South Africa Moon Sighting

Why does Wifaqul Ulama rely on Moon Sighting from South Africa?

(Qari) Muhammad Shoyaib Nurgat

Ques­tion: Please explain as to why Wifaqul Ula­ma relies on Moon Sight­ing from South Africa?

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 and in the most direct man­ner, Moon Sight­ing from South Africa in cer­tain cir­cum­stances and under cer­tain con­di­tions is accept­able to the Schol­ars Wifaqul Ula­ma. This was wide­ly dis­cussed, scru­ti­nised and approved by oth­er Ula­ma. The accept­abil­i­ty of South African Moon Sight­ing for British Mus­lims was endorsed by Darul-uloom Deoband in 2007. This was part of our cri­te­ria from the very begin­ning from cir­ca 2006, onwards.

Local vs Global Sighting?

Shaykhul-Islam (Mufti) Taqi Usmani (DB) explains that errors come from mis­un­der­stand­ing the con­cept of glob­al Moon Sight­ing. He explains:

Peo­ple gen­er­al­ly tend to believe that if a place is fur­ther (in dis­tance) it should be con­sid­ered “glob­al” and if it is clos­er it should be con­sid­ered “local” with regards to Moon Sight­ing. This is not true. The fact is that the new Moon vis­i­bil­i­ty is in an arc (as opposed to a straight line). Areas which are with­in the arc will be able to sight the Moon and areas which are out­side of the arc will not be able to see it. Dis­tance between the two points is not the pri­ma­ry fac­tor here but whether the two points (of obser­va­tion) are with­in the arc of vis­i­bil­i­ty are of pri­ma­ry con­sid­er­a­tion. Imag­ine that this desk of mine is a pro­jec­tion of a map and now imag­ine an arc (of Moon Sight­ing prob­a­bil­i­ty). Some­times peo­ple stand­ing at two dif­fer­ent (and oppo­site) ends of the desk may be inside the arc of vis­i­bil­i­ty while at oth­er times they may not be.

To illus­trate the point of Shaykhul-Islam (Mufti) Taqi Usmani (DB) and demon­strate the arc of vis­i­bil­i­ty, please take a look at Moon Sight­ing pos­si­bil­i­ty for Ramad­han 1438 on the evening of Fri­day, 26th of May 2017. In this sce­nario, tes­ti­mo­ny from both Moroc­co and South Africa is rel­e­vant and accept­able to British Mus­lims because the Cres­cent is present on the British horizon.

There is no objec­tion to British Mus­lims accept­ing cred­i­ble sight­ing from Moroc­co which is not local to Britain. South Africa also falls under the gen­er­al cat­e­go­ry of “glob­al Sight­ing” when con­sid­ered from Unit­ed King­dom. Both are not in Europe but in the con­tent of Africa.

There may be times when Moon will be present on British hori­zon but not present on South African hori­zon and vice ver­sa. Moon Sight­ing tes­ti­mo­ny from both Moroc­co and South Africa needs to be thor­ough­ly inves­ti­gat­ed before accep­tance and its appli­ca­tion scru­ti­nised for Mus­lims of Unit­ed King­dom. These tes­ti­monies are not sim­ply tak­en at face val­ue and by default and applied with­out due delib­er­a­tion and consideration.

There have been times when Wifaqul Ula­ma has accept­ed the Moon Sight­ing tes­ti­monies from South Africa and there have been times when Ula­ma have not applied the Moon Sight­ing tes­ti­monies from South Africa.

Prac­ti­cal­ly, we have looked at the Moon Sight­ing sys­tems preva­lent in many parts of Africa and apart from Moroc­co, there are many coun­tries which either don’t have an inde­pen­dent ver­i­fi­able sys­tem or rely on South Africa (for some months). In such cir­cum­stances, it makes sense to go to the source. There may be coun­tries with inde­pen­dent ver­i­fi­able Moon Sight­ing sys­tems in place in Africa but we have not been able to forge an agree­ment which will enable us to receive the infor­ma­tion in a trust­ed and cred­i­ble man­ner, yet.

As it stands, we are sat­is­fied with accept­ing Moon Sight­ing tes­ti­monies from South Africa. This has also been dis­cussed (in depth) and agreed by oth­er Ula­ma. We have exten­sive con­tacts with South African Schol­ars and have dis­cussed these mat­ters with them in per­son and in writ­ing. I invite you to care­ful­ly read and con­sid­er the infor­ma­tion pro­vid­ed to us by South African Ula­ma and the endorse­ment by Darul-uloom Deoband.

We will con­tin­ue to expand our rela­tion­ship and forge alliances with oth­er Mus­lims. Our Moon Sight­ing cri­te­ria is also not set in stone and it is sub­ject to revi­sion and amend­ments (as reviewed by Scholars).

  1. Darul-uloom Deoband
  2. Mufti Rad­hal Haq (gen­er­al agreement)
  3. Mufti Ebrahim Desai (Approval of Wifaqul Ula­ma agreement)


جزاك اللهُ خيرًا