Moonsighting is after sunset

Why wait till sunset for Moonsighting?

(Qari) Muhammad Shoyaib Nurgat

(Maulana) Yousuf Baig

Question: Why does Wifaqul Ulama try to sight the Moon after sunset? Why can’t you sight it during the day?

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 according to the principles of Islam, it is a communal obligation to sight the the Crescent. Sighting of the new Moon is only possible (with the naked eye and/or conventional optical Aids) after sunset. It is not possible before the sunset because the sun is too bright. Moonsighting during the day has no basis or foundations in Islamic Law and it is to be disregarded and rejected for the establishment of Ramadhan, Shawwal etc.

The discussions in the books of Fiqh pertain to the circumstances when and if the Moon is sighted before sunset. It should not be twisted and taken out of context to mean that Moon should be sighted before sunset or deliberate attempts to be made to sight the Moon before sunset.

Practise of the Sahabah (RA):

عَنْ أَبِي وَائِلٍ ، قَالَ : ” أَتَانَا كِتَابُ عُمَرَ وَنَحْنُ بِخَانقِينَ ؛ أَنَّ الأَهِلَّةَ بَعْضُهَا أَكْبَرُ مِنْ بَعْضٍ ، فَإِذَا رَأَيْتُمَ الْهِلاَلَ نَهَارًا فَلاَ تُفْطِرُوا ، حَتَّى يَشْهَدَ رَجُلاَنِ مُسْلِمَانِ أَنَّهُمَا رَأَيَاهُ بِالأَمْسِ

Sayyiduna Abu Waa’il (RA) said: A letter came to us from Sayyiduna ‘Umar (RA) when we were in Khaaniqeen, saying: Some new moons are bigger than others, so if you see the new moon during the day, do not break the fast, unless two Muslim men testify that they had seen it the night before [Musnad Ibn Abi Shaybah]

عن سالم بن عبد الله بن عُمَرَ: ” أَنَّ نَاسًا رَأَوْا هِلَالَ الْفِطْرِ نَهَارًا ، فَأَتَمَّ عَبْدُ اللَّهِ بْنُ عُمَرَ رَضِيَ اللَّهُ عَنْهُمَا صِيَامَهُ إلَى اللَّيْلِ ، وَقَالَ: “لاَ ، حَتَّى يُرَى مِنْ حَيْثُ يُرَى بِاللَّيْلِ”

Sayyiduna Saalim ibn ‘Abdullah ibn ‘Umar (RA) narrates that some people saw the new moon of (Eid) al-Fitr during the day, but Sayyiduna ‘Abdullah ibn ‘Umar (RA) continued his fast until the night, and he said: No, not until it is seen when it is usually seen, at night. [Bayhaqi]

Hanafi Madhab:

Allamah Ibn Abideen (RA) writes in Radd al-Muhtar ala ad-Dur al-Mukhtar:

وَلَيْسَ كَوْنُهُ لِلْمُسْتَقْبَلَةِ ثَابِتًا بِرُؤْيَتِهِ نَهَارًا ؛ لِأَنَّهُ لَا عِبْرَةَ عِنْدَهُمَا [أبو حنيفة وصاحبه محمد بن الحسن] بِرُؤْيَتِهِ نَهَارًا ، وَإِنَّمَا ثَبَتَ بِإِكْمَالِ الْعِدَّةِ ؛ لِأَنَّ الْخِلَافَ ـ عَلَى مَا صَرَّحَ بِهِ فِي الْبَدَائِعِ وَالْفَتْحِ ـ إنَّمَا هُوَ فِي رُؤْيَتِهِ يَوْمَ الشَّكِّ ، وَهُوَ يَوْمُ الثَّلَاثِينَ مِنْ شَعْبَانَ أَوْ مِنْ رَمَضَانَ.
فَإِذَا كَانَ يَوْمُ الْجُمُعَةِ الْمَذْكُورِ يَوْمَ الثَّلَاثِينَ مِنْ الشَّهْرِ ، وَرُئِيَ فِيهِ الْهِلَالُ نَهَارًا ، فَعِنْدَ أَبِي يُوسُفَ : ذَلِكَ الْيَوْمُ أَوَّلُ الشَّهْرِ ، وَعِنْدَهُمَا : لَا عِبْرَةَ بِهَذِهِ الرُّؤْيَةِ ، وَيَكُونُ أَوَّلُ الشَّهْرِ يَوْمَ السَّبْتِ ، سَوَاءٌ وُجِدَتْ هَذِهِ الرُّؤْيَةُ ، أَوْ لَا؛ لِأَنَّ الشَّهْرَ لَا يَزِيدُ عَلَى الثَّلَاثِينَ ، فَلَمْ تُفِدْ هَذِهِ الرُّؤْيَةُ شَيْئًا .
وَحِينَئِذٍ ؛ فَقَوْلُهُمْ : هُوَ لِلَّيْلَةِ الْمُسْتَقْبَلَةِ ؛ عِنْدَهُمَا : بَيَانٌ لِلْوَاقِعِ، وَتَصْرِيحٌ بِمُخَالَفَةِ الْقَوْلِ بِأَنَّهُ لِلْمَاضِيَةِ، فَلَا مُنَافَاةَ حِينَئِذٍ بَيْنَ قَوْلِهِمْ هُوَ لِلْمُسْتَقْبَلَةِ عِنْدَهُمَا ، وَقَوْلِهِمْ لَا عِبْرَةَ بِرُؤْيَتِهِ نَهَارًا عِنْدَهُمَا ، وَإِنَّمَا كَانَ الْخِلَافُ فِي رُؤْيَتِهِ يَوْمَ الشَّكِّ، وَهُوَ يَوْمُ الثَّلَاثِينَ؛ لِأَنَّ رُؤْيَتَهُ يَوْمَ التَّاسِعِ وَالْعِشْرِينَ : لَمْ يَقُلْ أَحَدٌ فِيهَا إنَّهُ لِلْمَاضِيَةِ ، لِئَلَّا يَلْزَمَ أَنْ يَكُونَ الشَّهْرُ ثَمَانِيَةً وَعِشْرِينَ ، كَمَا نَصَّ عَلَيْهِ بَعْضُ الْمُحَقِّقِينَ

The fact that it is sighted during the day does not definitely mean that it belongs to the coming night, because sighting of the new moon during the day does not count in their view [namely Abu Haneefah (RA) and his companion Muhammad ibn al-Hasan (RA)]. Rather it is proven by the completion of the number of days (of the month), because the difference of opinion – according to what is clearly stated in al-Badaa’i‘ and al-Fath – has to do only with sighting of the new moon on the day of doubt, which is the thirtieth day of Sha‘baan or Ramadan. If the Friday mentioned was the thirtieth day of the month, and the new moon was sighted during the day, then according to Abu Yusuf (RA) that day is the first of the month, but according to them [Abu Haneefah (RA) and his companion Muhammad ibn al-Hasan (RA)] this sighting is of no significance, and the first day of the month is Saturday, whether the new moon is sighted during the day or not, because the month cannot be more than thirty days. So this sighting does not affect anything. In that case, their saying that this sighting belongs to the coming night, in their view, is simply stating the obvious reality and is a statement on their part that they differ with the view that it belongs to the previous night. In that case, there is no contradiction between their statement that it belongs to the coming night and their statement that sighting it during the day is of no significance. Rather the difference of opinion has to do with sighting it on the day of doubt, which is the thirtieth day of the month, because if it is sighted on the twenty-ninth, no one says that it belongs to the previous night, because that would imply that the month has twenty-eight days, as was stated by some of the scholars.

وما نقلناه من هذه النصوص دال على ما قلناه من أن قولهم أنه للليلة المقبلة بمعنى أنه ليس للليلة الماضية لا بمعنى أنا نثبت دخول الشهر بهذه الرؤية وإلا ناقض قولهم لا أثر لرؤيته نهارا على أن الكلام فى رؤيته يوم الثلاثين من شعبان أو رمضان ولا شك أن الليلة التى بعده تكون من الشهر الآخر سواء رؤى نهارا أو لا وَإِذَا رَأَوْا الْهِلَالَ قَبْلَ الزَّوَالِ أَوْ بَعْدَهُ : لَا يُصَامُ بِهِ وَلَا يُفْطَرُ

Allamah Ibn Abideen (RA) states, “The texts we have quoted indicate what we have stated that their statement ‘It (the moon) belongs to the following night’ means it does not belong to the previous night. It does not mean we establish the starting of the month with this sighting (of the moon i.e. before sunset) except that we oppose their view as no athar regarding it’s visibility during the day exists as the issue regarding it’s visibility is for the 30th day of Sha’ban and/or Ramadhan. And there is no doubt that the night after it is from the following month whether the (moon) was seen during the day or not”

It is stated in Fatawa Alamgiri “If they see the new moon before or after the meridian, they should not fast or break the fast on that basis”

وقد صرحت أئمة المذاهب الأربعة : بأن الصحيح أنه لا عبرة بروية الهلال نهاراً ، وإنما المعتبر برويته ليلاً

Maulana Abdul Hayy Lucknawi (RA) states that The imams of the four madhhabs clearly stated that the correct view is that sighting of the new moon during the day does not count; rather what counts is sighting it at night.

هُوَ الَّذِي جَعَلَ الشَّمْسَ ضِيَاءً وَالْقَمَرَ نُورًا وَقَدَّرَهُ مَنَازِلَ لِتَعْلَمُوا عَدَدَ السِّنِينَ وَالْحِسَابَ مَا خَلَقَ اللَّهُ ذَلِكَ إِلا بِالْحَقِّ

قال أبو الحسنات اللكنوي : ” فدل ذلك على أن القمر إنما هو آية الليل لا آية النهار ، فلا عبرة برؤيته بالنهار، وأن كونه مواقيت للناس والحج والصيام وغيرها ، وعلم عدد السنين والحساب وغيرها إنما هو إذا طلع في الليلة ، لا في غيرها

Maulana Abdul Hayy Lucknawi (RA) states:

[10:5] It is He who made the sun a shining light and the moon a derived light and determined for it phases – that you may know the number of years and account [of time]. Allah has not created this except in truth. He details the signs for a people who know

This indicates that the moon is indeed the sign of the night, and not the sign of the day, so sighting it during the day is of no significance. It also indicates that the new moons are signs to mark fixed periods of time for mankind and for the pilgrimage, fasting and so on, and to know the number of years and the reckoning and the like. But this is only when it rises during the night, and not otherwise.

Maliki Madhab:

حكم التماس الهلال
يفترض على المسلمين فرض كفاية أن يلتمسوا الهلال في غروب اليوم التاسع والعشرين من شعبان ورمضان حتى يتبينوا أمر صومهم وإفطارهم، ولم يخالف في هذا سوى الحنابلة فقالوا: إن التماس الهلال مندوب لا واجب؛ ولا يخفى أن رأي غيرهم هو المعقول، لأن صيام رمضان من أركان الدين؛ وقد علق على رؤية الهلال فكيف يكون طلب الهلال مندوباً فقط، وإذا رئي الهلال نهاراً قبل الزوال أو بعده وجب صوم اليوم الذي يليه إذا كانت الرؤية في آخر شعبان، ووجب إفطار اليوم الذي يليه إن كان آخر رمضان، ولا يجب عند رؤية الهلال الإمساك في الصورة الأولى، ولا الإفطار في الثانية، وهذا الحكم عند المالكية، والحنفية، وخالف الشافعية، والحنابلة؛ فانظر مذهبهم تحت الخط

Abd al-Raĥmān Ibn Muĥammad `Awađ al-Jazīrī (RA) writes in Al-Fiqh `Alā al-Madhāhib al-Arba`ah:

Injunction of seeking the Crescent:

It is taken that it is Fardhal-Kifaayah (communal obligation) upon the believers that they make arrangements to seek the crescent at the sunset on the 29th of Sha’baan and Ramadhan until the matter of fasting and the cessation of fasting (i.e. Eidul-Fit’r) becomes clear to them. Nobody has disagreed with (this position) except the Hanabliah (i.e. the Hanbalees). They say that the seeking of the crescent is praiseworthy and not an obligation. It is clear that the opinion of others (non-Hanbalees) makes much more sense. It is because fasting (during Ramadhan) is from the pillar of the religion and (the fasting) is dependent upon the sighting of the crescent so how can it be praiseworthy (only)? And if they (Muslims) were to sight the crescent during the day (before the Zawal or after the Zawal) then it would become compulsory for them to fast on the day linked to it if the sighting was on the last day of Sha’baan. Likewise if the crescent was sighted (during the day) on the last day of Ramadhan then it will be obligated to end the fast (i.e. celebrate Eidul-Fitr). It will not be an obligation to start fasting in the first set of circumstances nor will it be binding to end fasting in the second set of circumstances and it is the ruling according to the Malikees and the Hanafees while the Shaf’aes and the Hanbaless oppose it.

الشافعية، والحنابلة قالوا: إن رؤية الهلال نهاراً لا عبرة بها، وإنما المعتبر رؤيته بعد الغروب

Abd al-Raĥmān Ibn Muĥammad `Awađ al-Jazīrī (RA) writes in Al-Fiqh `Alā al-Madhāhib al-Arba`ah, “The Shafaes and the Hanbalees say that sighting of the crescent during the day has no consequence and the consequantial sighting is only after the sunset.

Shaf’ae Madhab:

وَأَمَّا إذَا رُئِيَ يَوْمَ التَّاسِعِ وَالْعِشْرِينَ وَلَمْ يُرَ لَيْلًا : فَلَا قَائِلَ بِأَنَّهُ يَتَرَتَّبُ عَلَى رُؤْيَتِهِ أَثَرُهَا ، فَبَانَ أَنَّهُ لَا أَثَرَ لِرُؤْيَتِهِ نَهَارًا

Imam Shamsud-Deen Ramli Ash-Shaf’ae (RA) states, “If it is seen on the day of the twenty-ninth, but it was not seen at night, then there is no scholar who says that seeing it during the day is of any significance. Therefore it is clear that sighting it during the day has no consequences.”

إذا رئي -الهلال- نهاراً فهو لليلة المستقبلة، فإن كان ذلك يوم الثلاثين من شعبان لم يصوموا، وإن كان يوم الثلاثين من رمضان لم يفطروا، وسواء كان ذلك قبل الزوال أو بعده هذا هو المشهور في المذاهب الأربعة، وحكي عن عمر وابن مسعود وابن عمر وأنس والأوزاعي والليث بن سعد وإسحاق بن راهويه. وذهب سفيان الثوري وأبو يوسف وبعض المالكية إلى أنه إن رئي قبل الزوال فهو لليلة الماضية وهو رواية عن أحمد وبه قال ابن حزم الظاهري

Hafidh Al-Iraqi (RA) states, “If the Moon is sighted during the day then it it is of the coming night. If it is the 30th of Shabaan, they will not fast. If it is of the 30th of Ramadan, they will not break their fast whether this (takes place) before or after zawal. This is the widely accepted opinion in the four Madhabs and has been narrated from Umar (RA), Ibn Masood (RA), Ibn Umar (RA), Anas (RA), Auzai (RA), Layth bin Sad (RA) and Ishaq bin Rahwai(RA). Sufyan Thawri (RA), Abu Yusuf (RA) and Some of the Malikiyya have taken the stance that if it (the moon) is sighted before zawal then it belongs to the previous night. Such an opinion has been transmitted from Imam Ahmed (RA)and is the opinion of Ibn Hazm Dhahiri (RA)”

قال النووي: ” وَلَوْ بَدَأَ خُسُوفُهُ بَعْدَ طُلُوعِ الشَّمْسِ : لَمْ يُصَلِّ ، بِلَا خِلَافٍ [يعني : في المذهب]

Imam Nawawi (RA) states, “If the lunar eclipse begins after sunrise, then (the eclipse prayer) should not be offered, and there is no difference of opinion concerning that (in our madhhab)”

وقال أبو إسحاق الشيرازي : ” لا يتعلق الصوم والفطر إلا بما نراه بعد الغروب

Imam Shirazi (RA) states, “Fasting and breaking the fast are not connected to anything except what we see after sunset.”

وقال شمس الدين الرملي : “وَأَمَّا إذَا رُئِيَ يَوْمَ التَّاسِعِ وَالْعِشْرِينَ وَلَمْ يُرَ لَيْلًا : فَلَا قَائِلَ بِأَنَّهُ يَتَرَتَّبُ عَلَى رُؤْيَتِهِ أَثَرُهَا ، فَبَانَ أَنَّهُ لَا أَثَرَ لِرُؤْيَتِهِ نَهَارًا

Imam Shamsuddeen Ramli (RA) states, “If it is seen on the day of the twenty-ninth, but it was not seen at night, then there is no scholar who says that seeing it during the day is of any significance. Therefore it is clear that sighting it during the day has no consequences.”

الشافعية، والحنابلة قالوا: إن رؤية الهلال نهاراً لا عبرة بها، وإنما المعتبر رؤيته بعد الغروب

Abd al-Raĥmān Ibn Muĥammad `Awađ al-Jazīrī (RA) writes in Al-Fiqh `Alā al-Madhāhib al-Arba`ah, “The Shafaes and the Hanbalees say that sighting of the crescent during the day has no consequence and the consequantial sighting is only after the sunset.

Hanbali Madhab:

Imam Ibn Qudamah (RA) writes in Al-Mughni

مَسْأَلَةٌ : قَالَ : ( وَإِذَا رُئِيَ الْهِلَالُ نَهَارًا ، قَبْلَ الزَّوَالِ أَوْ بَعْدَهُ ، فَهُوَ لِلَّيْلَةِ الْمُقْبِلَةِ ) وَجُمْلَةُ ذَلِكَ أَنَّ الْمَشْهُورَ عَنْ أَحْمَدَ ، أَنَّ الْهِلَالَ إذَا رُئِيَ نَهَارًا قَبْلَ الزَّوَالِ أَوْ بَعْدَهُ ، وَكَانَ ذَلِكَ فِي آخِرِ رَمَضَان ، لَمْ يُفْطِرُوا بِرُؤْيَتِهِ . وَهَذَا قَوْلُ عُمَرَ ، وَابْنِ مَسْعُودٍ ، وَابْنِ عُمَرَ ، وَأَنَسٍ ، وَالْأَوْزَاعِيِّ ، وَمَالِكٍ ، وَاللَّيْثِ ، وَالشَّافِعِيِّ ، وَإِسْحَاقَ ، وَأَبِي حَنِيفَةَ

 

And when the crescent is sighted during the day, before or after the meridian, it belongs to the previous night. There is a famous statement from (Imam) Ahmed (RA) that when the crescent is sighted during the day, before or after the meridian and this occurs towards the end of Ramadhan then don’t discontinue fasting (i.e. end Ramadhan) due to it and this is the statement of Sayyiduna Umar (RA), Sayyiduna Ibn Masud (RA), Sayyiduna Anas (RA), (Imam) Auzai (RA), (Imam) Malik (RA), (Imam) Laith (RA), (Imam) Shaf’ae (RA), (Imam) Ishaq (RA) and (Imam) Abu Haneefa (RA).

الشافعية، والحنابلة قالوا: إن رؤية الهلال نهاراً لا عبرة بها، وإنما المعتبر رؤيته بعد الغروب

Abd al-Raĥmān Ibn Muĥammad `Awađ al-Jazīrī (RA) writes in Al-Fiqh `Alā al-Madhāhib al-Arba`ah, “The Shafaes and the Hanbalees say that sighting of the crescent during the day has no consequence and the consequantial sighting is only after the sunset.

وقال الشيخ ابن عثيمين : ” دخول الشهر لا يكون إلا حيث يرى الهلال بعد غروب الشمس متأخراً عنها

Shaykh Uthaymeen (RA) states, “The beginning of the month can only be when the new moon is seen after sunset, following it.”

(New) Crescent Visibility:

Abdurrahman ÖZLEM (2014) states, “The earliest visibility of a waxing crescent occurs just after sunset, whereas the latest visibility of a vaning crescent is observed just before sunrise.”

Acknowledgement: Some of the Arabic text and English translation has been taken from islamqa.info and modified.

جزاك اللهُ خيرًا