The Sunni Voice

:: Abd Al Mustafa's Corner ::

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    view of al-ka'ba from the roof hajj 1428

    the old building of madina

    masjid al-jirana

    masjid al-bayah

    green dome b4 fajr

    green dome be4 fajr

    The old qibla

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why two eids.?

These people are well meaning. They think that Islam is practiced in its best form in Saudi Arabia and they want to follow it. But their practice is wrong because it does not have a solid basis.…shaykh adil salahi (saudi arabia)

Allah does not change the condition of a person, until that person (makes sincere effort to try and) change what is within their souls……….Al-Quran

 There is a saying that goes “they (the common folk) condemn that which they do not understand”

Allah will never allow my Ummah to unite upon misguidance/error  …  Tirmidhi

O you who believe! Obey God and obey the Apostle, and those charged with authority among you. If you differ in anything among yourselves, refer it to God and His Apostle, if you do believe in God and the Last Day: That is best and most suitable for final determination…..Al-Qur’an, 4:59

The sun and the moon run on their fixed courses (exactly) calculated with measured out stages for each…..Al-Qur’an, 55:5

He created the sun, the moon, and the stars (all) governed by laws under His commandment….Al-Qur’an, 7:54

They ask you about new crescent moons, say they are but signs to mark fixed period of times for mankind and Hajj….Al-Qur’an 2:189

“Do not fast unless you sight the crescent, and do not break your fast till you sight the (following) crescent.” (Al-Bukhari, Vol. 3:130).

Kurayb, who traveled to Syria encountered the start of Ramadan there on a Friday, upon return to Madina, informed Ibn Abbas that he had seen the crescent-moon on the night of Friday, and that the people in Syria, including Muawiyah the governor, had fasted on Friday. Ibn Abbas replied that they (in Madina) had seen the crescent-moon on Saturday, and that they would not stop fasting until they either saw it again, or had completed thirty days. Kurayb asked, “Will you not suffice with the sighting of Muawiyah?” Ibn Abbas replied, “No, that is how the Messenger of Allah (pbuh) commanded us.” (muslim)

“Fast after sighting the new moon and stop fasting on seeing the new moon. However if anything (clouds etc.) overcasts, then complete 30 days.” (Sahih Bukhari)

Shaykh Hamza Yusuf writes, God has hidden from us the power to predict the actual appearance of the crescent moon on the first day. Even modern scientists admit this. Yet, we wish to fit God’s plans into our plans instead of fitting our plans into God’s. Convenience store Islam is the Islam of the day, where we can buy a pre-packaged Islam that fits into our busy schedules. But Ramadan is God’s month; it is a time of slowing down and reflecting, of looking at our lives and questioning ourselves, “Are we in harmony with God’s creation. Are we bypassing signs right before our eyes?” God has veiled Ramadan’s greatest night from us, and if He chooses to ask us to inconvenience ourselves just a little bit for His sake to seek out Ramadan’s onset, then praise be to God. I find it altogether odd that a month that is meant to teach us patience and is called “the month of patience,” is no longer patiently waited for by eager Muslims to see what God has in store for them tonight or perhaps tomorrow night. I believe sighting the moon is an intended purpose of Ramadan. It is indeed an act of worship, as the Prophet (saw) has clearly said, “The best of God’s servants are those who monitor the sun, crescents, and stars as a way of remembering God.” Every day before dawn, the Prophet (saw) would awaken, go out into the late night air, and look up in the heavens and recite the final verses of Al-Imran: “Surely in the creation and the heavens and the earth, and the alternation of the night and the day are signs for people….” The signs are indeed clear for those who reflect.

Our Prophet (saw) did not leave us with out guidance, nor did our scholars leave us without elucidation of that guidance for they are the “inheritors of the prophets.” In these latter days, the Sunnah is disappearing from the face of the earth. The Prophet (saw) came to teach the simple and sophisticated, the meek and the mighty, and he gave each his dignity and his place. In following his example, we follow the best in ourselves, and in leaving his guidance, we open ourselves to great calamities and tribulations.

Allah, the Exalted, said, “So let those who oppose his command beware lest a trial befall them or a painful chastisement” (24:63). The Prophet (saw) has commanded us in a hadith that is of no less authority than the Qur’an itself: “Fast upon seeing the crescent, and break your fast upon seeing it; and if it be obscured, then calculate it.” The meaning is plain, as has been clarified by the illustrious imams quoted in this paper. They are my proof; after God and then His messenger, I have no others. What is left is to follow their guidance. And may God give us the success to do so. And Allah knows best. [source]

So what exactly is the criterion for determining the new month.?

It’s simple, just as the hadith states, start when you see the new crescent moon and finish when you see it again. The prophet (saw) also stated that, the months are either 29 days or 30 days (Al-Hadith). So, it is clear that there is no 31st of a month nor can a month end after 28 days.

The hadith clearly implies the visibility of the moon, one can only see the moon when the hilal appears. However, there are some who are basing the new moon on the birth of the new moon, the birth of the new moon is when the old moon has totally disappeared and is totally dark (black). It does not take a genius to realise that when the moon is totally dark, it will be impossible to see anything.

There are organisations in the UK who are tirelessly attempting to sight the new hilal every month, and when the moon could not be sighted they are contacting neighbouring Muslim countries to the east who share the same horizon and whom they have affiliation with (morocco, south Africa) to see if any had made positive sightings. If neither country were able to sight the moon, then these organisations are announcing that the month should complete its thirty days.

However, the other camp are simply switching their TVs on at Asr time (sometimes even earlier) to see if Saudi Arabia has made any announcements, and then going by that.

There is also confusion about using scientific data and calculations to determine the new months. The confusion is that people think that this data is being used to fix the months, however this is totally untrue, as the data is only used to determine when the new hilal will become visible, but these organisations are still going out on the 29th of the month and only making the decision for the new month after they have attempted to make the sighting.

Please note, the moon must be visible after the sun sets, if it disappears before the sun sets then that sighting does not count. The moon needs to be sighted after 29 complete days have passed, the day is completed after sunset of that day.

 

The Saudi system

The Saudi system is based on the umm ul-qura calendar which is a pre-calculated calendar based on the birth of the new moon. Each month people are asked to look for the moon on the 29th of the month according to this calendar, which has been pre-calculated since 1972. However, because this calendar begins its new month on the birth of the new moon, it is always 1 day ahead of the actual month. So, in effect the saudies are asking the muslims to go out on the 28th to look for the new hilal.

How the Saudi calendar came about.?

In 1972 the Saudi government sent an invitation to the different regions of the Muslim World for the senior Scholars to attend a conference. In this conference, without a specific agenda being outlined, the Saudi government opened the discussion on the matter of the entire Muslim World following the announcement of Saudi for a united day for Ramadhan and the two Eids. For this, the Saudi government would be responsible to formulate whatever systems and procedures were required to ensure this could be fulfilled. Together with this, it was recommended that the new month announcement be reliant upon the ‘birth of the new moon’ rather than the sighting of the crescent moon. This would allow the Saudi government to announce the new moon before it was possible to be sighted anywhere in the World.

All the scholars present in the conference had unanimously rejected this concept due to it being against the Shari’ah.

Due to the opposition of scholars, to the principle being proposed by the Saudi government to start the Islamic month from the birth of the new moon in the first meeting. The Saudi government did not invite them to subsequent meetings in this respect.

In the 6th meeting held by the Saudi government for establishing a united Islamic moon sighting calendar, there was no final decision reached. The meeting before this was held in Kuwait, where too no final decision was reached. The Saudi government had already initiated the Umm ul Qura calendar in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia from 1972.

In 1985 a final meeting was held where no scholars were invited, an agreement was reached by government ministers of around 30 muslim countries….. (Source: The Reality behind Saudi Government Creating a United Moonsighting the Umm ul Qura Calendar for All Muslim Countries and the Neglect of the Masses…mufti yusuf danka…croydon mosque).

There is also the issue of accepting the testimony of a single person who claims to have sighted the moon. Sometimes the Saudi authorities will base their decisions on the testimony of an anonymous person who claims to have seen the new hilal when the professionals appointed to look for the hilal each month in their high class state of the art premises with their state of the art equipment, have all reported negative sightings. They justify it with example of the following hadith:

A Bedouin came to the Prophet (blessings and peace of Allah be upon him) and said, I have seen the new moon tonight. He (saw) asked, “Do you bear witness that there is no god except Allah and that Muhammad is the Messenger of Allah (blessings and peace of Allah be upon him)?” He replied, Yes. He (saw) said, “Get up, O Bilaal, and announce to the people that they should fast tomorrow.”

There is also the issue of the Qadhi, who has the last say and who has the authority to overturn any decision. The qadhi has the authority to give the decision to start or end the month regardless of what the evidence states. This is fine for the kingdom of Saudi Arabia, however the qadhi has no jurisdiction over anyone outside the kingdom.

What do saudi scholars say.?

A question posed to late shaykh Uthaymeen, one of Saudi Arabia’s top scholars.

As we in India are keen to fast on the day of Arafah, but the hijri date in India is different from the date in Saudi. When the date in India is the 8th, it is the 9th in Saudi. Should i fast on the 8th – which is the 9th in Saudi – or should i fast according to the date in India.?  Source : Muhammad al-Saalih al-‘Uthaymeen ,Majmoo’ al-Fataawa

These are the type of question arrive every time when Ramadan comes or the day of Arafah comes Shaykh Ibn ‘Uthaymeen was asked: what if the day of ‘Arafah is different because of the moon being sighted at different times in different countries? Should we fast according to the moon sighting in the country where we are or according to the moon sighting in al-Haramayn (the two Holy Sanctuaries)?

He replied: This is based on a difference of opinion among the scholars: Is there only one moon sighting for the whole world or does it vary according to when the moon rises in different places?

The correct view is that it varies according to when the moon rises in different places. For example, if the moon is sighted in Makkah, and today is the ninth, and it is sighted elsewhere one day before Makkah, and the day of ‘Arafah in Makkah is the tenth for them, it is not permissible for them to fast on this day because it is Eid. Similarly if it so happens that they sight the moon after Makkah, and the 9th in Makkah is the 8th for them, then they should fast the day that is the 9th for them, which is the 10th in Makkah. This is the correct view, because the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) said: “When you see it (the new moon) fast and when you see it break your fast.” Those who did not see the moon in their own location have not seen it. Just as people are unanimously agreed that the times for dawn and sunset vary according to their own location, so too the months are also worked out by location, just like the daily timings. Majmoo’ al-Fataawa, 20.

And he (may Allaah have mercy on him) was asked about some people who worked in the Saudi embassy in a foreign country, who said that they were having a problem concerning the fast of Ramadaan and the fast on the day of ‘Arafah. The brothers there had split into three groups:

One group said: we will fast with Saudi and break the fast with Saudi.

Another group said: we will fast with the country where we are living and break the fast with them.

The last group said: we will fast Ramadaan with the country where we are living, but we will fast the day of ‘Arafah with Saudi.

They asked the Shaykh to provide them with a detailed answer concerning the Ramadaan fast and fasting the day of ‘Arafah, whilst noting that for the past five years, in the country where they were living neither Ramadaan nor the day of ‘Arafah had been observed on the same days as in Saudi; their Ramadaan started one or two days after it had been announced in Saudi, and sometimes three days after.

He replied:

In the name of Allaah, the Most Gracious, the Most Merciful

The scholars (may Allaah have mercy on them) differed concerning the issue when the moon is sighted in one part of the Muslim world and not in another: do all the Muslims have to act on the basis of that, or only those who sighted it and the people who live in the same region, or only those who sighted it and the people who live under the same government? There are many different points of view.

The most correct view is that the matter should be referred to those who have knowledge of it. If the moon rises at the same point for two countries they become like one country, so if it is sighted in one of them that ruling applies to the other. But if the rising points differ, then each country has its own ruling. This is the view favoured by Shaykh al-Islam Ibn Taymiyah (may Allaah have mercy on him); this is the apparent meaning of the texts of the Qur’aan and Sunnah and what is implied by analogy.

In the Qur’aan it says (interpretation of the meaning):

“So whoever of you sights (the crescent on the first night of) the month (of Ramadan i.e. is present at his home), he must observe Sawm (fasts) that month, and whoever is ill or on a journey, the same number [of days which one did not observe Sawm (fasts) must be made up] from other days. Allaah intends for you ease, and He does not want to make things difficult for you. (He wants that you) must complete the same number (of days), and that you must magnify Allaah [i.e. to say Takbeer (Allaahu Akbar: Allaah is the Most Great)] for having guided you so that you may be grateful to Him” [al-Baqarah 2:185]

What is implied by this verse is that whoever does not see it is not obliged to fast.

In the Sunnah, the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) said: “When you see it (the new moon) then fast, and when you see it, break your fast.” What is implied by this hadeeth is that if we did not see it we are not obliged to fast or to break the fast. With regard to analogy, the times for starting and ending the fast each day should be worked out in each country on its own, according to the local times of sunrise and sunset. This is a point on which there is scholarly consensus. So you see the people in east Asia starting their fast before the people of west Asia, and breaking their fast before them, because dawn breaks for the former before the latter, and the sun sets for the former before the latter.

Once this is established with regard to the times for starting and ending the daily fast, it also applies to the start and end of the monthly fast. There is no difference between them.  But if many regions come under the same government, and the ruler gives the command for the fast to start or end, then his command must be followed, because this is a matter of scholarly dispute but the command of the ruler dispels that dispute..

Based on the above, you should fast and break your fast along with the people of the country where you are living, whether that is in accordance with your country of origin or not. Similarly on the day of ‘Arafah you should follow the country where you are living.  by Muhammad al-Saalih al-‘Uthaymeen, 28/8/1420 AH. Majmoo’ al-Fataawa, 19.

The answer is approved by the late shaykh bin baaz in a similar question found in the book: fatwa al-islamiyya, chapter: starting and ending a month.

other saudi statements;

Shaykh bin baaz himself gave this answer to a questioned posed to him about the issue,”As for those who say that it is necessary to follow the sighting of Makkah, then let it be known to them, that there is no proof or basis for this in the Qur’aan and Hadith”. (Sheikh Abdullah bin Baz RA AlBa’ath ul Islaaami Zil Hijjah 1399 Hijri).
Shaykh Adil Salahi says about people who follow saudi beginning of new monthsThese people are well meaning. They think that Islam is practiced in its best form in Saudi Arabia and they want to follow it. But their practice is wrong because it does not have a solid basis. If we were to extend their practice to its logical conclusion, we should offer prayers according to the timings in Saudi Arabia, rather than our own timings. Thus, we should import Saudi calendars and follow the timings indicated in them. Similarly, we should fast the same number of hours as fasting is indicated in Saudi Arabia. This is easy nowadays, because of satellite television. We can always watch the time in Saudi Arabia and follow it. Needless to say, no one will agree to this although some logical argument could be presented in its support, such as the unity of all Muslims.
Yet the practice of all Muslims is that each locality has its own timings. The difference in prayer time between Jeddah and Dammam, at the two coasts of Saudi Arabia is around an hour. No one suggests that it should not be observed. In fact if it is not observed, we run the risk of having our prayers rendered invalid.
The difference in starting Ramadan has always been known, and the Prophet’s (peace be upon him) companions accepted it. Abdullah ibn Abbas asked someone who had traveled from Damascus to Madinah about the day they started Ramadan…(hadith of kuraib). Source: central-mosque.com
  

An Interesting Story

Allah (SWT) gave me a chance to work and stay in Saudi Arabia for about 5 years (1416-1421H / 1995-2000). I wanted to use my stay to find out about the system for Hilaal sighting there, and to check my personal sighting attempts there. I also wanted to find more about the “UmmUlQura Calendar”. First, as was perhaps expected, I found that most local people had no idea of any mistakes in the Saudi announcements for Hilaal, and an extremely small percentage of my local Saudi practicing Muslim friends had ever attempted to sight the Hilaal in their life. Then Alhamduilillaah I was able to meet some Astronomers and also find that the UmmUlQura Calendar is designed in KACST – the prestigious King Abdul Aziz University for Science and Technology in Riyadh. UmmUlQura Calendar.

The local Astronomers brothers I met were very warm and welcoming. I found that there has been a major change in the UmmUlQura Calendar computation criteria starting 1420H. Before that year, the UmmUlQura calendar was based on Greenwich and not Makkah. Also it was based on the dark invisible Astronomical new moon being born. Thus it was totally different from the actual Hilaal observation. Starting about 1420H, the new criterion is that the Moonset be after Sunset in Makkah (even by one second). Starting 1423H Insha’Allaah it will again change slightly to directly take the astronomical new moon (conjunction) also into account. But the main input I got was that the UmmUlQura calendar was for CIVIL use only, and NOT for predicting the Hilaal for religious dates. The Astronomers were well aware that the moonset needs to be after sunset by a long time, and not just one second (along with other factors) for the Hilaal to be visible. But the point was that the UmmUlQura calendar neither attempts nor claims to predict the Hilaal. It is merely used for the official dates in the Ministries, schools, Saudia Airlines, and indeed all over the country Alhamdulillaah. Also, the local Astronomers were very well aware that there were a LOT of errors in the Saudi announced dates.

Official Saudi Hilaal Sighting Committees

Further, I was found that due to the Saudi Government becoming aware of the complaints of errors in the announced dates, around 1419H, the ruling council ordered the formation of Hilaal sighting committees.

Each such committee includes:

one member of Qada (Islamic Scholar/Justice department),

one member of KACST/Astronomer,

one member of Imarah (ruling council of the city), and

volunteers.

As of 1421H / 2000 there were six such committees in Saudi Arabia – near Makkah, Riyadh, Qassim, Hail, Tabuk and Asir. While they may carry a telescope with them, the official sighting of the committee is with naked eye only. Saudi scholars like Sheikh AlOthaimeen (RH) are against use of telescopes. Sheikh AlOthaimeen (RH) for example indicated that using telescopes increases the “Takalluf” (Burden) on Muslims, which Allaah (SWT) does not want. These official committees seemed to be a wonderful news and excellent solution Alhamdulillaah. So why should there still be a problem ?

Well, the answer is as follows:

The problem is because even though these 6 official Hilaal sighting committees exist, the Justice department still accepts the witness of “any” Muslim and not just the 6 official committees mentioned above. Thus, often the new month is declared while NONE of these 6 official Hilaal sighting committees saw the Hilaal. In fact, most people, including scholars are unaware of the existence of these official committees.

In the case of EidUlFitr 1420H, I myself went with the Makkah committee to a sighting point on a hilltop of Shamesi outside the city of Makkah Mukarramah on Thursday evening. Neither we, nor the other 5 committees sighted the Hilaal. But we came back to the Haram Shareef and were astounded to hear the announcement that EidUlFitr was next day (Friday). In fact moonset was before sunset in Makkah for Thursday evening. In this case the error was quite brazen. Later I learned that Sheikh Yusuf AlQaradawi issued a Fatwa indicating that Muslims who celebrated Eid 1420H on Friday following the Saudi announcement should make up one missed Ramadaan fast………………………….Dr Salman Shaikh

Deobandis follow saudi but mufti taqi usmani fatwa says otherwise

Mufti Taqi Usmani (the top deobandi scholar today) writes, “…In summary I would like to say that the inhabitants of Britain in the present circumstances should not consider the moon sighting of Saudi Arabia as sufficient and they should contact Morocco in case of the weather not being clear. In Saudi Arabia the sighting of the moon has been previously accepted before even the birth of the moon on many occasions which is impossible in my view. I have discussed the situation with many Saudi Ulama and they are also disturbed with these occurrences however they are helpless since this is in the hands of the Majlisul Qadha Al-Ala…”

He further explains, “…It is possible for all the Muslims globally to have Eid & Ramadhan on the same day as global application of sighting (on a single geographical location anywhere on the globe) is applicable, however Saudi Arabia has complicated the issue. There is often a difference of 2 days between the Islamic dates in Saudi Arabia and Pakistan which is impossible and human logic and intellect cannot accept it. This impossibility is due to the prevalent system of moon sighting In Saudi Arabia which is unique (in the world) and breeds problems for Muslims of the rest of the world.

Many scholars (in contrast) have stated that when the sighting of the moon is not possible then the testimonies of the witnesses become doubtful and must be scrutinised thoroughly as Fuqaha have quoted that in case of a clear horizon the testimony of 1 or 2 people is not sufficient and must be backed by sighting of a large group of people. This condition of sighting by a large group of people (set by Fuqaha) must be applied in the strictest sense when sighting is not even possible. However in Saudia Arabia testimony is accepted (without scrutiny) even when it is impossible for the crescent to be sighted or even before conjunction (birth of the new moon).

Therefore we don’t accept their sighting and if Saudi can rectify their system, then we (in Pakistan) would also accept it.

…Mufti Saheb then continues to explain the validity of Hajj although Saudi sighting is doubtful by saying that Saudi sighting is acceptable within their own country, however other countries are under no obligation to follow it…” Deobandi Fatwas

 
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