day, it will be the sec­ond (count­ed) date of the new Moon but accord­ing to sight­ing it will be the first. Thus, when you extend the dates it may be 14th of the Moon (accord­ing to birth) but 13th (accord­ing to sighting).

Last­ly, imag­ine that the 14th (date accord­ing to birth) also aligns with 14th (accord­ing to sight­ing) how will you enforce this rule through­out the year? Will you go back 14 days in time and fix the start of the month? How will you fast on 10th of Muḥar­ram which is before the 14th?

Thus, apart from objec­tions from the Qur’aan and the Sun­nah this rule can­not be used sci­en­tif­i­cal­ly or logically.

جزاك اللهُ خيرًا