As many of you might have heard by now ISNA recently endorsed the Fiqh Council’s justification to base the start of the Islamic lunar month solely on astronomical calculations. They have announced a 5 year Islamic Calendar in advance. This has forced numerous mosques around the country to convene specials meetings to determine if they should follow this decision and of course, there has been intense opposition from various Muslim scholars and scientists. The opponents of this latest Fiqh Council decision in a nutshell are saying Islamic law has made clear the necessity of an actual sighting of the moon to determine Islamic dates, however astronomical data can be used solely to assist and guide in determining the probability of a moon sighting.
The arguments presented by the Fiqh Council are part of a 52 page article written by Dr. Zulfiqar Ali Shah. Following are several answers from traditional ulama (scholars) and non-ulama on this latest issue:
(*) North America Hilal Committee finds the Fiqh Council decision flawed– Signed by a diverse group of ulama (scholars) including deobandis, barelwis and a shi’a scholar (That’s quite an accomplishment – in my opinion – in itself). The ulama (scholars) who signed this statement are as follows: Mawlana Muhammad Nadvi (North American Ulema Council, California), Mawlana Abdullah Kapodrawee (Jami’atul Ulama Canada), Mufti Ruhul Amin (Shar’ah Board of New York), Mufti Mumtaz Qasmi (Islamic Shari’ah Council of California), Mawlana Muhibur Rahman (Ulama Council of America), Imam Ashrafuz Zaman (Ulama council of America), Mufti Hidayatullah Farooqi (Jamat Ahle Sunnat of America), Mufti Muhammad Jamaluddin (Darul Uloom NY), Mawlana Muhammad Tayyab Qasmi (Islamic Shari’ah Council of B.C., Canada), Mufti Noman Vazir (Shari’ah Board of New York), Shaikh Syed Muhammad Rizvi (Shi’a Association of America) and Mawlana Khaleel Ahmad (Hilal Committee of Metro Toronto).
(*) Inaccurate decision of ISNA’s Fiqh Council creates controversy – The ulama of the Chicago Hilal Committee
(*) Answer from Mufti Desai (Full version coming soon) – “We have studied the research of ISNA as prepared by Zul Fiqar Ali Shah of Milwaukee and found it to be flawed from many angles.” – Mufti Ebrahim Desai (db)
(*) Axing of Methodology – “… I would appeal to my fellow Muslims, that if you have plans of buying a pair of shoes or a diamond ring, then you would do due diligence, before buying. Islam is much more than a pair of shoes or a diamond ring and far greater in consequences, please consult with the scholars and it’s time that you take control of things. Let not one individual or select group individual take you for a ride.” – Dr. Hafiz Abdur Rahman Aejaz (Santa Clara, California)
(*) Moon Sighting for the month of Ramadan – “… it is not possible nor has the Shari’ah allowed the Islamic lunar calendar to be based on calculations. This has never been permitted and has been the consensus of the Ummah. Though, this much can be said that Islam does allow using astronomical calculations to aid in moonsighting. For example, it can be helpful in providing us the approximate timings to when the moon will be most likely visible, or the age of the moon at the time of the setting of the sun, or at what time the moon will set.” – Shaykh Ibrahim Memon, Darul Uloom Al Madania (Buffalo, New York)
(*) I have been informed, a few other ulama are preparing a response. Insha’Allah as soon as it will be made public, I shall post it here.