Dar As Salaf 

 Presenting the Sunnah between the Hands of the Ummah 


Moonsighting Concept International Or Local?

This topic is to discuss about the evidences of the Moonsighting concpet two main different opinion which has taken over many parts of the world.

  • The International Moonsighting concept
  • The Local Moonsighting concept
 
THE INTERNATIONAL MOONSIGHTING CONCEPT
This holds the opinion of that any where in the world if the moon is sighting every part of the globe has to confirm its acceptance with the first seen moon. As long as it is worth for a part in the globe to be a islamic rule and regulation to maintain their fasting, festivals and the other rulings of moonsighting every muslim has the right to accept and follow it....

The base their argument from the text of the Qur'aan, Narrations of Sunnah, explanations of the Companions of the Messenger of Allah, the early verdicts of the scholars from the Sahabas, Tabeens, Taba Tabeens, Main Opinion of the leading research work scholars of every mazhab and group. This is being the most opinion hedl by the latest leading scholars of the Salaf Understanding personilities of Knowledge.

THE LOCAL MOONSIGHTING CONCEPT
This holds the opinion of that the moon has to be witnessed in every of theri own part of the world, and does not permit to accept the moon sighted in another part of the world. Further they differ in defining the area where the limits are for the sighting of the moon.

Certain of them defined it as the distance of a travel (The distance of a journey) Certain of them defined it as the water divide the lands (The continents) Certain of them defined it as the Sun rise and set geographical area. Any how any of these does not stand any evidence from the text of the Qur'aan or Sunnah or the early scholars of Sahabas, Tabeens, Taba Tabeens or even it does not hold of the leading scholars of the Ummah, Any how many scholars of different subjects have managed to argue on this concept and infused into many mazhabs these opinions, mostly the blind following concept of many have made them to adopt this methodology as a default way of adopting in the mazhabs, although no Mazhab leading Imaams any one of them held such an opinion... 

 

Alhamdulillah, below are the audio files for FREE Download on the above topic wherein Sheikh Yahya hafidhahullah

have discussed evidences pertaining to the above matter in more details inshaAllah.

 

 

 

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-- Wahdathul Matali' or Ikhtilaful Mataalee' --

( taking the whole globe as one horizon OR each community having an individual )

 

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 يَسْأَلُونَكَ عَنِ الْأَهِلَّةِ قُلْ هِيَ مَوَاقِيتُ لِلنَّاسِ وَالْحَجِّ

They ask you about Ahillah, Say that is to determine time for the Mankind and for Hajj

[Al-Baqarah: 189]

 

When we look into the sunnah, we see how to use this new moon to determine time for us:

The Prophet (saw) said: "Fast (Muslims) when you see the crescent; if it is obscure to you, then complete thirty days in the count of Sha`ban. And break your fast when you see the crescent; if it is obscure to you, then fast thirty days. " [Recorded by Al-Bukhaaree, Muslim, and others; narrated by Abu Hurayrah, `Aa'ishah, `Adiyy Bin Haatim, Huthayfah, Ibn `Abbaas, Ibn `Umar, Jabir Bin `Abdillah, and other Sahaabah.]

Abu Hurayrah (Radi Allahu ‘anhu) reported that the Prophet (Sallallaahu ‘alayhi wa Sallam) said: "A month can be twenty nine days; and it can be thirty days. So, fast when you see the crescent; and break your fast when you see it. If it is obscure to you, then complete the count of thirty days.” [Recorded by an-Nasaii; judged authentic by al-Albaanee.]

Even if only one person sighted the moon, the Prophet, Sallallaahu ‘alayhi wa Sallam, used to accept his testimony, fast the month and order Muslims to start fasting the month.

The proof for this is the following narration: Ibn `Umar (Radillaahu ‘anhu) said: "The people were looking out for the crescent (of Ramadaan). I informed the Prophet (salla-llahu `alaihi wa-sallam) that I saw it. So he fasted (on the following day) and ordered the people to fast." [Recorded by Abu Dawood and others; judged authentic by ath-Thahabee, Ibn Hajar and al-Albaanee. ] 

This was the way of the companions and how they used to practice it: Anas b. Malik reported: “We were along with Umar between Mecca and Medina that we began to look for the new moon. And I was a man with sharp eye- sight, so I could see it, but none except me saw it. I began to say to 'Umar: Don't you see it? But he would not see it. Thereupon Umar said: I would soon be able to see it (when it will shine more brightly). I lay upon bed. He then made a mention of the people of Badr to us….” [Sahih Muslim]

This is how the companions taught their students to start any month: Hakam b. al-'Araj reported: “I went to Ibn 'Abbas (Allaah be Pleased with both of them) and he was reclining using his mantle as a pillow near the fountain of Zamzam. I said to him: Tell me about fasting on Ashura. He said: When you see the new moon of Muharram then count the (days) and observe fast on the 9th. I said to him: Is it how the Messenger of Allaah (sallAllaahu alayhi wa sallam) observed the fast? He said: Yes.” [Sahih Muslim]

 

It is clear how the sunnah explains the Qur’an, and if we follow this track, we can attain success in implementing this sunnah of sighting the new moon to start and end the month the best way we can.

 Allaah (ta’aalaa) says:

 

وَمَنْ يُشَاقِقِ الرَّسُولَ مِنْ بَعْدِ مَا تَبَيَّنَ لَهُ الْهُدَى وَيَتَّبِعْ غَيْرَ سَبِيلِ الْمُؤْمِنِينَ نُوَلِّهِ مَا تَوَلَّى وَنُصْلِهِ جَهَنَّمَ وَسَاءَتْ مَصِيرًا

 

If anyone contends with the Messenger even after guidance has been plainly conveyed to him, and follows a path other than that becoming to men of Faith (i.e. the companions), We shall leave him in the path he has chosen, and land him in Hell, what an evil refuge!

[Sura Al-Nisaa, 114]

 

It is not befitting for any believing men and women, after the matter is made clear with the book of Allaah and the sunnah of the Prophet (sallallaahu ‘alayhi wa sallam) and the way of the sahaabah that they would try to take another way of implementing it.

If we leave the issue of calculation aside (which has been discussed at last), we see that there are two major opinions when it comes to the sighting of the moon: 1. Wahdatul Matali` or Ittihadal Mataalee’ (taking the whole globe as one horizon) 2. Ikhtilaful Matali` (each community having an individual sighting)

The question is which one do we choose?

Both of these opinions are based on the hadith of the Prophet (Sallallaahu ‘alayhi wa sallam) "Begin your fast when you see it [the crescent of Ramadan], and end your fast when you see it [the crescent of Shawwal] " [Bukhari]

Many scholars understood this statement as general to the whole Ummah and therefore the opinion of Wahdatul Mataalee’ originated from it. So, regardless of where the moon is sighted, as long as the news of its sighting reaches us in time, we follow the sighting of that moon to start and break the fast.

Other scholars understood this statement as specific directed and meant for each individual community and therefore the opinion of Ikhtilaful Matali` originated from this understanding. Those who follow this opinion differ amongst themselves as to how they should draw the boundary: some say three cities should have their own sighting, some say the sighting should be based on geographical boundaries, continents, regions, sharing of nights etc… But there is no proof that any of them bring to validate their arguments of defining a locality, it is as best can be described as fiqh position of some respected scholars. Their argument is that in the time of the Prophet (Sallallaahu ‘alayhi wa sallam) and the old days, the Muslims used to depend on local moon-sighting. Thus, the root of sighting the moon is local – hence the moon should be sighted locally. Although the argument is tempting and has basis in the religion, but in fact the truth is with the other group of scholars, and Allaah knows best.

First of all, we see these scholars who support the ikhtilaful Matali` cannot come to any conclusion as to what should be the boundary, and the reason is there is no such proof to decide a boundary. Hence there is a big area of dispute in this opinion which causes friction and trouble in the communities, localities.

Also, the argument that goes against them is in the time of the Prophet (Sallallaahu ‘alayhi wa sallam) and the old days, the Muslims didn’t have the advancement of modern science to get the news from far away land that the moon was sighted in other localities. So, they had to practice the command of the Prophet (Sallallaahu ‘alayhi wa sallam) as best as they could. And that is what the Prophet (sallallaahu ‘alayhi wa sallam) said: “When I command you with something, do as much of it as you are able; and when I forbid you from something, stay away from it” [Al-Bukhari and Muslim]

Therefore, with the advancement of science and technology, we can communicate and the news of the sighting of one locality can reach the other in a matter of seconds. So, we can implement the command of the Prophet (Sallallaahu ‘alayhi wa sallam) "Fast (Muslims) when you see the crescent” in a more comprehensive way.

The fact is in the time of the Prophet (sallallaahu ‘alayhi wa sallam), the best they could do is to look for the new moon in their own locality and wait until news came from outside the locality. And this is what was required of them to do, they did the best according to their abilities.

In fact, the Prophet (sallallaahu ‘alayhi wa sallam) accepted the news of moon-sighting by the people who were traveling towards Medinah and was not from their locality.

Abu `Umair bin Anas said on the authority of his paternal uncles, who were companions of the Prophet (sallallaahu ‘alayhi wa sallam):

"Some men came riding to the Prophet (Sallallaahu ‘alayhi wa sallam) and testified that they had sighted the hilaal (crescent) the previous day. He therefore commanded the people to break the fast and to go out to their place of prayer in the morning. "

[Recorded by Abu Daawood; authenticated by al-Albaanee. ]

This indicates that he (Sallallaahu ‘alayhi wa sallam) didn’t intend to put any boundary to any locality but it was left open. So, in their times, due to the lack of transportation, communication the best they could do is implement it locally and wait for the news of any moon-sighting to reach them on time to correct the situation.

Also, this hadith is a proof that the matter of moon-sighting should be taken easy and applied according to our ability without going into extremism.

To refute the position of Wahdatul Matali`, some argue (may Allaah guide them and us) if the Prophet (Sallallaahu ‘alayhi wa sallam) wanted he could have implemented the global sighting because he (Sallallaahu ‘alayhi wa sallam) could send troops to different localities. Some have the strange idea that the Prophet (Sallallahahu ‘alayhi wa sallam) could send and station people with torches on each high mountain to send signals to people whether moon was sighted in other communities or not.

The answer to this argument is that sharee’ah came to make things easy and simple for us. The command of the Prophet (Sallallaahu ‘alayhi wa sallam) “Fast when you see it…” is so unique that it can be implemented at all times.

At times, when communication is not very good (as it was in the old times) and at times when communication is really superb (in our time) and all Praise be to Allaah (Subhaanahu wata’aalaa). The reason he (Sallallaahu ‘alayhi wa sallam) didn’t go out of the way to implement his general command by sending troops etc. shows us that if situation goes back to the old time, we have to implement it as he did. We don’t have to waste time running around for the sighting of the moon, we will do it locally and wait for any news that might come to us and based upon that we start or end our month.

In our time, we do the same except that communication became so easy that we can get the news of the sighting of any other localities so easily through internet, phone etc… We also don’t need to send troops or to station people on the top of mountains with torch lights!! Only thing we do is, we accept those reports that come to us in a easy fashion and that is what the Prophet (Sallallaahu ‘alayhi wa sallam) did when the traveling people came and told him they saw the moon the night before. So, he (Sallallaahu ‘alayhi wa sallam) ordered the people to break the fast and pray ‘Eid the next day.  

This discussion shows us the wisdom of the words of our Prophet (Sallallaahu ‘alayhi wa sallam) and how it is applicable for all time.

And why not it be so, he (Sallallaahu ‘alayhi wa sallam) didn’t speak from his desires, what he said was from the revelation. Allaah (ta’aalaa) says:  

وَمَا يَنْطِقُ عَنِ الْهَوَى إِنْ هُوَ إِلَّا وَحْيٌ يُوحَى

He doesn’t speak from his desire, Indeed what he says is from revelation [Sura An-Najm: 4-5]  

Some people argue, you take the advancement of science in the matter of accepting the news of sighting the moon but then you deny the advancement of “astrological calculation” to deny/accept the report of moon-sighting, why is there a contradiction in your methodology here?

And the answer is there is no contradiction in the methodology as the astronomical calculation is not a new invention but an old one dated long time before the Prophet (Sallallaahu ‘alahyi wa sallam) and this is what he (Sallallaahu ‘alayhi wa sallam) refers to as when he said “we are illiterate nation, we don’t calculate…” in the famous narration recorded in Bukhari and Muslim:

Ibn `Umar (RadiAllaahu ‘anhu) reported that the Messenger, salla-llahu `alaihi wa-sallam, said: "We are an illiterate nation. We do not use astronomical writing or computation (in our fasting). A month is so and so and so (and he pointed with his hands three times, folding the thumb on the third time, meaning twenty nine days) or so and so and so (and he pointed with his hands three times, meaning thirty days). " [Al-Bukhaaree, Muslim, Abu Daawood and An-Nasaa`ee.]

So, we don’t use the astronomical calculation in case of moon-sighting, because it contradicts the Sunnah. But to use the advancement of communication field to fully implement the command of the Prophet (Sallalalaahu ‘alayhi wa sallam) “fast when you see it…” is actually aiding the sunnah not denying it or changing it. [For more discussion, please refer to “Moon-sighting and Astronomical Calculation” by Jalal Abualrub]

In conclusion:

1. The Prophet (sallallaahu ‘alayhi wa sallam) gave a command which was general to the whole Ummah. If someone wants to restrict this general command, he has to bring proof from the Sunnah.

2. The Prophet (Sallallaahu ‘alayhi wa sallam) implemented this command of sighting the moon locally due to the situation that was existing at his time (i.e. lack of communication) not because he wanted to set up a separate sighting for his own town Medinah, a separate one for Mekkah, a separate one for Taif etc...

3. The Prophet, salla-llahu `alaihi wa-sallam, did not establish a definition for what constitutes a locality.

4. He used to accept testimony from those who were not local or was travelling.

5. In our time, we are able to combine the advancement in the communication field to fully implement the command of the Prophet (sallallaahu ‘alayhi wa sallam) that he gave 1400 years ago; this is a miracle of Islam (Sallallaahu ‘alayhi wa sallam). Definitely, this doesn’t make us any better than the Prophet’s practice or the sahaabahs practice because regardless of what we do and how much we do, we can never excel their ranks.

After discussing this matter of shareeh and considering available facts, we find that those who follow the opinion of Wahdatul Matali` are closer to the truth and Allah knows best. This why we at Masjid Ibrahim adopt this opinion seeking the unity of the entire Ummah of Muhammad, salla-llahu `alaihi wa-sallam.

And Allah Knows best.

(Above taken from Masjid Ibrahim website)