[Mufti Muhammad Yusuf Danka, Croydon Masjid]
Allah Ta’ala has stated in the Holy Qur’an:
‘They ask you [Muhammad (sallallaahu alayhi wasallam)] about the crescent moons. Say: They are signs to mark fixed periods of time for mankind and for the pilgrimage.’ [Qur’an 2:189]
The Shari’ah of Islam has classified the regulation of time (months) by means of sighting the crescent moon. Every person who has the faculty of sight can look at the sky and determine the start of the new month (by viewing the crescent moon). Despite great leaps being made in the field of astronomy as well as scientific calculations being formulated on the birth of the new moon, the scientific analysis is not a verified proof in Islam to commence the new month. To stipulate Ramadan and Eid (commencement of end of the month) calendar dates by calculations alone is not permissible. In the commencement of every month, it is necessary to verify and validate the sighting of the moon (Muhaqaq Ru’yat Basari). Whosoever leaves this methodology has left the guidance of the Shari’ah in Sunnah. (Dars-e-Tirmidhi vol 2, p 520-521)
Shaykhul Tafsir Hadhrat Molana Muhammad Idrees Khandhlawi writes: ‘In the Shari’ah; Zakaat, Hajj, and Ramadhan fasting, issues of Islamic jurisprudence (i.e the waiting period of women etc) are based upon the lunar month. There is no reference made to the solar calendar or its calculation in Shariah. It is for this reason that the knowledge of the lunar months and conditions of Ruyat‐e‐Hilal are Fard alal Kifayah upon the Muslims. If all the Muslims were to abandon attaining knowledge related to these matters, they would be committing a sin. [Ma’riful Qur’an, vol 1, p380]
The Final Prophet to Mankind, Sayyidina Muhammad bin Abdullah (sallallaahu alayhi wasallam) has related many signs before Qiyamah to warn Mankind. The books of Hadith are filled with authentic chain of narrations in respect of these signs. One sign among the signs of Qiyamah is that there will be disagreement in regards to Ruyat‐e-Hilal. It has also been related that near the time Qiyamah the crescent moon of the first day will be seen to be large. The Prophet also stated: ‘When seeing the crescent moon of the first day people will state, this looks like the moon of the 2nd or 3rd day.’ The Prophet further told us to abstain from doing so.
In this time, not only the laymen but also certain groups among the scholars are proclaiming these matters. The scholars are not mindful of the fact that their statements are going against the advices made by the Nabi.
Nowadays people totally forgo the Sunnah of sighting the moon when deciding upon any calendar event. In fact the norm is that people try to cause controversy after the full moon is evident by working back on dates and justifying that the date of celebration or commencement of fasting was correct. We can see the reality in the statements of the Nabi 1400 years on, when we are hearing and seeing people making statements exactly as the Prophet described. People are saying today: ‘Is the moon of the 1st night really this big?’ or ‘does the moon of the 1st night stay on the horizon for such a long time?’ then they say: ‘This means that it must be the moon of the 2nd or 3rd night.’ Such statements are made as accusations rather than questions and are evident signs preceding to Qiyamah as foretold by the Prophet.
The requirements of Shari’ah are to sight the moon of the 29th night and if it is not viewed then 30 days are to be completed for the month. The size of the moon is not entertained or given any weight in Shari’ah, this is the view of ignorant and irreligious persons. In Islam, we have specific stipulations clearly laid out which is the law of Allah revealed to Mankind for their betterment.
Signs of Qiyamah-Sighting the Large moon of the 1st night:
1. Sayyidina Abu Hurairah related that the Prophet stated: ‘A sign from among the signs of Qiyamah is that the moon of the 1st night will be large and upon seeing this people will say: ‘This is the moon of the 2nd night.’ (Majmuz-Zawahid, vol 3, p146)
2. Sayyidina Abdullah bin Masood related that the Prophet stated: ‘Close to the day of Qiyamah, the moon will be seen as being large.’ (Majmuz-Zawahid, vol 3, p146).
Remember the Ghair Muqalideen cannot debate the validity of these Ahadith, even their Shaykh Albani has stated their authenticity.
3. Sayyidina Anas bin Malik (radhiyallahu anhu) related that the Prophet (sallallaahu alayhi wasallam) stated: ‘Verily, a sign of Qiyamah is that the moon of the 1st night will be large and upon seeing this people will say: ‘This is the moon of the 2nd night.’ (Majmuz-Zawahid, vol 7, p325)
Signs of Qiyamah – The new month being commenced before sighting the crescent moon:
4. Sayyidina Anas bin Malik (radhiyallahu anhu) related that the Prophet (sallallaahu alayhi wasallam) stated: ‘A sign from among the signs of Qiyamah is that the moon will be seen before it is sighted. Upon sighting the moon of the 1st night it will be said: ‘This is the moon of the 2nd night.’ (Majmul-Fawahid, vol 4, p714)
Nowadays, certain governments ofMuslim countries (Turkey, Indonesia etc) are commencing Ramadhan and Eid upon pre‐calculated lunar calendars. This results in them commencing the new month 1 or 2 days before the crescent moon can be sighted. The Saudi government base the commencement of the new month, especially Ramadan, Eid and Hajj on the possibility of the new moon being present (not witnessed) on the horizon for 1 minute after the sun sets. If a calculation proves this phenomenon, they deem the new month to have commenced and it is upon this that the Umm Ul Qura calendar is formulated and printed for the entire year. It is the desire of the Saudi government that the entire Muslim world follows their lead in adopting this principle. It is for this reason that they announce the commencement of the new Islamic month before the crescent moon of the 1st day is visible anywhere in the World.
Signs of Qiyamah – The moon of the 1st night will be called the moon of the 2nd night:
5. Asim bin Bahdala relates from
Sayyidina Shu’aib (radhiyallahu anhu) that the Prophet (sallallaahu alayhi wasallam) stated: ‘A sign witnessed close to the day of Qiyamah will be that themoon of the 1st night will seem like that of the 2nd night.’ (As Sunnanul Waarida, vol 4, p791)
6. Sayyidina Amara bin Mehran
relates: I heard Sayyidina Hassan (radhiyallahu anhu) state: ‘The Prophet (sallallaahu alayhi wasallam) stated: ‘A sign from the signs of Qiyamah is that the moon of the 1st night will be sighted and it will be said: This is the moon of the 2nd night.’ (As Sunnanul Waarida, vol 4, p791)
7. Sayyidina Abu Saeed Khudri (radhiyallahu anhu) related that the Prophet (sallallaahu alayhi wasallam) stated: ‘Close to Qiyamah the moon will be seen as being large. Upon seeing the moon of the 1st night a person will have doubt and will think it is the moon of the 2nd night.’ (As Sunnanul Waarida, vol 4, p791)
There are many reports that corroborate with these narrations, including At‐Tabarani, each of which strengthens the other according to the science of Hadith. There are also those narrations which are related through Sahih and Hasan chains of narration.
Signs of Qiyamah – The disagreement in the sighting of the Ruyat-e Hilal:
8. Abu Baktari (Saeed bin Firoz Ku fi) stated: ‘We went out with the intention of Umrah, when we reached Batane Nakhla (an area between Makkah and Taif) we gathered in a place to sight the moon. (After seeing the moon) Certain people said: ‘This moon looks like the 2nd night and some said it looks like the 3rd night.’ Following this, wemet Sayyidina Abdullah ibn Abbas(radhiyallahu anhu). We described our experience to him, he asked: ‘What night did you see the moon?’We replied: ‘such and such a night.’Ibn Abbas (radhiyallahu anhu) related that the Prophet (sallallaahu alayhi wasallam) stated: ‘Allah has based the month of Ramadan upon the sighting of the moon. Therefore, the moon is of the night that you people viewed it (that is the 1st night).’ It is found in another narration: ‘If you people did not view a clear sky and the moon is not sighted, complete the month with 30 days (Sh’abaan) and after this keep the fasts of Ramadhan.’ (Mishkaat Masabih, ch. Ruyat-e Hilal)
In the present day and age, many people go to ‘Saudi’ Arabia during the month of Ramadan to perform ‘Umrah. On the day when the Saudi government announces the commencement of the new month, when there are clear skies, none of the millions present sight the moon. Even the responsible persons of the Saudi Ruyat‐e-Hilal committee are not able to view the moon with the use of an observatory standard telescope in numerous locations in the kingdom. However, in accordance with the Umm Ul Qura calendar, the announcement is made 1 day before the new crescent moon can be sighted. Confusion and quarrels are found in the entire Muslim world, only due to the incorrect announcement of ‘Saudi’ Arabia. The signs of Qiyamah as mentioned in the Ahadith are a result of this.
In the countries where the Muslim leaders of centres and organisations follow the Saudi announcements or adopt it for their purpose of establishing a new month, even they do not view the crescent moon on the night of the Saudi announcement. They view the moon 2 or 3 days after Saudi make their announcement and instead of making this the 1st night, they say: ‘maybe the Saudi announcement was right then, this looks like the moon of the 2nd or 3rd night.’ They will prefer to protect and preserve the Umm Ul Qura calendar rather than taking the advice of the Prophet : ‘If you people did not view a clear sky and the moon is not sighted, complete the month with 30 days…’
The Statements of the Scholars:
Hadhrat Allamah Shabir Ahmed Uthmani (rahimahullah) writes: ‘Allah at times creates the moon in a large form so that the people may see it easily. At times it is witnessed as being small and at times, it cannot even be seen. The order of the Shari’ah is that if the moon is not witnessed then 30 days are to be completed in the month. There are times when it is possible to sight the crescent moon, but the sky is cloudy and the moon is not visible, in this instance 30 days will be completed.’ (Fathul Mulhim, vol 3, p115)
Hadhrat Allamah Nawab Muhammad Khutubudeen Dehlawi (rahimahullah) writes: ‘In conclusion, it can be understood that the basis of Ramadan is upon sighting the crescent moon. There is no reliance or weight to the size of the crescent moon, be it large or small. However, it is found in narrations that the viewing of a large moon of the1st night is from amongst the signs near to the End of Time (Qiyamah). (Mazahir Haq, vol 2, p309)
Presently, people who are not witnessing the new crescent moon in the stipulated nights, instead of adopting the advice of the Shari’ah to complete 30 days, follow the announcements of the another country and government to where they are living. In doing so, they commence Ramadan in the month of Sh’abaan. When they view the moon the following day, they hide their fault and proclaim the moon of the 1st night as being that of the 2nd. The same is true form the completion of Ramadan, when the moon is not sighted for the commencement of Shawwal on the 29th night, 30 days should be completed. In this instance, 1 fast of Ramadan is wasted and Eid is performed in Ramadan. It is unfortunate, that those who follow the Sunnah and Mustabat 11 months of the year, leave aside a Fardh on this occasion and it does not affect their conscience.
The Prophet (sallallaahu alayhi wasallam) stated: ‘My Ummah will never unite on a wrong.’ It is for this reason, that those who call to the Truth, announce the reality of this wrong to the masses even though they come under a barrage of ridicule for their stance. What is the logic behind the moon of the 1st night being large?
There are 2 important conditions for the sighting of the Hilal:
1. The moon (light) must be distinguishable from sunlight, so as not be engulfed in the rays of the sun.
2. The moon should be high in the sky. For the moon to be viewed on the 1st night, it needs to be at least 10 degrees above the horizon. The crescent moon can only be viewed a minimum of 18 hours after the birth of the new moon. The crescent is visible only after the strong rays of the sunset have subsided, this occurs when the sun is 5 degrees below the horizon. The crescent will only be visible if it is at 10 degrees or more above the horizon after the sun has ‘set’ (5 degrees below the horizon). This process takes approximately 15‐20mins from sunset to the sighting of the crescent moon. Whosoever, claimsto have sighted the crescent moonbefore this stipulated time, either they have been deceived by their sighting or they are lying. It is not possible for there to be Ruyat e Aama (majority sighting) before the conditions stated above.
Unseen Time: The last time that the moon is seen in the month is the morning of the 27th or 28th day. After this, the moon is hidden from the sight of anybody on Earth. The time the moon is hidden to the 29th or 30th night, when the new Hilal becomes visible is referred to as Mahaaq (unseen time). Usually, the timeframe for ‘unseen time’ is between 36 – 50 hours.
It should be noted that the moon constantly circulates the Earth. The time taken to complete a lunar monthly cycle is 29 days, 12 hours, 44mins, 2.9secs. It is for this reason that the Prophet
(sallallaahu alayhi wasallam) stated: ‘sight the moon of the 29th night and if it is not viewed then complete 30 days (for the month)’.
The full moon of a lunar monthly cycle occurs 14 days, 18 hours, 22mins, 1.5secs after the birth of the new moon (14.75 days). This is when the moon is seen at 100% coverage in the sky, a full moon. Therefore, in 1 hour the crescent occupies 0.2821932% of the moons surface area, this denotes the thickness of the crescent on any given day. In 1 day the moon is covered 6.7726385% of the surface area.
By understanding the scientific principle of the crescent size formation above, the following will become clear. For example: on the 29th August 2011, the Saudi government announced the sighting of the crescent moon for Eid ul Fitr in accordance with the Umm Ul Qura calendar. Scholars throughout the Islamic world rejected this announcement. Hadhrat Mufti A.S. Desai Sahib of Mujlisul Ulama South Africa, has written in his article of 16 Shawwal 1432 (15/9/2011): ‘It is not permissible for Muslim of UK nor for Muslims anywhere in the world to follow the Hilaal announcements of the current Saudi authorities. Despite clear skies, the Hilal was not sighted in Saudi Arabia, neither by the Hilal committees nor the masses.’ This is a statement made in light of the Shari’ah and Sunnah.
The reality is also clearly against the possibility of a sighting on this night; on the 29th August 2011, sunset was at 6.40pm, the moon set at 6.44pm. Therefore the moon was only present on the horizon for 4mins after sunset, the moon was 12 hours 36min old at this time. The altitude of the moon on this day was zero degrees above the horizon.
The following day; on the 30th August 2011, sunset was at 6.39pm, the moon set at 7.27pm, the moon was present on the horizon for 48mins after sunset and was 10 degrees above the horizon. It was possible for Ruyate Aamah to take place on this night according to the requirements of Shari’ah. This was, in reality, the 1st day of the Islamic month which many thousands of people have witnessed. The moon was seen on the horizon 10 minutes after sunset and was visible for 30 mins. On seeing the large crescent moon on this night, people in “Saudi” Arabia said: ‘This is moon of the 2nd night.’
It should be understood that it was not possible to see the moon on the 29th August 2011 as it was only 12hours 36mins old. As stated before, it is not possible to view the crescent moon when it is less than 18hours old. On the 30th August 2011 the moon was 36 hours 35mins old. The reason this crescent moon looked large on the horizon was because it covered 10.26% of the moons surface area (1/10th of the moons area) (1 hour ‐ 0.2821932% x 36.35hrs = 10.26%). We should look at how accurately the Final Prophet Khatimul Nabi (sallallaahu alayhi wasallam) foretold of these occurrences and words people will utter in respect of the Ruyate Hilal near the day of Qiyamah, they are playing out in front of our own eyes. May Allah unite us in this time of Fitnah and grant us the correct understandingof the Deen. Aameen!