Rerun: Yasir Qadhi on Understanding the Controversies Regarding Moonsighting

Link to all Ramadan 2010 posts

Earlier articles with added material in 2007 and 2008 and also a lecture by Sh. AbdulNasir Jangda

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.

The precise conditions required to sight a credible hilal 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? Well, as is typical with such controversies, there are two primary reasons why such differences exist. Firstly, of the few hadith that we have regarding moon-sighting, various scholars have understood them in different manners, leading to a difference of understanding that manifests itself in contradictory opinions. Secondly, issues arose in later generations that the earliest Muslims were not exposed to, hence no explicit, unequivocal ruling exists regarding them.

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The classical scholars of Islam were only concerned with a few issues, and their modern counterparts have added even more issues, apparently just to spice up the whole debate! To elaborate: classical jurists were primarily (but not exclusively) concerned with two issues. Firstly, what is the minimum requirement for the number of witnesses needed for verifying the beginning and end of Ramadhan? One for the beginning, and two for the end? Or vice versa? Or one for both? Or two for both? Or a large, unspecified quantity? Or, was it different for a clear day versus a cloudy one? Plenty of opinions within this issue, and even within one madhab it is common to find variant opinions. With regards to this issue, a number of authentic hadith appeared to give different rulings, hence scholars had to use their respective usool in formulating answers to this question.

The second issue that was of major concern to them was: should the Muslims of one province take into account sightings from a different province? Once again, a wide selection of opinions to choose from: each province should follow its sighting only; or only the sightings of the provinces neighboring it; or the sightings of all provinces within one matla (i.e., on the same longitudinal plane); or the sightings of all provinces as long as the news arrived in time. However, unlike the first issue, there exists no clear, unequivocal hadith dealing with the subject (albeit some narrations from the Companions exist). Hence scholars had to use analogy (qiyas) and other general principles to formulate their respective opinions. And once again, we find that even within madhabs there is a significant difference of opinion in the finer details of this issue.

These two issues are discussed in practically every book of fiqh. Other issues were not as pressing to the people of those times as these two, hence references to them are typically only found in the larger and more cumbersome commentaries. Such issues include: must one see the crescent from ‘ground’ level, or is it permissible to climb, say, a tall mountain to see the crescent? Or, what if an instrument, such a telescope (yes, later Muslims had telescopes), is used, does this count as an ‘acceptable’ sighting? Or, what if it is a cloudy night, can one refer to astronomical calculations and, based solely on such calculations, declare the beginning and end of the month? And more issues besides these, some of which are more relevant to our times than others.

In our times, even more issues have surfaced, the most important being: what if someone claims to see a crescent, yet astronomical data clearly tells us that the crescent was not born at that time, and hence could not have been seen? Should we give precedence to a visual sighting, or claim that such a person is mistaken? Another issue is the determination of the exact degree of the arc of elongation to claim that a new crescent has been ‘born’: 9 degrees, or 12, or more, or less?

As can be seen, putting all of the various issues together and calculating out all the possible scenarios, it is easy to extrapolate these differences into hundreds of opinions. The point that I wish to stress here is that many Muslims simply do not realize the level of complexity surrounding issues of fiqh, including this one, and woefully bemoan, “Why can’t our scholars just unite on one opinion and save us from the hassle of disunity?!” As can be seen, it’s not as simple as that, and indeed it is of the wisdom of Allah that such a rich diversity exists in fiqh.

Thankfully, on a practical level, the issue of moon-sighting never reached a level of complication involving all of the above factors. Rather, a few years ago, the single major issue that split the community was that of ‘local’ versus ‘international’ sighting (or, to be more precise, ‘local’ versus ‘Saudi’ sighting). Of recent, however, another major opinion has been added to the stew: that of completely ignoring sightings in the first place, and basing the beginning and end of the month solely on astronomical data.

As far as I know, no reputable Sunni scholar in our classical (i.e., pre-modern) history has claimed that a community could completely ignore visual sighting, and rely unconditionally on astronomical data. The fiqh details have been hashed out in enough articles, and it is not my intent to repeat them here (for those who are interested, see some of these articles below – in particular the article by Imam Hamza Yusuf, and the one by Shaykh Haytham al-Haddad).

In any case, the decision to follow calculations has been taken by a very large and reputable national body, and the decision to follow a national, visual sighting has been taken by other reputable institutions. Added to this, there are still communities who wish to follow an ‘international’ (i.e. Saudi) sighting, and there are even those who will only follow a sighting that occurs within their own city. Facing a myriad of options, it is the average Muslim who is left with the confusion of having to make up his or her mind and figure out what exactly to do.

Some words of advice:

Firstly, just for the record, in my humble opinion the strongest fiqh position, independent of other factors (see below), seems to be that we should follow a visual sighting within North America. If one trustworthy Muslim physically sees the moon, and it was seen at a time when we know from astronomical data that it was born and possible to see, then such a sighting should be accepted for all Muslims of this continent.

Secondly, this opinion is just at a theoretical level. At a practical level, it is essential that one looks at the situation of the community, and keep the best interests of the community in mind. So, if one is in a position of authority and respect, and his decision will have an impact on the community, then and only then should he research the various opinions and come to a conclusion that he will feel comfortable with asking others to follow, whatever that position may be. However, if one is not in a position of authority, and is just a regular Muslim following others, then in this case it is not the role of the average Muslim to perform ijtihad on such fine matters. Rather, one should follow the local masjid that he or she typically refers to for other issues, and that one feels a sense of affiliation with. A Muslim must realize that this issue, along with all other fiqh differences of opinion, are issues that should not cause disunity and hatred amongst the Muslims. Trusting an authority and following one opinion over another is a matter completely permissible, or even obligatory, in the Sharee`ah, but fighting and bickering and disputing with other Muslims is completely prohibited by the unanimous consensus of all scholars of Islam. In other words, even if two masjids are celebrating Eid on two different days, this should not lead to one masjid looking down at another, or feeling superior to them, or arguing with them.

Thirdly, if someone feels that he or she would prefer to follow an opinion that their local masjid is not following, based upon their fiqh preference, then even though this would not be sinful in and of itself (as there is no consensus in N. America regarding this issue, unlike in most Muslim countries), there is no reason to announce such a decision publically, or debate or convince others of the merits of one’s own opinion. Rather, let the people do what they are doing, and this particular brother or sister may follow another opinion in private. This would be better to preserve the unity of the Muslims. Additionally, regardless of the actual day that one celebrates Eid, it is completely permissible, rather I would say encouraged, that one attends the Eid celebrations of the community on other days as well. Even if this means that one is fasting that ‘Eid’ day, there is no problem in attending the prayer, but of course the one who is fasting will intend it to be a voluntary (nafl) prayer, and not his own Eid. This would give the impression of Muslim unity, and increase the number of Muslims at all Eid festivals. (And hey, you get to enjoy the benefits of Eid twice!!)

Lastly, out of all of the hadith that should be emphasized regarding the issue of moon-sighting, I believe the following one is the most important, yet oft neglected as well.

Abu Hurayrah narrated, as reported in the Jami of al-Tirmidhi (2/37), that the beloved Prophet (salla Allah alayhi wa sallam) said, “The fast [starts] on the day that you all are fasting, and the [Eid] al-Fitr is the day that you all break the fast (i.e., stop fasting).”

Imam al-Tirmidhi commented on this hadith and said, “This has been interpreted to mean that one fasts and celebrates the Eid with the group of Muslims and their majority.” The famous Yemeni scholar al-San`ani wrote in his Subul al-Salaam, “This hadith proves that what counts for claiming that it is Eid is that the people agree to the fact that it is Eid. And so, if a single person sees the crescent (but is not followed for some reason), he still must follow the community (and not his sighting).” And the great student of Ibn Taymiyyah, one of the finest ulama that our history has seen, Ibn Qayyim al-Jawziyyah, wrote regarding this hadith, “This is a refutation of those who claim that someone who knows when the moon is born by astronomical calculations should follow it in starting and finishing the fast, ignoring the rest of the people. Another interpretation of this tradition is that one who witnesses the crescent and whose sighting is subsequently rejected by the judge should not fast, just like the people are not fasting” (Tahdheeb al-Sunan 3/214).

In other words, what this hadeeth tells us is that what’s important regarding the beginning and end of Ramadhan is not when the moon is sighted or not, but rather following the community of Muslims and keeping the local Ummah unified. Therefore, even if the crescent was ‘born’ and could have been sighted, if the community does not fast on a particular day, for whatever reason, then it is not permissible for an individual to break away from the community and fast or break his fast separate from them.

Of course, in our times, even Muslims of one city are typically following different opinions, but if there is a clear and apparent majority, then this hadeeth should be followed and the individual should stick with that majority, regardless of the fiqh opinion that they are following.

Brothers and sisters, the beginning of Ramadhan is upon us, either tonight or tomorrow night. Surely this is not the time to bicker amongst ourselves, fighting over an issue of fiqh that will not be resolved for decades to come. Whatever opinion you follow, alhamdulillah good for you, just don’t make an issue of it in the community.

This Ramadhan, let’s permanently bid farewell to moon-fighting, and concentrate on having our sins forgiven and our fasts accepted.

May Allah bless us all in this Ramadhan, whenever it starts and finishes!!!

For the Hamza Yusuf and Haitham Al-Haddad articles referenced above please see our previous post on this issue

43 / View Comments

43 responses to “Rerun: Yasir Qadhi on Understanding the Controversies Regarding Moonsighting”

  1. Shafkat says:

    As salaam alykum,

    JAZAKALLAH KHEIR , ya Aakhi ….

    RAMADHAN KAREEM to all my brothers and sisters …

    May ALLAH give us Istiqamah, Ikhlaas and the strenght to fight the Fitna of Shaitaan and our Nafs and
    see us pass through Ramadhan having accumulated MAXIMUM thawaab and having won ALLAH (SWT) ‘s
    pleasure ….

    AMEEN

  2. 'Uthmaan says:

    Ameen to that! Barakallaahu feek for the much-needed clarification.

    Would it be possible to elaborate on the concept of there being a wisdom behind such differences of opinion? I know there was a hadeeth where the Prophet (sallallaahu ‘alayhi wasallam) allegedly said that “differences of opinion among my ummah are a mercy” but apparently this hadeeth is mawdoo’ (fabricated).

    Also, where can I find those articles by Imam Hamza Yusuf, and Shaykh Haytham al-Haddad?

  3. Siraj says:

    Assalaamalaikum,

    I wonder how the debate will change once Humans begin to colonize the Moon. People on the Moon will call back to Earth and find out if they sighted the Eid Crescent. :) In this case, where do you call? Saudi or your home? :)

    Ramadhan Mubaarak to you ALL!!

  4. Hassan says:

    Moon has been sighted in Saudi Arabia and Indonesia.

  5. Uncle Tom says:

    Global moon-sighting wouldn’t be too much of an issue if Saudi Arabia is not used as the default country for this.

  6. Middle Ground says:

    Salam

    Jazak Allah, best article I have EVER read on this touchy subject!

  7. Abdul Khan says:

    I have a question. Lets say 10 masjids who solely follow astronomical calculations to find out when the moon will be sighted say ramadan starts one day, and 1 masjid in the same area who actually go and physically sight the moon say it starts another, what is a person supposed to do, follow majority or follow the ones who actually sighted the moon?

    • Habib says:

      Salamu Alaykum brother Khan.

      It’s a great question that you put forward. But if you go back and read the last things that brother Yasir said, it’s more about unity and following the majority than it is about actually seeing the moon. I don’t think that Allah will refuse to reward us or punish us for fasting a day before or a day after. The most important thing, as the hadith basically says is that we as muslims unite and go with one choice, even if it means that choice is one day earlier or later. So in the case of your question brother Khan, I would follow the majority of the masjids basing their decision on the astronomical sighting rather otherwise.
      If I can restate that hadith to people, I would say that the prophet (swas) said that Ramadan begins when the majority of muslims decide it begins (basing their decision on either actual moonsighting or astronomical calculations) and ends when the majority of muslims decide it ends (after fasting the minimum of 29 days). So brother Khan, if I was in the hypothetical situation that you stated, I would go with the majority of the people even if the difference in majority is one extra person.
      Salamu Alaykum and ramadan mubarak to all, and may Allah SWT shower the entire muslim ummah with all the blessings that this gifted month brings with it.

  8. ummmanar says:

    as salammalykum my brothers and sisters in islam.this is a great article jazakallhukairn brather yassir.
    Ramadan kereem to all my brothers and sisters may allah (swt) unite us in the highest jenna as well.

  9. Nabil says:

    What about differing with one’s family? While I might want to adhere to the majority position of my community, my family is intent on following their position (whatever that is).

    What takes precedence in this case? Unity of the Muslim community at large? Or unity of the Muslim family?

    wassalam.

    • Brother says:

      This is the exact same question that has been on my mind this whole day: should I follow what my family says, or should I listen to the Shaikh that I love for the sake of Allah and his community that follows him. Somebody please elaborate.

      • Habib says:

        Salamu Alaykum brothers.

        Indeed it’s a very important questions that you guys posted. My understand of the hadith is that following the majority starts from the micro level and moves on to macro. Meaning you follow the majority of people in the community or masjid that you are in first (or simply put, follow your local masjid’s choice every ramadan), even if all other nearby local masjids have the same opinion that differes from your local masjid. Then you follow the majority in your province. Then your state and then country -This is the reason why Sheikh yasir Qadhi said that if two, three or more trustworthy and Reliable people site the moon in north america, then it’s better if the entire north america go with that sitting or decision. So tying this to your questions brothers, I will follow your family based on the circumstances. I would follow the family even if their choice differes from the local masjid, if desobeying them causes them to be angry and can cause great issues between you and them (And don’t also forget that Allah SWA has warned us greatly in the quran to keep family ties). But if the family could care less who you follow, then you could simply follow the local imam secretly in order to prevent any bickering, as Sheikh Yasir Qadhi says.
        walaykum salam.

    • Yasir Qadhi says:

      Salaam Alaikum

      I’d take it on a case by case basis. If, for example, your still living with your parents and relatively young (say, still in college), I would go with the family. Your breaking away from the family will cause more harm to you and to them. Just go with the flow within your house.

      On the other hand, if you are financially and socially independent and pray in another masjid in the city and decide to follow that masjid, I don’t think it will be as big of a concern in that case.

      Bottom line: don’t break family or community ties if you don’t have to.

      Yasir

      • Saad says:

        In case of following one’s family..who should he follow– da majority in his family or da leader of da family??..because ryt now in our family my mother & father follows da international sighting, whereas,
        Me, my brother n my elder sister is of the opinion of following da local sighting. So what am I supposed to do in this case??..Besides if da family is equally split on da issue..what should we do!!??

  10. abu Rumay-s.a. says:

    Alhamdulilah, we started taraweh here in Jeddah last night and today, Wednesday is the 1st Day of Ramadhan al Mubarak.

    SubhanAllah, the benefits of unity of just following your locality or country is amazing, everyone starts this blessed month focused and eager to attain Allah’s great rewards as opposed to starting the month with differences and therefore losing focus of the main purpose of Ramadhan as the Shaikh’s article highlighted.

    May Allah bless you all with a righteous Ramadhan and may Allah ta`ala assist you to reap all its benefits and blessings. ameen. Ramadhan Mubarak!

    tamim

  11. Imran Khan says:

    Masha’Allah, very balanced article over all. However, I do have a question: Shaykh Yasir has pointed out the strongest opinion, which is the actual sighting of the moon as opposed to the astronomical calculations. He then goes on to elaborate the Hadith regarding following the majority of the Muslims to determine the actual Ramadan. Keeping the above in mind, would it be a stretch to conclude that a Muslim may forgo a strong opinion as long as the majority of the ummah is practicing a weaker opinion? In other words, should this principle be applied universally or it limited to the moon-sighting scenario only? In other words, does the Hadith regarding the majority trumps the Hadith that favors the strong opinion i.e., the actual moon-sighting? If that is true, this article has ramifications beyond just this one issue where the Ummah differs as is clear for all to see.

    • Yasir Qadhi says:

      Salaam Aalikum

      As long as the weak opinion has some legitimate basis, then yes the general rule would be to follow such an opinion if it meant unifying the ranks of the Ummah.

      The classic example for this is Ibn Masud disagreeing with Uthman’s decision to pray 4 rak’at Dhuhr at Mina during Hajj, and yet still going along with his decision because ‘…disagreeing is worse’.

      Yasir

  12. Yaser says:

    About the Hadith mentioned by al-Tirmidhi, what defines the community you are in?

    • Yasir Qadhi says:

      Salaam aliakum

      Good question – I’m afraid that in the Western context, that is indeed a difficult decision to make. Sometimes there will be a clear answer (if all the masjids of a community come together on a decision, for example), whereas at other times it won’t be so clear.

      Use your better judgment about what you think is ‘your’ community. And ask Allah to make that decision easy for you!

      Yasir

  13. Firoj Khan says:

    Asslamualaikum,

    I am an ordinary Muslim. Very little knowledge of complex issues of Fiqh. But i have logical and rational thinking given by my Lord. And that rational thinking does not see any point when i see Shaykhs and Ulamas giving the fatwas that moonsighting is must to start Ramadan, no scientific calculation, the same shaykhs and Ulamas run to see the watch for breaking the fast or for suhr. It is really beyond our comprehension. Our body is in this century but our mind is in prehistoric time. If we see the life of prophet, he always went for new thing not known at the time. I strongly believe if Prophet knew the calculation at his time, he might have gone for that. I am a great admirer of Hamza Yusuf, Yasir Qadhi- but i beg to differ on this issue. Allah knows best.

    • Jeremiah says:

      As salamu alaikum,

      Imam al Qarafi (faqih and astronomer) answered your question centuries ag regarding using calculated prayer times vs. calculations to sight the moon The text was taken from part 2 of Sh. Hamza Yusuf’s paper (http://www.zaytuna.org/forms/Cesarean_Moon_Births_Pt_2.pdf):

      Imam al-Qarafi devoted an entire section explaining this principle
      in his magisterial work, The Divergences (al-Fur‰q). In it, he states the following:
      Why is it that we can determine prayer times by calculation and the use of
      instruments, yet in the case of crescent moons for the determination of our
      Ramadans, it is not permissible to use [instruments and calculation]
      according to the accepted position? The difference is that God has
      stipulated in our devotional practice [of fasting] the sighting of the crescent
      moon and if that is not possible then the completion of thirty days of
      Sha¢b¥n, and He did not stipulate the astronomical new moon. On the
      other hand, in the case of prayer times, He stipulated simply the entrance
      of the times and their self-determining times. Hence, we are able to
      determine them by any means possible. For instance, a prayer is conditional
      upon the occurrence of the sun’s postmeridian phase. [With Ramadan]
      however, it was not linked with the conjunction’s separation but with its
      physical sighting. And should the crescent be obscured, we complete thirty
      days.12

    • shhh says:

      you should have stopped writing after you wrote “very little knowledge.” it’s precisely muslims like yourself sowing the seeds of destruction in our community. please don’t give your opinion unless you can speak authoritatively on the subject. we’re taught in the west to express ourselves in the name of Freedom of Speech–that’s not the Islamic perspective on sharing your thoughts freely. don’t be a slave to your desire to share your opinion whenever and wherever you please. even though I disagree with Dr. Qadhi, he has studied for many years under many scholars and will take his view seriously. that’s something totally different than yourself. please stop yourself from today on! salaam.

  14. h2de5 says:

    Assalamu alaikum,
    Regarding Ramamdan start and end. If we live in a community which the majority follow the major mosque in the announcement for the beginning and ending of Ramadan – however they base this on astronomical calculations and not moon sighting – actually they don’t give any significance to the moon anymore.

    Should we pursue the moon sighting and stick to this opinion, whilst it may split us from the majority of the community which follow this Mosques announcement, from the door of trying to follow the sunnah?

    Or should submit to this majority Mosque who calls the day of Eid 1 week before the end of Ramadan? …
    Jazakamullahu Khayr

    • Yasir Qadhi says:

      Salaam alaikum

      I have never heard of an Eid being called one week before the end of Ramadan!!

      Those who follow ‘pure’ calculations end up either agreeing with a visual moonsighting or being off by one day.

      In our N. American context, if your community is following ISNA, I would stick with the community. And even *if* you strongly disagree, the most you should do is follow your opinion in private, but follow the majority opinion in public.

      Yasir

  15. AbuSulaiman says:

    As salaamo alaikum!
    Ramadan is not just about the first and last day of the month. We, as Muslims, have to search for Lailatul Qadr during this precious month. If we do not sight the first of the moon, as was done during the time of Rasul Allah sal lAllahu alaihi wa sallam, we will not be sure about the last ten nights, leave alone the odd nights. The solution could be 1) to encourage Muslims to look-out for the crescent moons to ascertain the beginning of the lunar months, 2) to keep astronomical data in mind to confirm and further ratify the sighting, and 3) to follow the hadiath about 30 days in the lunar calendar for cloudy skies, and other hadiath on this topic. It is important to know that most calendars mark days “New Moon” for a night which is also referred to as the “Dark Moon”. On this night, even astronomers using the latest technology, are not able to see the moon; they see a shadow which they refer to as the new moon rising. The visual witnessing of the first moon makes ‘marking time’ easier. WaAllahu Aalam

  16. Bismillah ir-Rahman ir-Raheem,
    Assalaamu alaikum rahamatullilah,

    I was enjoying this article until I read “Imam Hamza Yusif”. Is this just a typeo or some sort of momentary oversight? Inshallah, it’s not an intentional slight on his deserving the title of Shaykh? There have been many great shuykh with the title Imam, but he is known as Shaykh, and if we reduce him to Imam, how many people are left to call Shaykh, or even Imam?

    Jazak Allahu khair, wasalaam,

    Khalid

  17. ANMB says:

    For those unfamiliar with the strength of the daleel with regard to astronomical calculation only methods, may be interested in reading the (Arabic) review of the honorable and highly respected Sheikh Muhammad al-Mukhtar al-Shinqiti:

    A book review is published at al-jazeera’s site about the book تحديد أوائل الشهور القمرية.. رؤية علمية شرعية :

    http://www [dot] aljazeera [dot] net [backslash] NR [backslash] exeres [backslash] 70475413-8537-4ECB-9EBF-44F64F9338D0 [dot] htm

    Website of the entire book is:
    http://fiesite [dot] org [backslash] moon_book [backslash] PDF [backslash] front_cover [dot] pdf

  18. […] 37) Understanding the controversies regarding Moonsighting […]

  19. […] Sh Yasir Qadhi on understanding the controversies regarding moonsighting […]

  20. Saqib says:

    Salaam. Why do you refer to Hamza Yusuf as Imaam rather than Shaykh?

  21. Humayun Bhatty says:

    We follow the Ramadan Start & End as per the schedule in Saudi Arabia. Life is easy with that. Whichever country I may be in or visiting, this Makkah Schedule is so easy to follow. And there is substantial Muslim Ummah who follows this way in Ramadan.

  22. a brother says:

    I have a slightly different question. I know this article was posted many years ago and perhaps no one will see this comment, but just in case someone does, I would appreciate some insight.

    Given the nature of the Islamic calendar, then it seems that given our current disagreements about how to determine the start/end of any month, it is relegated to be a ceremonial calendar at best. i.e. only really import 3 times a year — start of Ramadan, end of Ramadan, start of Zul-Hijj. These are the only times most Muslims care. How many people care about the start of Shaban or Rajab?

    But here’s the question. Given how we determine the calendar, the Islamic calendar is utterly impossible to use as a truly functional calendar, even in Muslim majority countries.

    e.g. Let’s say it’s Rajab, and I wanted to meet someone and said, OK, I’ll meet you next month on the 3rd of Shaban at 2:00. Let’s meet at such and such place. There’s no way we would actually know what day that was until Shaban actually started. And let’s not even get into having a conference call with our coworkers in a different city.

    And quite honestly, the 30th of any month could never be used as an actual date for planning purposes because you wouldn’t even know that it even exist, even on the 29th of any given month? Or it might exist for you, but not for someone else in a different locale or who followed a different practice. There is no way to make any long term plans with the Islamic calendar. It is utterly useless (in it’s current incarnation) for any planning or time demarcation (the core uses of a calendar) beyond the current month.

    So is this what we’re left with? A calendar that is of no practical use beyond marking a couple of religious events each year? And even then with ambiguity? Were it not for the Gregorian calendar — i.e. the calendar defined by a Catholic Pope — that the world uses today, what would we Muslims have done? I am not slighting Pope Gregory in any way, but want to understand if the Islamic calendar is utterly useless for much more than creating debate 3 times per year.

  23. a brother says:

    ignore this comment. Subscribed to follow up comments. Forgot to do that with my previous comment.

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