Authenticity of sighting the moon to determine the beginning of the Islamic months

  • Author: Fatwa No. 92703
  • Publish date:12/08/2009
  • Sections:FATWA FOR ALL
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Assalamu alaikum There has emerged a group in my country, who claim that the Prophet (pbuh) never ordered for the Islamic month to be started by the sighting of the first crescent. They claim this is a bid'a and sighting of the first crescent or Hilal is a 'satanic suggestion'. They re-interpret the hadith of the Prophet(pbuh) 'ruya' to mean as 'to know' rather than 'to see' and state that for 1400 years, no one understood the meanings of the verses on this matter (2:185) and hadith on this matter. They start fasting and break fasting based on the astronomical conjunction. Can these people be considered as part of Ahl sunna Wal Jamaath or just mubtadis?
All perfect praise be to Allah, The Lord of the Worlds. I testify that there is none worthy of worship except Allah, and that Muhammad  sallallaahu  `alayhi  wa  sallam ( may  Allah exalt his mention ) is His slave and Messenger.  
We have already issued Fataawa clarifying that what is considered in determining the beginning of the month is the actual sighting of the crescent or by completing the month of Sha'baan 30 days as there are many authentic narrations proving this.
Undoubtedly, it is an innovation to claim that the nation was not able (since 1400 years) to understand the verse of Allah and the Prophetic narration, which you referred to in the question. The nation, all perfect praise be to Allah, understood from the verse that "whoever sights the month," means he is present during the month of Ramadan, then he is obliged to observe the fast as long as he is resident (not travelling) and in good health (not sick).
The saying of Prophet  sallallaahu  `alayhi  wa  sallam ( may  Allah exalt his mention ) : "Observe the fasting according to the sighting of the crescent (of the month of Ramadan)", refers to really seeing it by one's own eyes, and not by calculating it astrologically, and this is what the wording obviously means, as calculation is not called sighting. Therefore, whoever says that the meaning of sighting in the narration refers to astrological calculation, is required to provide evidence as he is taking the meaning of the word out of its proper context. What proves that the Prophet  sallallaahu  `alayhi  wa  sallam ( may  Allah exalt his mention ) meant the sighting by one's own eyes is his saying: "We are an illiterate nation; we can neither write nor know how to calculate. The month is like this and this" (raising his fingers to indicate that it is sometimes of 29 days and other times of 30 days). [Al-Bukhari and Muslim]
Therefore, whoever says this, is required to repent to Allah and whoever has religious knowledge should clarify to him the truth with wisdom and soft words. Then, if he repents, this is what is required, but if insists on his statement after establishing the evidence against him, then he is an innovator and he innovated something new for the nation. 
Allah Knows best.
Fatwa answered by:The Fatwa Center at Islamweb

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