Fatwa: # 45303
Category: Jurisprudence and Rulings...
Country: African Country
Date: 22nd May 2020

Title

Local Moonsighting

Question

LOCAL MOONSIGHTING

Answer

The present situation  

The Hilal Committee has been established since the early 80’s to serve and guide the Muslims. Until only recently, most masajid in and around Toronto were affiliated with the Hilal Committee. The Hilal Committee does not include the pacific time zone in their parameters.  

   

Around 2015, the Crescent Committee was formed with the goal of uniting the Muslims of North America by adopting the opinion of global moonsighting.  This division created further divide within the community.  

After the demise of Maulana Khalil Soofi (rahmatullahi alaihi), administrators from various masajid, who were then members of the Hilal Committee, requested the Hilal Committee to explore the option of expanding Hilal Committee’s parameters to global. The Hilal Committee administration created a Ulema Taskforce of thirty-two individuals to come to a conclusion and report to the Hilal Committee. It is our understanding that several meetings took place in which a conclusion satisfactory to all members was not reached. Thus, the members were split into two groups, the original Hilal Committee, and a new-found Hilal Council. The Hilal Council adopted the opinion of global moonsighting.  

   

In 2019, both the Hilal Council and the Crescent Committee reached an understanding on their principles and merged. Both mutually agreed that taking a sighting from a part of the world, where astronomic data suggested otherwise, would have to corroborated with a similar sighting in close proximity to be accepted. However, some of the members of the Crescent Committee were dissatisfied.  This then led to the formation of another group called the Crescent Council. The Crescent Council adheres to global moonsighting as well. They accept both naked eye sightings and optical aid sightings, and they accept  the testimony and declarations from any reliable Muslim organization, moon sighting committee, Islamic judiciary council of any Muslim country that has declared the sighting of the first moon, without consideration of astronomical data.  

   

This is our understanding of the history of the different committees after having consulted with the Ulema of Toronto and referring to the information available on the websites of the different councils/committees.[i]  

   

Most recently, the Hilal Committee began their Ramadhan on Saturday the 25th of April, while the majority of Muslims in North America began on the 24th. The Hilal Committee did not accept the moon which was sighted in California since it was outside its parameters.  

   

The issue of local and global moonsighting  

Academic honesty requires one to acknowledge that the discussion of local and global moonsighting is a valid difference within the Hanafi school. We can summarise the opinions found in the madhab into three:  

   

  1. Local moonsighting. Every region will independently seek to sight the moon. The sighting of another region will not be taken into consideration, regardless of proximity. This is the view adopted by most Muslim countries, such as Saudi Arabia, India, Pakistan, etc. This is also the view of the ulema of South Africa.  
  2. Global moonsighting. The sighting of the moon in any region will suffice for the entire world. This is the opinion of various Hanafi jurists, such as Faqih Abu Layth Samarqandi, Hakim As-Shaheed, Qadi Khan (Rahimahullah)[ii] and others. Furthermore, it is the view of many of the akabirin of Deoband.  
  3. The sighting of the moon of a country in “close proximity” will be taken into consideration. However, that of far distance will not be taken into consideration. The criteria in determining what is considered far and close will be determined through ‘urf. This category also falls under the ambit of local moonsighting. This is the opinion of some Hanafi jurists, such as  Allamah Zayla’i, Allamah Kasaani and others.[iii] From the akabir of Deoband, it is the view of Allamah Shabir Ahmed Uthmani, Mufti Shafi Uthmani, Maulana Yusuf Banuri, and others. At present, we understand that the Hilal Committee adheres to this interpretation of local moonsighting.[iv]  

While it is understood that both local and global moonsighting are valid opinions, a thorough study of the various texts in the Hanafi madhab reveals that the dominant opinion in the madhab is the view of global moonsighting. The view of global moonsighting has been attributed to Imam Abu Yusuf (Imam Abu Hanifa’s most senior student), as recorded by Hakim As-Shahid in Muntaqa.[v] Furthermore, early jurists such as Abu Layth Samarqandi (d.373) and Abu Bakr Jassas Razi (d.370) have also adopted this view without any restriction on distance. [vi]  

   

Moreover, from the ulema of Deoband, great ulema, such as Hakimul Ummah Maulana Ashraf Ali Thanvi, Mufti Mahmood Hasan Gangohi, Mufti Kifayatullah Dehlawi, Mufti Abdur Rahim Lajpuri, (rahimahumullah) Mufti Ahmed Khanpuri (hafizahullah) and others, have all emphatically stated that the most sound opinion in the Hanafi madhab is that of global sighting.[vii]  

   

We understand that many other ulema have opined to the contrary. However, this does not have to come at the cost of declaring the view of global moonsighting as incorrect or against the sunnah.  Either view may be adopted if a committee wishes to do so.[viii]  

   

Our input and advice  

While most countries that follow the view of local moonsighting limit their region of sighting to their borders, Hilal Committee also takes countries of similar time zones into consideration. This then warrants us to explore what the jurists intended by not considering different matla’. Allamah Shabir Ahmad Uthmani (Rahimahullah) states:  

نعم فينبغي ان يعتبر اختلافها ان لزم منه التفاوت بين البلدتبن بأكثر من يوم واحد لأن النصوص مصرحة بكون الشهر تسعة وعشرين أو ثلاثين فلا تقبل الشهادة ولا يعمل بهما فيما دون اقل العدد ولا ازيد من اكثره  

   

Translation: Yes, Iktilaful Matali should be taken into consideration, if accepting a sighting from another country causes a difference of a day or more. This is because the texts are clear that a month will either be twenty-nine or thirty days. Thus, a sighting will not be accepted or be acted upon in the event that it decreases the month below its minimum or increases the month beyond its maximum.  

   

Mufti Radha ul Haq (Hafizahullah) writes in Fatawa Darul Uloom Zakariyya: 

 

نیز اختلاف المطالع کا اعتبار نہ کرنے میں یہ بھی ایک نقص ہے کہ اگر جنوبی افریقہ میں چاند دیکھا جائے تو آسٹریلیا میں فجر کا وقت قریب ہوگا یا بعض ممالک میں فجر ہوچکی ہوگی تو کیا فجر تک چاند کا انتظار کریں گے یا روزہ رکھنے کے بعد اس کو تورڈیں گے، ہان پاکستان انڈیا اور عربی ممالک کا اتحاد رویت میں ممکن اور آسان ہے،۔۔۔۔۔

تو چاند کا مسئلہ افریقیہ اور یورپ اور ہندوستان پاکستان سے لیکر مغرب تک حل ہوسکتا ہے

 

Translation: Thus, another deficiency in global moonsighting is that if the moon is sighted in South Africa, it will be close to Fajr time in Australia or Fajr may have entered in other countries. Should these countries continue to seek the moon until fajr, or should they break their fasts after fajr? Yes, the case is different for countries such as India, Pakistan, and the arab nations in which considering their sighting region as one is possible. Thus, the issue of the moon can be resolved for countries in Africa, Europe, India, Pakistan, and countries further west (through global sighting).

 

From the above two texts we can understand that global moonsighting will not be taken into consideration in two scenarios. First, if accepting a sighting from another country would necessitate a shorter or longer month. For example, if a country sighted the moon when it was still the 28th night in Canada. Secondly, if accepting a sighting from another country would cause one to change their decision after Fajr has entered. For example, Bangladesh and Canada share a ten-hour time difference. If the moon is sighted in Canada at 9 P.M, the news would reach Bangladesh at 7 A.M.

 

Applying this to Canadian context, the first point can easily be applied. Furthermore, both the Hilal Council and the Crescent Council, who are proponents of global moonsighting, ensure that the month is not less than twenty-nine days and not more than thirty days.

As for the second point, this does not apply to Canada, as North America is among the last places on earth that sees the sun set. Hence, they would not wait for any other countries after them to sight the moon.

 

We understand that the Hilal Committee may wish to remain with their current interpretation of local moonsighting. In that case, we strongly suggest and advise the Hilal Committee reconsider their parameters to include the pacific time zone. Such an inclusion will be a means of bringing unity among the Muslims of North America, as both the Central Hilal Committee and Chicago Hilal, both based in America, include the pacific time zone in their parameters. We have explained above that global moonsighting is a valid opinion in the madhab. Thus, the flexibility in adopting the view of global moonsighting grants more flexibility for the Hilal Committee to increase their present parameters.

 

It has become evident that the arrangement of one’s parameters is an issue that is reached through ‘urf and ijtihad. Thus, if the Hilal Committee would like to set their parameters according to local sighting, the question arises as to what is meant by local?  Does it refer to one’s local city, as in Toronto? Does it refer to the local area, as in the Greater Toronto Area? Does it refer to the local province, as in Ontario? Does it refer to the local country? Does it refer to the local contiguous continent? Does it refer to the local time zone, as in the Eastern Standard Time?

 

If the Hilal Committee wishes to follow what the majority of the Muslim countries have adopted, then it would have been sensible to limit their parameter to Canada. However, when the Hilal Committee already takes multiple countries into consideration, we request the Hilal Committee to reconsider their parameters. Extending the parameters to include zones that experience sunset 90 minutes after the eastern time zone is counter intuitive and against any intuitive understanding of local.

 

We understand that making late declarations can be problematic for masjid administrations. However, this is merely an inconvenience that does not have justification from a shar’i point of view.  The unity of the Muslims should be strongly considered, and such inconveniences should be tolerated for the benefit of uniting the Muslims.

 

We hope and make du’a that Almightly Allah unites the hearts of the Muslims and brings them on common cause. 

 

And Allah Ta’āla Knows Best

Mirza-Zain Baig

Student - Darul Iftaa

Montréal, Québec, Canada

Checked and Approved by,

Mufti Ebrahim Desai.

 

 

Sent from Mail for Windows 10

 



[ii]

الفتاوى الهندية (1/ 198)

وَلَا عِبْرَةَ لِاخْتِلَافِ الْمَطَالِعِ فِي ظَاهِرِ الرِّوَايَةِ كَذَا فِي فَتَاوَى قَاضِي خَانْ.

وَعَلَيْهِ فَتْوَى الْفَقِيهِ أَبِي اللَّيْثِ وَبِهِ كَانَ يُفْتِي شَمْسُ الْأَئِمَّةِ الْحَلْوَانِيُّ

 

 

[iii]

تبيين الحقائق شرح كنز الدقائق وحاشية الشلبي (1/ 321)

قال - رحمه الله - (ولا عبرة باختلاف المطالع) وقيل يعتبر ومعناه أنه إذا رأى الهلال أهل بلد ولم يره أهل بلدة أخرى يجب أن يصوموا برؤية أولئك كيفما كان على قول من قال لا عبرة باختلاف المطالع وعلى قول من اعتبره ينظر فإن كان بينهما تقارب بحيث لا تختلف المطالع يجب وإن كان بحيث تختلف لا يجب وأكثر المشايخ على أنه لا يعتبر حتى إذا صام أهل بلدة ثلاثين يوما وأهل بلدة أخرى تسعة وعشرين يوما يجب عليهم قضاء يوم والأشبه أن يعتبر لأن كل قوم مخاطبون بما عندهم وانفصال الهلال عن شعاع الشمس يختلف باختلاف الأقطار كما أن دخول الوقت وخروجه يختلف باختلاف الأقطار حتى إذا زالت الشمس في المشرق لا يلزم منه أن تزول في المغرب

وكذا طلوع الفجر وغروب الشمس بل كلما تحركت الشمس درجة فتلك طلوع فجر لقوم وطلوع شمس لآخرين وغروب لبعض ونصف ليل لغيرهم وروي أن أبا موسى الضرير الفقيه صاحب المختصر قدم الإسكندرية فسئل عمن صعد على منارة الإسكندرية فيرى الشمس بزمان طويل بعدما غربت عندهم في البلد أيحل له أن يفطر فقال لا ويحل لأهل البلد لأن كلا مخاطب بما عنده والدليل على اعتبار المطالع ما روي عن كريب أن أم الفضل بعثته إلى معاوية بالشام فقال فقدمت الشام وقضيت حاجتها واستهل علي شهر رمضان وأنا بالشام فرأيت الهلال ليلة الجمعة ثم قدمت المدينة في آخر الشهر فسألني عبد الله بن عباس ثم ذكر الهلال فقال متى رأيتم الهلال فقلت رأيناه ليلة الجمعة فقال أنت رأيته فقلت نعم ورآه الناس وصاموا وصام معاوية فقال لكنا رأيناه ليلة السبت فلا نزال نصوم حتى نكمل ثلاثين أو نراه فقلت أولا نكتفي برؤية معاوية وصيامه فقال لا هكذا أمرنا رسول الله - صلى الله عليه وسلم - قال في المنتقى رواه الجماعة إلا البخاري وابن ماجه

 

بدائع الصنائع في ترتيب الشرائع (2/ 83)

هذا إذا كانت المسافة بين البلدين قريبة لا تختلف فيها المطالع، فأما إذا كانت بعيدة فلا يلزم أحد البلدين حكم الآخر لأن مطالع البلاد عند المسافة الفاحشة تختلف فيعتبر في أهل كل بلد مطالع بلدهم دون البلد الآخر.

 

[iv]

فتاوى دار العلوم زكريا:زمزم: 4: 266-244

[v]

الاختيار لتعليل المختار (1/ 129)

(فإذا ثبت في بلد لزم جميع الناس، ولا اعتبار باختلاف المطالع) هكذا ذكره قاضيخان. قال: وهو ظاهر الرواية، ونقله عن شمس الأئمة السرخسي ; وقيل: يختلف باختلاف المطالع. وذكر في الفتاوى الحسامية: إذا صام أهل مصر ثلاثين يوما برؤية، وأهل مصر آخر تسعة وعشرين يوما برؤية فعليهم قضاء يوم، إن كان بين المصرين قرب بحيث تتحد المطالع، وإن كانت بعيدة بحيث تختلف لا يلزم أحد المصرين حكم الآخر. وذكر في المنتقى عن أبي يوسف: يجب عليهم 

 

(1:313) خزانة الأكمل

من المنتقى..وعن أبي يوسف:صام أهل بلد ثلاثين يوم للرؤية وصام أهل بلد آخر تسعة وعشرين للرؤية ثم علموا به قضوا يوما

[vi]

الفتاوى الهندية - ط. دار الفكر (1/ 198)

ولا عبرة لاختلاف المطالع في ظاهر الرواية كذا في فتاوى قاضي خان وعليه فتوى الفقيه أبي الليث وبه كان يفتي شمس الأئمة الحلواني

 

أحكام القرآن للجصاص ت قمحاوي (1/ 275)

قَوْلَهُ صَلَّى اللَّهُ عَلَيْهِ وَسَلَّمَ صُومُوا لِرُؤْيَتِهِ وَأَفْطِرُوا لِرُؤْيَتِهِ

عَامٌّ فِي أَهْل سَائِرِ الْآفَاقِ وَأَنَّهُ غَيْرُ مَخْصُوصٍ بِأَهْلِ بَلَدٍ دُونَ غَيْرِهِمْ وَإِذَا كَانَ كَذَلِكَ فَمِنْ حَيْثُ وَجَبَ اعْتِبَارُ رُؤْيَةِ أَهْلِ بَلَدٍ فِي الصَّوْمِ وَالْإِفْطَارِ وَجَبَ اعْتِبَارُ رُؤْيَةِ غَيْرِهِمْ أَيْضًا فَإِذَا صَامُوا لِلرُّؤْيَةِ تِسْعَةً وَعِشْرِينَ يَوْمًا وَقَدْ صَامَ غَيْرُهُمْ أَيْضًا لِلرُّؤْيَةِ ثَلَاثِينَ فَعَلَى هَؤُلَاءِ قَضَاءُ يَوْمٍ لِوُجُودِ الرُّؤْيَةِ مِنْهُمْ بِمَا يُوجِبُ صَوْمَ ثَلَاثِينَ يَوْمًا

 

[vii]

امداد الفتاوى: دار الإشاعات: 2:138

فتاوى محمودية:جامعة فاروق:10:112

كفاية المفتي:دار الإشاعات:4:221

فتاوى رحيمية: دار الإشاعات: 6:228

محمود الفتاوى:مكتبة محمودية:4:144

 

[viii]

Global Sighting in the Madhhab, Darul Iftaa Chicago, 2019

 
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