Moon Sighting Committee

Can you please tell me about the monthly Moon Sighting system of Wifaqul Ulama, the Ulama who supervise the decisions and the Ulama who endorse this system?

DRAFT TRANSLATION: NOT FOR PUBLIC RELEASE

In the Name of Allah, the Most Gracious, the Most Merciful.

As-salāmu ‘alaykum wa-rahmatullāhi wa-barakātuh

The detailed process quoted below was deliberated among the Scholars at Department of Darul-Iftaa (Wifaqul Ulama) and the conclusion reached after discussion was as follows:

بسم الله الرحمان الرحيم
هو الموفق
حامدا ومصليا ومسلما
الجواب ومنه الصواب

In conclusion, the Moon Sighting decisions are based on sound Shariah principles under the guidance of trustworthy Scholars. These decisions are made after deliberations and announced every month and the system has been robust and effective for over 10 years. We feel that the publication of Batley Moon Sighting Committee (BMSC) published answers to many of these questions and a summarised translation is presented.

  1. (Mufti) Amjad Mohammed (HA)
  2. (Mufti) Bilal Issak (HA)
  3. (Mufti) Faisal al-Mahmudi (Canada)  (HA)
  4. (Qadhi) Imran Sayed Falahi (HA)
  5. (Mufti) Mohammed Ashfaq (HA)
  6. (Qari) Muhammad Shoyaib Nurgat (HA)
  7. (Mufti) Zakaria Akudi  (HA)
  8. (Mufti) Zubair Dudha (HA)

Disclaimer: Wifaqul Ulama provides answers as general guidelines based on known relevant matters at the time, and are not intended for use for any other purposes (legal or otherwise) without our specific written consent.


(Potential) Members of Monthly Moon Sighting Committee:

The stipulated set number of members (as per the rules) must be present in the Moon Sighting committee (monthly). Scholars who are not local can join the meeting via Telephone or Video link. Scholars who are part of the (monthly) meeting and make the decision must be identified by name and their attendance made public. Batley Moon Sighting Committee (BMSC) will be responsible for providing details of all attendees on a monthly basis.

  1. Shaykhul-Hadeeth (Maulana) Mohammad Ayub Bande Ilahi (DB), Leicester
  2. (Maulana) Yaqoob Qasmi (DB) , Batley
  3. Allamah (Dr) Khalid Mahmood (DB), Manchester
  4. (Maulana) Sameeruddin Qasmi(DB), Manchester
  5. (Maulana) Muhammad Hasan Bodhanvi (DB), Walsall
  6. (Mufti) Ismail Kacholvi (DB), Batley
  7. (Maulana) Nausarka (DB), Batley
  8. (Maulana) Yusuf Mama (DB), Batley
  9. (Maulana) Hashim Rawat (DB), Batley
  10. (Maulana) Sulaiman Bodiyat (DB), Batley
  11. (Qari) Haneef (DB), Batley
  12. (Maulana) Shabbir Seedat (DB), Batley
  13. (Maulana) Marghoob Ahmed (DB), Batley
  14. (Maulana) Haseeb (DB), Batley
  15. (Maulana) Hashim Sacha (DB), Batley
  16. (Mufti) Amin Pandor (DB), Batley
  17. (Maulana) Abdul-Hai Seedat (DB), Batley
  18. (Mufti) Yusuf Akudi (DB), Batley
  19. (Maulana) Musa Gora (DB), Batley
  20. (Maulana) Habeel (DB), Batley
  21. (Maulana) Wasif Sacha (DB), Batley
  22. (Maulana) Irfan Soni (DB), Batley
  23. (Maulana) Mushtaq Balakadhi (DB), Batley
  24. (Maulana) Imran Lunat (DB), Batley
  25. (Maulana) Bilal Mayat (DB), Batley
  26. (Maulana) Sulaiman Makda (DB), Batley
  27. (Hafiz) Yusuf Gardi (DB), Batley
  28. (Maulana) Yusuf Baig (DB), Batley
  29. (Maulana) Afzal Wali Mulla (DB), Batley
  30. (Maulana) Tariq Mahmood (DB), Batley
  31. (Qari) Muhammad Shoyaib Nurgat (DB), London
  32. Shaykh Suliman Gani (DB), London
  33. (Maulana) Sohail Bawa, London
  34. (Maulana) Farid Patel, London
  35. (Mufti) Muhammad Yusuf Danka, Croydon
  36. (Maulana) Mohamed Huzayfah Shaikh, Croydon
  37. (Mufti) Zakaria Akudi, Batley
  38. (Mufti) Muhammad Ashfaq Surti, Bradford
  39. (Mufti) Javid Pathan, Preston
  40. (Mufti) Zubair Dudha, Dewsbury
  41. (Mufti) Tahir Patel, Birmingham
  42. (Maulana) Hashim Sacha, Batley
  43. (Maulana) Iftikhar Hussain, Birmingham
  44. (Qadhi) Imran Sayed Falahi (DB), Leicester

Method of Moon Sighting Announcements:

  1. Wifaqul Ulama (website)
  2. Twitter
  3. Facebook
  4. Instagram
  5. Batley Moon Sighting Committee (BMSC) have their own local procedures for Monthly announcements
  6. Text Messages and WhatsApp: This method relies on other Muslims forwarding messages to each other.

 


عمدة التحقيق في احكام الأهلة لأهل باتلي و بريطانيا

This is a summarised translation of the booklet.  The evidence of the principles (described below), discussions and opinions of Ulama have been deliberately left out to present a simple set of rules for Muslims in Britain to understand. We encourage those interested in in-depth discussion to read the booklet in full.

9th of Jumadut-Thani 1429

Saturday, 14th of June 2008

Proof of (Moon Sighting):

Three distinct terms namely “News”, “Testimony” and “Announcement” are used in connection to Moon Sighting. It is imperative that these are understood in their Islamic (Shariah) context to avoid confusion. It is our opinion that majority of the misunderstanding lies in lack of comprehension of these terms. Moon Sighting can be proven from any of these five (5) methods:

  1. (Actual) Moon Sighting
  2. Testimony of Moon Sighting and it can be split into 3 cases:
    1. (Direct) Testimony of (Actual) Moon Sighting
    2. Testimony upon someone else’s (direct) Testimony of (Actual) Moon Sighting
    3. Testimony upon someone else’s Qadha (legally accepted judgement of Ulama that testimony of (Actual) Moon Sighting has been accepted)
  3. Correspondence between Qadhi (Judge) to another Qadhi
  4. Istifadha
  5. Radio, Television, Telephone, Letters, Faxes or other accepted means of communication

Procedure of establishing Islamic Month:

Batley Moon Sighting Committee (BMSC) have encapsulated these as eight (8) principles and these are as follows:

  1. Where the 1st of the Islamic Month is established in Saudi Arabia, Morocco and (South) Africa on the same day it should be adopted for United Kingdom, unless it contradicts (Islamic) principles or intellect  (to be adopted here)
  2. Train, provision and establish (committees of people) who establish (actual) Moon Sighting. They should be well versed in ideal sighting location as they change throughout the year
  3. If 29th is firmly established in British (as per principle 1, above) then announcement should be made
  4. If the Moon is not sighted on the 29th (of the Islamic Month) then the testimony can be obtained from other countries provided:
    1. They have the Islamic date as Britain
    2. Acting on the information must not make an Islamic Month have 28 or 31 days in Britain
    3. The Moon Sighting system should match or closely agree with principles of Moon Sighting in the Hanafi Madhab
    4. Members of the Moon Sighting committee should have trust in the information (being received)
  5. There should be a bilateral agreement with the countries from which the information is being received (in principle 4, above). Furthermore, these countries should have their own reliable and robust (local) Moon Sighting system and not rely on sighting from others
  6. The status of “news” received on the phone is the same as the letter. It should be conclusively established that the person on the phone is the same as being claimed. The person receiving the phone call must know the person on the other (end) and the information must be verified with others. This information should reach the status of reliability through verification by other means and then the announcement should be made.
  7. People must not rely on information (received) from other countries and make decisions. They should contact (local) Moon Sighting committee, provide all the (necessary) information and then reply upon the decision of the Moon Sighting committee
  8. Testimony of (those who sighted the Moon) can be rejected if it contradicts other external factors (e.g. the one providing the testimony may be honest but with  weak eyesight). Testimony of a Faasiq (sinner) can be accepted if it agrees with other external factors.

The timings to make a decision depend upon the Moon Sighting committee. Where information is not received from overseas, announcements will be made after completing 30 days for Eid. This is because caution is necessary for the completion of acts of worship (i.e. fasting in Ramadhan) versus months of non-fasting. Overseas information will be deliberated, consulted and relied upon after sunset in Britain (even during longer summer days).

Procedure for Ramadhan Announcement when Horizons are clear:

  1. When the horizons are clear, a large group (Jamm-e-Ghafeer) must testify to the sighting of the Moon so the Moon Sighting committee can reach a satisfactory conclusion.
  2. When the horizons are clear and there is no local sighting but a reliable and trustworthy Muslim man or woman reports sighting from an elevated vantage point (when the horizons are united), an announcement can be made if the Moon Sighting committee can reach a satisfactory conclusion.
  3. When the horizon is clear and there is no local sighting but a large body of Muslims come and testify from another location, an announcement can be made if the Moon Sighting committee can reach a satisfactory conclusion.

Procedure for Ramadhan Announcement when Horizons are not clear:

  1. Testimony of a single Baaligh (adult) Muslim man or woman regarding sighting will be accepted
  2. Testimonies of a two reliable and trustworthy Muslim men or women that so and so appeared in front of Muslim (Qadhi) in another location and Muslim (Qadhi) made a decision based on the testimony, in our presence
  3. Testimony of a single reliable and trustworthy Muslim that so and so sighted the Moon but he is unable to appear in front of the Moon Sighting committee, he has testified in front of me and I am witness
  4. Information about the decision of Moon Sighting Committee is relayed by mobile or telephone in such a way that the voice is recognized and the information s verified through other means
  5. Information from the Internet, Radio or TV about a country with which we have a bilateral agreement will be only be accepted when verified by established means.
  6. Reliable and verified information from those who sighted the Moon is communicated through various Radio stations (etc) when those who are sighted are identified or a representative of Muslim (Qadhi) or Moon Sighting Committee makes the announcement, an announcement can be made if the Moon Sighting committee can reach a satisfactory conclusion
  7. So many letters, faxes or phone calls come from a region that an overwhelming conclusion is reached that Moon was sighted.
  8. Moon Sighting committee sends a representative to another region and he comes back and testifies that Moon was sighted.
  9. Muslim (Qadhi), Mufti or representative of Moon Sighting Committee sends a letter to the head or member of Moon Sighting Committee (exclusively) and the authenticity of the letter is established.
  10. Muslim (Qadhi), Mufti or representative of another Moon Sighting Committee decides about the start of the Month at another location. A second Moon Sighting Committee which has a bilateral agreement with (the first) informs us (via phone or letter or any other reliable and trustworthy means) and it is reasonably established that the news is accurate and correct.

Procedure for Shawwal/Dhul-Hijjah Announcements when Horizons are clear:

  1. When the horizons are clear, a large group (Jamm-e-Ghafeer) must testify to the sighting of the Moon so the Moon Sighting committee can reach a satisfactory conclusion.
  2. When the horizons are clear and there is no local sighting but a report from another location is taken and the number (of those who have sighted) is large enough such that refutation is improbable, an announcement can be made if the Moon Sighting committee can reach a satisfactory conclusion.

Procedure for Shawwal/Dhul-Hijjah Announcements when Horizons are not clear:

  1. A report from another location is taken and the number (of those who have sighted) is large enough such that refutation is improbable, an announcement can be made if the Moon Sighting committee can reach a satisfactory conclusion.
  2. Testimonies of a two reliable and trustworthy Muslim men or a single reliable man and two reliable women using the word “Shahadah (testimony)” in front of Muslim (Qadhi).
  3. Testimonies of a two reliable and trustworthy Muslim men or a single reliable man and two reliable women (from another location) that Muslim (Qadhi) in another location made a decision after accepting testimonies
  4. Testimonies of a two reliable and trustworthy Muslim men or a single reliable man and two reliable women present their testimony to two reliable and trustworthy Muslim men or a single reliable man and the first appoint the second as their representatives and the second group presents the testimonies, provided that these testimonies are done separately and not collectively (in front of each other)
  5. Muslim (Qadhi), Mufti or representative of Moon Sighting Committee sends a letter to the head or member of Moon Sighting Committee (exclusively) and the authenticity of the letter is established by two reliable Muslims. The messengers who bring the letter can also be establish the authenticity of the letter
  6. A single reliable Muslim testifies (for himself) and two reliable Muslims testify on behalf of another Muslim
  7. Moon Sighting committee sends a representative to another region and he comes back and testifies that Moon was sighted.
  8. Telephonic news has the same status as letter i.e. authenticity needs to be established either via video link or webcam or any other method such as that it is established that voice is not being forged etc and the person is reliable and religious. In addition, other means of confirmation for example confirming directly with those who have sighted (the moon) or have heard about the sighting (directly) if the number of those who know about the sighting reaches a large number (such that authenticity of news is established), this news can be relied upon
  9. Reliable and verified information from those who sighted the Moon is communicated through various Radio stations (etc) when those who are sighted are identified or a representative of Muslim (Qadhi) or Moon Sighting Committee makes the announcement, an announcement can be made if the Moon Sighting committee can reach a satisfactory conclusion
  10. So many letters, faxes or phone calls come from a region that an overwhelming conclusion is reached that Moon was sighted
  11. Muslim (Qadhi), Mufti or representative of another Moon Sighting Committee decides about the start of the Month at another location. A second Moon Sighting Committee which has a bilateral agreement with (the first) informs us (via phone or letter or any other reliable and trustworthy means) and it is reasonably established that the news is accurate and correct and the one informing one is recognised

Procedure for Announcements for all other Months:

  1. Testimonies of a two reliable and trustworthy Muslim men or a single reliable man and two reliable women is sufficient whether the horizons are clear or not

Principles and Responsibilities of Members of Moon Sighting Committee

  1. Committee must consist of a minimum of 11 people
  2. Committee must consist of a people of Knowledge. If this is not possible at least 3 members should be people of knowledge and the rest must be wise and have sufficient grounding in basic Mas’ail (issues) of Deen
  3. Announcements must be made using specif words and rationale for the decision must be in the explanation
  4. All localities must have local Moon Sighting committees
  5. The function of local Moon Sighting committee should be to accept local Moon Sighting testimonies
  6. Moon Sighting committee meeting should be formal. The meeting should be presided by a (formal) chairperson and in his absence a chairperson should be appointed. He should be the Ameer and will make the final decision, and the announcement should be from him
  7. Moon Sighting committee meeting should at least have 7 members present when make decisions for Ramadhan, Shawwal and Dhul-Hijjah
  8. It is recommended that Moon Sighting committee meeting should at least have 5 members present when make decisions for all other months
  9. Moon Sighting committee members who are Non-Scholars shall have the right to give an opinion but final decision will be made by Scholars
  10. If the numbers of the Moon Sighting committee members decline then the the local Scholars will be given the right to select suitable members
  11. If the local Moon Sighting committee ceases to function the responsibilities should be passed to local Scholars
  12. If the local Moon Sighting committee rules need to be amended it can be done with consultation provided the principles (above) are not contradicted or violated
  13. Moon Sighting committee will be allowed to receive news from abroad (when required) provided the principles (above) are not contradicted or violated