Why is it so difficult or unacceptable to make and follow calendars while the cycles of moon are already calculated to fair degrees of certainty or atleast to a better degree of certainty than looking up in the sky for sightings. Second, what is the correct way to follow Mohammed`s(SAW) sunnah, in deeds or in deeds and spirit?
Mu' meneen Brothers and Sisters,
As Salaam Aleikum wa Rahmatullahi wa Barakatuh. (May Allah's Peace, Mercy and Blessings be upon all of you)
one of our brothers/sisters has asked this question:
I have been reading your answers with great interests and would like clarifications to some of my own concerns. First, why do you think majority of Muslims, at least in India and Pakistan, still mark their days by actual sightings of moon? Why is it so difficult or unacceptable to make and follow calendars while the cycles of moon are already calculated to fair degrees of certainty or atleast to a better degree of certainty than looking up in the sky for sightings. Second, what is the correct way to follow Mohammed's (SAW) sunnah, in deeds or in deeds and spirit? To make my point, who, out of the following three, is closest to Mohammed's(SAW) sunnah? One who offers namaaz with exact same arkaan and offering all the prostration but not reciting any dua/ayah or reciting them incorrectly. Someone who offers namaaz without even knowing why or what but their arkaan/action seems immaculate. One who is offering the namaaz in deeds but does not have a feel for it, following Mohammed's sunnah for the people who can see but not in the eyes of God. One who offers namaaz, not in the exact same way as Mohammed(SAW) did, may be because of disability, lack of knowledge or other things that can not be attributed to purpose, but the person recites the dua and ayah with the heartfelt for Allah. One who is not offering the namaaz in deeds but in heart he/she feel for the Allah while offering namaaz, does not follow Mohammed's(SAW) sunnah for the eyes that can see but for the eyes of Allah. One who offers the namaaz exactly as Mohammed(SAW) did, in action and spirit. The good answer is the last person but how would you describe the other two?
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Your comment: First, why do you think majority of Muslims, at least in India and Pakistan, still mark their days by actual sightings of moon? Why is it so difficult or unacceptable to make and follow calendars while the cycles of moon are already calculated to fair degrees of certainty or atleast to a better degree of certainty than looking up in the sky for sightings.
Brother, it is not only in India and Pakistan that the majority of the muslims mark their months with the sighting of the moon; it is the practice of the majority of muslims worldwide. The real thing in Islam is that the moon is sighted, to mark the beginning of each month; as was the Sunnah of the Messenger of Allah (saws). As the world has advanced technologically, and there is a mechanism in place to sight the moon (or even calculating the advent of the moon accurately), there is absolutely no harm if a calendar is made. There is a consensus amongst the scholars of Islam on this matter, and in fact, there is a group of eminent scholars who are working on this project.
But one thing that cannot be changed is that the days of the month will be different in different countries. For instance, if Ramadan starts in the Middle East today, it might start a day or two later in Pakistan or India. That is because the moon will rise at different times in different places, just as the sun rises at different times in the various regions of the world.
In Islam, the timing of the suns movement is used to determine the timing of the prayers, and the timing of the moon is used to determine the duration of the months. Just as the timing of the prayers are different in the various regions of the world; so will be the duration of the months. For example, due to suns rising at different times, when it is time to pray fajr in the USA, it might be time to pray zohr or asr in the Middle East! Thus, it would be impossible and improbable that there was a time fixed for the prayers, whereby all the muslims would pray fajr at the very same time! Just as it would be inaccurate and wrong for all the muslims in the world to pray fajr at the very same time, it would also be inaccurate to start the month of Ramadan on the exact same day all over the world!
Thus even if a calendar is made using the most advanced technology, it will be accurate and used only in a particular region to start the muslim calendar months in that region!
Ref: Your Question: Who performs the best prayer?
- The one who performs only the action of prayer, but not the spirit.
- The one who does not perform the act of prayer, but follows the spirit.
- The one who does both in prayer; actions and spirit.
Obviously, the one who does both, the actions in prayer as taught by the Messenger of Allah (saws) and understands and follows the spirit and wisdom behind these actions, performs the best prayer.
You have indeed asked a very very interesting and soul-searching question. The truth is, that to really get the benefits and rewards of offering the prayers in Islam, it is imperative that one follows the actions of prayer, and also understands and comprehends the spirit behind the recitations and actions. Then, and only then, will the person receive the full rewards and benefits of the prayer. One done without the other, will leave the prayer meaningless and deprived of benefits; in this world, and also in the hereafter. The various actions of the prayer give strength to the spirit, and the spirit behind each action translates into the perfect action or arkaan of the prayer! One is inseparable from the other.
In legal terms, anyone who offers the prayers in action as taught by the Messenger of Allah (saws), will be counted amongst the muslims and will join the brotherhood of Islam. We, as humans, can only see his actions! We are unable to determine what are his intentions or whether he is following the spirit of the prayers or not. The spirit, the intention, and what is in the heart of the person performing the prayer is known to none but Allah Subhanah; for He indeed knows even the secrets of our hearts.
If the person, who does not understand nor comprehend the spirit behind his actions in prayer, and stands with the believers in the prayer congregations, and does all the actions along with the believers; he will have done the outwardly deed of prayer. But he fails to understand the spirit of the prayer that he has assembled in congregation with his brothers in all humility before the Lord of the Worlds, that he is in dialogue with His Creator, that he is standing with the others who believe in the same One Creator in a demonstration of Universal Brotherhood, that he bows down in all humility to the One God in hope and in gratitude for all of His favors, that the One he is responding to is the One Who Created him, the heavens, the earth, the worlds, and it is to Him that everything will return, and that He is the One Who will Judge each one of His creation with Justice, on an Inevitable Day.
If actions alone are done without the spirit, or the spirit realized without the actions; it would not be beneficial to the person. Both have to be done in a perfect and balanced combination.
Allow me to relate a simple example to prove my point. Take the example of a soldier in the army. The main role of the army is to defend the nation. Now, every soldier who enters the army is required to wear a uniform, be disciplined, follow orders, report to exercise and training when ordered, etc. The soldier has to do all these deeds to belong to the army. But if the soldier says that he will not wear the uniform, nor report to work, nor exercise and train like the other soldiers; he will not be accepted in the army! Similarly, if a soldier only wears the uniform, and comes to every exercise and training; but when called to defend his nation, he refuses to come; he too will not be accepted by the army! To be a true soldier, one has to do both; only then will he be accepted in the army!
Thus if one only follows the spirit in the prayer without performing the actions, is like the soldier who refuses to wear the uniform and train like the other soldiers; thus being thrown out of the army. And the one who does all the acts without following the spirit in the prayers, is like the soldier who wears the uniform and trains like the other soldiers, but refuses to come when called to defend the nation; thus being thrown out of the army! Both of them will fail. The only one who can be termed a real soldier, or a real believer, is the one who does both; the actions as well as the spirit.
I hope I have answered your question to your satisfaction. If you need any further clarifications, please do not hesitate to write to us.
Whatever written of Truth and benefit is only due to Allahs Assistance and Guidance, and whatever of error is of me. Allah Alone Knows Best and He is the Only Source of Strength.
Your brother and well wisher in Islam,