What do the Fuqaha say about it?
Dating system of Islam.
A date is necessary to record the events of our daily life. In today’s world it is not possible to plan anything in advance without a date. For this purpose it is essential to have a dating system, which is predictable and free of error.
The Qur’aan argues that the Shariah of Islam is a guide for the people until the end of this world. We are now at the threshold of the 21st century. A perfect Shariah should be useful to those who live in this century as well as to those who will come in future.
Let us examine what the Qur’aan says about the dates in the Islamic Shariah. ” They ask you about the phases of the Moon. Say, they are dates for the people and the pilgrimage.” (2:189). The Qur’aan informs us in clear terms that by closely observing the Moon it should be possible to determine the dates from the changes that take place in the phases of the Moon every day due to its waxing and waning. Though the number of days in a month, which equals the Moon’s cycle in relation to the Sun, is not specified, the Qur’aan teaches its principles so that the thinking people can understand how to calculate it by careful observation and study of the Moon. The Qur’aan says that the number of months in a year is twelve.
We have the day comprising of five prayers namely Fajre, Zuhar, Asar, Magrib and Isha and the week of seven days, fixed by the Jumu’a prayer on the sixth day at the time of Zuhar prayer once in seven Days. These days have names and they are inviolable. The days are marked by dates shown by the Moon every day. Day and date are related to each other. So, both must change simultaneously. Everywhere on the Earth, the duration of a day is 24 hours. Though the beginning and end of a day is different everywhere, the day is same. Time differs according to the distance in east-west direction.
Just as the distance from one place to the other does not change, the difference of time between them also does not change. For example, the difference of time between Saudi Arabia and India is about two and a half hours. In India the day begins two and a half hours earlier than Saudi Arabia and ends two and a half hours earlier. Where this difference becomes 24 hours, two days are experienced.
That is to say, when some people say the Jumu’a prayer, some people say the Zuhar prayer at that place. Thus they experience two Fridays there! The Islamic Shariah would not allow this withot a barrier between the two groups and this barrier should have the minimum distance in which the canonical prayers could be lessened.
The Mathla’ al Fajre or the place of Daybreak on earth
Muslim Jurists of the past have ordained that two Fridays or two days of Eid or two opposite directions for the Kiblah (the direction faced during the Muslim prayer) shall not be allowed in one town. Such places shall be separated by a sea, where the people cannot inhabit and the distance between them should be such that the Shariah could allow people to lessen (qasar) the canonical prayers.
The Muslims are ordered to face the Ka’aba during their prayers wherever they are on the Earth. Since the Earth is a globe there should be a place on it, where the people must necessarily turn towards the opposite directions in order to face the Ka’aba. This place cannot be in a habitable land. The Jurists have said that a traveler should accept the Kiblah, Jumu’a, Eid and Ramadan of a people. Thus a line separating such lands becomes necessary in the Shariah.
Whenever a Friday comes the first Jumu’a prayer on earth has to be said. It is necessary to know the place where to begin. The Hilal appears at the beginning of every month. The day on which it appears must be determined to begin a month. Since the Hilal could appear at any part of the day the beginning and end of the world-Day should be defined. The Day on which the Hilal appears is the last Day of the month and the next day would be the first day of the next month of the Islamic calendar according to the instructions of the Qur’aan and the explanations given by the Prophet (SAW). So a line marking the boundary for this purpose is imperative in the Shariah. In the Islamic parlor this boundary line on earth is called the Mathla’h’ al Fajre or the ‘Mathla’h As Shams’, the place of Day break.
The Fuqaha (Jurists) have talked about this Mathla’h’ (Date Line), but later on the people have mistaken it for different horizons of daybreak at different places on the Earth! Such Mathalia’ (horizons) have no meaning in defining the Day or Date as the Sun goes on rising everywhere continuously. The Jurists have stated that such differences need not be considered in the case of fixing the Hilal for fixing the beginning of the months, the fasting of Ramadan or the Eid Day.
A zigzag line beginning from the North Pole passes through Bering Strait between Russia and America, close to Fiji and Samoa Islands separating the two and ends at the South Pole. This line serves as a boundary for the two groups of the West or the East Kiblah and different Fridays. The first Jumu’a prayer is performed in Russia and Fiji islands while the last Zuhar prayer of Thursday is performed in America and Samoa islands. The last Jumu’a prayer in the world is performed in America And Samoa islands on the next day with a difference of about 24 hours or one day! This shall be observed in fasting and Eid too in this place, but they perform it on the same Day of the week! This is natural and the Shariah allows it. This shall not happen at any other place on the Earth and it will not be permitted. The Shariah does not allow fasting for one group and feasting for another on the same Day of the week. It is forbidden (Haram) in the Shariah. This may happen at different places without knowing due to lack of communication. But with knowledge it will be Haram in the Shariah. The line, which separates the two groups, the west and the east, coincides with the International Date Line established by the non-Muslim scientists in 1886AD.
Unity of Dates is essential in the Islamic Shariah.
Among the Muslims today there is no unity in their dates. This is due to ignorance and foolishness. There are newspapers and calendars, which show different Hijra dates for the same Day! If there is no unity in dates, people cannot record the dates of birth of their children according to the Islamic calendar. Children born on the same day will have different dates of birth! How can the Islamic calendar be practicable if the Shariah permitted this? How can the Muslims fix the date for a program in advance according to their calendar, if the dates cannot be calculated? If the Hilal must be seen with the naked eyes to begin every month the dates cannot be predicted and the dates would be liable to change at the whims of the people! How could this be permissible in Islam, the Right Religion prescribed by Allah (swt) for the people?
The Islamic Calendar is perfect and all other man-made calendars used in this world today are defective and susceptible to change in the course of time. The fact that Islam has taught a dating system, which is free of error and not susceptible to any change at a time when the world had no idea about the recording of time, can be treated as evidence that Islam is divine.
Unity in Eid and Fasting is Compulsory.
Beginning the fasting of Ramadan, Eidul Fitre and Eidul Adha are observed by the Indian Muslims on different Days of the week. Is it possible to unify this as a common Day for the world? This is a question raised by many of our friends with sadness. Let us examine.
Prima facie, Fasting and Feasting cannot go together. If some people fasted while the others feasted it will be awkward and a true religion cannot allow it. Fasting is to be observed in the month of Ramadan, says the Qur’aan. A month is a measure of time and the period of Ramadan cannot be different for the people on earth. It would begin on a particular Day of the week and end on a particular Day. Days of the week are common for all. Days have names and they are known by their names. The first of Shawwal is the Day fixed for the Eidul Fitre and the first of a month cannot fall on two Dates of the Islamic calendar.
The Day begins at a particular place on the Earth and follows gradually changing from place to place in succession. It proceeds throughout the world and remains the same until 24 hours even though some one’s night is some one’s day on the globe. The Shariah does not require fasting at night and the beginning of a fast prevails till 24 hours in the same way as the Jumu’a prayer, till 24 hours throughout the Globe. If it exceeds 24 hours the people would be observing the Jumu’a or Eid prayer for more than one day (24 hours) and the Shariah would not allow it. So celebrating the Eid for more than one Day (24 hours) is out of question. If the people of a place celebrated Eid on a Friday, all should celebrate it on that Friday.
Dates of the Islamic Calendar tally with the phases of the moon.
An observer who has witnessed many new moons and full moons can easily understand the dates prescribed for man by Allah by watching the phases of the moon. This is clearly explained in simple language in the Chapters of the Qur’aan, Yaseen and Yunus, which mention about the phases and Manzils of the Moon and the calculations. The rules of movements of the Sun and the Moon are subjected to computation (Q55: 5). The dates can be predicted by calculations.
The Islamic months are based on the cycle of the Moon. The months begin with the appearance of the first Hilal. Now we shall examine whether the Imams and the Fuqaha (Jurists) agree to have common dates for the Islamic Calendar, from the quotations from the writings of their own. Let us examine the views of the Imams of different Schools of Thought of the Muslim community regarding the observation of the Hilal to begin the months of the Islamic calendar.
1. Observing the Hilal in Hanafi, Maliki and Hambali Schools.
For those who get the information that the new month has been fixed somewhere in the world on a particular day, it is imperative that they approve it and observe Fasting or Eid according to it. Difference in the horizon is not considered here. If this principle is accepted, it is possible to observe Fasting or Eid on the same Day of the week throughout the world. Majority of the Muslims in the world today belongs to different Schools of Thought. Let us see whether they accept this principle.
The Book called Madhahibul Arba’, which has evaluated the opinions of different Schools says, “When seeing of the Hilal is confirmed in any quarter, then fasting becomes obligatory for those in all other quarters. There is no consideration for the difference of Mathla’h’ (horizon) of the Hilal with the three Imams but the Shafiys have differed.”(Madhahibul Arba’ vol 1, page 550).
Imam Shafiy also opines that all should accept the decision. He has talked about the Mathla’h’ (the Date line) of which we have mentioned above. Obviously, he has pondered upon the problem of the Kiblah and the Jumu’a changeover in the world. It is clearly seen from the writings of the Scholars, who came after the great Imams that they could not understand what Shafiy (RA) had said. They were influenced by other incorrect views, which had crept into the books. They have even rejected some of Shafiy’s statements!
2. In Rahmathul Ummah it is written:
“They have agreed that when the Hilal is widely seen in a country, fasting becomes compulsory on all the inhabitants of the Earth.” (Rahmathul Ummah page 118)
Fasting is compulsory in the month of Ramadan. The rule for fixing the first of the month in the Shariah is seeing the first Hilal on the 29th of the out going month or completion of 30 days for it. When 30 days are completed it is not necessary to see the Hilal once again. The next month begins without seeing the Hilal. Thefore seeing the Hilal is not the criterion for defining the months. Month is a measure of time. It cannot be different for different people just as a kilometer cannot be different.
The orders of the Prophet (SAW) to look for the Hilal on the 29th of Shaban will not have any meaning if people looked on different Days, like Friday and Saturday. Muslims of the present day do this and render the sayings of the Prophet (SAW) meaningless and ridiculous. Even after the Muslims at some place began fasting according to the rules of the Shariah, the Muslims at another place are not ashamed to look at the sky eagerly, to see the Hilal, which they never see and return disappointed to wait for one more day!
There should be a limit to this foolishness. We should know that Ramadan begins on the same Day for all in the world. The quotation in the Rahmathul Ummah means that if some people began fasting on Friday, basing on the appearing of the Hilal, or after completing 30 days for Shaban, then all must begin it on Friday. If one could not fast on that Friday owing to a permissible reason one must compensate for it by fasting one day after Ramadan.
3. In Fatawa Alamgeriyya, the famous book of the Hanafi School, it is written:
“There is no consideration for the difference of the Mathali’a (horizons) in the clear interpretation of the report of Abu Haneefa.” (Fatawa Alamgeriyya vol. 1 page 198)
4. In another famous work of this School it is said:
“If people of a town fasted 30 days based on their observation and people of another town fasted 29 days based on their observation, then those who fasted 29 are obliged to compensate for one day’s fast. There is no consideration for the difference of the Mathali’a (horizons) in the clear interpretation of the report.” (Fatawa Qadeekhan 1:198)
The exact number of days for a particular lunar month can be determined by observing the Hilals or Ahillah of the Moon and the Manzils. The number of days for a particular month of a particular year can be determined exactly by calculations even for thousands of years. But for those who do not know the methods of observation and calculation it is not possible for them to know whether the month is of 29 or 30 days.
When the people are unable to calculate or know, if some people have fasted 30 days, then the others also must fast 30 days because a particular Ramadan cannot be 29 for some and 30 for the others. But for a people who know how to observe the Moon and find out the exact date or calculate it, such a rule will not be applicable. They must fast correctly according to the appearance of the Hilal as commanded by the Prophet (saw).
The Prophet (saw)) has informed that the month will be like this and like that meaning 29 or 30 days. Every Ramadan will not have 30 days or 29 days. It will vary every year according to the cycle of the Moon, which follows certain laws. (Q 55:5). When we know that the Ramadan of 1422 H has 29 days only, according to the lunar cycle, how can we say that the people should fast for 30 days in that Ramadan?
5. Imam Qurtubi quotes:
“I said: Tabari in his Ahkamul Qur’an says: Followers of Abu Haneefa have agreed on that when the people of a country fasted 30 days based on their observation and the people of another country fasted 29 days based on their observation. Then the latter that fasted 29 days, must compensate for one day. But the followers of Shafiy do not see this, as the Mathla’h of two countries could be different. Proof of the followers of Imam Abu Haneefa (RA) is the divine
command, “You shall complete the number.” Since the observation of a country confirmed the term to be of 30 days, completing the term became compulsory on them.” (Tafsir Qurtubi 2:295).
Imam Shafiy has recognized the Mathla’h’ (Date Line), but the followers were at a loss to understand what the Imam was actually referring to. That is why there is some controversy.
6. In Sharah of Fat’hul Qadeer, another famous Hanafi work, it is said:
“When it is confirmed in a city, it is binding on all people. So seeing of the west is applicable to the east as well in the clear interpretation of the Madhab.” (Sharah Fat’hul Qadeer, 2: 314).
Here the west and the east mean the people living in the west or east of a town. The rule will be same for them. But the rule is different for the West and the East on the Mathla’h’ al Fajre or the Date Line. Those who live to the East of the Date Line say the Jumu’a prayer with a gap of 24 hours (one day) and their Kiblah is towards the East. They are called the people of the East. Those who live to the West of the Date Line say the first Jumu’a prayer and face the Kiblah towards the West. They are called the people of the West. Here seeing of the West is not applicable to the East. This is what Imam Shafiy (RA) was referring to. This rule
is not applicable to those who live in a western or eastern country in relation to a place elsewhere on the Globe.
7. In Iqna the famous book of Hambali School, it is said:
“When the Hilal is confirmed at a place near or far, fasting is obligatory on all people. The ruling on those who did not see is the same as for those who saw it, even if the Mathla’h (horizons) differed, fasting is compulsory.” (Iqna 1:309).
But this would not apply to those who live on the sides of the Date line. The rules will not be same on the sides of the Date Line. For example, the people living on the Island of Samoa cannot begin the fasting with those living on the Island of Fiji even if they get the information. There is a time difference of 24 hours between them and this must be strictly adhered to. If the people of Fiji began fasting on Friday, the people of Samoa too will begin fasting on Friday but there will be a gap of 24 hours between them. Both the places begin fasting on the same Day here also. The scholars were not aware of the Date line (Mathla’h’).
8. Imam Shaukani says:
“It is the opinion of the Malikiy Scholars.” (Nailul Authar 4:269). So all Muslims must observe Fasting or Eid on the same day just as they observe the Jumu’a prayer on the same day all over the world at different times. Same day means
same Day of the week, that is to say, if some people observed Eid on Friday all must observe it on Friday. Time is different but Day is common for all. No one can contradict this.
9. Imam Sabooni, in his Tafseer Ayathul Ahkam writes:
“Hanafis, Malikiys and Hambalis opine that it is not necessary to consider the difference of the Mathla’h (horizons) and when the people of a country saw the Hilal, fasting is obligatory for the rest of the countries also, due to the saying of the Prophet (saw),”Commence fasting at its appearance and celebrate Eidul Fitre at its appearance.” This is a common address to the entire community. So any one of them saw it, wherever it may be, has seen it on behalf of them all.” (Tafseer Ayathul Ahkam).
10. In Fat’hul Barry it is written:
“When one town decides, it is binding on the people of all countries. This is the most prevalent view of Malikiy Madhab.” (Fat’hul Barry 5:601)
11. Ibn Mundir (RA), leader of the Ahlus Sunna declares:
“This is the view of the Hanafi, Malikiy and Humbali Schools.” (Sharahus Sunnah 6:245).
12. Imam Navavi (RA) also confirms:
“These three Madhabs have the same opinion.” (Sharahul Muhaddab 6:274) From these explanations it is clear that the followers of Hanafi, Malikiy and Hambali Schools say that the World Muslims must celebrate the Eid on a single Day basing on the first appearance of the Hilal. We have already stated that Imam Shafiy (RA) also has the same opinion. The scholars, who followed him, have expressed different opinions only because they were not aware of the Date line (Mathla’h’) about which the Imam had talked. Views expressed later by some others without having profound knowledge cannot be treated as the views of the Imams themselves.
13. In Shafiy Madhab:
“As regards the case of the people of a country when they saw the Hilal but not the others, we have already given the explanation of our (Shafiy) School and the quoting of Ibn Mundir from Ikrima, Qasim, Salim, and Ishaq ibn Rahvaihi, that the seeing will not apply to others than the dwellers of the country and from Lais, Shafiy (RA) and Ahmad Ibn Humbal (RA) that it will apply to all. He said: “I know nothing except the words of the Madaniyi and the Kufiyi that is, Imam Malik and Imam Abu Haneefa.”
14. Ibn Hajar (RA) says:
“And if the countries are far away, there are two views. According to the majority it is not obligatory and Abu Twayyib (RA) and a group have chosen it as obligatory.” This is narrated by Imam Baghvi from Imam Shafiy (RA)”. (Fat’hul Barry.Vol.6 page 601).
The difference of opinion among the scholars of the Shafy Madhab is only on the question of the Mathla’h’ being different. The Date Line or the place of day break in the world of which Imam Shafiy (RA) mentioned was not known to them because the extent of the Earth or the Mathla’h’ was not known in their days. Even the existence of America was unknown to them.
Therefore we need not worry about the contradictions of the followers of Imam Shafiy (RA). The followers of the other three Imams did not take up the subject at all because their Imams were silent on it. Certainly they too would have no objection to accept the fact that the day and date must differ on the sides of the Date Line, but not on any other place. So we can say that there is no contradiction at all. All of them agree that the Eid must be celebrated on the same Day all over the world.
15. Ahmad Ibn Yahya (RA) writes in his Al mi’yar:
“A section of Scholars says that the fasting is obligatory for those who get the information of the Hilal witnessed elsewhere. This is the view expressed by Imam Shafiy and Ahmad. I understand that this is the view of Imam Malik and Imam Abu Haneefa also.” (Al mi’yar Vol.1, page 416).
16. Imam Navavi (RA) says:
“According to the majority of them, if the Hilal is confirmed in one place it is applicable to all people of the neighboring places. It is not applicable to the people of far away places.” (Minhaj).
No Madhab or Scholar has expressed the view that it is not permissible to accept the information from elsewhere. Imam Shafy (RA) referring to the Mathla’h’ (the Date Line), said that the rule of the West is not applicable to the East. Fasting with the West is not permissible on the East of the Date Line. There is no question of a place being near or far away. The rule will differ only at the place where the West and East meet on the Earth. The Scholars were not aware of such a place and they made contradictory statements!
Observing the sequence of time in performing the rituals is compulsory in the Shariah. So those who are behind in time cannot advance. This is forbidden. This means that those who live on the East of the Date Line shall observe the rituals after 24 hours (one day) of the West, not before the West. This difference in observing the rituals is not manifest on the other Days of the week, but it becomes manifest on Fridays, Fasting days, Arafat days and Eid days. There is a difference of one day there and it is compulsory in the Shariah to observe the time order in the rituals at that place.
Imam Navavi (RA) continues further:
“Some of our followers say: Seeing of one place is applicable to the people all over the world. And on this we say that Ibn Abbas (RA) did not act according to the information of Kuraib because it is a case of testimony, which is not established by one witness.” (Sharahu Muslim, Vol. 4 p.212).
“If two places are far apart, there are two prevalent views from the two sides. First (most accurate) of them is that it is not obligatory on the other countries. The second view is that it is obligatory. Swymiri has supported this. Qadhi Abu Twaiyiba, Darimi, Abu Ali and others have corroborated it. They respond to the Hadith quoted by Kuraib from Ibn Abbas(RA) thus: “Seeing of the Hilal at another country was not acceptable to him without the testimony of two just persons,” (Sharahu Muhaddab 6-273).
To accept the decision of another country the testimony of two just persons are required in the Shariah on the basis of this tradition. This is again when there is a doubt about the onset or outgoing of Ramadan. Today we can communicate by telephone and confirm it. So there is no evidence for those who argue that India should not celebrate the Eid on the same Day with Arabia. Such information will not apply at the Mathla’h’ al Fajre or the Date line. Imam Shafy (RA) has estalished this.
Imam Navavi (RA) says in his Sharahu Muslim:
“Nearness is measured as that distance within which Salah cannot be performed as Qasar, (lessened)”. (Sharahu Muslim 4- 22).
The distance between the two places through which the Date Line passes, should be such that the Shariah would permit Qasar in the Salah. There should be travel between such places
In Sharahus Sunna by the famous scholar Imam Bagvi (RA) it is said:
“Ibn Mundir said that the most of the Fuqaha say: When it is confirmed by news of the people that a country among the countries has seen it before them, then compensating for what they have not fasted is compulsory. This is the view of Imam Malik, Imam Shafiy, Imam Ahmad, Imam Abu Haneefa and others.” (Sharahus Sunna, 6- 245).
Readers will now realize that none of the Imams of the four schools consider the difference in Mathla’h or difference in Ramadan. They have declared that it is obligatory on all Muslims to act according to the information that the Hilal has been confirmed at some place on the Earth.
Views of the Salafi Scholars:
After those who follow the Madhabs, it is the Salafiys that represent the other groups of the Muslim community. Salafiys have no objection to act on the Hilal witnessed elsewhere on the Earth. Let us examine what the Salafiy scholars say:
1. Shaikhul Islam Ibn Taimiyya (RA) writes:
“The basic principle here is getting the news about the Hilal. According to the saying of the Prophet: ‘Begin the fasting at its appearance’. “When one gets the information that it has appeared it is binding on him as well without any restriction as to the distance.” (Majma’ fatawa. Vol, 25 page 107).
2. The renowned Salafi Scholar Imam Shaukani (RA) writes:
What is reliable is the decision of the Malikiys and a group of Zaidis. Their Imam Mahdi has chosen it. Imam Qurthubi has quoted this from his Shaikhs. “When the people of a country see it, it is binding on the people of all countries.” (Nailul Autar 4-269).
3.In Adduraril Mudie’a, another work of Imam Shaukani(RA) it is said: (published by Ihyaul Turasul Islam of Kuwait)
“When one country saw it, it is binding on all the other united countries. He has based this on the clear Ahadith, which impose fasting at its appearance and celebrating Eid at its appearance. It is an address to the entire community. Therefore if one of them saw it anywhere he has seen it on behalf of all.” (Addurar.1-134).
Please note that the word Ra’a for seeing has two meanings; 1. Seeing. 2. Knowing. This word is used extensively in the Qur’aan in both the meanings. It only means that when the advent of Ramadan is confirmed at a place by observing the Hilal or after completing 30 days for Shaban or knowing the time of appearing of the Hilal by other means, it is binding on all people in the world. The month of Ramadan would commence on a particular Day of the week and all should agree that it has begun on that Day.
4. The renowned scholar Ibn Khudama writes:
“When the people of a country saw the Hilal, fasting is obligatory on all countries.” (Mugni: 3-5). See some of the evidence he produces. “Muslims are unanimous in that the fasting is obligatory in the month of Ramadan and if it is proved by strong testimony that the Day belongs to Ramadan, then fasting on it is compulsory on all Muslims. Fasting is obligatory for all, just as it is obligatory for the neighboring countries.”
5. Shamsuddin Muquaddis (736 AH) writes:
“When seeing is confirmed at a place near or far, fasting is obligatory for all countries. The rule of those who did not see it is just as of those who saw it even if the Mathla’h (horizons) differed.”(Kitabul Furoo’a).
6. In Arraulathunnadiyya it is written:
“The evidence to say that fasting is obligatory on all is the clear Ahadith ordering to fast at its appearance and to celebrate Eidul Fitre at its appearance. This is an address to the entire community. So if one of them saw it, wherever it may be, that seeing is enough for all of them.” (Arraulathynnadiyya 1-38).
7. In Fiqhussunnah it is written:
“Majority of the Scholars asserts that there is no consideration for the difference of Mathla’h (horizons). When people of a country saw the Hilal, fasting is compulsory for all countries on the words of the Prophet (saw), “fast at its appearance and celebrate the Eidul Fitre at its appearance”. This is an address to the entire community. So if anyone among them saw it, wherever it may be, that seeing is for all of them.” (Fiqhussunnah 2-436)
8. Tuhfathul Ahvadiyya, a commentary of Turmudi, quoting the view of Imam Shaukani (RA) establishes that if the Hilal is seen somewhere on the Earth it is binding on all those who received that information (379/3).
9. In Kithabul Insaf it is stated: (re-published by the special interest of the King of Saudi Arabia)
“When the people of a country see the Hilal, fasting is obligatory on all mankind” (Insaf. 3-273).
10. Ibn Majishoon (RA) says:
“The witnessing will be binding only on the people of the country in which the witnessing is confirmed except that it is confirmed with the Grand Imam, then it will be binding on all of them because in his sight all countries are like one country. Then his decree will be executed all over.” (Fat’hul Barry 5: 601, Bidaya 1: 228).
11. In Nailul Ma’arib, the revered Imam Shaybani says:
“Fasting of Ramadan becomes obligatory on the appearance of its Hilal on all mankind and the rule for those who did not see it is that of those who saw it even if the Mathla’h (horizons) differed.” (Nailul Ma’arib, 1-66)
12. Shaikhul Islam Mansoor Ibn Yunus (RA) says:
“When the people of a country see the Hilal or when its appearance is confirmed in a country, fasting becomes obligatory on all mankind because of his (SAW) saying, ‘fast at its appearance’, is an address to the entire community.” (Raudul Mar’i’ 1-46).
13. Allama Abbas Karara says:
“When the Hilal is confirmed in any quarter, fasting becomes obligatory for the people in all quarters.” (Addeen P.56).
This is the opinion of the majority of the Salafiy Scholars now living in the Gulf countries. The Saudi government is following this principle for long. When the Ramadan fasting and the Eid are fixed the Hilal is not necessarily seen in Saudi Arabia, they consider the Hilal of America or other places for this purpose. Though some of them are against using the calculations they have no objection in accepting the information of the Hilal of another place. Hambali Madhab is prevalent there.
Shiyas follow their own calendar. From the works of renowned Shiya scholars it is clear that the Shiyas too have no objection in observing the Fasting and the Eid on the basis of the information of the Hilal confirmed somewhere in the world. (Nailul Autar 4:269).
What does the Qur’aan say?
The basic principle of the Qur’aan is that the maximum unity should be ensured in all areas. The Qur’aan strongly deprecates disunity and admonishes to create unity in the matter of Fasting and Feasting on the basis of the principles discussed above. The Qur’aan gives favorable guidelines and enjoins unity.
According to the Ayah, “Let those who witness the month observe fasting in it.” It is compulsory for the people to fast in the period of Ramadan, which may be 29 or 30 days from a certain Day to a certain Day of the week based on the cycle of the Moon. Those who missed one day due to a reason should compensate by fasting after Ramadan. It says, “You must complete the number”. We have already seen that in the matter of fasting, the Hanafi, Shafiy, Malikiy and Hambali Scholars have clarified that it is not necessary to consider the difference of the Mathla’h (horizon).
The Qur’aan says that the Lailathul Qadre is one Night through 24 hours during which the Earth revolves in darkness. But in India we see that the Lailathul Qadre
is observed on 3 Days. This means that it occurs in three Nights. The Lailathul Qadre cannot be three different Nights in the world. The Qur’aan talks about one Lailathul Qadre only.
What was the Prophet’s Practice?
From the report of Abu Hurairah (RA): From Abu Umair: “A Caravan came to the Prophet (saw). They said: Yesterday we have seen the Hilal. The Prophet asked the people to break the fast and go to their prayer place next morning.” (Ahmad, Abu Dawood, Ibn Maja, Nassaye).
From the report of Ibn Majah:
“It is said that the caravan arrived at the end of the day. The Prophet did not ask them about the distance. He asked them to break the fast without any enquiry (about the distance) even though the caravan came from a distant place.” Prophet (saw) said: “Fasting is on the Day you fast, Eid-ul-Fitre is on the Day you observe Eid-ul-Fitre, and Eid-ul-Adha is on the Day you observe Eid-ul-Adha.” (Turmudi).
The meaning is that the Day for observing the religious rites such as Jumu’a, Arafat, Ashura, Fastings, Eidul Fitre and Eidul Adha should be common for all in the world. The special rites of such Days should be performed on one Day throughout the world, at different times according to the distance. For example if it is a Friday all must do it on Friday. If Makkah is taken as the Center, those to the East observe all the rituals before Makkah. They extend up to 9 hours. Those to the West observe the rituals after Makkah. They extend up to 15 hours. The Shariah demands that the order of time sequence must be strictly adhered to.
From Ayisha (RA)
“Eid-ul-fitre is on the Day when people celebrate the Eid-ul-fitre. Eid-ul-Adha is on the Day when people celebrate Eid-ul-Adha.” (Abu Dawood, Ibn Maja).
In another report we can see that:
“Your Arafat Day is on the Day of your standing on the Arafat.”
These Ahadith declare the unity of the Days of Fasting and Feasting. It should be one Day for all people living in the world. The weekly Eid of Jumu’a is performed on one Day throughout the world. Then why cannot the annual Eid be performed on one Day all over the world? Why should people disagree in celebrating the Eid on one Day all over the world as commanded by the Prophet (saw)?
From Ibn Umair: “The Prophet said: When the Hilal appears, begin fasting and when it appears celebrate the Eidul Fitre.” (Bukhari, Muslim).
It is on the basis of this Hadith that the Imams of the 4 Madhabs and Imam Shaikhul Islam, Ibn Taimiyya ® have declared that when the Hilal appears at any place on the Earth, it shall be the basis for the beginning of the month on the Earth, for all people who come to know about it.
There is only the following narration of Kuraib on which some people argue that the Hilal, which occurs in one place is not applicable to another place.
No one says that it is prohibited to consider the Hilal confirmed at another place. The view that it is not applicable to the others is due to a misunderstanding of the Hadith of Kuraib. But those to the East of the Mathla’h’ (Date Line) shall not fast the next morning with those to the West. It will be prohibited there, because the Days and the directions of the Qibla differ at that place on the Earth. If the people of the West fasted on Friday, the people of the East also should fast on Friday, but there will be a gap of 24 hours’ difference there between the West and the East. This shall not be overlooked.
Hadith of Kuraib
Kuraib says: Ummul Fadle (RA) sent me to Muaviyah in Sham on an errand for her. I reached Sham. I fulfilled her request. While in Sham Ramadan began and on the eve of Friday we saw the Hilal of Ramadan. Then I came to Medina by the end of the month. Ibn Abbas (RA) questioned me and enquired about the Hilal. He said, “When did you see the Hilal?” I said “We saw it on the eve of Friday”. Then he said, “Did you see it?” I said, “Yes, the people saw it and they fasted and Muaviyah too fasted.” Then he said, “but we saw it on the eve of Saturday and we will continue fasting until we complete thirty or we see it.” Then I said, “Is not Muaviya’s seeing and his fasting enough for you? He said “No, That is what the Prophet (SAW) ordered us.” (Muslim)
1. Due to ignorance of the scientific facts certain scholars had interpreted that Ibn Abbas ® did not accept Kuraib’s statement because it was a distant place. Rising of the Moon differs every year and every month at every place. Mostly all places in Kerala may come in one Mathla’h’. But at times even Kozhikode and Kasargode would differ. The Hilal seen at one place may not be visible at another place. This does not mean that date of the two places would differ except on the Mathla’h’ (the Date Line). Ibn Abbas ® knew very well that Friday of Sham is Friday for Medina too. So if Friday is the first of Ramadan for Sham then Friday must be the first of Ramadan for Medina also. Ibn Abbas ® cannot be ignorant of this. He was aware of the saying of the Prophet (saw) that: “If two Muslims bear witness, you begin fasting or celebrate Eid.” Then why did he reject Kuraib’s statement that Sham began fasting on Friday?
2. Sham (Syria) is about 1000 km away from Medina. Will those who interpret that Ibn Abbas ® did not accept Kuraib’s statment because of the difference in the Mathla’h’ argue that Makkah and Ryadh which are situated about 1000 km apart should observe the Eid on different Days? The argument that within such and such distance the Mathla’h’ should differ at times is baseless.
3. Imam Shaukani ® has given a scholarly explanation to this Hadith in his Nailul Autar. His explanation is quite satisfactory. An important comment in it says: Ibn Abbas ® has referred the sayings of the Prophet. “Fast at the appearing of the Hilal and celebrate Eidul Fitre at its appearing, if it is overcast complete thirty.” that was the command. It does not say that the appearing of the Hilal should be calculated on the basis of such and such distance or that the witnesses should be within such and such distance.
4. Imam Shaukani ® also gives a scholarly reply to this Hadith in his work Addurari. “The manner in which some scholars interpret the Hadith of Kuraib narrated by Muslim and others is not correct, because Ibn Abbas did not express anything to mean that the Prophet (saw) has ordered them not to act upon the seeing of other regions other than theirs, but he meant that the Prophet (saw) ordered them to complete 30 or see it. This was his thinking. By seeing he meant the seeing of that region is a mistake in understanding the Hadith. People fell into arguments and error till hey were divided into more than eight factions on this issue.” (Addarari. 1: 143).
5. Kuraib said that they saw the Hilal of Ramadan on the eve of Friday. But Ibn Abbas® says that he saw the Hilal of Ramadan on the eve of Saturday. There is a contradiction here. The Prophet’s order is to look for the Hilal on the 29th of the month, not on any other Day. So Ibn Abbas ® looked for the Hilal of Ramadan on Friday evening, which was the 29th of Shaban and he saw it. He began fasting according to it on Saturday.
We cannot say that Ibn Abbas® looked for the Hilal of Ramadan on the first of Ramadan instead of 29th of Shaban! He was one of the most knowledgeable persons among the Sahaba. ®. He knew very well that Friday of Medina and Sham was same and that the 29th of Shaban too should be Friday at both the places. So the eve of Friday should be 28th of Shaban for the people of Sham too.
The big question now in front of us including Ibn Abbas® is, how did Kuraib look for the Hilal of Ramadan on Thursday which was the 28th of Shaban and how could he see the Hilal on the 28th? It was certainly not possible to see the Hilal on the 28th of the month! Most probably Kuraib and others had seen some thing else and mistook it for the Hilal. Now it was not proper for Ibn Abbas® to act according to Kuraib’s statement.
He needed another witness to support Kuraib’s statement that Ramadan began on Friday at Sham. The Hadith does not record that anyone else had appeared before Ibn Abbas® to support Kuraib. Ibn Abbas® had no other alternative but to reject Kuraib’s unfounded statement.
He knew very well that the Ramadan should commence on the same Day at all places and he wanted to verify whether the statement of Kuraib that Ramadan began on Friday was correct and reliable. That is why he had to question Kuraib. If he had learnt from the Prophet (saw) that the months could begin on different Days at Medina and Sham and the celebration of the Eid could be on different Days, then there was no need for him to question Kuraib and waste his valuable time. He need not bother about Sham and their seeing. He could have simply said without an enquiry “like this the Messenger of Allah has commanded us, and Sham is far away”.
His enquiring into the matter, when he heard that the people at Sham had begun Ramadan one day before proves that the Sahaba® had learnt from the Prophet (saw) that the months should begin on the same Day at all places and the Eid should be celebrated on the same Day all over the world.
It is reported that Ibn Abbas® asked Kuraib to fast the 31st.day. This is because Ibn Abbas® was sure that Ramadan began on Saturday that year and that there cannot two days of the first of Ramdan (Friday and Saturday) in a year. This proves that the people of Sham had made a mistake and they began fasting one day earlier unknowingly. The fast of Kuraib on Friday was actually in Shaban. So his fast is not valid. Since that Ramadan had 30 days according to the correct observation of the Manzils of the Moon, Kuraib must fast one day more and that is why Ibn Abbas ® ordered him to fast (See Bulugh al-Maraam’s commentary Sulus Salam for details).
Some of the Shafiy scholars explain this hadith.
Imam Navavi® quotes: “Some of our followers say: If the Hilal is seen at one place it is binding on all people on the Earth. Certainly Ibn Abbas® did not accept Kuraib’s information because of lack of evidence. An evidence cannot be confirmed by one person.” (Sharah Muslim: 4-212)
Imam Shaukani®’s interpretation is quoted and accepted in Turmudi’s explanatory work Tuhfathul Ahvadiyya (vol.3, P 379). “Ibn Abbas® rejected Kuraib’s statement for want of witnesses.”
Renowned works in Hanafi Madhab explain: “Kuraib is the only witness. For a
Qadi to enforce a decree one witness is not sufficient” (Sharah Thuhfathul Qadeer. 2-314).
Scholars of Malikiy Madhab: The scholars of the Malikiy Madhab also have expressed similar views. (Vo1 30 P211. Areelathul Ahvadi of Ibn Arabi)
Renowned scholars of Hambali Madhab explain:
“Kuraib’s Hadith informs us that they did not celebrate Eidul Fitre depending on Kuraib’s words. We also say the same. The question is whether compensation for the lost fast of the first day of Ramadan became compulsory. That is not mentioned in the Hadith.” (Mugni 3-5)
In short there is no mention in any Hadith that the information of the Hilal seen elsewhere should be rejected or that the Prophet (saw) has specified the limits to accept the witnesses. The reason is that there would be difference in the appearance of the Hilal and it should not be determined according to the distance. Moreover, it changes every month. Moonrise and moonset for every day for any given place can be determined exactly by calculations. We can see in the practice of the Prophet (saw), the directions to the effect that the differences in moonrise shall not be considered in the case of determining the onset of the month.
On the Earth there is difference in day and night. When it is night in America it is daytime here. When the Hilal is seen at some place it may be mid-day elsewhere. How can one commence fasting then?
This is a question raised to establish that the problem is complex. No one argues that fasting should start as soon as the Hilal is seen at some place on the Earth. We do not start fasting or celebration of Eid as soon as we see the Hilal! We start only the next morning after the expiry of that night. Fasting is to be observed from dawn to dusk. Thus based on the appearance of the Hilal on the Earth, people at all places should commence fasting or celebration from the next morning when the Day begins. They should not wait expecting the announcement of their Qadi, who would see the Hilal once again and decide. The Qadi has no right to decide independently. He should use the common sense and base on the first appearance of the Hilal in the world. If the information is delayed, that Day should be regarded, as the first of Ramadan and the lost fast should be compensated by fasting one day after the Eid ul Fitre. This is the law of the Shariah.
There are places on the Earth where days and nights are experienced for almost six months. Muslims live there also. For them seeing the Hilal is impossible. Those who raise such questions should not think that Islam is not practicable everywhere in the world. Does it mean that the Muslims living there need not fast or celebrate Eid because they do not see the Sun or the Moon? The Sun and the Moon are for calculating time. The Sun indicates the Day and the Moon indicates the Date. Even if we do not see them both we can know our Day and Date by other means
that Allah has provided for us. The people who live at such places should calculate and observe the rituals. They should use the common sense and calculate time and dates taking Makkah as the center, and Makkah should base the Date on the first appearing of the Hilal on the Earth, or on the Ahillah of the Moon.
Should we not unify the prayer of Zuhar and Asar etc. also? Should we not say the Zuhar prayer when Zuhar prayer is said in Makkah?
This is a childish question. The Prophet has never said that the Zuhar prayer is when they say Zuhar prayer or that the Asar prayer is when the people say Asar prayer. Islam does not decree uniformity in this regard even among the people of a given locality. The people who raise such questions do not understand that the Earth is a globe and the small units of time must differ everywhere on the Earth. Islam is the right religion and a right religion cannot order the people to do foolish and impossible things. Zuhar prayer may be performed from the time of the sun’s decline till the time of Asar prayer. For the other prayers also there is allowance. Can we say that the same duration can be permitted for the Eid prayers, two different Days? Is it the same difference when we perform Eid prayers on two different Days? In daily time-bound prayer remembering Allah is more important and so declares the Qur’an. In Eid prayer the unity of the Muslims is more important. Sayings of the Prophet (SAW) make it clear.
Imams of the four Madhabs and Salafi scholars like Ibn Taimiyya say that it is essential to observe fasting and the Eid on the basis of the first occurrence of the Hilal on the Earth without considering the difference in the appearance of the Hilal. Those who find it difficult to say that it is obligatory, as suggested by these scholars, should at least show tolerance to say that it is not prohibited or Haram. In fact it is Haram to oppose the unity and fast when their brothers are feasting. The Prophet (SAW) has forbidden the fast on the Day of Eid of the Muslim Community. An Eid cannot be on both Monday and Tuesday. The Eid can fall only on one Day of the week.
When we examine the Qur’aan, the Sunnah, the Hadith and the works of the Imams and Scholars we can see that the uniformity in the Days of fasting and Eid is a must. The disunity that prevails today is absurd and illegal according to the laws of Shariah because there is no evidence what so ever to allow two or three Days of Eid in the world. The Prophet (saw) has not allowed it.
Unification of the Eid Day is only an indicator towards the goal of unity of the Muslim Community. The only way to bring about this unity is by reviving the practice of the Islamic calendar, which has almost disappeared from the world. If we educate the Muslims about the Islamic calendar they will understand that there cannot be two dates for one day in the Islamic calendar and everyone will argue that the Eid must be performed on a single day in the world. We have to do more work to bring the quarrelling factions of the Muslims to hold fast on the rope of Allah (SWT). All praise is to Allah. May Allah help us in the venture! He is our savior.
Oh Allah! If we have erred or if we have forgotten in our duty forgive us our shortcomings.