Resolving Discrepancies of Day of Arafah Fasting - Report by Qamar Uddin, York (UK) / [download pdf]

We have recently come across a situation in the UK from some mosques who followed the visibility of the moon for starting Ramadan 1442 (14/4/2021) have suddenly decided to follow the BIRTH of the moon (or New Moon Conjunction) for Eid-ul Adha (20/7/2021) so their Day of Arafah fasting (9 Dhul Hijjah) could coincide with the same date as in Saudi Arabia (19/7/2021).

The question arises, is it possible to have a dual-calendar system and still fulfil the Shariah rules of a Hijri Calendar with a lunar month having 29 or 30 days (i.e. not less than 29 or more than 30 days)?

Let’s look at each of the above two calendar systems in turn:

(1) the Saudi Ummul Qura Calendar (UQC) is based on the BIRTH of the moon and started Dhul Qa’dah 1442 from 10 June 2021 (on the day of the solar eclipse) and so their 29th was on 9 July 2021 (before the BIRTH of the next moon on 10 July 2021) and then by completed 30-days, starting Dhul Hijjah 1442 from 11 July 2021;

(2) the UK to Morocco Region calendar is based on the VISIBILITY of the moon and started Dhul Qa’dah 1442 from 11 June 2021 and so their 29th was on 10 July 2021 (a day after the BIRTH of the moon) and then completed 30-days since the moon was not sighted on 10 July 2021 (in the UK to Morocco Region), starting Dhul Hijjah 1442 from 12 July 2021. Note that the Islamic day starts at local sunset and not at midnight or the next morning (which will be the case if USA sighting reports were considered)!

Visibility Map for Dhul Hijjah 1442 AH (a) Supposing Saudi Arabia decided to look for the moon on both 9 July 2021 (29th of UQC) and on 10 July 2021 (30th of UQC) as a precautionary measure and didn’t see the moon on either day, as it was scientifically not possible to do so from Riyadh (HMNAO/Yallop Code F), then they would have to assume they had made an error in starting Dhul Qa’dah 1442 (which was not announced) and resolve the discrepancies by showing it having 31-days, which is not acceptable in a lunar calendar system!

It should also be mentioned that Eid-ul Adha and Day of Arafah fasting was legislated from 2 AH in Madinah when Ramadan and Eid-ul Fitr was started by the Prophet (‎ﷺ); but the Hajj in Islam didn’t start until 9 AH, followed by the last and final Hajj of the Prophet (‎ﷺ) in 10 AH in Makkah. Therefore, for the previous 7 years, the Day of Arafah fasting (on 9 Dhul Hijjah) and Eid-ul Adha (on 10 Dhul Hijjah) was practised with moon sighting in Madinah and was not connected with the Hajj in Makkah (Ref. Mulla Ali Qari, d. 1606)!

Furthermore, those who perform Hajj do not fast or offer Eid-ul Adha payer! Even if the UK Muslims wished to join the pilgrims with prayer and fasting when they stand on the Plain of Arafat, it is not possible to do so due to Time Zone differences (eg sunset time in Makkah and London are different)!

Nevertheless, a possible solution for those in the UK who wish to follow moon sighting and also fast on the Day of Arafah on the same date as in Saudi Arabia could do so by fasting on both the 8th and 9th Dhul Hijjah so that both calendar days are covered. For the sake of unity, if the Day of Eid-ul Adha can be based on moon sighting (ie. 11th Dhul Hijjah of UQC), then both parties could have a valid Eid celebration eg. on 21 July 2021 (since Eid-ul Adha is permitted over 3-days following 10 Dhul Hijjah).

A long-term solution for a united Ramadan and Eids in the UK will be for all parties to adopt Local Moon Sighting as per Sunnah (eg. within the British Isles), by leaving both Saudi Arabia and Morocco (see 4-years UK observation data on the www.ICOUK.net website), while advising Saudi Arabia (Supreme Court) to upgrade their Ummul Qura calendar criteria to a Predicted Crescent Visibility (Imkan Al-Ruyat) model, as proposed/published by their KACST Scientist from Riyadh (Alrefay, 2018).