Saudi Moonsighting and Saudi Scholars

Why not follow Saudi Arabia in UK for Ramadhan and Eidain?

(Qari) Muhammad Shoyaib Nurgat

(Maulana) Yousuf Baig

Ques­tion: The Sau­di Moon­sight­ing is cor­rect accord­ing to their (Sau­di) schol­ars and their prin­ci­ples so why isn’t it adopt­ed by Wifaqul Ula­ma for Britain? Why do you insist on eval­u­at­ing their Moon­sight­ing accord­ing to your (Hanafi) principles?

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 we don’t deem it nec­es­sary to fol­low Moon­sight­ing from Saudia in Unit­ed King­dom because there is an estab­lished month­ly sys­tem already in exis­tence in Britain. Their opin­ion is for coun­tries to sight the Moon local­ly. There­fore, accord­ing to their own prin­ci­ples we find your sug­ges­tion to be incon­sis­tent. We find it puz­zling that you would rec­om­mend fol­low­ing Sau­di schol­ars but then advise fol­low­ing Sau­di Moon­sight­ing. The advice of Sau­di schol­ars is to fol­low local sight­ing or coun­try clos­est to Britain. Sau­di Ara­bia is nei­ther local nor clos­est to Unit­ed King­dom. Fur­ther­more, you seem to be rec­om­mend­ing for us to fol­low Sau­di Moon­sight­ing for 3 months and then fol­low some oth­er sys­tem for 9 months, why is that? What should be done for the oth­er 9 months? What are your prin­ci­ples for rec­om­mend­ing a mixed sys­tem when we have a per­fect­ly valid (actu­al) Moon­sight­ing sys­tem for all 12 months?

Moonsighting principle:

Per­haps, decades ago when there was no estab­lished Moon­sight­ing sys­tem in Britain it was need­ed to fol­low Sau­di Ara­bia. At present, when we have actu­al sight­ing based (month­ly) sys­tem we find no rea­son to adopt the Sau­di sys­tem. Please note that we are not dis­cussing the cred­i­bil­i­ty of the Sau­di Moon­sight­ing as it is for the Sau­di schol­ars to decide. We are argu­ing that it is not need­ed for Britain. 

The fun­da­men­tal prin­ci­ple is to sight the Moon as it is stat­ed in the case of Ramad­han and Eid, but this can be extrap­o­lat­ed and applied to all 12 months.

حدثنا آدم، حدثنا شعبة، حدثنا محمد بن زياد، قال سمعت أبا هريرة ـ رضى الله عنه ـ يقول قال النبي صلى الله عليه وسلم أو قال قال أبو القاسم صلى الله عليه وسلم ‏”‏ صوموا لرؤيته، وأفطروا لرؤيته، فإن غبي عليكم فأكملوا عدة شعبان ثلاثين ‏”

Sayyid­i­na Abu Huraira (RA) nar­rat­ed that the Mes­sen­ger of Allah (Sal­la­ho Alai­he Was­sal­lam) made a men­tion of the new moon and (in this con­nec­tion) said: Observe fast when you see it (the new moon) and break fast when you see it (the new moon of Shaww­al), but when (the actu­al posi­tion of the month is) con­cealed from you (on account of cloudy sky), then count thir­ty days. [Mus­lim]

Moon Sighting of Makkah and it’s legal Status:

Shaykh Abdul Aziz ibn Abdullah ibn Baz (RA)

فأما قول من قال إنه ينبغي أن يكون المعتبر رؤية هلال مكة خاصة ، فلا أصل له ولا دليل عليه

As for those who say that it is nec­es­sary to fol­low the sight­ing of Makkah, then let it be known to them, that there is no proof or basis for this in the Qur’aan and Hadith”. (Sheikh Abdul­lah bin Baz RA AlBa’ath ul Islaaa­mi Zil Hij­jah 1399 Hijri).

Shaykh Salih al-Uthaymeen (RA)

Shaykh (RA) was asked about those who call for the ummah to be unit­ed in fast­ing and for the moon sight­ing to be based on its sight­ing in Makkah. He said:

هذا من الناحية الفلكية مستحيل ؛ لأن مطالع الهلال كما قال شيخ الإسلام ابن تيمية رحمه الله تختلف باتفاق أهل المعرفة بهذا العلم ، وإذا كانت تختلف فإن مقتضى الدليل الأثري والنظري أن يجعل لكل بلد حكمه

This is impos­si­ble from an astro­nom­i­cal point of view, because the sight­ing of the new moon, as Shaykh al-Islam Ibn Taymiyah said, dif­fers, accord­ing to the sci­en­tists who are well-versed in this field. Because it dif­fers, then each coun­try should have its own rul­ing, accord­ing to the reports and accord­ing to science.

Shaykh Saud Al-Shuraim (Imam of Makkah)- Friday Khutbah on 22nd of July 2011:

The sheikh said sight­ing the moon is estab­lished in the Sharia, and this prin­ci­ple does not pre­clude ben­e­fit­ing from mod­ern sci­ence and tech­nol­o­gy as these do not vio­late the prin­ci­ple nor con­tra­dict it. Exam­ples of this include the usage of binoc­u­lars and math­e­mat­i­cal cal­cu­la­tions which assist in real­is­ing the sight­ing of the moon, or tahqeeq al-ru’yah. By this means, con­flict­ing points of view can be uni­fied and dis­pu­ta­tion less­ened. He then quot­ed the fol­low­ing Hadeeth from Saheeh Mus­lim in favour of fol­low­ing local sighting:

عَنْ كُرَيْبٍ أَنَّ أُمَّ الْفَضْلِ بِنْتَ الْحَارِثِ بَعَثَتْهُ إِلَى مُعَاوِيَةَ بِالشَّامِ قَالَ فَقَدِمْتُ الشَّامَ فَقَضَيْتُ حَاجَتَهَا وَاسْتُهِلَّ عَلَيَّ رَمَضَانُ وَأَنَا بِالشَّامِ فَرَأَيْتُ الْهِلَالَ لَيْلَةَ الْجُمُعَةِ ثُمَّ قَدِمْتُ الْمَدِينَةَ فِي آخِرِ الشَّهْرِ فَسَأَلَنِي عَبْدُ اللَّهِ بْنُ عَبَّاسٍ رَضِيَ اللَّهُ عَنْهُمَا ثُمَّ ذَكَرَ الْهِلَالَ فَقَالَ مَتَى رَأَيْتُمْ الْهِلَالَ فَقُلْتُ رَأَيْنَاهُ لَيْلَةَ الْجُمُعَةِ فَقَالَ أَنْتَ رَأَيْتَهُ فَقُلْتُ نَعَمْ وَرَآهُ النَّاسُ وَصَامُوا وَصَامَ مُعَاوِيَةُ فَقَالَ لَكِنَّا رَأَيْنَاهُ لَيْلَةَ السَّبْتِ فَلَا نَزَالُ نَصُومُ حَتَّى نُكْمِلَ ثَلَاثِينَ أَوْ نَرَاهُ فَقُلْتُ أَوَ لَا تَكْتَفِي بِرُؤْيَةِ مُعَاوِيَةَ وَصِيَامِهِ فَقَالَ لَا هَكَذَا أَمَرَنَا رَسُولُ اللَّهِ صَلَّى اللَّهُ عَلَيْهِ وَسَلَّمَ وَشَكَّ يَحْيَى بْنُ يَحْيَى فِي نَكْتَفِي أَوْ تَكْتَفِي

Kuraib (RA) report­ed that Umm Fadl (RA) [daugh­ter of Harith] sent him (Fadl, i.e. her son) to Sayyid­i­na Mu’awiya (RA) in Syr­ia. Fadl said: I arrived in Syr­ia, and did the need­ful for her. It was in Syr­ia that the month of Ramadhān com­menced. I saw the new moon (of Ramadhān) on Fri­day. I then came back to Mad­i­na at the end of the month. Sayyid­i­na Abdul­lah Ibn ‘Abbas (RA) asked me (about the new moon of Ramadhān) and said:  When did you see it? I said: We saw it on the night of Fri­day. He said: (Did) you see it your­self? I said: Yes, and the peo­ple also saw it and they observed fast and Mu’awiya also observed fast, where­upon he said: But we saw it on Sat­ur­day night. So we would con­tin­ue to observe fast till we com­plete thir­ty (days) or we see it (the new moon of Shaww­al). I said: Is the sight­ing of the moon by Mu’awiya not valid for you? He said: No, this is how the Mes­sen­ger of Allah ﷺ has com­mand­ed us. [Mus­lim]


Saudi Scholars advising British Muslims

You have allud­ed that the Sau­di Moon­sight­ing is appro­pri­ate, cor­rect and valid accord­ing to their prin­ci­ples but you seem to have missed that they clear­ly calls for (local) Moon­sight­ing to be estab­lished and it is their pre­ferred opin­ion.  They state that just like sun­rise, sun­set times dif­fer for a loca­tion, so does Moonsighting. 

Shaykh Muham­mad ibn al Uthaymeen (RA) writes:

والصواب أنه يختلف باختلاف المطالع ، فمثلا إذا كان الهلال قد رؤي بمكة ، وكان هذا اليوم هو اليوم التاسع ، ورؤي في بلد آخر قبل مكة بيوم وكان يوم عرفة عندهم اليوم العاشر فإنه لا يجوز لهم أن يصوموا هذا اليوم لأنه يوم عيد ، وكذلك لو قدر أنه تأخرت الرؤية عن مكة وكان اليوم التاسع في مكة هو الثامن عندهم ، فإنهم يصومون يوم التاسع عندهم الموافق ليوم العاشر في مكة ، هذا هو القول الراجح ، لأن النبي صلى الله عليه وسلم يقول ( إذا رأيتموه فصوموا وإذا رأيتموه فأفطروا ) وهؤلاء الذين لم ير في جهتهم لم يكونوا يرونه ، وكما أن الناس بالإجماع يعتبرون طلوع الفجر وغروب الشمس في كل منطقة بحسبها ، فكذلك التوقيت الشهري يكون كالتوقيت اليومي . [ مجموع الفتاوى 20 ] 

The cor­rect view is that it varies accord­ing to when the moon ris­es in dif­fer­ent places. For exam­ple, if the moon is sight­ed in Makkah, and today is the ninth, and it is sight­ed else­where one day before Makkah, and the day of ‘Arafah in Makkah is the tenth for them, it is not per­mis­si­ble for them to fast on this day because it is Eid. Sim­i­lar­ly if it so hap­pens that they sight the moon after Makkah, and the 9th in Makkah is the 8th for them, then they should fast the day that is the 9th for them, which is the 10th in Makkah. This is the cor­rect view, because the Prophet (peace and bless­ings of Allaah be upon him) said: “When you see it (the new moon) fast and when you see it break your fast.” Those who did not see the moon in their own loca­tion have not seen it. Just as peo­ple are unan­i­mous­ly agreed that the times for dawn and sun­set vary accord­ing to their own loca­tion, so too the months are also worked out by loca­tion, just like the dai­ly tim­ings. [Maj­moo’ al-Fataawa, 20.]

Sau­di schol­ars then come go a step fur­ther and cat­e­gor­i­cal­ly state that Mus­lims in Britain should sight the moon (in Unit­ed King­dom) or fol­low the coun­try clos­est to them.

وإذا كان المسلمون في بريطانيا يتحرون الهلال ، فعلى المسلمين هناك التقيد برؤيتهم ، وإلا فبرؤية أقرب البلدان إليهم

If the Mus­lims in Britain have sight­ed the new moon, then the Mus­lims in that coun­try should fol­low their sight­ing, oth­er­wise they should fol­low the sight­ing of the coun­try clos­est to them.

Saudi Mufti: Fasting on day of Arafah is local

In the fol­low­ing response, a Mufti from Sau­di Ara­bia direct­ly responds to and answers that the fast­ing on the day of Arafah should be done accord­ing to local Moonsighting.

Ummul-Qura declarations

The Ummul-Qura Cal­en­dar is meant to be for civ­il pur­pose and it is based on the birth of the new Moon and not sight­ing (pos­si­bil­i­ty).

The cal­cu­la­tions of the Um Al-Qura cal­en­dar are based on the terms set by the dis­tin­guished Coun­cil of min­is­ters, which adopt the loca­tion of the Holy Kaabah as the ref­er­ence for all cal­cu­la­tions, and require con­junc­tion to occur pri­or to sun­set (moon­set occur after sun­set) as con­di­tions for the birth of the new lunar month. The Um Al-Qura cal­en­dar is both the for­mal and civ­il cal­en­dar of the King­dom, but it may not match the actu­al vis­i­bil­i­ty of the cres­cent which is nec­es­sary to start the reli­gious months.

There are two prac­ti­cal prob­lems with start of Islam­ic months in Sau­di Ara­bia which are oth­er than Ramad­han, Shaww­al, Dhul-Hij­jah etc.

  1. There are no dec­la­ra­tions for most of the year by the Sau­di Gov­ern­ment. There is no proof of such announce­ments. It was also con­firmed by Dr Zaki Al-Mustafa in 2015.
  2. The dec­la­ra­tions of a Qad­hi need to con­veyed in a spe­cif­ic man­ner as it is not just news which can broad­cast. When the Sau­di Gov­ern­ment begins to make offi­cial dec­la­ra­tions then those dec­la­ra­tions will need to reach British Mus­lims in a man­ner which is accept­able in Islam­ic legislation. 

Monthly Moonsighting in Britain:

For­mal­ly, this is the 11th year (run­ning) where Wifaqul Ula­ma has attempt­ed to and announced the start of Islam­ic months based on Moon­sight­ing. Data for the past 5 years is pub­licly avail­able on our site as follows: 

  1. 1440
  2. 1439
  3. 1438
  4. 1437
  5. 1436
  6. 1435
  7. 1434
  8. 1433
  9. 1432
  10. 1431
  11. 1430
  12. 1429
  13. 1428

Infor­mal­ly, the sys­tem for Moon­sight­ing in Britain has exist­ed for much longer. 

جزاك اللهُ خيرًا