Assalaamu alaykum, one of my uncle who lives as a joint family with his two brothers is fasting and celebrating ‘Eed with Saudi Arabia, claiming that he holds the opinion of universal moon sighting, and he is fasting on the day of ‘Eed in the local region, telling them that he has to differ from falsehood, and he has not fasted any voluntary fasting before. So, in the same house, his other two brothers are celebrating ‘Eed on one day, and he is celebrating it the other day. Does this mean breaking the unity (of the Muslims), and is it haram? Or it is just a difference of opinion that we should leave alone? Please advise.
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 is His slave and Messenger.
The scholarly view adopted by Islamweb, as far as the different moon-sightings is concerned, is that such a difference is considerable and accepted by the Sharee’ah and that the residents of each country should abide by the moon-sighting of their country of residence and not go against it.
If your paternal uncle does not adopt the position suggesting that the beginning of fasting and the end of fasting may vary in different countries and chooses to follow the other scholarly view suggesting that the moon-sighting in one country is binding upon all countries, then he should abide by that position without distortion.
Those who adopt the opinion that the moon-sighting in one country is binding on all Muslims in the Muslim world hold that the Muslims are obliged to fast and end fasting upon sighting the moon in any given country, and not particularly in Saudi Arabia.
According to this opinion, if the sighting of the new moon (of Ramadan) is proven in any part of the Muslim world (in the manner prescribed in the Sharee’ah), then all Muslims are obliged to fast. If your paternal uncle adopts this scholarly view, then he should not confine himself to following only the moon-sighting of Saudi Arabia; rather, he is then obliged to abide by the moon-sighting of any given country, even if the moon is not sighted in Saudi Arabia, and the Muslims therein have not started fasting yet. He is also obliged to end his fasting upon the sighting of the moon of the month of Shawwaal in other than Saudi Arabia, even though the people in Saudi Arabia have not ended the fasting yet.
Moreover, it is wrong to break his fast openly while the people of his community are still fasting. Even if he sighted the moon of the month of Shawwaal himself and his testimony is not accepted, then he should still conceal the fact that he has broken the fast and not break his fast openly, as advised by the scholars.
The Maaliki scholar Ad-Dardeer wrote:
“In this case, he (the one who sighted the moon of Shawwaal himself and his testimony is not accepted) should not openly show that he is differing from them; he should not break the fast openly by means of eating, drinking or having sexual intercourse with his wife when he holds a different position regarding the moon-sighting (of the new moon of Shawwaal). It is prohibited to break his fast in public, even if he is safe from being seen by others lest he might be labeled as dissolute. However, he is obliged to hold the intention of breaking his fast because it is the 'Eid day for him. If he breaks his fast openly, then he must be advised and reproached if he is known to be righteous; otherwise, he should be subject to Taʻzeer (discretionary punishment).” [Ash-Sharh Al-Kabeer]
An-Nawawi wrote, “He may break the fast upon sighting the moon of Shawwaal in secret so that his religiousness is not questioned and to safeguard himself against the punishment of the ruler.” [Al-Majmoo’]
In brief, the action of your paternal uncle is unsupported by the opinions of any of the scholars from our point of view; he should be wisely and kindly advised in this regard.
Allah knows best.
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