Moon Sighting: Simplifying the Controversy
Ramadhan is almost passed and Eid is almost upon us, and with it the issue of sighting of the moon rises once again. Here are a few thoughts to simplify the issue for those who feel confused about the Islamic rules related to it:
Rasool Allah (saw) said:
صُومُوا لِرُؤْيَتِهِ ، وَأَفْطِرُوا لِرُؤْيَتِهِ ، فَإِنْ غُمَّ عَلَيْكُمْ فَأَكْمِلُوا الْعِدَّةَ ثَلاثِينَ
"Fast when you see it, and break your fast when you see it, and if it clouds over, then complete the count to thirty." [Al-Bukhari]
This Hadith has two possible meanings: a) Fast when you or someone in your region sees it, so each region fasts separately from each other region, or b) everyone on earth should fast when anyone on earth sees it, as long as you can communicate the message that the new moon was sighted.
[Note: there is absolutely no Shar'iee basis to follow a specific country, and anyone who tells you to follow a nation-state country, such as Saudi or Pakistan or otherwise, is ignorant of the topic and ignorant of the Deen. Either you fast based on a regional sighting at the location of where you are at the time of sighting, or you fast based on one sighting for all Muslims around the globe according to the sighting of a trustworthy Muslim on earth].
Which one of the two opinions is correct?
1- Three of the four schools (Malikis, Hanbalis, Hanafis, as well as even some of the Shafi'iees) said a single sighting anywhere on earth is a sighting for the whole world, while most Shafi'iees held the opinion of separate regional sightings.
I think that the reason the Shafi'iees held the opinion of separate regional sightings was simply due to them not knowing that the earth is a small globe, and everyone lives within the same 24-hour period, and that the Hilal remains a Hilal no matter where you are standing on earth, even if you are floating in outer space. This is unlike the sun, where the time of Salat is affected drastically depending on where you stand on earth, even being affected by simple elevation changes.
2- The Hadith is clearly speaking to the entire Ummah (صوموا), and not to an individual (صوم). We know that when Rasool Allah (saw) speaks in plural, he is speaking to the whole Ummah unless there is an evidence to indicate otherwise.
The Hadith can be re-translated as: "All of you fast when anyone sees it, and all of you break your fast when anyone sees it, and if no one can see it due to cloudy conditions (or other obstacles), then complete the previous month to 30 days." Rasool Allah (saw) was not speaking to people of a specific region, rather he (saw) was speaking to the entire Ummah.
3- I believe this matter is also made exceedingly simple when looked at in the context of life under a Khilafah (as the laws of Islam were meant to be perceived):
a) We only have one moon to this earth, and the “new moon” is the exact same “new moon” for the whole planet, regardless of where it is sighted from (you can sight it from the International Space Station, and you will still see the exact same Hilal/new moon).
b) The start of our months is determined by the moon phase, and to have different sightings based on regional sightings would lead to absurd disorder and chaos under a Khilafah; for example: if the moon was sighted in Syria but not sighted in Pakistan, that would make it Ramadhan the 1st in Syria and still Sha'ban the 30th for Pakistan. The next day, it would be Ramadhan the 2nd in Syria and Ramadhan the 1st in Pakistan.
Now, if the Khaleefah was to send a letter for something to be done on Ramadhan the 3rd, when exactly would it be done? According to which region's "day"?
This becomes even more absurd when more regions are added, where it could be Ramadhan the 2nd in Morocco, the 1st in Egypt, the 2nd in Iraq, the 1st in Pakistan, and so on. And worse yet, this problem would occur every month, all year round, as the start of each month would begin when the new moon is sighted. The Khilafah would be an administrative mess.
Clearly, the start of the month is the start of the month for the whole Ummah. This should be exceedingly clear for anyone to see with the above notes.
4- Regardless of what opinion you follow, our corrupt puppet governments will always push and pull our Ummah based on nationalistic loyalties and divisive policies every Ramadhan and Eid. The Ummah will never be united on this matter until the Khilafah is re-established, and the Khaleefah unites the Ummah based on his adoption of Ahkam - not only with the start Ramadhan, Hajj, and the two Eids, but in all our societal Ahkam and public affairs.
وَيَوْمَئِذٍ يَفْرَحُ الْمُؤْمِنُونَ، بِنَصْرِ اللَّهِ ۚ يَنصُرُ مَن يَشَاءُ ۖ وَهُوَ الْعَزِيزُ الرَّحِيمُ
"And on that day, the believers will be happy with the victory of Allah; He gives His victory to whomever He wills, and he is Al-Aziz, Al-Raheem." [ِAl-Roum:4-5]
Mazin Abdul Adhim