In 1984, there was an international conference held in London Central Masjid & Cultural Centre (Regents Park) for the purpose of discussing the Moon Sighting criteria of the UK:
This meeting was attended by approximately 350 Scholars from various Countries around the World, among the participants were: The Grand Mufti of Egypt, Scholars from Europe and also numerous Scholars from the UK who were specifically chosen from their association or work within a certain group of the Muslims (Da’wah Tabligh, Brelvi, Salafi etc), from the side of Jamiatul Ulama Britain, Mufti Aslam was invited, the foundation for sighting of the crescent moon to establish the new Islamic month in the UK was that the moon had to be sighted with the naked eye (Muhaqaq Ru’yat Basari). The outcome of the conference was that all the Scholars present unanimously agreed to abide by the agreed criteria. There were 30 senior Scholars from the UK present, all of whom confirmed their agreement to adopting the criteria by signing their names to it. The agreed criteria was then sent to the Grand Mufti of India, Hadhrat Mufti Abdur Raheem Lajpuri رحمه الله. The acceptance and confirmation of the criteria of 1984 is mentioned in the book Fatawa Raheemiya by Hadhrat Mufti Abdur Raheem Lajpuri رحمه الله.
However, even after the conference, the unanimous agreement and all the following events, the very next year, Jamiatul Ulama Britain & Hizbul Ulama UK broke their oath and unanimous agreement to the United Moon Sighting Criteria which was written at the Regents Park Masjid conference.
In 2006, I (Muhammad Yusuf Danka) attended a meeting with the Director General of London Central Masjid Dr Ahmed Dubiyan. This meeting was attended by 20 management members of the West London Masajid and Shaykhul Hadith Molana Samirud-Deen Qasmi حفظه الله from Manchester. In this meeting, Dr Dubiyan stated: ‘In our own Masjid here, there was a meeting and we in UK agreed to unite on the moon sighting announcements and criteria for this country, however, the Jamiatul Ulama Britain & Hizbul Ulama UK changed their minds the very next year, from this, our own attendees complained to us why we were not following Saudi when others who were not Arab did so, this made matters very difficult for us, even after being from a Saudi background, we (London Central Mosque) have no objection in not following the Saudi announcement. If today, the Scholars of this country agree to unite on the specific criteria, we are ready to adopt that also. '
Prior to 1986, the UK followed the Moon Sighting announcements from Morocco. After 1986, a division arose, caused by the blind following of Saudi Arabia:
In Ramadhan 2007, Shaykh-ul-Hadith Mufti Saeed Ahmad Palanpuri Sahib حفظه الله was present in Masjid Quba Stamford Hill, London. He related in detail during a lecture, the following matter, he was invited to a Masjid in Bolton in 1985, at this time, due to the lack of technology, the news of the moon sighting was received from Morocco via Telex. That year due to inclement weather, news from Morocco was delayed. The people of Bolton in the absence of news offered the Taraweeh prayer and still waited for news. No news was forthcoming, so the people returned home and fasted the following day. The next morning, a shopkeeper was appointed to receive the telex from Morocco, opened his shop at 10am and found a telex stating the moon had been sighted in Morocco yesterday. In Bolton Eid was then announced and performed the following day. As News broke late in the morning, the Scholars were unanimous on this decision apart from Moulana Yaqub Kawi Sahib of Dewsbury and a few others with him who did not break their fast. Nevertheless, everybody celebrated Eid together on the following day.
Jamiatul Ulama Britain & Hizbul Ulama UK became annoyed at Moulana Yaqub Kawi’s حفظه الله refusal to break his fast. Mufti Saeed Ahmad Palanpuri Sahib حفظه الله sat down with both groups and attempted to resolve the dispute. However, of the two groups, none was willing to back down therefore reconciliation was not possible. In the end, Mufti Saeed Ahmad Palanpuri حفظه الله returned to India and the dispute remained unresolved. Instead of the matter being resolved or some compromise being reached, the division became more exacerbated. In opposition, to Molana Yaqub Kawi, Jamiatul Ulama Britain & Hizbul Ulama UK, stubbornly announced that they would follow the Saudi government sightings whatever the circumstances. This marked the beginning of the adherence of Saudi Arabia’s moon sighting in England which continues to this present day. It is only due to the stubbornness of Jamiatul Ulama Britain & Hizbul Ulama UK that a great Fitnah endures. This is even after, the Scholars from all quarters and groups fully understand the reality of the Shariah deficiencies of the Saudi moon sighting announcements. Remember, there are numerous references in the Holy Qur’an of stubbornness and its potential to corrupt the Deen.
There are also many Imams of Masjids and large Islamic centres that state that they cannot oppose the committees and trustees of their areas. These Imams themselves state that they make Qadha of their Ramadhan fast, and why shouldn’t they? They are after all obligatory fasts. Even to observe them after their fixed time without reasonable excuse is a grave sin. The responsibility of the entire Muslim community lies on the shoulders of the Imam and Management committee, to remain silent on such matters may be the easier option today, but will no doubt prove difficult to explain tomorrow on the day of Judgement (Qiyamah).