Is testimony in odds with observatory calculations acceptable according to Shariah?

November 7, 2006

Earlier this year (2006), the prestigious institute, Darul Uloom Karachi issued a ruling in regards to issues being faced by the Muslim community in England on moon sighting, much like the community in North America. The interesting part of the ruling is where the author references another ruling of Mufti Rafi Usmani (President of Darul Uloom Karachi, brother of Mufti Taqi Usmani) in regards to the question of accepting the testimony of witnesses in moon sighting when astronomical calculations (which are prone to error) do not support them.

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New Moon Sighting Portal Launched

October 19, 2006

Good News!

A new moon sighting portal has been launched.

Check it out:

From their about us page:

 We firmly believe that physically sighting the crescent moon as the basis for beginning the lunar month is established by the Qur’an, the Sunnah of the Prophet Muhammad (Allah bless him and grant him peace), and has been the position of the overwhelming majority of Islamic scholarship to this day. Hilalbase has therefore been established to provide a much needed resource on authentic moon sighting information for various Muslim communities.

I’m currently serving on the Hilalbase team. We have several top ulama on our board and an increasing number of masjids are registering on Hilalbase every day. Please remember us in your dua’s.

Whether you need to find a masjid in your area which follows the traditional moon sighting method or scientific data on moon sightability (for e.g. the moon visibility curve for Eid ul-Fitr this year – 1st of Shawwal 1427), is the place to go! Hilalbase will also provide the Islamic Hijri date in North America.

The countdown begins

October 11, 2006

I think the ISNA decision is backfiring on them. Shaykh Hamza Yusuf’s monumental response dealt a severe blow to their initiative. I’m usually not this optimistic but I think there is a chance of actual sustainable unity in the light of these events if smart / tactical decisions are made. In a few days, the community will witness a launch of a new moon sighting initiative which will potentially bring some closure to this issue. Stay tuned.

101706 = ?

Going out to sight the crescent moon

October 11, 2006

How many people do we know who actually make an effort of going out to sight the moon? I’ve been thinking about this lately and I have a feeling we somehow rely on these “people” to be “out there” searching for the moon on the 29th of every month. Who are these people? Where are they? Why isn’t there any organized effort to carry out this important task? I’ve been thinking about all these things and I think if we had the “spirit of moon sighting” in us maybe we wouldn’t have all these “moon fighting” issues in the first place. Lets face it, a lot of our instituitions are run by folks who come from countries where the government usually carries out this function. We simple don’t have the “hilal watching” spirit in us. I’m not sure who we’re waiting for or what we’re waiting for. I hope the latest flawed ISNA iniative to deal with the moon sighting issue wakes us up.

Would you be willing to committ yourself for going out to physically sight the crescent moon on the 29th of each month?

Note: Ofcourse there are certain fiqh issues as well to all this such as the requirement of male witnesses, the number of witnesses and other requirements . Its not my intent to delve into those issues rather I’m interested in the importance we give to this activity.  If we have the spirit than Insha’allah the detalis can be dealt with the assistance of our ulama.

Moon Sighting Revisited

September 29, 2006

by M. Bakri Musa 

This year, as in previous years, Muslims in America and elsewhere are again disagreeing over when Ramadan and Eid should begin. This year, also as in previous years, there will be renewed and earnest declarations to resolve once and for all this recurring issue.

The question is whether the new Muslim month (of particular relevance is Ramadan and Shawal) should begin when the new moon is sighted or go by scientific calculations.

A corollary controversy is over when to celebrate Eid ul Adha, whether to do it at the precise time the pilgrims are celebrating theirs in Mecca or to go by the equivalent local time.

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Why was the moon sighting report from Texas declared invalid?

September 23, 2006

On September 22, 2006, a group of people supposedly sighted the crescent moon north of Dallas, Texas. It has been reported that this group, consisting of four to six people, gave the shahada (testimony) at a Masjid (mosque) in Denton, Texas of sighting the moon. Upon receiving this moon sighting report, the various Hilal committees’ in the United States consulted each other and subsequently declared the report to be invalid according to astronomical calculations and the principles laid down by the shariah (Islamic Law).

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Shaykh Hamza Yusuf’s Scholarly Respone to ISNA’s Moon Sighting Decision; ICNA decides to stick with tradition and rules out calculations in moon sighting

September 22, 2006

Subhanallah! This paper is excellent. You can download it from Zaytuna’s Website:


A couple of statements I found interesting:

“This paper advances several arguments and rebuts others in an effort to prove that the only acceptable basis for determining the lunar month is the actual sighting of the dawning crescent. At the root of the problem is a failure to recognize that the crescent moon’s appearance is a legal cause (sabab) determined by God in the Qur’an and through His Prophet’s words. That being the case, no scholar in the history of Islam has ever permitted calculation in lieu of sighting until the modern era.”

“I argue that the actual naked-eye sighting is the standard demarcator for establishing the entrance of the Islamic lunar month based on the fact that the Qur’anic verse, They ask you about the crescent moons; say they are a means to measure your specific times and are also for the commencement of the Hajj (2:189), can only be interpreted literally. This conclusion ensues because the verse is decisive in its evidentiary nature and unequivocal in meaning.”

“Hence, I argue that, far from being an advancement, moving to a calculated lunar calendar is a reversion to pre-Islamic (jahili) custom.”

“In addition to advancing proofs showing that none of our scholars advocated standardizing the determination of the beginning of the lunar months based on calculations, I will show how the opinion of Ibn Daqiq al-‘Id has been misrepresented by the advocates of such calculations.”

“I conclude my argument by presenting the opinion of the four Sunni schools and the Ja’fari Shia school that the norm for establishing the beginning of the lunar month is the actual naked-eye sighting.”

– Shaykh Hamza Yusuf


Another recent development: ICNA released a statement today declaring they will not be siding with ISNA and their Fiqh Council on their moon sighting decision. They said:

“The Islamic Circle of North America (ICNA) has traditionally adopted the opinion of sighting the moon in North America . On the advice of ICNA’s Scholars Committee, we have decided to continue following our existing approach and will not be adopting a calendar which is primarily based on calculations.”