Calendar vs. moon sighting


As most of us know, the moon goes through several phases. The months of the Islamic Calendar are based on sighting of the new moon every month. So what is a new moon? A new moon is “born” when the moon of the previous month disappears (i.e. the moon goes from a slightly visible crescent to a completely black sphere that is impossible to be seen). About 17-23 hours after the new moon is born, a thin crescent becomes visible on earth. Once again, as we were taught by Allah (Qur’an 2:189) and the Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him), it is the sighting of this crescent that marks the start of a new month. Therefore, even though a moon may be born on one day, it may not been seen until the next day. Furthermore, if a new moon is born less than 15 hours before sunset on day 1; it will not been seen until sunset of day 2; and when it is finally seen it is 15+24=39 hours old and will look very thick. This does NOT mean that this is a second day crescent. A first day crescent can be very thin in some locations and it can also be thick in other locations because of time difference. As Muslims, we should always remember that our first priority is to follow the teachings of our beloved Prophet (peace be upon him) who told us to start the month when we see the crescent, not when the moon is “born.”

Now there are more than twenty hadiths where the Muslims are ordered to see the new Moon to start Ramadan and end Fasting. For example Allah’s Messenger (peace_be_upon_him) said:

Whenever you sight the new moon (of the month of Ramadan) observe fast, and when you sight it (the new moon of Shawwal) break it, and if the sky is cloudy for you, then observe fast for thirty days.

(Sahih Muslim).

This is a very simple formula that Prophet Muhammad (peace_be_upon_him) gave to his Ummah. If every muslim adopt this rule then there will be no conflict and unity will prevail itself  but unfortunately some among us don’t want to follow this Sunnah of ProphetMuhammad (peace_be_upon_him) Although Allah ordered Muslims to Follow and Obey the Messenger (peace_be_upon_him).

The proponent of Fixing Moon Date argues that when Modern Science and Technology can accurately predict the new Moon then there is no need to sight the moon to start Ramadan or Eid.

First of all, Islam i.e the Orders of Allah Ta’ala and Muhammad (peace_be_upon_him) are not under the authority of Science and Technology, in other words Science cannot dictate Islam. On the contrary, Allah and His Messengers (by Allah’s will) can make thing happens which are against all laws of science and Technology. That is why we have to believe in Allah, all His Messengers, His Angels, Heaven and Hell and Life after death without any physical proof or evidence. Supposedly, If we accept that only Moon Calculation is enough then why in every Hadiths prophet Muhammad (peace_be_upon_him) stressed on Sighting the Moon and if it is not visible then just complete thirty days. This completion of thirty days prove that there is no need for moon calculation. The modern technological advancement can easily predict where on earth and what time and date the new moon can be seen. We can use these astronomical data to sight the moon on that particular date and time but we cannot based our decision solely on science and ignore all the hadiths regarding moon sighting because Islam is based on Quran and the Sunnah of our beloved prophet Muhammad (peace_be_upon_him) and not on Science and Technology.

Another reason given by the supporter of Fixing Moon date is that “the sighting of Moon” is not an act of Ibada’h therefore it is O.K to start the month without sighting the new moon.

Ibada’h is not the name of just performing salaat, Hajj, fasting and giving Zakat. To obey any order of Allah Ta’ala is Ibada’h whether speaking truth or going to Jihad or building Mosque or any good deed ordered by Allah and his messenger (peace_be_upon_him) is considered Ibada’h. Many places in Quran  Allah Said “Obey Allah and His Messenger” and one place Allah Said “he who obeys the messenger has indeed obeyed Allah” (Surah al-Nisa, verse-80). In these verses Allah orders Muslims to obey His prophet Muhammad (peace_be_upon_him). In other words, if you obey Muhammad (peace_be_upon_him) that means you are obeying Allah Ta’ala. Since Allah’s Messenger Muhammad (peace_be_upon_him) ordering muslims to start new month by “sighting new moon”, therefore this act of “sighting moon” is indeed an act of Ibada’h because obeying Muhammad (peace_be_upon_him) is obeying Allah and obeying Allah is indeed is an act of Ibada’h.

From last fourteen hundred years, Muslims around the world practicing this Sunnah of Moon Sighting to begin new Islamic month. Now few among us want to introduce this new innovation of calculation in Islam to start the new month and want to do away altogether with this Sunnah of our prophet (peace_be_upon_him) in the name of Unity and Modernization. They seems to forget this hadith of our beloved (peace_be_upon_him) in which Prophet Muhammad (peace_be_upon_him) said

“Whosoever introduces a new belief in our religion which contradicts with it is rejected.”  He also said “Beware of innovations, for every innovation (Kullu Bid’at) is misguidance.”

 (Mishqat Shareef)

According to this hadith, to begin new month solely based on calculation (and announce the start of new Islamic month well in advance) is indeed introducing new belief in Islam specially when this new belief contradict and demolish the Sunnah of the prophet Muhammad (peace_be_upon_him). Any new innovation in Islam is Bid’at if it is against the teachings of Quran and   the Sunnah of Rasulallah (SalallahoAlaiheWasalam), specially if this new innovation demolishes the Sunnah of the prophet Muhammad (SalallahoAlaiheWasalam). Therefore according to the above hadith, starting of new Islamic month and announce it in advance solely based on astronomical calculation without sighting the moon fall into the category of Bida’t.

We sincerely appeal to all Muslims to follow in the path of Shariah. The Shariah that was established by our Prophet Muhammad (SalallahoAlaiHeWasallam) and those who followed him to bring Islam to our generation. Such Sharia is the only gaurantee that our “Ibadah” will be accepted by Allah Subhana Ta’ala.

Rasulullah Salallaho-Alaihe-Wasalam Said: “When mischief becomes widespread among my Ummat(Muslims), a person who abides by my Sunnat will acquire blessings equal to the amount deserved by a hundred martyrs”

(Hadith: Al-Mishqaat)

Allah’s Messenger (peace be upon him) said:

There will befall my Ummah exactly (all those) evils which befell the people of Isra’il, so much so that if there was one amongst them who openly committed fornication with his mother there will be among my Ummah one who will do that, and if the people of Isra’il were fragmented into seventy-two sects my Ummah will be fragmented into seventy-three sects. All of them will be in Hell Fire except one sect. They (the Companions) said: Allah’s Messenger, which is that? Whereupon he said: It is one to which I and my companions belong.

(Al- Tirmidhi)