Mufti Ebrahim Desai

Mufti Ebrahim Desai endroses Wifaqul Ulama Moon Sighting

Mufti Ebrahim Desai (DB) 1st Fatwa

If a moon is sighted in place A, what is the maximum distance for which this sighting is valid according to the Hanafi Madhab.  Please could you state the view of the Imam and his two famous students.


In the name of Allah, Most Gracious, Most Merciful

Assalaamu `alaykum waRahmatullahi Wabarakatuh

According to the madhab of Imam Abu Hanifa (Rahmatullah Alayhi), the preferred view is that the different horizons (ikhtilaf matali’) are not taken into consideration. Therefore, there is no maximum distance for the validity of the crescent sighting. If the crescent is sighted in one country then it is acceptable in another, no matter what the distance may be between the two. However, this is only valid with certain conditions and if certain procedures are followed.

If a country or location is unable to sight the crescent moon due to overcast skies, then the sighting of another country or location will be accepted only if the information is relayed through one of the following four methods:

  1. Shahadat ‘alar Ru’yah (شهادة على الرؤية) – two males, or one male and two females bear testimony that they have sighted the moon in their community or country, using the words أشهد, or the equivalent in their local language.
  2. Shahadat ‘ala Shahadat (شهادة على الشهادة) – two sane, mature Muslims bear witness that two sane, mature Muslims bore witness in front of them that they have sighted the crescent.
  3. Shahadat ‘alal Qadha  القضاء على شهادة – two sane, mature Muslims from another community or country bear witness that an official declaration was made by the muqtada (the leading scholars of the community) that the crescent has been sighted.
  4. Tawatur wa Istifadhah تواتر و استفاضة – many people from another community or country inform that the crescent has been sighted in their community or country; and the muqtada of the community or country are convinced that the crescent has been sighted in that community or country based on tawatur and istifadhah.

It is also important to note that if the crescent moon cannot be sighted in a location due to overcast skies, then it is not compulsory upon the people of that location to acquire information from other communities or countries. However, if the crescent has been sighted in another location and the information reaches a community which has not sighted the moon, then it will be incumbent upon the muqtada of that location to accept the news as long as the information is provided through one of the four abovementioned methods.

If the information of sighting is not relayed by one of the four methods, the sighting will not be regarded as valid.

Judging by the information that the different horizons are not taken into consideration in the Hanafi madhab, it may seem as if it is permissible to follow the sighting of . This would be acceptable if the proper method is used. However, it is a known fact that shahadat bir ru’yah or shahadat ‘ala shahadat are not the methods used in and their decisions are based on a pre-calculated method. The Hadith commands us to start the month of fasting after the actual sighting of the crescent, not mere calculations:

عن عبد الله بن عمر رضى الله عنهما أن رسول الله صلى الله عليه وسلم ذكر رمضان فقال « لا تصوموا حتى تروا الهلال ، ولا تفطروا حتى تروه ، فإن غم عليكم فاقدروا له » . رواه البخارى

It has been narrated on the authority of Abdullah ibn Umar (Radhiyallahu Anhuma) that Nabi (Sallallahu Alaihi Wasallam) said, “Do not fast until you have seen the crescent (of Ramadhan) and do not stop observing fasts until you have seen the crescent (of Shawwal); and if the skies are overcast, then complete the month”.

(Sahih al-Bukhari Vol.2 Pg.281 – Darul Fikr)

Due to the differences which exist in the present day Ummah, each country’s muqtada should make an independent decision based on the proper Shar’ee method.

May Allah Ta’ala give us guidance to follow all aspects of deen according to the methods prescribed by Shariah.

 قوله : ولا عبرة باختلاف المطالع  فإذا رآه أهل بلدة ، ولم يره أهل بلدة أخرى وجب عليهم أن يصوموا برؤية أولئك إذا ثبت عندهم بطريق موجب ، ويلزم أهل المشرق برؤية أهل المغرب

(Al Bahr Al Raiq Vol.2 Pg.270 – Maktabah Rasheediyah)

وإذا ثبت في مصر لزم سائر الناس فيلزم أهل المشرق برؤية أهل المغرب في ظاهر المذهب

(Fathul Qadeer Vol.2 Pg.243 – Maktabah Rasheediyah)

( واختلاف المطالع ) ورؤيته نهارا قبل الزوال وبعده ( غير معتبر على ) ظاهر ( المذهب ) وعليه أكثر المشايخ وعليه الفتوى بحر عن الخلاصة ( فيلزم أهل المشرق برؤية أهل المغرب ) إذا ثبت عندهم رؤية أولئك بطريق موجب كما مر ، وقال الزيلعي : الأشبه أنه يعتبر لكن قال الكمال : الأخذ بظاهر الرواية أحوط .

وإنما الخلاف في اعتبار اختلاف المطالع بمعنى أنه هل يجب على كل قوم اعتبار مطلعهم ، ولا يلزم أحد العمل بمطلع غيره أم لا يعتبر اختلافها بل يجب العمل بالأسبق رؤية حتى لو رئي في المشرق ليلة الجمعة ، وفي المغرب ليلة السبت وجب على أهل المغرب العمل بما رآه أهل المشرق ، فقيل بالأول واعتمده الزيلعي وصاحب الفيض ، وهو الصحيح عند الشافعية ؛ لأن كل قوم مخاطبون بما عندهم كما في أوقات الصلاة ، وأيده في الدرر بما مر من عدم وجوب العشاء والوتر على فاقد وقتهما وظاهر الرواية الثاني وهو المعتمد عندنا وعند المالكية والحنابلة لتعلق الخطاب عملا بمطلق الرؤية في حديث { صوموا لرؤيته } بخلاف أوقات الصلوات ، وتمام تقريره في رسالتنا المذكورة .

(Raddul Muhtar Vol.2 Pg.393 – H.M. Sa’eed Company)

(Fatawa Rahimiyya, Vol.7 Pg. 210-230 – Darul Isha’at)

And Allah knows best


Ml. Asif Umar,
Student Darul Iftaa

Checked and Approved (with following comments):

Alhamdulillah, the wifaq-ul-ulama of the and many other senior ulama of the have agreed that following Saudi sighting is incorrect. A positive step has been taken to rectify the wrong.

Mufti Ebrahim Desai
Darul Iftaa, Madrassah In’aamiyyah

Mufti Ebrahim Desai (DB) 2nd Fatwa


  1. Have you studied closely the criteria of Wifaqul Ulama london, and Rabetatul Ulama Batley?
  2. If so, do you agree with them?
  3. Decision to follow South Africa’s ru’yat in the event of no sighting in UK, even with no imkaane ru’yat in UK according to astronomic calculation, seems not sound, though we follow global horizon in such an event. Thus we have celebrated last Ramadhan and Eidain well off the imakaane ru’yat. is this proper?


In the name of Allah, Most Gracious, Most Merciful

Assalaamu `alaykum waRahmatullahi Wabarakatuh

  1. I have studied the criteria of moon-sighting by Wifaqul Ulama and Rabetatul Ulama.
  2. I agree with the criteria.

In principle, if the crescent has been sighted anywhere in the world and that is reliably communicated then that information is valid in Shariah. It follows, if the crescent was sighted in South Africa, it will be sufficient for the UK. Imkanee  Ru’yat by astronomical calculation is used merely as a guide and by no means is the Sharia criteria for sighting. Furthermore, on the basis of not following Ikhtilafe Matalih, there is no need for Imkanee Ru’yat only in UK.

And Allah Ta’ala Knows Best

Wassalamu Alaykum

Mufti Ebrahim Desai
Darul Iftaa, Madrassah In’aamiyyah

Mufti Ebrahim Desai (DB) Clarification on South Africa

Q:) How many Ulama are there in the moon sighting committee?

There are three main organizations in South Africa that are looked upon and revered by the Muslim public, namely : Jamiatul Ulama Kwa Zulu Natal, Jamiatul Ulama Transvaal, and Muslim Judicial Council in Capetown. All these three organizations have a coordinated system regarding the hilal sighting. Each one of this three have their own Hilal Committees and coordinate with the other committees around the country. Alhamdulillah, every month the committee from each province goes out in search for a Hilal. What ever is the outcome, it is communicated to their constituencies and the other committees.

Q:) Are there local committees or a country wide committee?

Ref to #1

Q:) Is the effort made to sight the moon every month?

Yes. Ref. to #1

Q:)  Do you use the knowledge of astronomy? If so to what extent?

There are certain aspects of astronomy that are absolute. (Qat’i) and certain aspects of astronomy are Dhanni. I have elaborated on this in previous articles. The general position is that astronomical data is persuasive but not conclusive. Ru’yiat is ultimately necessary.

Q:) Once a decision has been made, are all the communities united throughout S.Africa?

Yes. Ref. to #1

Q:) Do you accept the moon declarations of neighboring countries?

According to Zahirur Riwayat , Ikhtilaf e Mtalae’ is not considered. Therefore as a principle sighting from the neighboring countries could be accepted, however due to poor infrastructures and coordination in these neighboring countries UUCSA (United Ulama Council of South Africa) has put a Moratorium on this until a sound structure is put in place. However the neighboring countries do accept our sighting due to our sound system and structure.

Q:)  Are the declarations for each month based on actual sighting?


And Allah knows best


Mufti Ebrahim Desai

Darul Iftaa,