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Retread: Understanding the Controversies Regarding Moonsighting

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*New videos from Shaykh Haitham al-Haddad at the bottom of this post

Out of all the symbols that Muslims could have chosen to symbolize the unity of Islam, it is indeed ironic that they chose the crescent, which for many signifies the greatest manifestation of division amongst Muslims, at least in Western lands!

Yes, it’s that time of the year again when brothers and sisters frantically begin calling family and friends, asking, “What did Shaykh so-and-so say?” and “Did they see the moon yet?” and, the single most effective question that seals the fate of one’s own fast, “What are YOU going to do?” In this post, I don’t want to go into a detailed tangent regarding which opinion is ‘correct’ or not, but rather lay out some of the issues surrounding the controversy, and offer some practical advice.

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The precise conditions required to sight a credible hilaal is just one of the many hundreds and thousands of issues of fiqh that our scholars have differed over, since the time of the Companions. And, in the multi-madhab milieu of North America, we are exposed to many such fiqh differences on a regular basis, to the extent that most of us have come to live with and accept the rich diversity of opinion present in our traditional legal schools of thought. However, what makes the issue of the moon-sighting stand out from the usual run-of-the mill fiqh issues is that it affects a joint and communal festival of the Ummah. Other issues, such as whether zakat should be given on jewelry, or whether the qunut be prayed in witr or Fajr, or the finer details of how one prays, do not affect the Ummah as a whole. Typically, these other differences can be left to one’s individual preference with little or no detrimental effect on fellow Muslims. The same, unfortunately, cannot be said of the date of the two Eids and the beginning of the month of Ramadan, as this difference will affect entire communities, and form fault lines between two neighboring masjids, or even within the worshippers of the same masjid.

But why is there such a controversy in the first place?

Continue reading the original article here

Moon Sighting: A Clarification…Part 1
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Moon Sighting: A Clarification…Part 2
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Moon Sighting: A Clarification…Part 3
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Moon Sighting: A Clarification…Part 4
[youtube zIp9Cqd93sU]

Moon Sighting: A Clarification…Part 5
[youtube 8ueOnguViZc]

Moon Sighting: A Clarification…Part 6
[youtube FBeDAN9NcsM]

Moon Sighting: A Clarification…Part 7
[youtube vTrdMVEoaGM]

Keep supporting MuslimMatters for the sake of Allah

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Sh. Dr. Yasir Qadhi is someone that believes that one's life should be judged by more than just academic degrees and scholastic accomplishments. Friends and foe alike acknowledge that one of his main weaknesses is ice-cream, which he seems to enjoy with a rather sinister passion. The highlight of his day is twirling his little girl (a.k.a. "my little princess") round and round in the air and watching her squeal with joy. A few tid-bits from his mundane life: Sh. Yasir has a Bachelors in Hadith and a Masters in Theology from Islamic University of Madinah, and a PhD in Islamic Studies from Yale University. He is an instructor and Dean of Academic Affairs at AlMaghrib, and the Resident Scholar of the Memphis Islamic Center.

10 Comments

10 Comments

  1. Hidaya

    August 29, 2008 at 3:58 PM

    Can MuslimMatters arrange another Ramadhan Conference call with Sheikh Yasir/Yaser..? I would love to have something similar to last years!

  2. Faizan

    August 29, 2008 at 4:11 PM

    It seems that the author (Yasir Qadhi) intended to add links to some other You Tube videos but somehow the post did not came up right. I am seeing subheadings “Moon Sighting: A Clarification…Part 1″ Moon Sighting: A Clarification…Part 2” … and so forth but no text under the subheading.

  3. ibnabeeomar

    August 29, 2008 at 4:33 PM

    there should be a youtube video under each link

  4. Abdullah

    August 29, 2008 at 5:17 PM

    Assalamu alaikum,

    This is by far the best website dealing with moon sighting! If you’re in North America then check it out:

    http://www.crescentwatch.org

    Wassalam


    FYI:

    Crescentwatch.org adheres to the traditional principal that Islamic lunar months begin and end based on the confirmed, verifiable sighting of the new crescent moon.

    Statement Concerning the Beginning of Ramadan
    By Zaytuna Institute

    As Muslims we have a clear methodology for determining the beginning of the lunar month. We start all months upon the initial physical sighting of the waxing crescent moon on the western horizon of the evening sky. The method for beginning the month of Ramadan is no exception as the Messenger of God, peace and blessings be upon him, has said: “Begin your fast upon sighting [the crescent moon] and end your fast upon sighting [the subsequent crescent].” The four schools of Sunni Islam hold that this is an unambiguous, clear textual proof that is not open to subsequent interpretation.

    Here at the Zaytuna Institute, we have consistently adhered to this methodology. With the assistance of an experienced international team of crescent observers, we endeavor to share with the Muslim community information concerning the beginning of the lunar months, with special attention paid to the months of Ramadan, Shawwal, and Dhul Hijja. God willing, we will continue to provide this service to our community.

    As for starting Ramadan based upon mathematical calculation, we have found no convincing argument that this was ever a practice of the Muslim community, and truly believe, based upon the position of our great jurists and masters of ijtihad, that the text supporting physical sighting is unequivocal and thus not open to any new ijtihad. Furthermore, we understand the issue not to be one of sound difference of opinion but rather innovation and should be avoided. The Prophet, peace and blessings be upon him said, “Beware of introduced affairs [in our religion], for every introduced affair is an innovation and ever innovation is a type of going astray.” And God alone knows best.

    Having said that, we never desire to see any divisiveness in our community and request that Muslims avoid disputes and bitter arguments concerning this point. Those who have put forward calculation as a method are doing so with their understanding that it is a way of facilitation for the Muslims in the West. They are scholars in their respective areas of expertise. And while we differ with their attempts at a new ijtihad, we believe their intentions are sound and that their honor (‘ird) should be respected. Rather, we encourage our brothers and sisters to consider the various arguments and then make a mature decision bearing in mind the prescient advice of our noble Prophet, peace and blessings be upon him: “Leave that which causes you doubt for that which eradicates doubt.”

    May Allah bless everyone with a productive and beneficial month of fasting. …and the last of our prayers is all praise is for God, the Lord of the Worlds.

  5. IbnAbbas

    August 30, 2008 at 1:27 PM

    Beautiful explanation by our beloved Shaykh Haitham mashallah. May Allah increase him more in his knowledge and hikmah. Ameen.
    But I think he missed on a very important point about the Quran ayah on this matter: Even in the Quran it says “So whoever among you sights (the crescent on the first night of) the month (of Ramadaan), he must observe sawm (fast) that month…” (surah baqarah 2:185)

    Allah is the Al-Aleem and Al-Hakeem who knew exactly how advance the world go in astronomy and technology but He subhaana wat’ala still said “when you SEE the moon”. Allah could have said “when the new month STARTS” or “when it is established (by whichever other means) that the month has started” but He never did.

    And May Allah give us the tawfeeq to make the most of this blessed month.

  6. Abdullah

    August 31, 2008 at 11:54 PM

    RAMADAN TO BEGIN TUESDAY (Monday Evening)

    Crescentwatch did not receive any reliably confirmed reports of the new crescent moon being sighted in North America on Sunday evening.

    We will complete the 30 days of Sha’ban and begin Ramadan Monday evening with the first day of fast to begin Tuesday, September 2, 2008 in sha Allah.

    In spite of the presently established decision, we encourage everyone to go out to sight the crescent moon for Ramadan tomorrow night, Monday, Sept. 1, and submit your reports online here at crescentwatch.org. It is a beautiful experience to sight its emergence, and it is a sunnah of our noble Prophet, sal Allahu alayhi wa salam, that we hope the ummah revives.

    Generally, we are unable to accept astronomically implausible sightings in the Northeastern U.S. unless they are followed by abundant sightings in the Western and Southern U.S., where sightings would be easier and far more likely. Numerous qualified moon sighters around the country reported clear skies but no naked eye sightings of the new crescent moon Sunday evening. Knowing that isolated and implausible sightings provide nowhere near the certainty required to start the month of Ramadan, we welcome another day of Shaban for us to prepare ourselves for the coming of this blessed month.

  7. Pingback: Open Thread 9-7-08: MM Ramadan Recap | MuslimMatters.org

  8. Abu Saleem

    October 2, 2008 at 2:31 PM

    Quoted from IbnAbbas comment:
    Beautiful explanation by our beloved Shaykh Haitham mashallah. May Allah increase him more in his knowledge and hikmah. Ameen.
    But I think he missed on a very important point about the Quran ayah on this matter: Even in the Quran it says “So whoever among you sights (the crescent on the first night of) the month (of Ramadaan), he must observe sawm (fast) that month…” (surah baqarah 2:185)

    The flwg link shows a different meaning from the various translator of the subject ayah.
    http://www.qurantoday.com/BaqSec23.htm

    Only one of these six translations matched with the one you quoted. May be the arabic speaking bro/sisters can clarify this.
    Allah knows best – wassalam

  9. Pingback: Rerun: Yasir Qadhi on Understanding the Controversies Regarding Moonsighting | MuslimMatters.org

  10. tatianna

    March 11, 2011 at 8:31 PM

    wow tht is so cool lol

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