Fatwa by Mufti Ebrahim Desai
Question: Today there are several different opinions of how the start
of the Islamic month should be determined. Certain people claim that if the
crescent is sighted anywhere in the world, the day for the start of the
month will be valid for the whole world (albeit several hours earlier or
later depending on the location). Some people claim that the sighting of the
hilal will be only be valid local to the sighting. Many hanafi ulema are of
this view. However, I am confused at what "local" means and how the borders
for "local sighting" are determined. If someone living right near the border
of North America and South America, which continent's sighting will be valid
for them? The same can be asked of someone living near the border of U.S.A.
and Canada. Which country's sighting should they follow? Also, must the moon
be sighted for every month, and not just Ramadhan? Please give references.
Response: Kindly refer below, our reply to a similar query.
I have studied that document and appreciate your efforts in the matter.
The Jurists (Fuqahaa) have differences of opinion on whether
Ikhtilaaf-e-Mataalih is considered (Mu’tabar) or not. According to the
Zaahir-e-Riwaayat (view considered for Fatwa), it is not considered which
means that one reliable sighting anywhere (not only Saudia Arabia) in the
world is valid. However, the problem in the sighting of the moon, as you
correctly stated that there are many errors in the sighting of the moon in
Saudi Arabia. If the errors are rectified and after Shahaadah of an
individual/s sighting the moon, decision is taken in consultation with the
officials of the Hilaal Sighting Committee, then it will be valid for the
entire Muslim Ummah. Similar procedures must be put in place in other
countries as well, as the moon may be sighted elsewhere and not necessarily
In view of the present discrepancies in moon sighting, the view that
Ikhtilaaf-e-Mataalih is considered may be adopted and each country should
make their own independent decisions. It is incorrect for the Muslims in
North America (especially the Arab brethren) to follow Saudia Arabia’s
ruling on Eid-ul-Fitr and Eid-ul-Adha due to the moonsighting being
inconsistent with Shari’ah laws of sighting the moon.
We appreciate Shaykh’s comments in his address to us and humbly request for
your pious Du’aas.
and Allah Ta'ala Knows Best
Mufti Ebrahim Desai
Ref: Ask-Imam.com > Fasting (Sawm)
> Question 1669