Unity And Fasting

The unification of the day in which the fast begins and the day in which Eid begins for all the Muslims world-wide is a duty which Allah has prescribed upon them and one of the aspects of their unity. Allah (swt) has clearly and specifically determined in the Shari'ah texts the day of fasting and the day of Eid. Bukhari and Muslim reported on the authority of Abdullah Ibnu Omar (may Allah be pleased with them) that the Messenger of Allah (saw) mentioned Ramadhan and said: "Do not fast till you see the new moon, and do not break fast till you see it; but if the weather is cloudy calculate it."

Muslim also reported on the authority of Abdullah Ibnu Omar ® that the Messenger of Allah (saw) made mention of Ramadhan and with a gesture of his hand said: "The month is thus and thus. (He then withdrew His thumb at the third time indicating 29). He then said: Fast when you see it, and break your fast when you see it, and if the weather is cloudy do calculate it (the months of Shaban and Shawwal) as thirty days."

Bukhari reported on the authority of Ibnu Omar ® that the Messenger of Allah (saw) said: "The month consists of 29 nights, so do not fast till you have sighted it (i.e. the new moon), and if the weather were cloudy, then complete it as thirty days."

In the narration of Muslim, the Messenger of Allah (saw) said: "The month of Ramadhan may consist of twenty-nine days. So do not fast until you have sighted it (the new moon) and do not break fast, until you have sighted it (the new moon of Shawwal), and if the sky is cloudy for you, then calculate."

Muslim also reported on the authority of Abdullah Ibnu Omar that the Messenger of Allah (saw) said: "The month of Ramadhan may consist of twenty-nine days; so when you see the new moon observe fast and when you see (the new moon again at the commencement of the month of Shawwal) then break it, and if the sky is cloudy for you, then calculate it (and complete thirty days)."

These Ahadith are very clear and unequivocal, in them the Messenger of Allah (saw) orders us to fast when the sighting of the new moon of Ramadhan is confirmed, and orders us to break fast when the sighting of the new moon of Shawwal is confirmed; these orders are binding and their violation is a sinful act just like the abandoning of any other duty or the committing of an unlawful act.

The command of fasting and breaking fast is general: "Do not fast till you see it and do not break fast till you see it." - "Do fast when you see it and break fast when you see it."; this applies to all Muslims all over the world. Furthermore, the word 'sighting' has also come in a general form: "When you sight it." or "If you see it."; this means that it includes any sighting, and it does not merely apply to the person who sights the new moon, nor does it specifically apply only to the people of his own country, for the address which orders the fast and the breaking of the fast is general and comprehensive, as is the address concerning the sighting, therefore, the rule is undoubtedly general.

Therefore, the command of fasting and of breaking the fast when the new moon is sighted is a command which addresses all Muslims all over the world. So for example if the new moon was sighted in Rabat on Friday night, and was not sighted in Jakarta on Friday night but on Saturday night, the people of lndonesia must act upon the sighting of the new moon in Morocco, they must therefore begin the fast on Friday if the new moon was that of Ramadhan; if they did not fast that day they should compensate for that day because the obligation to fast has been confirmed by the sighting of the new moon by any Muslim anywhere in the world. Also, if the new moon was that of Shawwal, they should break their fast when news about the sighting reaches them even if they did not sight it themselves, for the moment the sighting is confirmed, they must break their fast, and it would be sinful for them to continue fasting.

Therefore, the Shari'ah rule states that if the people of one country sighted the new moon, it would be exactly as if all the Muslims have sighted it as well, therefore they should all fast if it is the new moon of Ramadhan, and they should all break fast if it is the new moon of Shawwal. This is the rule of Allah (swt) according to the Shari'ah texts.

During the lifetime of the Messenger of Allah (saw), the Muslims used to begin the fast on the same day and break it on the same day despite the fact that they lived in different areas, and this serves as another Shari'ah evidence that the sighting of the new moon in one area obliges all the Muslims to fast together on the same day and break fast together on the same day.

As for the Shub'ha (controversial evidence) of those who claim that the beginning of the fast and the end of the fast i.e. the day of Eid could be different, this can be summarised in two points:

1- The first Shub'ha: They claim that to each people living in one country their sighting, for each people should follow their own times just like the times of prayer; this is why they said: The precept lies in the Matali', i.e. the time of rising (of celestial bodies). In answer to this claim we say the following: The times of prayer are subject to their scheduled times and these are different even in the one region, for the signs which the Shari'ah has specified would occur at different times; as far as fasting is concerned, this difference also applies at the time of Imsak (beginning of fast) at dawn and at the time of Iftar (end of fast) just after sunset, this is so because the text has indicated this difference: Allah (swt) says:

"And eat and drink until the white thread of dawn appears to you distinct from its black thread; Then complete your fast until the night appears" [ 2:187]

The Imsak and the Iftar times differ from one place to another just like the times of prayer, which also differ from place to place, this difference happens in the one single day, however, the beginning of the month of fasting must begin on the same day all over the whole world, and the difference occurs only in the parts of the single day. This is what the texts of the Ahadith have clearly indicated; and this is what is confirmed by the understanding deduced from the Shari'ah rule. The difference in the rise of the new moon between the farthest two points in the world does not exceed twelve hours; and the classical Mujtahids (learned scholars) are excused for not understanding this deduction from the Shari'ah rule, for at the time, they were not in a position to clearly realise the movements of the earth, sun and the new moon. And now that the deduction made from the rule is understood, there are no pretexts or excuses left for those who claim that the difference in the time of rising could exceed one day, let alone those who claim that it could be even a few days. Therefore, the month of fasting begins for the Islamic Ummah all over the world on the same day and the end of the month of fasting and the beginning of Eid also occurs on the same day for all the Islamic Ummah all over the world.

2- The second Shub'ha: The second Shub'ha of those who claim that the beginning of the fast and the break of fast vary, is deduced from the Hadith reported by Muslim on the authority of Kurayb who reported that Umm-ul-Fadhl Bintu-l-Harith sent him to Mu'awiya in Al-Sham; he said: I arrived in Al-Sham and did business for her (Umm-ul-Fadhl Bintu-l-Harith). It was there in Al-Sham that the month of Ramadhan commenced. I saw the new moon of Ramadhan on Friday. I then came back to Madina at the end of the month, Abdullah Ibnu Abbas ® asked me about the new moon of Ramadhan and said: "When did you see it? I said: We saw it on the night of Friday, He said: Did you see it yourself? I said: Yes, and the people also saw it and observed the fast and Mu'awiya also observed the fast; whereupon he said: But we saw it on Saturday night. Some would continue to observe fast till we complete thirty (fasts) or we see it (the new moon of Shawwal). I said: Is the sighting of the moon by Mu'awiya not valid for you? He said: No, this is how the Messenger of Allah (saw) has commanded us."

Those who claim that the beginning of fasting and the break of fast may vary, use this Hadith as evidence; they argue that Ibnu Abbas ignored the sighting of the people of Al-Sham and said at the end of the Hadith: This is how the Messenger of Allah (saw) has commanded us. This indicated that Ibnu Abbas learnt from the Messenger of Allah (saw) that the people of one region are not obliged to act upon the sighting of another region; they also argue that this Hadith serves as a specification and an explanation of the Hadith of the sighting. They therefore claimed that the people of each region are commanded to act upon the sighting of the new moon in their region only and not in other regions, thus the beginning of fast and the beginning of Eid vary from one region to another and according to the times of rising.

The answer to this claim lies in the fact that this report is not a Hadith of the Messenger of Allah (saw) but the Ijtihad of a Sahabi, and the Ijtihad of the Sahabi is not comparable to the Hadith of the Prophet (saw). The fact that Ibnu Abbas ® did not act upon the sighting of the people of Al-Sham reflects an Ijtihad and it cannot be used as a Shari'ah evidence; and besides, the Ijtihad is always nullified by the general Shari'ah evidence, thus the Hadith must be acted upon ahead of the Ijtihad which has to be abandoned. Furthermore, the Ijtihad of the Sahabi cannot specify the general term of the Hadith. As for the saying of Ibnu Abbas at the end of the report: "This is how the Messenger of Allah (saw) commanded us.", it is not a Hadith but merely the way Ibnu Abbas understood the Hadith of the Messenger of Allah (saw) in which he (saw) said: "Fast when you see it and break fast when you see it." This indicates that Ibnu Abbas understood the Hadith as such; though he did not say:

This is how the Messenger of Allah (saw) reported it, nor did he say: This is how we learnt it from the Messenger of Allah (saw), but he said: This is how the Messenger of Allah (saw) commanded us. Imam Al-Shawkani explained the Hadith as follows: He wrote in his book entitled Nayl-ul Awtar the following: I realise that the evidence is derived from the report of Ibnu Abbas and not from his Ijtihad (exertion) which people understood as such, and what is referred in his saying: "This is how the Messenger of Allah (saw) commanded us.", is his saying (i.e. Ibnu Abbas): So we are still fasting until we complete thirty days; and the command of the Messenger of Allah (saw) lies in the Hadith extracted by the two Sheikhs (i.e. Bukhari and Muslim) among others with the following wording: "Do not fast till you see the new moon and do not break fast till you see the new moon, and if the sky were cloudy, then complete it as thirty days." And this does not specifically apply for the people of one region to the exclusion of others but to all the Muslims.

Therefore, what Kurayb has reported does not qualify as a Hadith, but remains as it is, i.e. an opinion of Ibnu Abbas; it does not qualify as evidence and cannot be used as such; it also cannot be used to specify the general term of a Hadith, i.e. the general evidence. Therefore the Shub'ha is nullified and its use as evidence is incorrect.

As these two Shub'has are no longer valid there remains no other Shub'ha, and only the evidence derived from the real meaning of the texts would stand, which implies that all the Muslims are commanded to fast when the new moon is sighted anywhere in the world as indicated by the clear-cut meaning of the Hadith of Allah's Messenger (saw) : "Do fast when you see it." And all the Muslims are commanded to break fast when the sighting of the new moon is confirmed in any part of the world, and to make that day their Eid day as clearly indicated in the Hadith of Allah's Messenger (saw): "Do break fast when you see it."

It is worth mentioning here that the astrological calculations used to determine in advance when the month of Ramadhan starts and ends do not serve as a substitute for the actual sighting, for the texts mentioned the "sighting"; there is however no harm in using the calculations to help determine the appropriate time to start monitoring the new moon. As for the governments who use these calculations instead of the sighting, their actions contradict the clear texts, and therefore their actions are unlawful and the Muslims are forbidden from relying on their announcements.

O Muslims! When you hear that a Muslim country, any country, no matter how near or how far, declares that it has been confirmed according to the lawful way that the new moon of Ramadhan has been sighted, you must begin your fast, and you are forbidden to wait for the ruler or the Mufti in your part of the world to give you permission to fast, and when you hear that a Muslim country, no matter how near or how far, has declared that the sighting of the moon of Shawwal has been confirmed, by relying on the method recognised by Shari'ah, you must break your fast and celebrate the Eid, you are forbidden from waiting for the ruler's or the Mufti's permission to celebrate Eid. You fast and you break fast by the command of Allah (swt) and His Messenger (saw), not by the command of those disbelieving mischievous rulers, and not by the command of those Muftis who are more anxious to please the rulers rather than to please Allah (swt). O Muslims! We hereby invite you to implement this Shari'ah rule, which is the unification of the day in which the fast begins and the unification of the day for the breaking of the fast. We seize this opportunity to remind you of your duty towards Allah (swt), i.e. to work with vigour and seriousness towards appointing a Khaleefah for the Muslims, who would unite their word and their ranks, and who would implement all the Shari'ah rules, and carry the Islamic Message to the world, and declare Jihad so that the word of Allah is supreme.

"0 you who believe respond to the call of Allah and His Messenger when they call you to that which gives you life."

 
 

 

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