Saturday, June 22, 2013

The Inadmissibility of Relying upon Astronomical Calculations to Confirm the Start of the Month of Ramadan

As-Salaamu Alaikum Wa Rahmatullah Wa Barakaatuhu
Question:
I have read a question and answer about the inadmissibility of relying upon astronomical calculations to confirm the start of the month and Baarakallahu Feekum. However one point remains that I would like to be explained. It is that some have taken the use of astronomical calculations to negate the validity of a moon sighting meaning that if the correct calculation states that the Hilaal (new moon) will not be born and then someone appears giving witness to having seen it, then they will not take his testimony and witness and consider that he has imagined something that he thought was the new moon and as a result his testimony is rejected. And I have read a story from the Islamic history about similar situations in which the testimony and witnessing was rejected. This is the opinion stated by the Imaam and Qaadi (Judge) Taqi ud Deen Ali Bin Abdul Kaafi As-Sabki Ad-Dimashqi (the author of the book: Al-Ibhaaj Fee Sharh Al-Minhaaj Fee Usool il Fiqh) and this opinion has been quoted along with some situations or incidents in his book: Al-Alam Al-Manthoor Fee Ithbaat Ash-Shohoor. And it has happened in preceding years that the astronomers have announced the new moon has not been born until sunset and then announced the confirmation of the beginning of the month in the evening of the same day. I ask you to benefit us in this matter, Baarakallahu Feekum and let the victory proceed upon your hands.
Answer:
Wa Alaikumu assalaam Wa Rahmatullahi Wa Barakaatuhu,
My previous answer about relying upon the (actual) sighting (of the new moon) and not relying upon astronomical calculations is clear and comprehensive in dealing with the Mas'alah (issue) by the permission of Allah. However you say that you have read this and as such I say:
Dear brother, in regards to the fasting and the breaking of fast then the evidences are clear in indicating that the Ru'yah (sighting) is the Sabab (cause) for the fasting (Sawm) and the breaking of the fast (Fitr):
((صُومُوا لِرُؤْيَتِهِ وَأَفْطِرُوا لِرُؤْيَتِهِ))
"Fast at its sighting and break the fast at its sighting."
This is just as we made clear in the answer that we issued previously.
As for the use of calculations for negation, then Allah (swt) has resolved this matter for us by making the witnessing of the month the Sabab (cause/reason) for the fasting and the Messenger of Allah (saw) has made clear to us that this witnessing is the Ru'yah (sighting)...
As for confirming the validity of the statement of the witnessing then this is the task of the Qaadi (Judge). Therefore he asks the witness and discusses with him and makes sure of the soundness of his eyesight and his vision in addition to those who were around him. I.e. he uses all that it is possible to confirm the validity of the testimony according to his human capabilities. And the story of that Qaadi (judge) who discussed with the witness after having given testimony to the sighting... Then the Judge through examination saw that the witness had a hair upon his eye and so he removed it and then asked the witness where the Hilaal (new moon) is, but he was no longer able to see it!
As for including the calculation into the subject of the birth of the month (new moon) or the non-birth of it, then the matter is not understood in this way. This is because we do not fast based upon the reality of the month but rather in accordance to its sighting and the Saheeh Ahaadeeth in regards to this are many including the Hadeeth recorded by Al-Bukhaari who said: Adam told us, Shu'bah told us that Muhammad bin Ziyaad said: We heard Abu Hurairah (ra) saying: The Prophet (saw) said, or (he said) Abul Qaasim (saw) said:
((صُومُوا لِرُؤْيَتِهِ وَأَفْطِرُوا لِرُؤْيَتِهِ، فَإِنْ غُبِّيَ عَلَيْكُمْ فَأَكْمِلُوا عِدَّةَ شَعْبَانَ ثَلاَثِينَ))
"Fast at its sighting and break the fast at its sighting and if it is obscured (from your sight) then complete thirty days of Sha'baan."
This means that the new moon could be present but it is concealed by the clouds so that we do not see it and as such we complete the period of thirty days.
Therefore my dear brother, it is obligatory to stop at the text which has specified the sighting.
In regards to this issue I am reminded of the story of that meeting which was held by the 'Islamic Conference' or the 'Ulamaa of Muslims' or something similar, in Morocco some years ago. In this meeting some suggested that they should fly on a plane in the thirtieth night so that it is possible to see the moon without the obscurity of the clouds and so that there would be no obstacle in the way that would prevent the sighting of the Hilaal (new moon)!
Verily Allah (swt) has put down Asbaab (reasons/causes) for the acts of Ibaadah (worship) so commit to them and we should not make the matter more complicated upon ourselves and as a result make it difficult. Allah (swt) has intended ease for us:
((يُرِيدُ اللَّهُ بِكُمُ الْيُسْرَ وَلَا يُرِيدُ بِكُمُ الْعُسْرَ))
"Allah intends ease for you and does not intend hardship for you."
And the ease comes through following the Shari'ah rules as presented in Islam.
Additionally there is another matter to be mentioned and that is that the astronomers differ in regards to the number of hours that need to pass by upon the birth of the new moon until it is seen after the sunset. As such it could be said according to calculations that it is not possible to see it or that it can be seen in this place but not another or that it could remain for two minutes here after the sunset whilst in another place it could remain for 15 minutes and so on...
Therefore involving calculations whether to affirm or negate the sighting of the new moon represents a complicating of matters that Allah (swt) has not commanded us with. Indeed, rather the texts are explicit and clear and do not accept alternative interpretation.
Your brother,
Ata Bin Khalil Abu Al-Rashtah
03 Shaban 1434 AH
12 June 2013 CE
The link to the answer from the Ameer's Facebook page:

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