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Islamic months & sighting of the moon

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 crescent-new-moon-1-2

To spot the crescent is the noble Sunnah of Sayyidina Rasul-ullah (Sallaho Alaihe Wassallam) and his noble companions, join ICOUK to revive this Sunnah..


 

Introduction:

As we move away from the blessed times of Sayyidina Rasul-ullah (Sallaho Alaihe Wassallam) and his Sahaba (RA), matters are creeping into our Deen which have no basis in Islamic Shariah and Islamic history is devoid of any examples or precedence of these action. One such idea is that Islamic months don’t require the sighting of the moon rather, the commencing of the Islamic months is dependent upon astronomical calculations (exclusively) be it the possibility of the sighting (and no attempts are necessary to sight) or merely accurate predictions of the phases of the moon.

The following piece is written to provide conclusive evidence that Islamic months (Ramadhan & otherwise) have always relied upon the sighting of the moon although calculations can be assist in sighting or to confirm (or reject) the sighting but astronomical calculations no matter how accurate cannot be exclusively used for the commencing of the Islamic months.

Moon sighting in the Qur’aan [2:189]:

 

يَسۡـَٔلُونَكَ عَنِ ٱلۡأَهِلَّةِ‌ۖ قُلۡ هِىَ مَوَٲقِيتُ لِلنَّاسِ وَٱلۡحَجِّ‌ۗ وَلَيۡسَ ٱلۡبِرُّ بِأَن تَأۡتُواْ ٱلۡبُيُوتَ مِن ظُهُورِهَا وَلَـٰكِنَّ ٱلۡبِرَّ مَنِ ٱتَّقَىٰ‌ۗ وَأۡتُواْ ٱلۡبُيُوتَ مِنۡ أَبۡوَٲبِهَا‌ۚ وَٱتَّقُواْ ٱللَّهَ لَعَلَّڪُمۡ تُفۡلِحُونَ

[2:189] They ask you about the new moons. Say: They are indicative of time for the people, and of the Hajj. It is not righteousness that you come into your houses from their backs, but righteousness is that one fears Allah. So come into houses through their doors; and fear Allah so that you may be successful. 

 

Tafseer Ibn Katheer (RA):

Imam Ismail Ibn Katheer (RA) records the opinion that the sighting of the moon should be used to commence and end the fasting and presents (amongst others) the following two Ahadeeth in his Tafseer.

وقال عبد الرزاق، عن عبد العزيز بن أبي رَوّاد، عن نافع، عن ابن عمر قال: قال رسول الله صلى الله عليه وسلم: "جعل الله الأهلة مواقيت للناس فصوموا لرؤيته وأفطروا لرؤيته، فإن غم عليكم فَعُدُّوا ثلاثين يومًا"

Sayyidina Abdullah Ibn Umar (RA) narrates that the Prophet of Allah (Sallaho Alaihe Wassallam) stated: "Allah (SWT) created the moons as they are indicative of times for people so fast when you see it (the moon) and break the fast (end the month) when you see it (the moon) and if there are clouds then compete thirty days." [Tafseer Ibn Katheer]

وقال محمد بن جابر، عن قيس بن طلق؛ عن أبيه قال: قال رسول الله صلى الله عليه وسلم: "جعل الله الأهلَّة، فإذا رأيتم الهلال فصُوموا، وإذا رأيتموه فأفطروا، فإن أغْمي عليكم فأكملوا العدة ثلاثين" . وكذا روي من حديث أبي هريرة، ومن كلام عليّ بن أبي طالب، رضي الله عنه

Sayyidina Qays Ibn Talaq (RA) narrates from his father that the Prophet of Allah (Sallaho Alaihe Wassallam) stated: "Allah (SWT) created the moons so fast when see the moon and break the fast (end the month) when you see it (the moon) and if there are clouds upon you then compete thirty days." [Tafseer Ibn Katheer]

Tafseer Dur al-Manthur:

Imam Jalaluddin Al-Suyuti (RA) also records the opinion that the sighting of the moon should be used to commence and end the fasting and presents (amongst others) the following two Ahadeeth in his Tafseer.

وأخرج الحاكم وصححه والبيهقي في سننه عن ابن عمر قال : قال رسول الله صلى الله عليه وسلم « جعل الله الأهلة مواقيت للناس فصوموا لرؤيته ، وافطروا لرؤيته ، فإن غم عليكم فعدوا ثلاثين يوماً »

Sayyidina Abdullah Ibn Umar (RA) narrates that the Prophet of Allah (Sallaho Alaihe Wassallam) stated: "Allah (SWT) created the moons as they are indicative of times for people so fast when you see it (the moon) and break the fast (end the month) when you see it (the moon) and if there are clouds then compete thirty days." [Dur Al-Manthur]

وأخرج أحمد والطبراني وابن عدي والدارقطني بسند ضعيف عن طلق بن علي قال : قال رسول الله صلى الله عليه وسلم « جعل الله الأهلة مواقيت للناس فإذا رأيتم الهلال فصوموا وإذا رأيتموه فأفطروا فإن غم عليكم فأكملوا العدة ثلاثين » .

Sayyidina Talaq Ibn Ali (RA) narrates that the Prophet of Allah (Sallaho Alaihe Wassallam) stated: "Allah (SWT) created the moons so fast when see the moon and break the fast (end the month) when you see it (the moon) and if there are clouds upon you then compete thirty days." [Dur Al-Manthur]

Tafseer Ruh Al-Ma'aani:

Allamah Aloosi (RA) in his Tafseer (Ruh Al-Ma'ani) also records the opinion that the sighting of the moon should be used to commence and end the fasting and writes:

ومناسبة الآية لما قبلها ظاهرة لأنه في بيان حكم الصيام ، وذكر شهر رمضان وبحث الأهلة يلائم ذلك لأن الصوم مقرون برؤية الهلال وكذا الإفطار ، ولهذا قال صلى الله عليه وسلم : « صوموا لرؤيته وافطروا لرؤيته »

...Thus certainly the fasting is dependent upon the sighting of the moon and so is breaking the fast (end the month) and it is so because Prophet of Allah (Sallaho Alaihe Wassallam) stated: fast when see the moon and break the fast (end the month) when you see it (the moon) " [Ruh Al-Ma'aani]

Fathul-Qadeer by Imam Shawkani (RA):

و { الأهلة } جمع هلال ، وجمعها باعتبار هلال كل شهر أو كل ليلة ، تنزيلاً لاختلاف الأوقات منزلة اختلاف الذوات

...Moons is the plural of moon and the plurality (is being mentioned) because there is moon for every location and every night and its phases indicative of the passage of time..." [Fathul-Qadeer]

وأخرج الحاكم وصححه ، والبيهقي في سننه ، عن ابن عمر قال : قال رسول الله صلى الله عليه وسلم : « جعل الله الأهلة مواقيت للناس ، فصوموا لرؤيته ، وأفطروا لرؤيته ، فإن غُمَّ عليكم ، فعدّوا ثلاثين يوماً » وأخرج أحمد ، والطبراني ، وابن عدي ، والدارقطني بسند ضعيف ، عن طَلْق بن عليّ قال : قال رسول الله صلى الله عليه وسلم ، فذكر نحو حديث ابن عمر .

Sayyidina Abdullah Ibn Umar (RA) narrates that the Prophet of Allah (Sallaho Alaihe Wassallam) stated: "Allah (SWT) created the moons as they are indicative of times for people so fast when you see it (the moon) and break the fast (end the month) when you see it (the moon) and if there are clouds then compete thirty days." [Fathul-Qadeer]

Moon sighting in the Qur’aan [2:185]:

 شَہۡرُ رَمَضَانَ ٱلَّذِىٓ أُنزِلَ فِيهِ ٱلۡقُرۡءَانُ هُدً۬ى لِّلنَّاسِ وَبَيِّنَـٰتٍ۬ مِّنَ ٱلۡهُدَىٰ وَٱلۡفُرۡقَانِ‌ۚ

 

[2:185] The month of Ramadan is the one in which the Qur‘an was revealed as guidance for mankind... 

Tafseer Tabari:

Imam Abu Ja'far Muhammad ibn Jarir al-Tabari (RA) writes in his Tafseer:

وكذلك"شَهر الشهر"، إذا طلع هلاله

...And thus month to month, its start is (its) moon...[Tabari]

Tafseer Ruh Al-Ma'aani:

Allamah Aloosi (RA) in his Tafseer (Ruh Al-Ma'ani) exaplains that the commencing of Ramadhan is based upon the sighting of the moon:

والمراد : إن كنتم تعلمون نفس الشهر ولا تشكون فيه ، وفيه إيذان بأن الصوم لا ينبغي مع الشك وليس بشيء كما لا يخفى والشهر المدة المعينة التي ابتداؤها رؤية الهلال

......Month is of a finite (known) length and its beginning is the sighting of the moon...[Ruh Al-Ma'aani]

Moon sighting in the Qur’aan [9:36]:

إِنَّ عِدَّةَ ٱلشُّہُورِ عِندَ ٱللَّهِ ٱثۡنَا عَشَرَ شَہۡرً۬ا فِى ڪِتَـٰبِ ٱللَّهِ يَوۡمَ خَلَقَ ٱلسَّمَـٰوَٲتِ وَٱلۡأَرۡضَ مِنۡہَآ أَرۡبَعَةٌ حُرُمٌ۬‌ۚ ذَٲلِكَ ٱلدِّينُ ٱلۡقَيِّمُ‌ۚ فَلَا تَظۡلِمُواْ فِيہِنَّ أَنفُسَڪُمۡ‌ۚ وَقَـٰتِلُواْ ٱلۡمُشۡرِڪِينَ كَآفَّةً۬ ڪَمَا يُقَـٰتِلُونَكُمۡ ڪَآفَّةً۬‌ۚ وَٱعۡلَمُوٓاْ أَنَّ ٱللَّهَ مَعَ ٱلۡمُتَّقِينَ

[9:36] Surely, the number of months according to Allah is twelve (as written) in the Book of Allah on the day He created the heavens and the Earth, of which there are Four Sacred Months. That is the right faith. So, do not wrong yourself therein. And fight the Mushriks all together, as they fight you all together, and be sure that Allah is with the God-fearing.

Tafseer Ruh Al-Ma'aani:

Allamah Aloosi (RA) in his Tafseer (Ruh Al-Ma'ani) exaplains in his Tasfeer:

والشهر عندهم ينقسم إلى شرعي وحقيقي . واصطلاحي؛ فالشرعي معتبر برؤية الهلال بالشرط المعروف في الفقه

...Month can be defined with a Shariah, actual and literal definition and for the Shariah (defintion) only the sighting (of the moon) is reliable and this condition is well established in Fiqh...[Ruh Al-Ma'aani]

Moon sighting for Ramadhan in the Sunnah:

عن أبي هُرَيْرَةَ رَضِيَ اللَّهُ عَنْهُ قال : قَالَ النَّبِيُّ صَلَّى اللَّهُ عَلَيْهِ وَسَلَّمَ : ( صُومُوا لِرُؤْيَتِهِ ، وَأَفْطِرُوا لِرُؤْيَتِهِ ، فَإِنْ غُبِّيَ عَلَيْكُمْ فَأَكْمِلُوا عِدَّةَ شَعْبَانَ ثَلَاثِينَ

Sayyidina Abu Huraira (RA) reported Allah's Messenger(Sallaho Alaihe Wassallam) as saying: Observe fast on sighting it (the new moon) and break it on sighting it. But if (due to clouds) the actual position of the month is concealed from you, you should then count thirty (days). [Muslim]

Moon sighting for other months in the Sunnah:

 

حَدَّثَنَا مُوسَى بْنُ إِسْمَاعِيل ، حَدَّثَنَا أَبَانُ ، حَدَّثَنَا قَتَادَةُ ، أَنَّهُ بَلَغَهُ " أَنَّ النَّبِيَّ صَلَّى اللَّهُ عَلَيْهِ وَسَلَّمَ كَانَ إِذَا رَأَى الْهِلَالَ ، قَالَ : " هِلَالُ خَيْرٍ ، وَرُشْدٍ هِلَالُ خَيْرٍ ، وَرُشْدٍ هِلَالُ خَيْرٍ ، وَرُشْدٍ آمَنْتُ بِالَّذِي خَلَقَكَ ثَلَاثَ مَرَّاتٍ ، ثُمَّ يَقُولُ : الْحَمْدُ لِلَّهِ الَّذِي ذَهَبَ بِشَهْرِ كَذَا ، وَجَاءَ بِشَهْرِ كَذَا "

Sayyidina Qatadah (RA) narrates that it has certainly reached him that when the Prophet of Allah (Sallaho Alaihe Wassallam) sighted the moon, he used to say three times: "A new moon of good and right guidance; a new moon of good and right guidance; a new moon of good and right guidance. I believe in Him Who created you". He would then say: "Praise be to Allah Who has made such and such a month to pass and has brought such and such a month." [Abu Da'wud]

أخبرنا عبد الرزاق قال: أخبرنا معمر عن قتادة أن النبي صلى الله عليه وسلم كان إذا رأى الهلال كبر ثلاثا، ثم قال: هلال خير ورشد، ثلاثا، ثم قال: آمنت بالذي خلقك، ثلاثا، ثم يقول: الحمد لله الذي ذهب بشهر كذا وكذا، وجاء بشهر كذا وكذا

Sayyidina Qatadah (RA) narrates when the Prophet of Allah (Sallaho Alaihe Wassallam) sighted the moon, he used to proclaim the Greatness of Allah (SWT) three times by Saying Allahu-Akbar and then pronounce three times: "A new moon of good and right guidance" and then say three times "I believe in Him Who created you". He would then say: "Praise be to Allah Who has made such and such a month to pass and has brought such and such a month " [Al-Musanaff]

عَنْ قَتَادَةَ ، قَالَ : كَانَ النَّبِيُّ صَلَّى اللَّهُ عَلَيْهِ وَسَلَّمَ إِذَا رَأَى الْهِلالَ كَبَّرَ ثَلاثًا ، وَهَلَّلَ ، ثُمَّ قَالَ : " هِلالُ خَيْرٍ وَرُشْدٍ " ثَلاثًا ثُمَّ قَالَ : " آمَنْتُ بِالَّذِي خَلَقَكَ " ثَلاثًا ثُمَّ يَقُولُ : " الْحَمْدُ لِلَّهِ الَّذِي ذَهَبَ بِشَهْرِ كَذَا وَجَاءَ بِشَهْرِ كَذَا

Sayyidina Qatadah (RA) narrates when the Prophet of Allah (Sallaho Alaihe Wassallam) sighted the moon, he used to proclaim the Greatness of Allah (SWT) three times by Saying Allahu-Akbar, then rejoice and then pronounce three times: "A new moon of good and right guidance" and then say three times "I believe in Him Who created you". He would then say: "Praise be to Allah Who has made such and such a month to pass and has brought such and such a month " [Al-Jam'i  Li Muammar Ibn Rashid]

حدثنا محمد بن بشر قال حدثنا سعيد عن قتادة أن نبي الله صلى الله عليه وسلم كان إذا رأى الهلال قال : ' هلال خير ورشد ، هلال رشد وخير ، هلال خير ورشد ، آمنت بالذي خلقك - ثلاثا ، الحمد لله ذهب هلال كذا وكذا وجاء هلال كذا وكذا

Sayyidina Qatadah (RA) narrates when the Prophet of Allah (Sallaho Alaihe Wassallam) sighted the moon, he used to say three times: "A new moon of good and right guidance; a new moon of good and right guidance; a new moon of good and right guidance. I believe in Him Who created you". He would then say: "Praise be to Allah Who has made such and such a month to pass and has brought such and such a month." [Ibn Abi Sahybah]

أخبرنا عبد الرزاق قال أخبرنا معمر عن رجل عن بن المسيب قال كان النبي صلى الله عليه وسلم إذا رأى الهلال قال آمنت بالذي خلقك فسواك فعدلك

Sayyidina Ibn Musayyad (RA) narrates when the Prophet of Allah (Sallaho Alaihe Wassallam) sighted the moon, he used to proclaim "I believe in Him Who created , then perfected you, then brought you in due proportion?" [Al-Musanaff]

أخبرنا عبد الله بن إسحاق الخراساني العدل ، ثنا أحمد بن زياد بن مهران ، ثنا أبو عامر العقدي ، ثنا سليمان بن سفيان المديني ، حدثني بلال بن يحيى بن طلحة بن عبيد الله ، عن أبيه ، عن جده - رضي الله عنه - : أن النبي - صلى الله عليه وآله وسلم - كان إذا رأى الهلال قال : " اللهم أهله علينا بالأمن والإيمان والسلامة والإسلام ، ربي وربك الله "

 Sayyidina Bilal Ibn Yahya Ibn Sufyan (RA) narrates from his father who narrates from his father that when the Prophet of Allah (Sallaho Alaihe Wassallam) sighted the moon, he used to say "O Allah, make the new moon shine on us with security, belief, safety and Islam! My Lord and your Lord is Allah" [Al-Mustadrak]

أَخْبَرَنَا سَعِيدُ بْنُ سُلَيْمَانَ عَنْ عَبْدِ الرَّحْمَنِ بْنِ عُثْمَانَ بْنِ إِبْرَاهِيمَ قَالَ حَدَّثَنِى أَبِى عَنْ أَبِيهِ وَعَمِّهِ عَنِ ابْنِ عُمَرَ قَالَ : كَانَ رَسُولُ اللَّهِ -صلى الله عليه وسلم- إِذَا رَأَى الْهِلاَلَ قَالَ :« اللَّهُ أَكْبَرُ ، اللَّهُمَّ أَهِلَّهُ عَلَيْنَا بِالأَمْنِ وَالإِيمَانِ وَالسَّلاَمَةِ وَالإِسْلاَمِ وَالتَّوْفِيقِ لِمَا يُحِبُّ رَبُّنَا وَيَرْضَى ، رَبُّنَا وَرَبُّكَ اللَّهُ »

Sayyidina Ibn Umar (RA) narrates when the Prophet of Allah (Sallaho Alaihe Wassallam) sighted the moon, he used to say "O Allah, let this moon (month) pass over us with blessings, Iman, safety, and in the belief of Islam. Grant us the ability to act on the actions that You love and Pleases You. (O moon) My Lord and Your Lord is Allah"." [Sunan Ad-Darimi]

 

عَنْ يَحْيَى بْنِ طَلْحَةَ بْنِ عُبَيْدِ الله , عَنْ أَبِيهِ طَلْحَةَ بْنِ عُبَيْدِ الله , أَنَّ النَّبِىَّ صلى الله عليه وسلم كَانَ إِذَا رَأَى الْهِلاَلَ قَالَ اللهمَّ أَهِلَّهُ عَلَيْنَا بِالْيُمْنِ وَالإِيمَانِ وَالسَّلاَمَةِ وَالإِسْلاَمِ رَبِّى وَرَبُّكَ الله

Talha ibn 'Ubaydullah narrates from his father who narrates from his father that when the Prophet, (Sallaho Alaihe Wassallam) saw the new moon, he would say, "O Allah, make the new moon shine on us with security, belief, safety and Islam! My Lord and your Lord is Allah." [Ibn HIbaaan]

حَدَّثَنَا مُحَمَّدُ بن الْفَضْلِ السَّقَطِيُّ , حَدَّثَنَاسَعِيدُ بن سُلَيْمَانَ , عَنْ عُثْمَانَ بن إِبْرَاهِيمَ بن حَاطِبٍ , عَنْ أَبِيهِوَعَمِّهِ، عَنِ ابْنِ عُمَرَ , قَالَ: كَانَ رَسُولُ اللَّهِ صَلَّى اللَّهُ عَلَيْهِوَسَلَّمَ , إِذَا رَأَى الْهِلالَ , قَالَ:اللَّهُمَّ أَهِلَّهُ عَلَيْنَا بِالأَمْنِوَالإِيمَانِ , وَالسَّلامَةِ وَالإِسْلامِ , وَالتَّوْفِيقِ لِمَا تُحِبُّ وَتَرْضَى, رَبُّنَا وَرَبُّكَ اللَّهُ.

Sayyidina Ibn Umar (RA) narrates when the Prophet of Allah (Sallaho Alaihe Wassallam) sighted the moon, he used to say "O Allah, let this moon (month) pass over us with blessings, Iman, safety, and in the belief of Islam. Grant us the ability to act on the actions that You love and Pleases You. (O moon) My Lord and Your Lord is Allah"." [Tabarani]

حدثنا أبو موسى هارون بن عبد الله الحمال ، حدثنا أبو عامر ، حدثني سليمان بن سفيان ، قال : سمعت بلال بن يحيى بن طلحة بن عبيد الله ، يحدث ، عن أبيه ، عن جده ، قال : كان النبي صلى الله عليه وسلم إذا نظر إلى الهلال قال : « اللهم أهله علينا باليمن والإيمان ، والسلامة والإسلام ، ربي وربك الله

Talha ibn 'Ubaydullah narrates from his father who narrates from his father that when the Prophet, (Sallaho Alaihe Wassallam) saw the new moon, he would say, "O Allah, make the new moon shine on us with security, belief, safety and Islam! My Lord and your Lord is Allah." [Musnad Abd Ibn Humayd]

أخبرنا الحسن بن سفيان ، قال : حدثنا محمد بن يحيى المروزي، قال : حدثنا سعيد بن سليمان الواسطي ، قال : حدثنا عبد الرحمن بن عثمان بن إبراهيمبن محمد بن حاطب ، عن أبيه ، وعن عمه ، عن ابن عمر ، قال : كان رسول الله صلى اللهعليه وسلم إذا رأى الهلال ، قال : « اللهم أهله علينا بالأمن والإيمان ، والسلامة والإسلام، والتوفيق لما نحب وترضى ، ربنا وربك الله

Sayyidina Ibn Umar (RA) narrates when the Prophet of Allah (Sallaho Alaihe Wassallam) sighted the moon, he used to say "O Allah, let this moon (month) pass over us with blessings, Iman, safety, and in the belief of Islam. Grant us the ability to act on the actions that we love and Pleases You. (O moon) My Lord and Your Lord is Allah"." [Tabarani]

أورد شيخُ الإسلام ابن تيمية -رحمه الله- في كتابه "الكلم الطيب" تحت (فصل في رؤية الهلال) حديثَ عبدِ اللهِ بْنِ عُمَرَ رضي الله عنهما, قَالَ : كَانَ رَسُولُ اللَّهِ صَلَّى اللَّهُ عَلَيْهِ وَسَلَّمَ إِذَا رَأَى الْهِلالَ , قَالَ: (اللهُ أكبَرُ ! اللَّهُمَّ أَهِلَّهُ عَلَيْنَا بِالأَمْنِ وَالإِيمَانِ , وَالسَّلامَةِ وَالإِسْلامِ , وَالتَّوْفِيقِ لِمَا تُحِبُّ وَتَرْضَى , رَبُّنَا وَرَبُّكَ اللهُ )

Shaykhul-Islam Ibn Taymiyyah (RA) has mentioned in his book Al-Kalimut-Tayyib under the chapter of concerning the sighting of the moom that  Sayyidina Ibn Umar (RA) narrates when the Prophet of Allah (Sallaho Alaihe Wassallam) sighted the moon, he used to proclaim Allahu-Akbar and then say "O Allah, let this moon (month) pass over us with blessings, Iman, safety, and in the belief of Islam. Grant us the ability to act on the actions that we love and Pleases You. (O moon) My Lord and Your Lord is Allah"."

Prohibition of speculating the months based on the appearance (size/phase) of the moon:

حدثنا أبو بكر بن أبي شيبة حدثنا محمد بن فضيل عن حصين عن عمرو بن مرة عن أبي البختري قال خرجنا للعمرة فلما نزلنا ببطن نخلة قال تراءينا الهلال فقال بعض القوم هو ابن ثلاث وقال بعض القوم هو ابن ليلتين قال فلقينا ابن عباس فقلنا إنا رأينا الهلال فقال بعض القوم هو ابن ثلاث وقال بعض القوم هو ابن ليلتين فقال أي ليلة رأيتموه قال فقلنا ليلة كذا وكذا فقال إن رسول الله صلى الله عليه وسلم قال إن الله مده للرؤية فهو لليلة رأيتموه

Abu'l-Bakhtari reported: We went out to perform Umra and when we encamped in the valley of Nakhla, we tried to see the new moon. Some of the people said: It was three nights old, and others (said) that it was two nights old. We then met Ibn 'Abbas and told him we had seen the new moon, but that some of the people said it was three nights old and others that it was two nights old. He asked on which night we had seen it; and when we told him we had seen it on such and such night, he said the Prophet of Allah (Sallaho Alaihe Wassallam) had said: Verily Allah deferred it till the time it is seen, so it is to be reckoned from the night you saw it. [Muslim]

 


 

 

Addendum: We are an illiterate community – we do not write or calculate?

Shaykh (Mufti) Sajid Patel (HA)

Imam Bukhari in his Sahih has narrated on the authority of Ibn 'Umar (May Allah pleased with them both) from the Prophet (May Allah send benedictions and peace on him) that he said, "We are an illiterate community – we do not write or calculate. The month is like this and this", i.e. sometimes 29 [days], and sometimes 30."

في صحيح البخارى ( باب قول النبي صلى الله عليه وسلم -: لا نكتب ولا نحسب ) ، ( عن إبن عمر – رضي الله عنهما – عن النبي – صلى الله عليه وسلم – أنه قال : إنا أمّة أميّة لا نكتب ولا نحسب ، الشهر هكذا و هكذا : يعني مرة تسعة وعشرين ومرة ثلاثين ).

This hadith has been utilised as a foundation for excluding a role for astronomy and calculation in guiding the timings of the lunar months. Advocates of this view suggest, based on their interpretation of the meaning of the aforementioned Hadith, there being no role for calculation in confirming or ratifying lunar sightings. However when considering the explanation of our pious predecessors on the subject, it would seem that such an inference is inaccurate.

 1 Al-Subki (RA) writes on page 4 of his treatise [العلم المنشور]

"Chapter regarding the meaning of his statement (May Allah send benedictions and peace on him) "The Month is like this, this and this" rolling his thumb in the third [round], "and the month is like this, this and this" i.e. the full 30

It is an authentic narration reported by al-Bukhari and Muslim from the narration of 'Abd 'llah bin 'Umar (May Allah pleased with them both).

In its beginning is "We are an illiterate community – we do not write or calculate." Its meaning – and Allah knows better – that the month is sometimes 30 and sometimes 29 with no third option.

It is not like what the astronomers say, as for them, it is always 29 days and a fraction [of a day], as the lunar year is 354.37 days. The number of months is twelve as Allah (Most High) said. When these days are divided over twelve months, every month would be 29 days and a bit. The moon aligns with the sun once a month, and when it parts from [the sun], it would be the beginning of the [lunar] month according to them until it [returns] back to this state. That may happen in during the day or the night.

So the Prophet (may Allah send benedictions and peace on him) nullified the consideration of that [method], and assigned as part of the first month [the duration of] when [the moon] parts from the sun up to the full 29 days if [the moon] is seen, or up to the full 30 if it is not seen, regardless of whether we see it on the night of the 30th or we complete 30 [days]. And thus, sunset on either night would be the beginning of the month. This was gained from His (May Allah send benedictions and peace on him) indication and the statement of the one narrating from him "ten, ten and nine", as that requires the inclusion of [preceding] nights under the ruling of days, because the removal of Ta' is indicative of the consideration of nights, and [that] is the founding principle in [the annals of] dates.

His (May Allah send benedictions and peace on him) statement "We" means the Arabs, as that [illiteracy] was the predominant [state] for them despite some knowing how to write and count. The fact that they did not write or count was an honour for them, as had passed in the knowledge of Allah that they are community of the illiterate Prophet, which was a miracle for Him (may Allah send benedictions and peace on him) and honour for them, as they were ascribed with one of his attributes. He assigned that to be a sign for the month in the Shariah, so that it may be coherently aligned with an apparent matter that is known to everyone and cannot be mistaken in, as opposed to calculations as only a few people would know it and mistakes therein would occur frequently due to a lacking in its knowledge and its premises. Sometimes, some [premises of calculation] are tentative.

Divine Wisdom and the straight, easy Shariah wanted to lessen the burden from the servants and connect the laws to sight or the completion of 30 [days], which is easy for the people. The narration does not mean the prohibition of writing or calculation, not does it condemn or belittle them; rather they are a virtue for us. It is also not the meaning of the narration that the astronomer's [calculation for conjunction], [sun-moon] separation, or the possibility or impossibility of seeing [the moon] is nullified or to declare him a liar in that; rather what the narration only contains is not to connect the legal ruling or [starting off] the month based on [his statements]."

وقال السبكي في العلم المنشور صفحة 4 : فصل

في معنى قوله – صلى الله عليه وسلم – (( الشهر هـكذا و هـكذا و هـكذا – وعقد الإبهام في الثالثة – والشهر هـكذا و هـكذا و هـكذا ، يعني تمام الثلاثين )) وهو حديث صحيح رواه البخاري ومسلم من حديث عبد الله بن عمر– رضي الله عنهما – ، وفي أوله : (( إنا أمّة أميّة لا نكتب ولا نحسب )). ومعناه والله أعلم : أن الشهر تارة يكـون ثلاثين ، وتارة يكـون تسعة وعشرين ، لا يخرج عن هـذين الأمرين ، وليس كما يقوله أهل الحساب والنجوم ، فإن عندهم دائما تسعة و عشرون وكسر ، لأن السنة القمرية ثلاثمائة وأربعة وخمسون يوماً وخمس يوم وسدس يوم ، وعدة الشهور اثنا عشر شهرا ، كما قال الله تعالى . فإذا قسمت هـذه الأيام على اثنى عشر كان كل شهر تسعة وعشرين وشيأ . والقمر يجتمع مع الشمس في كل شهر مرة ، فإذا فارقها فهو أول الشهر عندهم إلى أن ينتهي إلى مثل تلك الحالة ، وقد يكـون ذالك في أثناء النهار ، وقد يكـون في أثناء الليل ، فأبطل النبي - صلى الله عليه وسلم – إعتبار ذالك وجعل ما بعد مفارقته الشمس إلى تمام تسعة وعشرين ، إن رئي ، أو إلى تمام ثلاثين إن لم ير من الشهر الأول ، وسواءٌ رأيناه ليلة الثلاثين أو أكملنا ثلاثين فأول الشهر غروب الشمس من إحدي الليلتين ، واستفيد ذالك من إشارته - صلى الله عليه وسلم – وقول الراوي عنه : عشرا عشرا وتسعاً . فإن ذالك يقتضي دخول الليالي في حكم الأيام ، لأن حذف التاء يدل على إعتبار الليالي وهي الأصل في التاريخ ،

( وقوله - صلى الله عليه وسلم – :- إنّا ) يعني العرب ، لأن الغالب عليها ذالك ، وإن كان قد يعلم بعضهم الكتابة والحساب ، وكـونهم لا يكتبون ولا يحسبون شرف لهم ، لما سبق في علم الله من أنهم أمّة النبي الأمّي ، فذالك معجزة له - صلى الله عليه وسلم – وشرف لهم ، لاتصافهم بصفة من صفاته ، وجعل ذالك علماً في الشريعة على الشهر ليكـون ضبطاً بأمر ظاهر يعرفه كل أحد ولا يغلط فيه بخلاف الحساب ، فإنه لا يعرفه إلا القليل من الناس ويقع الغلط فيه كثيراً للتقصير في علمه ومقدماته ، وربما كان بعضها ظنّياً ، فاقتضت الحكمة الإلهيّة والشريعة الحنيفية السمحة ، التخفيف على العباد وربط الأحكام بما هو متيسر على الناس من الرؤية ، أو كمال العدد ثلاثين . وليس معنى الحديث النهي عن الكتابة والحساب ولا ذمّهما وتنقيصهما ، بل هما فضيلة فينا وليس في الحديث أيضا إبطال قول الحاسب في قوله : إن القمر يجتمع مع الشمس أو يفارقها ، أو تمكن رؤيته أو لا تمكن رؤيته والحكم بكذبه في ذالك ، وإنما في الحديث عدم إناط الحكم الشرعي وتسمية الشهر به .

2 Shaykh Bakhit said in his treatise, p. 103:

"His statement (may Allah send benedictions and peace on him) "We are an illiterate community – we do not write or calculate" does not contain any indication that scribes or astronomers are wrong; rather it indicates they are correct and truthful. The coming of [this narration] was in the context of uncovering the miracle and explaining that his godly realisations were via revelation that was revealed to him from Allah (Most High). The basic meaning of it is we know that via the Allah (Most High) teaching us and making us aware, not anyone else, because we are an illiterate community that does not use calculation nor writing – that is only known by astronomers by their usage of their calculation, and by writers via writing about others. He (Most High) said, "You did not used to recite a book before it, nor did you write with your right hand; the people of falsehood would have then doubted. Rather, it is clear verses in the hearts of those who have been given knowledge. Only the unjust deny about our verses."

He also said, p. 101:

"It is known that the month based on calculations on definite rules is only 29 days and a bit. The legislator, out of mercy and compassion for the people, only obligated fast upon seeing the crescent of Ramadan or upon] the completion of 30 [days] of Sha'ban, as He (Most High) connected fasting to an apparent matter which the specialists and public [all] know. Likewise, He (Most High) connected the obligation of terminating the period of compulsory fasting to the seeing of the crescent of Shawwal or the completion of 30 [days] of Ramadan for the reasons we have mentioned and for safeguarding the fast. That is what logic and narration mutually agree on, and is proven from the angle of the Shariah and from the angle of wisdom. It is most definitely established via calculation – and there is no turning back from [this fact] – that the moon to the point it de-aligns itself from the sun is 27 days, 7 hours, 43 minutes and 4 seconds, and aligns itself another time in the period of 29 days, 12 hours, 44 minutes and 3 seconds. It aligns itself with [the sun] at another time in the period of 29 days, 12 hours, 44 minutes and 3 seconds. The period of the lunar year is 354.37 days. Calculations are all definitive matters – there is no way to rebuff them, as denying them is tantamount to being quarrelsome for no reason"

وقال الشيخ بخيت في رسالته صفحة 103 : وقوله - صلى الله عليه وسلم – (( إنا أمّة أميّة لا نكتب ولا نحسب )) ليس فيه ما يدل على تخطئة الكتّاب والحسّاب ، بل يدل على تصويبهما وتصديقهما ، فإن صدوره في معرض إظهار المعجزة وبيان أن معارفه الإلهيّة بوحي يوحى من عند الله تعالى ، فإن حاصل المراد منه أنّا نعرف ذالك بإعلام الله تعالى ، وتعريفه لنا لا بغيره لأنا أمّة أميّة لا نستعمل الحساب ولا نتداول الكتابة ، وإنما يعرفه الحسّاب بمزاولة حسابهم والكتّاب بالكتابة عن غيرهم ، قال تعالى : ( وما كنت تتلوا من قبله من كتاب ولا تخطّه بيمينك إذًا لارتاب المبطلون* بل هو آيات بيّنات في صدور الذين أوتوا العلم وما يجحد بآياتنا إلا الظّالمون ))

وقال أيضا صفحة 101 : وقد عرف بأن الشهر بالحساب المبني على القواعد القطعيّة لا يكـون إلا تسعة وعشرين يوماً وكسراً . وإنما الشارع أوجب الصوم عند رؤية هلال رمضان أو إكمال عدة شعبان ثلاثين ، رحمة بالناس وشفقة بهم ، حيث أناط الصوم بأمر ظاهر يعرفه الخاص والعام ، وكذالك قد أناط وجوب الفطر برؤية هلال شوال أو إكمال عدة رمضان ثلاثين يوما لما ذكرناه واحتياطاً للصوم ، وذالك مما توافق عليه العقل و النقل و ثبت من جهة الشريعة و من جهة الحكمة ، فإنه قد ثبت بطريق الحساب ثبوتاً لا مردّ له ، أن القمر إلى نقطة فارق فيها الشمس في مدة سبعة و عشرين يوماً وسبع ساعات وثلاث و أربعين دقيقة و أربع ثوان . ويجتمع معها مرّة أخرى في مدة تسعة و عشرين و نصف يوم وأربع وأربعين دقيقة وثلاث ثوان ، وأن مدة السنة القمرية ثلاثمائة يوم وأربعة وخمسون يوماً وخمس يوم واحد وسدسه وكسر. والحسابات كلها أمور قطعيّة برهانيّة لا سبيل إلى مجاحدتها فإنكارها مكابرة اه .

In conclusion, it would seem that the Hadith does not exclude or prohibit the use of calculation in matters of clarifying the timings of moon sightings. In essence, we learn that according to Shariah the lunar months are either 29 or 30 full days, rather than the 29 days plus a fraction thereof, as would be determined on the basis of Astronomy. The wisdom behind this was to some degree to ease the burden upon the believers, and provide a clear and universally identifiable symbol for the commencement of a new month, that being the sighting of the crescent (or the month reaching 30 days). Separating the laws of Shariah from Science and literacy was also a means of demonstrating the divinity of the religion to the observing Arabs at the time. It is accepted that the commencement of a new month is based upon the sighting of the crescent; crucially however, no inferences were made to prohibit the use of calculation and Astronomy in guiding this.

Ittihad-ul-Mataal'i is also known via calculations

Shaikh Mohammad bin Abd-ur-Razzaq Al-Marakishi writes:

"Do you not see what many jurists said, that when crescent-sighting is established in one city, it would encompass every city whose horizon is in accordance with the city of sighting? It is known that horizon is only known via [astronomical] calculation.

The statement of al-Subki in his treatise, p. 13, has passed previously: "There are [various] opinions in a city's sighting obligating another city[...] The sixth position is that it would be binding on every city whose horizon is in accordance with the city of sighting. This is the correct position according to our Iraqi disciples, and others. There is an inclination therein for [the legitimacy of astronomical] calculation, because the horizon can only be known via calculation. By horizon, the place where the crescent appears is meant. Knowledge of two cities being the same in terms of the crescent horizon requires a good portion of [awareness with] astronomy. The opinion of the mass majority does not consider calculation wrong [in ascertaining horizons] and disregarding it when the crescent is not sighted, because calculation by itself is alone [in the latter], whereas [calculation] comes in addition to sighting in the cities [in the former]. From this, we take that calculation is not rendered redundant, but sighting is a requisite as a general principle due to the prophetic narration." (Al-Azb-uz-Zulal fi Mabahithi Ruyat-il-Hilal, pg 466)

أولا ترا إلى ما يقوله كثير من الفقهاء من أنه إذا ثبتت رؤية الهلال في بلد ، فإنها تعم كل بلد يوافق بلد الرؤية في المطلع . ومن المعلوم أن المطلع لا يعرف إلا بالحساب . وتقدم قول السبكي في رسالته صفحة 13 : وفي لزوم رؤية بلد بلداً آخر أقوال ، إلى أن قال : السادس : يلزم كل بلد يوافق بلد الرؤية في المطلع ، وهـذا هو الصحيح عند العراقين من أصحابنا وغيرهم . وفيه جنوح إلى الحساب ، لأن المطلع إنما يعرف بالحساب . والمراد بالمطلع ، مطلع الهلال . ومعرفة توافق البلدين في مطلع الهلال يحتاج إلى حظ جيد من علم الهيئة . ولا يستنكر نظر الأكثرين إلى الحساب ها هنا وإعراضهم عنه إذا لم ير الهلال ، لأن هناك تجرد الحساب وحده ، وهنا انضاف إلى الرؤية في البلاد. فمن هنا نأخذ أن الحساب ليس ملغى لكن الرؤية شرط في الجملة للحديث . صفحة 466 العذب الزلال في مباحث رؤية الهلال


Addendum: Doesn't the Hanafi Madhab call for global moon sighting of any place on Earth to be accepted?

In order to understand the Hanafi Madhab you need to go to an expert of Hanafi Madhab and ask them to explain the rulings of the Madhab so it can be understood correctly.


Shaykh (Mufti) Taqi Usmani (RA) is one of the foremost leading Hanafi Scholar of the world today and he explains in detail that what is meant by accepting global sighting on different horizons  is that when a new moon is born (anywhere on Earth) it forms an arc of visibility. Areas which lie within the arc will see the moon will ease and areas which are outside the arc will not see it. The classical position of the Madhab can be easily illustrated by this graphic below for Shawwal 1434, notice the arcs of visibility, it is further explained by A, B, C & D at the bottom.

shw-2

Secondly, in the Hanafi Madhab the testimony of 1-2 people is not accepted if the horizons are clear rather the testimony of a large group is required and this is explained in detail by Shaykh (Mufti) Yusuf Danka (HA).

Summary:

1 The evidence in Authentic Hadeeth is to go with local sighting and this is also the opinion of 3 Madhabs and later Scholars of Hanafi Madhab.

 

2 If someone wants to go with the Ijtehaad of the Hanafi Madhab and accept global sighting then a further two conditions must be met:

 

a Sighting must be verified by such a large gorup that it becomes impossible for it be rejected as explained in detail by Shaykh (Mufti) Yusuf Danka (HA).

 

b Sighting must be done within the arc of visibility as explained by Shaykh (Mufti) Taqi Usmani (RA) 

 

On the grounds of Authentic evidence (see Hadeeth of Sayyidina Kuraib (RA)) the stronger opinion is not follow Saudi Arabia in UK, since local sighting was practised and adopted by Sahaba (RA).

On the grounds of lack of a large group of Muslims testifying the sighting of new moon it is stronger not to follow Saudi Arabian moon sighting for UK since there are NEVER any mass public sightings in Saudia.

On the grounds of proposed rule that areas due West will most certainly sight the moon as proposed by Shaykhul-Islam Ibn Taymiyyah (RA) it is stronger not to follow Saudi Arabian moon sighting for UK since neighbouring countries of Saudia hardly ever report sighting of the moon (as confirmation).

On the grounds that Saudi Scholars themselves advise to follow local sighting it is stronger not to follow Saudi Arabian moon sighting for UK.