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