The Darul Uloom Al-Arabiyyah Al-Islamiyyah, also known as Darul Uloom Bury is one of the oldest Islamic seminary (Muslims College) of its kind in the UK, which was established in 1973 by Maulana Yusuf Motala (حفظه الله). It is a boarding school for about 375 students (12 – 23 years old), to attend it’s 6 years Alim (Darse-e-Nizami) course. The vast majority of the students are from the UK residents of Asian parents, who subscribe to the Hanafi (Deobandi) Maslak and is connected to the Dawah & Tabligh efforts. It is estimated that a significant portion of the Imams in the UK mosques have been produced by this seminary, which is a great contribution to the religious needs of the UK Muslim communities, alleviating the need to import Imams from abroad.
The Darul Uloom Bury has always been a proponent of following Moon Sighting news from Saudi Arabia when the UK Muslims split from following Morocco in 1986 (see the History of UK following Saudi Arabia). In the early years of the split, the errors of Moon Sighting news from Saudi Arabia was not known so following Saudi Arabia was more of a convenience rather than a necessity for the UK Muslims. It was not until 1998 when ICOP (an International Moon Sighting volunteer group) was formed, who shared the monthly moon sighting news via the Internet, the obvious errors of Saudi Arabia news became very apparent, as stated below.
On Wednesday 17 March 1999, the New Moon Conjunction was at 18:48 GMT (21:48 Saudi LT). The Bolton (Bury) sunset was at 18:16 GMT and moonset was at 17:57 GMT. The Makkah sunset was at 18:31 LT and moonset was at 18:18 LT. This means the moon was not even born until after both Makkah and Bolton sunset; and had gone below the horizon before the sunset of both places. As a result, the moon was impossible to be sighted anywhere in the world on that date. Yet, Saudi Arabia claimed the sighting of the moon earlier in the day (3.5 hrs before it was born) followed by 8 Darul Uloom Bury students (0.5 hr before it was born)! See link https://goo.gl/UH7WB6
MOON SIGHTING TESTIMONY
On Wednesday the 17th of March 1999, seven of my colleagues and I were instructed by the principal of Darul-Uloom Bury, Maulana Yusuf Motala to attempt to sight the moon. We left the Madressah at 5.50 pm to climb the local Holcombe Hill upon which Peel Tower is situated. We reached the top at 6.05 pm and situated ourselves at the highest points in two different places. The sky was clear at the time of sunset and we managed to sight the moon at 6.30 pm. The moon remained visible for at least three to five minutes before we lost sight of it. The students who sighted the moon are:
Note: It is the duty of the Hilal Committees to establish the truth without blaming the witnesses for their errors [or innocent mistakes].
Many moon sighing experts are well aware that the news from Saudi Arabia is influenced by their pre-calculated Ummul Qura calendar, biasing the witnesses towards it and hence they made an improvement in 2004 (which eventually came into effective from 2012). This improvement has shifted their Hijri date closer to predicted visibility for some months, but not all. [see Saudi Dating System, New Criteria]
Unfortunately, the scholars of Darul Uloom Bury have not changed their position from following Saudi Arabia over past 30 years and do not examine the accuracy/validity of reports required by Shariah. And, since their students are the Imams of many UK Mosques, the division/split at Ramadan and two Eids continues year-after-year on an ongoing basis.
Therefore, our ICOUK members would like to request the scholars of Darul Uloom Bury to review their moon sighting position and consider adopting the Regional Moon Sighting Criteria for the UK (https://goo.gl/JtRUiw), which has been proven to work satisfactorily under the UK adverse weather conditions over many years.
Ref: Solar eclipse proves the inaccuracy of the Saudi Ummul Qura calendar (https://goo.gl/uM5dMb)
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