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Sighting the moon

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:

Brother Burhan,

Assalamo-Alaikum,
The moon sighting issue has always intrigued me.  I have raised my questions even at ISNA conferences but did not get a convincing response.  here too you have quoted conflicting quotes.  e.g.


Allah says in the Holy Quran Chapter 10 Surah Yunus verse 5: It is He (Allah) Who gave the sun his brightness and the moon her light, and ordained the moon's phases precisely so that you may calculate years and dates from this.


If I am understanding right from this Ayah, Allah knows that we can calculate dates and years from the knowledge he gave us on Sun and moon. With the advances in the astronomy, we are able to calculate the exact position of sun and moon at any given instance.  Then why there is objection on relying on the computations as against the tradition of sighting moon. The tradition is not demanded by Allah in Quran but that was the need of the times and recorded by Sahabas for guidance.  Should we take the traditions as mandatory or the guidance from Quran as mandatory.  We all know the answer. But if some people choose to stay with tradition, I don't see that is the only right way.  You have to use the knowledge and Akl Allah has given us. The traditions in my opinion is time based.  A tradition of one era may not be practical or valid in another era. Traditions do change with time.  The time I am talking here is in terms of Centuries. The tradition of moon sighting is more relevant in times when the astronomy advances were not made. When there was no mechanical time clock.  The time tracking was purely done through what could be seen - in terms of day and night. Why don't we ride camels as means of transportation? After all our prophets and Sahabas used to ride camel.  The camel riding is not practical in this era.  The cars are innovations. Why is innovation evil?  I have hard time following this.  Any innovation will change a tradition here and there.   If we had electronics, websites, emails in Prophet's (saws) era,  would it not be reflected in the traditions at that time. The only thing that does not change with time is the guidance of Allah in the Al Quran.  All other things are time dependant.


Also how did we come up with the exact up to the second time for salat 5 times a day?  We all have fixed time for fajr, Zohor, Asar, maghrib and Isha.  These fixed times have come from the calculations - position of Sun - knowledge of Astronomy, computers.  How come we use calculations in this instance but do not believe calculations for lunar calendar?  Do we believe only in Sun and not moon?  Allah has fixed path for both of them as revealed in Surah Yaseen.  (Wash shamso tajri limustaqirin laha Zalika taqdeerul aleem....Wal qamarah qaddernaho munazilah hatta aadakul urjoonil qadeem...)



I would appreciate your views on this.  I do not know much of the haqeeqi claim, but that is not the issue I am interested. Hope to see a convincing response from you as always.


Jazakullah Khair!

 

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Answer:

 

Sighting the moon

In the name of Allah, We praise Him, seek His help and ask for His forgiveness. Whoever Allah guides none can misguide, and whoever He allows to fall astray, none can guide them aright. We bear witness that there is no one (no idol, no person, no grave, no prophet, no imam, no dai, nobody!) worthy of worship but Allah Alone, and we bear witness that Muhammad (saws) is His slave-servant and the seal of His Messengers.

 

Allah says in the Holy Quran Chapter 2 Surah Baqarah verse 189: They ask you (O Prophet) about the phases of the moon. Tell them, These are signs for the people to reckon dates, and fix the periods for Hajj.

 

In the above aayah of the Holy Quran, Allah declares that the phases of the moon are signs for the people to determine or reckon the dates of the months. It was indeed the Sunnah of the Messenger of Allah (saws) and the early muslims, that they would determine the days and months by sighting the moon. It is also true that in those days, they did not have access to the modern technological devices, and thus used to sight the moon with the naked eye. There is absolutely no harm, if today, the muslims use and take advantage of these modern instruments to sight or determine the advent of the moon (just as they use the watch to determine the prayer times) to start and date their calendar months. What is important is that muslims should with or without the use of instruments, sights the moon to start the months.

 

In Islam, the moon is used to determine the number of days in a calendar month; and the sun is used to determine the time for the obligatory fard prayers. Just as the prayer times are different in the various geographical locations of the world, it is only natural that the advent of the lunar months will also be different, depending on the various geographical locations. The times and dates are linked to the sun and the moon, and not through the various sects in Islam!

 

Just imagine, if someone was to say that all the people of one sect must pray the fajr prayers at the very same time, no matter where they reside in the world! Now that is something that would not make sense!

Similarly, if one sect announces that, irrespective of the advent of the new moon, they must all start and end the month on the very same day, no matter where they reside in the world; that would not make scientific or logical sense, if indeed they determine their days of the month through the advent of the moon as commanded by Allah Subhanah in the Glorious Quran.

 

It is also a scientific fact, that some months in the lunar calendar have 29 days and some have 30 days. Thus it would be incorrect to always determine the month of Ramadan (or any particular month) as 30 days, without referring to the moon.

 

If all the muslims everywhere in the world were to celebrate the Holy Month of Ramadan and Eid on the very same day, it does not make scientific or logical sense! It makes as much sense to start and end a lunar month on the very same day all over the world, as it would make if everyone prays their fajr (or any) prayers at the exact same times all over the world, without referring to the sun! That would mean that although it might be time for fajr in USA, and magrib in Makkah, all the muslims, all over the world, would pray fajr!

 

Thus, there is absolutely no harm is one uses modern tools to determine the advent of the moon, and no sensible scholar will call that an innovation.

 

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 in Islam,

 

 

Burhan

 

 


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