Rejecting a moon sighting report due to impossibility deduced from calculations
Fatwa No: 229762

Question

Assalaamu Alaikum Warahmathullaah My question is regarding with "Moon Sighting". I searched all of your fatwas related to it. but they weren't give answer for my question. (So don't tell me Your question is related to these fatwas...... PLEASE GIVE ANSWER) Question: In our country some people seeing the moon of Eid ul fitr on maghrib time. It is informing to the Head of Hilal Committee. The hilal committee's Rules and Regulations Says, >When Astronomical Calculations are saying that "Today The Moon cannot be sighted" the Hilal committee will not accept any of moon sighting information from any people from any part of Country. Now the hilal committee Rejecting the information of moon sighting( It is confirmed by the branch of hilal committee which is in the moon sighted area) and announcing the next day should fast. and day after tomorrow will be the Eid. Summary: (Moon sighted and confirmed. but according to the astronomical calculation It is not Possible. So it is rejected) >>>???>>>!!!>>>???>>>!!!>>> On this Occasion What should the people do? whether people should accept the Confirmation of the moon sighting by the hilal committee's branch or should accept the Rejection of moon sighting by the Head office.

Answer

All perfect praise be to Allaah, The Lord of the Worlds. I testify that there is none worthy of worship except Allaah, and that Muhammad  sallallaahu  `alayhi  wa  sallam ( may  Allaah exalt his mention ) is His slave and Messenger.

If a trustworthy person testifies that he saw the new moon of Ramadan, then it is obligatory to fast based on his sighting. A group of scholars are of the view that the testimony of one trustworthy person is sufficient to verify the beginning of Ramadan: this is the more celebrated of the two views of Imaam Ahmad. It is also the view of ‘Umar, ‘Ali, Ibn ‘Umar, Ibn Al-Mubaarak, and the authentic opinion of Ash-Shaafi'i.

If the new moon has been sighted by two trustworthy people, then there is no difference of opinion that the month is confirmed based on their sighting. Therefore, if the sighting of the moon has been confirmed as you mentioned, then it is an obligation to act in accordance with it and not with the statement of the Head Committee that you referred to, especially since the committee branch confirmed the sighting in the moon sighted area, as you mentioned.

If after all this, the head committee persists on rejecting the new moon sighting report, then they, as well as all those who follow them, are sinful because they insist on relying on astronomical calculations and refuse the testimony of a trustworthy person who saw the moon.

What should be taken into account regarding the beginning of the Hijri (lunar) months is whether the sighting of the moon is confirmed by trustworthy people, and astronomical calculations have nothing to do with the confirmation of when the month does or does not begin. There is much evidence on this, like the Hadeeth which reads: “If you see the crescent, then fast (i.e. start the month of Ramadan), and if you see it again, then break the fast, but if the clouds block your view, then estimate it." [Al-Bukhari and Muslim]

Also, there is a Hadeeth narrated by Ibn ‘Umar  may  Allaah  be  pleased  with  him who said: “People sought to see the crescent, and I told the Prophet  sallallaahu  `alayhi  wa  sallam ( may  Allaah exalt his mention ) that I saw it, so the Prophet fasted and ordered the people to fast." [Abu Daawood, Ibn Hibbaan and Al-Haakim]

Moreover, Ibn ‘Abbaas  may  Allaah  be  pleased  with  him said: “A Bedouin came to the Prophet  sallallaahu  `alayhi  wa  sallam ( may  Allaah exalt his mention ) and said: “I saw the crescent.” The Prophet  sallallaahu  `alayhi  wa  sallam ( may  Allaah exalt his mention ) asked him: "Do you testify that there is no god (worthy of worship) but Allaah?" He said: “Yes.” The Prophet  sallallaahu  `alayhi  wa  sallam ( may  Allaah exalt his mention ) again asked: “Do you testify that Muhammad is the Messenger of Allaah?” He said: “Yes.” Thereupon the Prophet  sallallaahu  `alayhi  wa  sallam ( may  Allaah exalt his mention ) said: "Bilaal, tell the people to fast tomorrow." [Ahmad, Abu Daawood, At-Tirmithi, An-Nasaa’i, Ibn Maajah, Ibn Khuzaymah and Ibn Hibbaan]

All these Ahaadeeth indicate that the month starts after the sighting, so it is not permissible to refuse the testimony of trustworthy people on the grounds that according to astronomical calculations, the new moon was not born or it is not possible to see it. For more benefit, please refer to Fataawa 92566, 115026 and 92703.

Moreover, beginning the month based on the confirmation of moon sighting and not on astronomical calculations makes matters easier for the people who are required to perform religious obligations. The Islamic Sharee’ah is for both city dwellers and nomads, the knowledgeable and the ignorant; so the means of knowing the judgments in matters has to be accessible to everyone. This is the meaning of the saying of the Prophet  sallallaahu  `alayhi  wa  sallam ( may  Allaah exalt his mention ) as related by Ibn 'Umar  may  Allaah  be  pleased  with  him “We are an illiterate people; we neither write nor calculate. The month is like this and this" (raising his fingers to indicate that it is sometimes 29 days and other times 30 days). [Al-Bukhari]

There are many statements of the scholars that indicate that the consensus of the early Muslims was to avoid astronomical calculations, and they considered those who opposed this to be wrong.

As-San'aani cited Al-Baaji as saying in response to those who say that it is permissible for a mathematicians, astrologers, etc. to fast and end the fast according to astronomical calculations: “The consensus of the learned ones among the early Muslims is evidence against them.

Ibn Rushd said: “The scholars unanimously agree that the Arabic (lunar) month lasts either twenty-nine or thirty days, and that what should be taken into account in determining the month of Ramadan is the moon sighting ... and they have held different opinions on what to do when visibility is blocked by clouds.

Shaykh Al-Islam Ibn Taymiyyah said: “We know, through the necessary (i.e. certain and indisputable) knowledge, that in Islam it is not permissible to act in accordance with calculations for the new moon for fasting, or pilgrimage, or the 'Iddah (waiting period of wives), or ‘Eelaa’ (when a husband makes an oath not to have sexual intercourse with his wife for a period of four months or more, in this case, when the four months expire, the Muslim judge would order the husband either to have sexual intercourse with his wife or to divorce her)...the Muslims unanimously agree on this matter, and there has not been any difference of opinion, neither in the past nor present. However, some latter-day scholars of Hadeeth who came after the third century claimed that if it is cloudy, it is permissible for the mathematicians to act in accordance with astronomical calculations for himself. This statement, even though it is on condition of cloudiness and peculiar to the mathematician himself, is an odd opinion that is preceded by the consensus among scholars on the opposite opinion. As for acting in accordance with [calculations] when it is not cloudy, or making it the general ruling, then no Muslim has ever said that.

Shaykh Al-Islam Ibn Taymiyyah also said: “You should know that astronomy researchers all agree that sightings cannot be determined by astronomical calculations. In other words, they say that it cannot be determined that it is inevitable to see the moon or it is impossible to see it on a regular basis. Rather, it may coincide sometimes and may not coincide at other times.

Furthermore, Dr. Ayman Kurdi, Professor of Astronomy at the University of King Saud, carried out a study comparing sightings and astronomical calculations between 1400 AH and 1422 AH and the result was as follows:

- First, the sighting corresponded to the astronomical calculations 14 times when it came to the occurrence of a new moon.

- Second, the sighting corresponded to the calculations 24 times when it came to the non-occurrence of a new moon.

- Third, the sighting did not correspond with calculations 18 times as the moon sighting was reported but did not start according to astronomical calculations.

- Fourth, the sighting did not correspond with astronomical calculations twice when according to astronomical calculations the moon began while there was no report of it being sighted.

The study concluded that the percentage of correspondence of astronomical calculations and physical sighting is 67%, and with such a percentage, the testimony of trustworthy people cannot be rejected.

Allaah Knows best.

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