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By Mufti Muhammad Yusuf Danka, Croydon Masjid, UK (published 2011, 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).

Muhaqaq Ruyat Basari (محقق رؤيتِ بصرى): The Shari’ah of Islam have classified the regulation of time (months) by means of sighting the crescent moon. Every person who has the faculty of sight can look at the sky and determine the start of the new month (by viewing the crescent moon). Despite great leaps being made in the field of astronomy as well as scientific calculations being formulated on the birth of the new moon, the scientific analysis is not a verified proof in Islam to commence the new month. To stipulate Ramdhan and Eid (commencement of end of the month) calendar dates by calculations alone is Haraam. In the commencement of every month, it is necessary to verify and validate the sighting of the moon (Muhaqaq Ru’yat Basari). Whosoever leaves this methodology has left the guidance of the Shari’ah in Sunnah. (Dars-e-Tirmidhi vol 2, p 520-521)

Shaykhul Tafsir Allamah Muhammad Idrees Khandhlawi رحمه الله writes: ‘In the Shari’ah; Zakaat, Hajj, and Ramadhan fasting, issues of Islamic jurisprudence (i.e the waiting period of women etc) are based upon the lunar month. There is no reference made to the solar calendar or its calculation in Shariah. It is for this reason that the knowledge of the lunar months and conditions of Ruyat-e-Hilal are Fard alal Kifayah upon the Muslims. If all the Muslims were to abandon attaining knowledge related to these matters, they would be committing a sin. (Ma’riful Qur’an, vol 1, p380)

The Final Prophet to Mankind, Sayyidina Muhammad bin Abdullah (ﷺ) has related many signs before Qiyamah [Day of Judgement] to warn Mankind. The books of Hadith are filled with authentic chain of narrations in respect of these signs. One sign among the signs of Qiyamah is that there will be disagreement in regards to Ruyat-e Hilal. It has also been related that near the end day of Qiyamah the crescent moon of the first day will be seen to be large. The Prophet (ﷺ) also stated: ‘When seeing the crescent moon of the first day people will state, this looks like the moon of the 2nd day.’ In books of Hadith this type of incident took place during the time of Sahaaba (رضى الله عنهم) where some people saw the crescent for the first day and said: ‘This moon looks like the 2nd night and some said it looks like the 3rd night.’ The Prophet (ﷺ) further told us to abstain from saying such things. (Musannaf Ibn Abi Shayba, #37553/ Sahih Muslim, #1088/ Mishkaat Masabih, ch. Ruyat-e Hilal)

In this time, not only the laymen but also certain groups among the scholars are proclaiming these matters. The scholars are not mindful of the fact that their statements are going against the advices made by the Nabi (ﷺ). For example, in 2019 UK’s Jamiatul Ulama Britain shared a video of the moon two days after Eid with themselves appearing in the video. They never sent a video of the crescent moon on the night of the sighting (29th Ramadhan) which is very strange and something that raises doubt. This has been their common practice for the last few years.

Nowadays people totally forgo the Sunnah of sighting the moon when deciding upon any calendar event. In fact the norm is that people try to cause controversy after the full moon is evident by working back on dates and justifying that there date of celebration or commencement of fasting was correct. We can see the reality in the statements of the Prophet (ﷺ) 1432 years on, when we are hearing and seeing people making statements exactly as the Prophet (ﷺ) described. People are saying today: ‘Is the moon of the 1st night really this big?’ or ‘does the moon of the 1st night stay on the horizon for such a long time?’ then they say: ‘This means that it must be the moon of the 2nd or 3rd night.’ Such statements are made as accusations rather than questions and are evident to signs preceding Qiyamah as foretold by the Prophet (ﷺ).              

The requirements of Shari’ah are to sight the moon of the 29th night and if it is not viewed then 30 days are to be completed for the month. The size of the moon is not entertained or given any weight in Shari’ah, as this is the view of ignorant and irreligious persons. In Islam, we have specific stipulations clearly laid out which is the law of Allah  revealed to Mankind for their betterment.

Signs of Qiyamah - Sighting a large moon of the 1st night:
  1. عن أبى هرير ة   قال : قال رسول الله  من أقتراب الساعة إنتفاخ الأهله وإن يرى لليلة ، فيقال لليلتين. {مجمع الزوائد لإبن أبى بكر الهيثمى جلد3 ص146}
    Sayyidina Abu Hurairah (رضي الله عنه) related that the Prophet (ﷺ) stated: ‘A sign from among the signs of Qiyamah is that the moon of the 1st night will be large and upon seeing this people will say: ‘This is the moon of the 2nd night.’ (Majmuz-Zawahid, vol 3, p146)
  2. عن عبدالله بن مسعود  قال : قال رسول الله  من أقتراب الساعة إنتفاخ الأهله. {مجمع الزوائد لإبن أبى بكر الهيثمى جلد3 ص146}
    Sayyidina Abdullah bin Masood (رضي الله عنه) related that the Prophet (ﷺ) stated: ‘Close to the day of Qiyamah, the moon will be seen as being large.’(Majmuz-Zawahid, vol 3, p146)
  3. انظر – البانى : صحيح الجامع الصغير (5/214) اشراط الساعة (ص193)
    Remember the Ghair Muqalideen cannot debate the validity of these Ahadith, even Shaykh Albani (rah) has stated their authenticity.
    عن أنس بن مالك  يرفعه إلى النبى  قال : ان من أمارات الساعة أن يرى الهلال لليلة ، فيقال لليلتين. {مجمع الزوائد لإبن أبى بكر الهيثمى جلد7 ص325}
    انظر – البانى : صحيح الجامع الصغير (5/214 ح5775) اشراط الساعة (ص194)
    Sayyidina Anas bin Malik (رضي الله عنه) related that the Prophet (ﷺ) stated: ‘Verily, a sign of Qiyamah is that the moon of the 1st night will be large and upon seeing this people will say: ‘This is the moon of the 2nd night.’ (Majmuz-Zawahid, vol 7, p325)
Signs of Qiyamah - The new month being commenced before sighting the crescent moon:
  1. عن أنس  قال : من أقتراب الساعة أن يرى الهلال قبلا، فيقال لليلتين ...الخ {مجمع الفوائد جلد4 ص714}
    Sayyidina Anas bin Malik (رضي الله عنه) related that the Prophet (ﷺ) stated: ‘A sign from among the signs of Qiyamah is that the moon will be seen before it is sighted. Upon sighting the moon of the 1st night it will be said: ‘This is the moon of the 2nd [night]’ (Majmul-Fawahid, vol 4, p714)