By Mufti Muhammad Yusuf Danka, Croydon Masjid, UK (published 2012, updated 2019)
Allah (سبحانه و تعالى) has stated in the Holy Qur’aan: “They ask you (O Muhammad صلي الله عليه وسلم) about the crescent moons. Say: They are signs to mark fixed periods of time for mankind and for the pilgrimage.” Quran (2: 189).
It is necessary to view the crescent moon with the naked eye as proof of the Hilal. If the sky is clear, the Hanafi scholars state that Jame Ghafeer (a large group) is required to have witnessed the crescent moon. In the matter of Jame Ghafeer, there is no difference of opinion from the time of the Salaf to the present day. In Saudi Arabia, even though the skies are clear, there is never a report of Jame Ghafeer. It is unfortunate that the Jamiat and Hizbul Ulama of the UK are blindly following the Saudi announcements, after claiming to be followers of the Hanafi school of thought. They give no regard to the Shari’ah or the rulings of their predecessors behind a guise of a hallucinated unity.
عن إبن عمر أن رسول الله قال: الشهر تسع وعشرون ليلة فلا تصوموا حتى تروه، فإن غمّ عليكم فأكملوا العدة ثلاثلين .(صحيح بخارى ص306 صحيح مسلم ص347) اس حديث ميں " فلا تصوموا حتى تروه جمع كا صيغه هے۔"
Sayyidina Ibn Umar relates from Nabi (ﷺ) that there are twenty nine nights in a month, do not fast until all you see it (the Hilal), if it is hidden from you then complete thirty days. (Sahih Bukhari p,306/ Sahih Muslim p,347)
The word in the Hadith فلا تصوموا حتى تروه، which can mean that when a lot of people sight it (the Hilal) then fasting should begin. Throughout the lifetime of Prophet (ﷺ) ‘Ruyat e A’amah’ i.e. a large group as could be understood by this Athar (speech of Sahabah or Tabi’een ) was practised. Only on one occasion in Madina moon was not sighted and RasulAllah (ﷺ) accepted the witnessed statement of a Nomad Arab. But consideration needs to be taken that the person who accepted the testimony was the Messenger of Allah (ﷺ) and the witness himself was a just Sahabi (In essence, both parties have no element of doubt). The practice of our Pious Salaf us Saliheen clearly indicates that they insisted upon the ‘Ruyat e A’amah’.
The statements of the Companions (رضى الله عنهم):
Kurayb (رضى الله عنه) related: Sayiddina Abdullah ibn Abbas (رضى الله عنه) sent me to Sayiddina Muawiya in Syria. I completed my errand there, the moon of Ramadhan was viewed on Friday night in Syria. I returned to Madinah Munawarrah, Ibn Abbas (رضى الله عنه) asked me about my journey and the sighting of the moon. I said: ‘The moon was sighted on Friday night in Syria.’ Ibn Abbas asked me: ‘Did YOU yourself see the moon?’ I replied: نعم ورآه الناس)) ‘Yes, I and other people also. The next day Muawiya and the others kept a fast.’ Ibn Abbas stated: ‘We saw the moon on Saturday night, either we will see the moon for Eid or we will complete 30 days.’ I asked: ‘Is the sighting of Muawiya not enough for you?’ Sayiddina Ibn Abbas (رضى الله عنه) said: ‘No, The Prophet (ﷺ) has ordered us to do this’ (to act upon their own moon sighting). (Sunan Abu Dawood #562, Sunan Nasai #2115)
It is proven from the above hadith, due to the question and answer of the Companion Ibn Abbas (رضى الله عنه) , it was the requirement of the Sahaba that Jame Ghafeer be performed on the occasion of sighting the crescent moon. Certain people have the belief that due to the blessing of the Haramain Sharifain, Allah allows the moon to be seen there before anywhere else in the World. It is proven from the above hadith that the Muslims of Syria in the time of the Sahaba sighted the moon before the Arab peninsula.
The Statements of the Tabi’ee رحمه الله :
قلت لعطاء: أرأيت لو أن رجلا رأى هلال رمضان قيل الناس بليلة أيصوم قبلهم أو يفطر قبلهم؟ قال لا، الا ان يراه الناس، أخشى أن يكون شبه عليه. (مصنف عبدالرزاق، باب كم يجوزمن الشهودعلى رؤية الهلال ج4 ص130)
Tabi’i Ataa رحمه الله (who was from amongst the teachers of Imam Abu Hanifah رحمه الله), was asked that if a person was to see the Hilal of Ramadhan a night before the others could see it, should he fast before them, or should he celebrate Eid before them? He replied يراه الناس)) ‘No, not until the people see it. I fear that he is mistaken’. (Musannaf Abdur Razzaq vol 4, p130)
Hadhrat Shaykh Moulana Zakariya رحمه الله relates the statement of Imam Abu Hanifa رحمه الله from the well known book of the Hanbali Fiqh, Al Mughni: ‘If the sky is clear, then a witnessing cannot be accepted without the testimony of a large group of the Muslims. (Aujazul Masalik vol 5, p21)
شيخ الحديث شيخ محمد زكريا قدس سره حنبلى فقه كى معروف كتاب المغنى (جلد3 ص157) سے نقل كرتے ہيں۔ وقال أبوحنيفة رحمه الله في الغيم كقولنا وفي الصحو لا يقبل الا الاستفاضة لأنه لايجوز أن تنظرالجماعة إلى المطلع وأبصارهم صحيحة والموانع مرتفعة فيراه واحد دون الباقين۔ (اوجزالمسالك جلد5 ص21)