Q. What is your opinion of the sightings of some places? Places like Chicago and Canada have accepted for Dhul-Qiddah to have 29 days; yet, we’ve heard of other imaams like yourself who are saying that we must complete 30 days of Dhul-Qiddah. What is your problem? Or what is their problem? Can you read this and evaluate this for us:
There are no authenticated Hilal Sighting Claims from anywhere in North America on November 28th 2008G. Hence we complete 30 days of the month of Dhul Qi’dah. Dhul Hijjah starts on Nov 30st 2008G, with Eidul Adha being on Tuesday, December 9 Insha’Allaah. Eid Mubarak.
The apparent Hilal sighting claim from Florida was investigated by at least 4 Astronomers and refuted on the basis of shape of crescent, timing, position and direction of movement. Further, other Muslims in the SAME location failed to sight the Hilal in spite of clear skies. Thus, the “Jamme Ghafeer” or requirement of large number of witnesses in case of clear skies was not met. Also negative sighing reports were received from West of Florida including Texas and California. This decision is also endorsed by the Shariah Council of California, Zaytuna Institute and many others Alhamdulillaah. The Hilal Sighting Committee of North Amerca has over 750 members and organizations covering almost all of the states of USA and Canada Alhamdulillaah and all are encouraged to register for free Insha’Allaah.
We are seeking the opinion of various scholars, if you can give us an answer by Saturday 3 pm, we wold appreciate it. Out of 35 country sightings, only six claim to see it, most of them in Africa and far away lands. Some of these places are a 7 to 9 hour time difference from us. We are to vote between December 8th and 9th for our Islamic center. Chicago Hilal committee has announcement for December 8th. Historically we followed their opinion. Can you give us your opinion and tell us why.
Answer: It would be irresponsible and unfair for us to comment on the decisions of other masjids, imaams and muftis. All we can justly do is comment on our reasoning, and that is what I will proceed to do, insha-Allah. It is difficult, from the scientific and Islamic jurisprudential points of view for me as an imaam to accept the following types of testimonies:
‘Today, Friday, November 28, here the sunset was 5:35 pm. We were 6 persons trying to see the moon from about 10 steps higher than the ground. Around 5:45 pm, two of us could see the very thin crescent which was in a position such that the setting sun was to the lower right of it. We saw it for about two minutes, and then it went between the branches of the trees. 3 other men and one boy could not see it, probably because of the branches of the trees. It vanished in the trees.’
This was a testimony from Florida. From the Shari’a point of view, due to the evening skies being clear in Florida at the time of the sunset, we need to have more than two witnesses. This testimony has been rejected by astronomical scholars as well as various ‘uluma due to the short-comings of such testimony. We understand and appreciate that the witnesses mean well. Unfortunately, we are in a position where their sighting is insufficient.
Knowing the significance of religion and science and having access to critical data from Muslim astronomers and religious scholars demands a higher level of scrutiny as well as accountability. I agree with the astronomers who went against the Florida sighting. Concerned and Allah-fearing Muslims should do the right thing, they should have their Eid salaah performed on Tuesday should it not prove divisive and fracturing for their community members. Muslims fearing Allah and having respect for their sacrifice should slaughter their animals on Tuesday and not Monday.
Should it prove impossible to commemorate Eid al adha on Tuesday, then I would urge you to at least do your qurbaan on Tuesday. The importance of a Shari’a-accepted qurbaan cannot be stressed enough.
The above answers are for those who fear Allah (subhanahu wa ta’aala) and want to do the best for their imaan. Seeing as how the first 10 tens of Dhul-Hijjah are the best days for performing the best deeds, it would behoove us to try our hardest to know which the correct 10 days are, and not short-change ourselves by a day due to the acceptance of insufficient testimony.
Those who desire to learn more about the issues and fataawa surrounding moon-sighting, allow me to refer you to two important works:
- IslamQA citing of Sheikh ibn U’thaymeen re: moon-sighting and unity.
- Article on the Cesarean Moon Births by Sheikh Hamza Yusuf.
We wish you the best in your efforts to do the right thing. May Allah reward you and make it easy for you, ameen.
Allah certainly knows best.