The time difference between the last and first visible phases of the moon is known as the "New Moon Phase" (or Mahaq in Arabic). In between this invisible period, there is an instant of time, known as the "New Moon Conjunction" (or Waqt-tul Iqthiran in Arabic) when the sun, moon and earth come together in one line/plane.
If you are able to sight both the last waning crescent moon (from the eastern horizon before sunrise) and the first waxing crescent moon (from the western horizon after sunset), for a given location over a number of lunar months, then you can easily calculate the minimum period of Mahaq when it will be impossible to sight the new crescent moon by the human eye (without the use of any "calculations"!).
Experienced observers have stated that the duration of Mahaq is most commonly about 60 hours (2.5 days) long and in extremely rare cases it may be about 36 hours (1.5 days) long. It is not possible for it to be less than 24 hours (1day) long and hence they were not easily mislead by false sighting claims. The waning and waxing crescent moon photos below were taken from York (UK) in January 2013.
The duration of Mahaq from the above observations was 57 hrs. More recent observations of Mahaq are shown below from Abha (Saudi Arabia) to be exactly 60 hrs.
How many hours do you make Mahaq to be from your own observation experience?
The early Muslims were inspired by the Quran to look for the phases of the moon as stated below:
وَالْقَمَرَ قَدَّرْنَاهُ مَنَازِلَ حَتَّىٰ عَادَ كَالْعُرْجُونِ الْقَدِيمِ
"And (as for) the moon, We have measured for it mansions (to traverse) till it returns like the old dried curved date stalk (Urjoonil Qadim)." [Quran 36:39]
The Mufassiroon (i.e. commentators of the Quran) have stated that "Urjoonil Qadim" mentioned above is the last waning crescent moon and not the first waxing crescent moon (called Hilal in Arabic) as mentioned by some translators of the Quran (2:189)!
Allah (Subhana Wa Ta’ala) has said in the Quran:
يَسْأَلُونَكَ عَنِ الْأَهِلَّةِ ۖ قُلْ هِيَ مَوَاقِيتُ لِلنَّاسِ وَالْحَجِّ
“They ask you (O Muhammad) about the crescent moons. Say: They are signs to mark fixed periods of time for mankind and for the pilgrimage.” Quran (2: 189)
Based on the Tafsir (commentary) of the above verse, the Fuqaha (Muslim Jurists) have stated that it is Fardh-alal Kifaya (communal obligation) to start the Islamic lunar months by sighting of the crescent moon. That means, if a group of Muslims fulfil the above obligation, then it will be sufficient for others in the community. However, if no ones fulfil this obligation, then the entire community will be sinful.
(Tafsir Mariful Quran, p.482)
The Prophet Muhammad (ﷺ) has said: “Do not fast unless you see the (crescent) moon, do not break your fast until you see the (crescent) moon.” (Sahi Al-Bukhari)
Therefore, even if a group of Muslims fulfil the above communal obligation, it is still a Sunnah of Prophet Muhammad (ﷺ) for all Muslims to carry out moon sighting to establish the Islamic lunar months.
Allah (Subhana Wa Ta’ala) has also said in the Quran:
إِنَّ عِدَّةَ الشُّهُورِ عِندَ اللَّـهِ اثْنَا عَشَرَ شَهْرًا
“Verily, the number of months with Allah is twelve months (in a year)” Quran (9:36)
Based on the above verse and the Sunnah of Prophet Muhammad (ﷺ), the Fuqaha have stated that moon sighting in all twelve months of the year are just as important as for the months of Ibadah (i.e. Ramadan, Shawwal and Dhul-Hijjah). Other Fiqh (Jurespudence) issues, such as calculations of Zakah (obligatory charity), Iddah (waiting period) for divorced women, ligitamacy of a child etc, are all dependent on the twelve lunar months.
It is Sunnah to look for the crescent moon on 29th day of each lunar months. If on the 29th lunar day, the crescent moon is not sighted locally and reliable/verified news has not been obtained from an foreign authority either, then the month will be completed as 30-days. It is not permissible to start the month on a doubtful day as stated below.
Ammar said: “Whoever fasts on a doubtful day has disobeyed Abul-Qasim (i.e. the Prophet Muhammad (ﷺ))”. (Sahih Al-Bukhari).
Whilst it is permissible to use scientific calculations to plan ahead when and where to sight the crescent moon, the Fuqaha have stated that it is not permissible to establish the month based purely on these calculations. In the commencement of every month, it is necessary to verify and validate the sighting of the crescent moon (Muhaqaq Ru’yat Basari).
Note that local moon sighting is the established Sunnah of Prophet Muhammad (ﷺ), as explained in the Muslim World League (MWL) meeting resolution by renowned Muslim Scholars from different parts of the world (Arabic/English). See also: Fatwa on Moon Sighting and Following Neighbouring Countries (Darul Uloom Deoband, India) [Urdu/اردو]
Checked by: Mufti Amjad Mohammed
With the potential different start dates of Ramadan and Eid, a number of letters were sent on behalf of ICOUK members to Hazrat Maulana Yusuf Motala Sahib (حفظه الله), founder of Darul Uloom Bury, to review his current moon sighting practice and consider adopting a Regional Moon Sighting Criteria for the UK (i.e. UK to Morocco) as previously recommended by Darul Uloom Deoband (India).
All the letters have requested a response before the start of Ramadan 1438. So far, we have not received any response from Hazrat Maulana Yusuf Motala Sahib or any other scholars of Darul Uloom Bury. All the copies of our letters (with Urdu translations) are shown below for the benefit our ICOUK members (and other UK Muslims) to make an informed decision for Ramadan and Eid, InshaAllah.
|1st Letter sent, dated 10/4/2017 (12 Rajab 1438)
||1st Delivery, dated 11/4/2017
|2nd Letter sent, dated 5/5/2017 (8 Shaban 1438)
||2nd Delivery, dated 6/5/2017|
|3rd Letter sent, dated 19/5/2017 (22 Shaban 1438)
||3rd Delivery 20/5/2017|
Telephone call to Darul Uloom Bury on 7/5/2017 16:30 Hrs Audio: [CLICK HERE]MP3