Outcry against ISNA Fiqh Council Moon Sighting Decision (Part 1)

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.

Part 2

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10 Responses to Outcry against ISNA Fiqh Council Moon Sighting Decision (Part 1)

  1. basair says:

    Most respected Dr Zulfiqar Shah sahib is not a traditional alim or mufti. He is a graduate of Islamic University Islamabad and has done Phd from England. He is a ghair muqqallid and holds his personal unique views in fiqh.

    I know him from Jacksonvill, FL, where he was the imam of Islamic Center. In 1997-8 he announced moonsighting for Eidul fitr based on telephone information from Montreal. Whereas even in Montreal the Islamic center did not celebrate eid on that day. Nor did Orlando which is 90 miles away celebrate Eid.
    Khud rayii.

  2. assalamu `alaykum,

    JazakAllah khair for providing some background on the author of this 52 page article which various masajid have already adopted. Its quite disturbing that literally hundreds of people have accepted this decision coming from someone who is least qualified to issue such rulings.

  3. siddiqui4ever says:

    Assalamualaikum,

    There is now a new post by ISNA in defense of their position. I believe these points need to be clearly addressed and refuted:

    1. \”The majority of the Classical jurists rejected the use of calculations because the calculations were not precise in their times\”

    2. \”We also know that the Prophet (PBUH) himself affirmed the new month by just counting the 29 days and without sighting the new Moon, as the Ahadith in al-Bukhari, al-Muslim and all other authentic sources report. Eight of the known Companions of the Prophet (PBUH) including his beloved wife A\\\’ishah, her sister Asma\\\’, Caliph U\\\’mar, his son Abdullah bin U\\\’mar, Abu Hurayrah, Anas, \\\’Amr bin al-A\\\’as and others (May Allah be Pleased with them) used to start the month of Ramadan if the horizon was obscured on the 29th days of Sha\\\’aban without completing the 30 days of Sha\\\’aban (see more details in my paper on ISNA.net). \”

    3.\”There is a consensus among the Muslim jurists that these means are permitted to determine the Salah, Imsak and Iftar timings and nobody makes fuss about them being against the Sunnah or against the crystal clear texts of the Qur\\\’an. It is strange that some Muslims are stuck on the text of Moon sighting and not about the other texts which are more frequent and authentic.\”

    4. \”It will be argued that the Ahadith put the condition of completing 30 days in case of cloudy weather. What if it is not cloudy on the 29th day of the month? Are the Muslims required to sight the Moon on 30th of that month? The answer is \\\”No\\\”. Therefore, all the Muslim jurists agree upon the fact that sighting the new Moon is a means and not the objective of the month of Ramadan.\”

    5. \”In reality there is no science that can give us precise visibility calculations. No astronomer has ever claimed that there is such a thing called science of accurate or authentic visibility. Even the Muslim astronomers disagree between themselves about the true criterions of the actual visibility because the visibility depends upon many variable factors. These factors are not predictable or are not 100% sure. That is why those who follow actual sighting are confused for years as to which astronomer to follow and which and how many witnesses to accept.\”

    Wasalam

  4. assalamu alaykum – Point #5 seems to be a refutation of themselves. Anyway, I’ve spoken to some learned people and there is really no point in refuting line by line everything they have said. Argumentation and debate can go on forever. Our job is to promote the authentic sunnah as it is without any compromise or watering down. Its an extremely simple principle, the sunnah of actual sighting is not that hard to understand.

  5. Zaheer says:

    As Salaam Alaikum. The objective of ISNA and the Fiqh Council appears to be to make things as complicated as possible. Previously any person could go out and look for the hilal. Now, you need to do Ph.D in Astronomy and know the birth of the new moon time, Greenwich Mean Time, etc. before you can start your Ramadaan. They call this “convenience.” Millions of Muslims have been made “illiterate” and totally disqualified for hilal sighting with this announcement.

    They have adopted totally un-Islamic concepts like birth of new moon, GMT, etc. In the process, they have changed Ramadaan dates for Muslims. Now, millions of Muslims are missing their Ramadaan fasts, missing their Lailatul Qadr. No wonder Muslims are being humiliated around the world because they themselves are fooling around with Ayahs and Ahadeeth – all in the name of “convenience.”

    This whole new concept is still useless because for Eidul Adha, ISNA goes by Saudi dates performing Eid on 9th ZulHijjah every year abandoning their own calendar.

    ISNA and Fiqh Council are the organizations of Bidaa, and they are trying hard to promote their innovations through stupid arguments.

    Each year I was losing respect for ISNA somewhat because of their flip-flopping opinions on issues. Now, I have discarded ISNA for good. This fiasco will lead to the elimination of ISNA. The best protest will be to boycott ISNA and its products.

  6. H. Ayyoob says:

    Assalamualaikum. I was very disappointed with the Hilal Committee decision regarding the start of the month of Ramadhan. The Committee should show some leadership in this regard and join the call of unity in accepting the decision of the North American Fiqh committee. It is not enough to say our forefathers were excellent scientists and astronomers. We have to show that we can stand up for Science. We must show some respect for Science especially in a clear case like the sighting of the moon which is baby stuff in this advanced age of astronomy.

    I read all the articles presented by the Hilal committee and I did not see any forthright, convincing argument against going with calculated calendar. The only thing obvious was total disrespect for science.

    I have seen a lot of nonsense regarding the sighting of the moon in my lifetime. At first the ulema did not allow anything beyond one’s own city. Even then we had eid on two different days. Then they extended to 200 km – the distance that could be covered on horseback for a messenger to come over during the period of a night during the prophet’s times. Then they extended to the cities along the same longitude. And now our Hilal committee says it can accept anything in North America and not beyond.

    The time has come for our Hilal committees to show their metal – if they are going to stand up for logic and Science or if they are going to continue with the nonsense.

    Wassalam

    H. Ayyoob

  7. assalamu alaykum H. Ayyoob – Have you read Shaykh Hamza Yusuf’s resposne to ISNA’s decision? If not, I would highly recommend it.

  8. […] نہیں کروں گا اگر کوئی اِس بات پر مباحث پڑھنا چاہے تو یہاں اور یہاں اِس پر مزید پڑھ سکتا ہے۔ لیکن میں آسٹرانومی کی […]

  9. Aslam says:

    Whoever adds anything to Islam is a Kaafir and will be raised as one. Prophet Muhammed Sallallahu alaihi wa sallam commanded us to fast when we see the hilal and break the fast when we see the hilal. If it is cloudy, then complete 30 days. So simple. ISNA follows the Jewish calendar and the committee members of ISNA will be raised up as Jews and not as Muslims, InshaAllah. It is time for our good Muslim scholars to apply the command of Allah SWT and our Prophet Muhammed Sallallahu alaihi wa sallam. If we go by the calculations, it is against Allah and his Messenger. Whoever follows anything other than Islam is not from us and will be raised on Judgment day as kaafirs. Allah save Muslims from this innovation. We started Ramadan on Thursday, 13th of September, 2007 which is wrong. The moon was not visible at all from North America. There is a difference between conjunction of the moon and sighting the Hilal. These uneducated scholars from ISNA think that since the moon has been born but not visible, that they can start a new month. May Allah’s wrath be on the mischief makers and the oppressors. May Allah help the true Muslims in observing their fasts correctly and on the correct dates. This year, those who started Ramadan on the 13th Sept, started a day earlier and also whoever prayed on Lailat ul Qadr, did not pray that night but a day earlier. May Allah deface and disgrace these people who have taken Muslims for a ride. All the sins of the Muslims will be on them and they will be the losers in this world and the Hereafter. Aameen. Summa Aameen.

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