Moon Sighting Announcements in Saudi Arabia
SHAYKH ABDUL – AZEEZ – IBN BAAZ
What should I do if the moon is sighted in some Muslim countries but the country where I am working completes the month of Sha’baan and Ramadaan as thirty days? What is the cause of the people’s differences in Ramadaan?.
Praise be to Allaah.
You have to stay with the people of your country.When they fast, then fast with them, and when they break the fast then break the fast with them, because the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) said: “The fast is the day when you fast, and the breaking of the fast (al-iftaar) is the day when you break the fast, and the sacrifice (Al-Adha) is the day when you offer the sacrifice.”
And because dissent is evil. So you have to be with the people of your country. So when the Muslims in your country break the fast, then break the fast with them, and when they fast then fast with them.
As for the cause of differences, the reason is that some people see the new moon and some do not see it, then those who have seen the new moon may be trusted by others who follow their sighting, or they may not be trusted, and hence differences arise.
One country may sight it and rule accordingly, and fast and break the fast on that basis, whereas another country may not be convinced of this sighting and may not trust the other country, for many reasons, political and otherwise.
What the Muslims must do is fast all together when they see the new moon, and break the fast when they see it, because of the general meaning of the words of the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him):
“When you see the new moon then fast, and when you see the new moon then break the fast, and if it is too cloudy then complete the number of days as thirty.”
If they are all certain of the validity of the moon sighting, and that it is real and proven, then they must fast and break the fast accordingly, but if the people differ and do not trust one another, then you have to fast with the Muslims in your country, and break the fast with them, in accordance with the words of the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him):
“The fast is the day when you fast, and the breaking of the fast (al-iftaar) is the day when you break the fast, and the sacrifice (Al-Adha) is the day when you offer the sacrifice.”
It was proven from Ibn ‘Abbaas (may Allaah be pleased with him) that when Kurayb told him that the people of Syria had started fasting on a Friday, Ibn ‘Abbaas said: We saw it on Saturday, and we will carry on fasting until we see the new moon or we complete thirty days.
He did not follow the sighting of the people of Syria because Syria is far away from Madeenah and there may be a difference in moonsighting between the two.
He (may Allaah be pleased with him) thought that this was a matter that was subject to ijtihaad.
You have a good example to follow in Ibn ‘Abbaas and the scholars who followed him and said that you should fast with the people of your country and break the fastwith them.
And Allaah is the Source of strength.
Shaykh ‘Abd al-‘Azeez ibn Baaz (may Allaah have mercy on him).
Majmoo’ Fataawa wa Maqaalaat Mutanwwi’ah
Moon Sighting Announcements in Saudi Arabia
SHAYKH SAALIH AL UTHAYMEEN
Q. 393.There are some people who call for the uniting of the moon sightings everywhere with that of Makkah, in order to unite the Muslim community over the start of the blessed month of Ramadan and other months. What is Your Eminence’s opinion on this ?
A.From the point of view of astronomy, this is impossible, because the appearance of the new crescent, as Shiakhul-Islam Ibn Taimiyyah, may Allah have mercy on him, said, differs (from place to place) according to the consensus of those who are knowledgeable in this field. Since it differs, then what is necessitated by the evidence from the Qur’an and the Sunnah, and scientific evidence, is that every country must have its own ruling.
As for the evidence from the Qur’an and the Sunnah, Allah, the Most High says:
“So whoever of you sights (the crescent on the first night of) the month (of Ramadan, i.e. is present at his home, he must observe Saum (fasts) that month.” 
So, if it happened that a people in the farthest part of the earth did not witness the month, i.e. the new crescent, while the people of Makkah had seen the new crescent, how could the
 Al-Baqarah 2:185
address in this Verse be applied to those who had not witnessed the new crescent? The Prophet sallallahu alayhi wa sallam said:
“Fast when you see it and break the fast when you see it.” 
So if the people of Makkah see it, how can we oblige the people of Pakistan and those Asians who live beyond it to fast, when we know that the new crescent has not appeared in their region, and the Prophet sallallahu alayhi wa sallam made fasting conditional upon the sighting of a new crescent?
The scientific evidence is the correct analogy,which is not possible to refute, for we know that the dawn appears in the eastern corner of the earth before the western side. So if the dawn appears on the eastern side, it is incumbent upon to fast while we are still in the night ?
The answer is no.if the sun sets in the east, while we were still in daylight, it is permissible for us to break our fast? The answer is no. Therefore, the new crescent is exactly like the sun, except that the timing of the new crescent is monthly and the timing of the sun is daily, and He Who said:
Reported by Al-Bukhari in the Book of Fasting, in the Chapter: The Words of the Prophet sallallahu alayhi wa sallam:
When you see the new crescent (1909);and by Muslim in the Book of Fasting, in the Chapter: The Obligation to Fast the Month of Ramadan Upon Sighting the new crescent (1081).
“It is made lawful for you to have sexual relations with your wives on the night of As-Saum (the fast). They are Libas [i.e. body-cover, or screen, or Sakan (i.e. you enjoy the pleasure of living with them) for you and you are the same for them.
Allah knows that you used to deceive yourselves, so He turned to you (accepted your repentance) and forgave you. So now have sexual relations with them and seek that which Allah has ordained for you (offspring), and eat and drink until the white thread (light) of dawn appears to you distinct from the black thread (darkness of the night), then complete your Saum (fast) till the nightfall.
And do not have sexual relations
with them (your wives) while you are in I’tikaf (i.e. confining oneself in a mosque for prayers and invocations leaving the worldly activities) in the mosques. These are the limits (set) by Allah, so approach them not. Thus does Allah make clear His Ayat (proofs, evidences, lessons, signs, revelations, verses, laws, legal and illegal things, Allah’s set limits, orders, ect.) to mankind that they may become Al-Muttaqun,”
is the One Who said:
“So whoever of you sighs (the crescent on the first night of) the month (of Ramadan, i.e. is present at his home), he must observe Saum (fast) that month.
So, what is necessitated by the evidence from the Qur’an and the Sunnah, as well as scientific evidence, is to make a special judgement for each place regarding fasting and breaking the fast, and to link them on the base of the perceptible sign which Allah has declared in His Book, Muhammad sallallahu alayhi wa sallam has declared in his Sunnah, and that is the sighting of the moon and the sighting of the sun or the dawn.
 Al-Baqarah 2:185
Fatawa Arkan-ul-Islam By Shaykh Muhammad ibn Salih Al-Uthaymeen. The Fatawa presented in these volumes have been selected from the whole collection of the Fatawa of the learned Shaikh Muhammad bin Salih Al-‘Uthaymeen and translated into the English language. These Fatawa are distinguished by their reliance upon the Book of Allah, the Most High, the Sunnah of His Messenger (S) and the opinions of the scholars who are known for their investigative powers. We hope that these Fatawa will provide the people great help, knowledge and understanding of the finer points of religious aspects.
Moon Sighting Announcements in Saudi Arabia
By Mufti Taqi Usmani
Q.)I am writing this letter to you with regards to the controversy surrounding the sighting of the crescent moon over Saudi Arabia on Friday 18 December 1998 and the subsequent commencement of the month of Ramadan in mosques throughout England.
My question is: Can such a sighting be acceptable in the face of astronomical data which suggested that on Friday 18December 1998 the crescent was invisible due to the Sun, earth and moon lying in one plane? The data also suggested that the earliest possible sighting was on Saturday 19 December 1998.
A.)Thank you for your letter asking me about the issue of sighting of moon at the occasion of Eid-ul-Fitr and about the acceptability of evidence despite its being impossible according to the astronomical calculations. In fact the contemporary scholars have different views on this point.
I personally believe that if it is certainly proved that the moon is not yet born and its sighting is not at all possible on a particular evening, the evidence of only a few persons should not be taken as a proof of existence of moon at the horizon and the Ramadan or Eid should not be started on that basis alone unless there is evidence of people in overwhelming numbers that they themselves have seen the moon in which case it may be said that there was something wrong in the astronomical calculation.
But in the absence of such an evidence, the only evidence of two or some more persons should not be relied upon. This view of mine is based on the ruling given by a large number of jurists that if the Horizon is clear the evidence of two persons is not enough for proving a crescent moon unless it is established by the evidence of a great number of people about whom it is not is not imaginable that they may have connived to give a false evidence.
The requirement of such an overwhelming evidence in this case is based on the common sense that if the horizon is clear the moon must have been seen by a large number of people and merely the evidence of two persons is doubtful.
By the analogy, if the astronomical calculation proved that new moon cannot be sighted on a particular day the evidence of a few people should not be relied upon.
However, there are some contemporary scholars who totally disregard the astronomical calculations in the matter of sighting the moon and base their view on the famous Hadith of the Holy Prophet, Sall-Allahu alayhi wa sallam
“Keep fast after seeing it (moon) and give up fasting after seeing it (moon).”
Their argument is that the Shariah does not base its findings on the astronomical calculations because it is meant for all the Muslims the majority of whom have no means to know the results of such calculations. Therefore, they say, reliance can be placed only on the evidence of the persons who claim to have seen the moon.
This is the view which has found favor with the Saudi authorities who are responsible for declaring the sighting or otherwise of the moon. Although I do not endorse this view, nor do other scholars of many Muslims countries accept it, yet the issue being a matter of Ijtihad, the decision given by Saudi authorities is enforceable in their own jurisdiction.
That is why, despite having a different view, we validate the Hajj and Ramadan etc, as announced by the Saudi authorities [for applicability within Saudi Arabia].
The Muslims living in other parts of the world should desirably arrange their own system of sighting the moon, as is done in Pakistan and many other countries, because the system adopted in Saudi Arabia is not based on the stronger view. However, as I mentioned earlier this is not an issue which has been specifically mentioned in the Holy Qur’an or Sunnah in express terms but it is a matter of Ijtihad, therefore, we should not hold that any decision taken on that basis, whether in Saudi Arabia or in any other country, is totally against Shariah and the worship or celebrations held on that basis are invalid.
This is my humble opinion regarding this issue and according to me the Muslims living in UK etc. should preferably make their own arrangement for sighting of the moon.
However, if the dissension of the Muslims cannot be removed except by declaring the beginning of the months on the basis of the announcement of the Saudi authorities then the adoption of Saudi view is less harmful than inculcating the dissension among the Muslims, particularly, in a non-Muslim country.