Whom To Follow When Crescent-Sighting Differs from Astronomical Calculations
Fatwa No: 334123

Question

I am a Muslim woman living in Romania. Our local leaders decided to follow Turkey in their (astronomical) calculation of the beginning and the end of Ramadan. This year, they decided the date of Eid Al-Fitr on the 26th of Ramadan. They explained, after numerous people asked about it, that they are following a fatwa from the European Council. They declared the Eid to be on July 5. As you know, this year, the crescent moon was not visible at the end of the 29th of Ramadan. All the responsible countries from Europe and the rest of the globe, even North America, decided that the Eid will be on July 6, except the countries that traditionally follow Turkey and, implicitly, the astronomical calculation. They also told the people who asked for explanation that it is haram to separate from the community and that it is haram not to attend the Eid prayer. A lot of people were very confused, part of them continued their fast the next day, part of them decided to fast and then broke their fast during the day (like me) because they were afraid of doing haram. Practically, we had to choose between two things that are haram; to separate from the community and fast during the day of Eid, or to fail to complete the month of Ramadan.
1.What should we do if we were to face the same situation in the future? Do we have to follow their decision and stay with the community, even if it is proven that it is wrong and they are following the astronomical calculation, or should we follow Saudi Arabia even though this means breaking away from the community?
2.Are those who decided (this year) to continue the fast and complete the 30 days sinners?
3.Do those who decided to fast and then broke their fast the next day because they were confused and afraid to fast the day of Eid (July 5) have to make up this day?
4. If your answer to the first question is that one is to follow Saudi Arabia and the date does not coincide with the day that they will declare the Eid to be in our country, is there any sin upon us then if we will do not attend the Eid prayer?

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.

The obligation is not to follow Saudi Arabia or any other country, but the obligation is to act according to the sighting of the crescent, as we have been ordered by the Sharee'ah.

As has been determined by Islamic Fiqh Councils and most of the fatwa-issuing authorities in the Muslim world, the Muslims in the country where you live have to sight the crescent on the eve of the 30th of Sha'baan, then if they see it, they should fast, and if they do not, then they should complete the month of Sha’baan as it being 30 days. According to the view of the majority of the scholars, it is not sufficient to only act upon astronomical calculations.

If your country does not adopt crescent-sighting, then, according to the view that we adopt here at Islamweb, you have to follow the nearest country to you that adopts crescent-sighting.

If you know this, then what you have to do in regard to beginning the fast and breaking the fast [ending the month of Ramadan] becomes clear to you, and breaking the fast before making sure that the month of Shawwaal has begun is not permissible.

If the people of your country break the fast in accordance with the astronomical calculations only, then it is not permissible to follow them in this regard, and it is an obligation to complete the month of Ramadan as 30 days. In this case, it is not permissible to pray the 'Eed prayer with them as long as the crescent of Shawwaal has not been seen.

Allaah knows best.

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