Fatwa: # 20
Category: Misc. Fiqh
Country: Other Country/Island
Date: 27th August 2000

Title

Moon Sighting Announcements in Saudi Arabia Valid?

Question

I am writing this letter to you with regards to the controversy surrounding the sighting of the crescent moon over Saudi Arabia on Friday 18 December 1998 and the subsequent commencement of the month of Ramadan in mosques throughout England. My question is: Can such a sighting be acceptable in the face of astronomical data which suggested that on Friday 18 December 1998 the crescent was invisible due to the Sun, earth and moon lying in one plane? The data also suggested that the earliest possible sighting was on Saturday 19 December 1998.

Answer

I+have+gone+through+the+article+of+ISNA+and+with+the+utmost+respect+for+their+sentiment+for+Muslim+unity%2C+I+am+forced+to+say+that+the+view+expressed+in+the+article+%28Eid+al-Adha+on+next+day+of+Arafat%29+is+in+total+disagreement+with+the+teachings+of+Quran+and+Sunnah%2C+and+with+the+Shari%27ah+position+recognized+throughout+the+centuries.+This+is+an+unprecedented+view+which+has+never+been+adopted+by+any+of+the+Muslim+jurists+during+the+past+1400+years%2C+and+it+has+a+number+of+intrinsic+defects+and+anomalies%2C+some+of+which+are+summarized+here.+%0D%0A%0D%0AThe+article+admits+that+the+celebration+of+Eid+al-Fitr+should+be+tied+to+the+sighting+of+the+moon+in+each+country+and+should+not+be+linked+with+the+celebration+of+Eid+al-Fitr+in+Saudi+Arabia.+At+the+same+time%2C+however%2C+the+article+calls+for+celebration+of+Eid+al-Adha+according+to+the+Saudi+Calendar+regardless+of+the+local+dates%2C+which+means+Eid+al-Adha+will+be+celebrated+in+North+America+on+8th+or+9th+of+Zul-Hajjah.+It+is+thus+clear+that+the+theory+proposed+in+ISNA%27s+article+is+impractical.%0D%0A%0D%0AThe+article+has+laid+much+emphasis+on+the+concept+of+unity+of+the+Muslim+Ummah%2C+which+no+one+can+deny.+At+the+same+time%2C+however%2C+one+must+appreciate+that+unity+does+not+mean+that+the+entire+Muslim+Ummah+throughout+the+world+should+perform+their+acts+of+worship+at+one+and+the+same+time%2C+because+it+is+physically+not+possible.+It+is+evident+that+when+people+in+Saudi+Arabia+are+performing+their+Fajr+prayers%2C+those+in+North+America+may+still+have+not+completed+their+Isha+prayers+of+the+previous+day.+Similarly%2C+when+Muslims+in+Los+Angeles+offer+their+Fajr+prayers%2C+those+in+India+and+Pakistan+are+offering+their+Maghrib+or+Isha+prayer+of+the+same+day.%0D%0A%0D%0AIf+it+is+made+obligatory+on+all+the+Muslims+in+the+world+to+offer+their+acts+of+worship+at+one+and+the+same+time+for+the+sake+of+unity%2C+such+unity+can+never+materialize+%28because+of+the+time+differences%29.+It+is%2C+therefore%2C+obvious+that+offering+one%27s+acts+of+worship+at+different+times+do+not+affect+the+concept+of+Muslim+Unity.+%0D%0AWhat+does+the+Muslim+unity+mean%3F+%0D%0A%0D%0AIt+means+that+all+Muslims+should+treat+each+other+with+brotherly+sympathy+and+affection+and+should+not+spread+disorder+and+dissention+among+them.+Nor+should+they+invent+new+ideas+foreign+to+the+teachings+of+Quran+and+the+Sunnah+which+may+lead+to+division+and+conflict+among+Muslims.+%0D%0A%0D%0AIt+is+also+astonishing+that+the+article+views+the+celebration+of+Eid+al-Adha+on+different+days+as+being+against+the+concept+of+Ummah+while+in+the+matter+of+celebration+of+Eid+ai-Fitr%2C+this+concept+is+dispensed+with.+If+the+celebration+of+Eid+al-Fitr+on+different+days+does+not+affect+the+concept+of+unity%2C+how+can+it+be+said+to+harm+unity+in+the+case+of+Eid+al-Adha.%0D%0A%0D%0A%0D%0AIt+is+true+that+Eid+al-Adha+falls+immediately+after+the+day+of+Arafat+in+Saudi+Arabia%2C+but+it+is+not+necessary+that+the+Muslims+in+every+country+should+follow+the+same+dates+in+their+respective+areas.+Hajj%2C+no+doubt%2C+is+tied+with+a+particular+place+but+the+celebration+of+Eid+al-Adha+is+not+confined+to+that+place+alone.+It+is+celebrated+everywhere+in+the+world+and+cannot+be+tied+to+the+Saudi+calendar.%0D%0A%0D%0AThe+article+admits+that+the+celebration+of+Eid+al-Adha+in+other+countries+was+never+linked+with+its+celebration+in+Saudi+Arabia+throughout+the+past+14+centuries.+This%2C+the+author%27s+claim+was+because+of+a+lack+of+communication+facilities.+With+vastly+improved+communication+today%2C+they+argued+that+everyone+almost+anywhere+can+find+out+the+day+of+Hajj%2C+and+should+celebrate+Eid+al-Adha+based+on+Saudi+calendar.+%0D%0AThere+is+a+clear+admission+in+this+argument+that+it+is+not+obligatory+according+to+Quran+or+the+Sunnah+to+celebrate+Eid+al-Adha+according+to+Saudi+calendar.+Had+this+been+so%2C+Muslims+would+have+tried+their+best+to+find+the+exact+date+of+Hajj+in+Saudi+Arabia.+It+is+not+correct+to+say+that+it+was+not+possible+in+those+days+for+people+living+outside+Saudi+Arabia+to+know+the+exact+date+of+Hajj%2C+because+this+date+is+normally+determined+on+the+first+night+of+Zul-Hijjah.+There+is+a+nine+day+period+until+which+is+more+than+sufficient+to+acquire+this+information.+However%2C+no+jurists+has+ever+stressed+that+such+information+be+collected+in+order+to+celebrate+Eid+al-Adha+according+to+Saudi+dates.+%0D%0A%0D%0AFurther%2C+if+the+argument+of+the+article+is+accepted+and+it+is+held+that+the+real+intention+of+Quran+and+Sunnah+was+to+link+the+celebration+of+Eid+al-Adha+with+the+Saudi+dates%2C+as+a+mandatory+provision+for+all+Muslims+in+the+world%2C+it+means+that+the+Shari%27ah+has+stressed+a+principle+which+was+not+acceptable+for+1300+years.+It+is+not+against+the+Quranic+declaration+that+Allah+does+not+make+a+thing+mandatory+unless+it+is+practical+for+the+human+beings.+%0D%0A%0D%0AIf+the+authors+argue+that+the+celebration+of+Eid+al-Adha+was+not+linked+with+the+dates+in+Makkah+in+the+past+but+it+has+become+a+mandatory+requirement+of+the+Shari%27ah+now%2C+then+the+question+arises%2C+who+has+abrogated+the+previous+principle+and+on+what+basis%3F+There+is+no+provision+in+Quran+or+the+Sunnah+which+orders+the+Muslims+to+celebrate+Eid+al-Adha+according+to+their+local+dates+up+to+a+particular+time+and+to+link+it+with+the+dates+in+Makkah+thereafter.+Whoever+considers+this+and+similar+questions+arising+out+of+this+unprecedented+theory+advanced+in+the+article+can+appreciate+its+fallacy.%0D%0A%0D%0A%0D%0AFinally%2C+I+would+like+to+inform+you+that+the+question+of+sighting+the+moon+for+each+lunar+month+including+Zul-Hijjah+was+thoroughly+discussed+at+the+annual+sessions+of+the+Islamic+Fiqh+Academy+%28held+in+Jordan%2C+October+11-16%2C+1986%29+attended+by+more+than+a+hundred+outstanding+scholars+of+Shari%27ah.+The+academy+adopted+the+resolution+recommended+that+all+Muslim+countries+should+determine+all+the+lunar+months+including+Zul-Hijjah+on+the+same+basis+for+both+Eid+al-Fitr+as+well+as+Eid+al-Adha.+%0D%0AThis+resolution+represents+the+consensus+of+Muslim+jurists+throughout+the+world.+The+proposal+contained+in+the+ISNA+article%2C+however%2C+goes+totally+against+this+consensus.+%0D%0A%0D%0ABefore+parting+with+the+subject%2C+I+would+like+to+emphasize+that+such+unprecedented+proposals+can+never+advance+the+cause+of+Muslim+unity.+Rather%2C+they+may+create+a+new+point+of+disunity+and+dissention+among+Muslims.+Before+venturing+such+opinions+as+definite+%27Fatwa%27%2C+these+should+be+discussed+at+some+responsible+international+forum+of+contemporary+Muslim+jurists+like+the+International+Islamic+Fiqh+Academy+in+Jeddah.+%0D%0A%0D%0ABy+Mufti+Taqi+Usmani%0D%0A%0D%0A%0D%0A

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