To establish the Hijri calendar with verified moon sightings by the human eye (Muhaqaq Ruyat Basari) is a communal obligation (Fard Al-Kifaya). The role of the public is to sight the moon and report it. The role of the Hilal Committee is to take the witness testimonies (Shahada) and declare the start of the lunar months (for Ibadah). Anyone who has sent a Hilal Report to the ICOUK website (Send Observation Report) may be invited to give a testimony to ICOUK Ulama according to this policy, which may be shared confidentially (see below) with other UK Hilal Committees/Organisations (to avoid inconveniencing the witnesses with multiple testimonies).
Importance of Testimony
It is a communal obligation (Fard Al-Kifaya) for people to give testimonies to a Hilal Committee, to fulfil the responsibilities of a group of Muslims who have sighted the crescent moon (Hilal). However, if only one or two people have sighted the moon (e.g., due to cloudy weather) then it is an individual obligation (Fard Al-Ayn) to give their testimonies to a Hilal Committee.
Allah says: "And do not conceal testimony, for whoever conceals it, his heart is indeed sinful, and Allah is knowing of what you do." (Quran 2:283). He also says: "And who is more unjust than one who conceals a testimony he has from Allah? And Allah is not unaware of what you do." (Quran 2:140)
Zaid bin Khalid Al-Juhani (ra) narrated that the Messenger of Allah(ﷺ) said: "The best of witnesses is the one who gives his testimony before being asked for it." [Tirmidhi:2297]
The vast majority of the ICOUK members follow the Quran and Sunnah according to the understanding of the Hanafi Madhab (school of thought), which has the most stringent witness criteria. Accordingly, the witness must be (a) Muslim, (b) adult, (c) sane (sound mind), (d) has good eyesight, (e) reliable/good character etc.
Number of Witnesses
A minimum of two males or two females and a male witness will be required*, although a greater number is most welcomed. If a female is unable to provide a testimony directly to the ICOUK Ulama, then she can still provide it through a male guardian (Mahram), known as Testimony-upon-Testimony (Shahada-Ala-Shahada)!
[*Note: In the case of cloudy weather at the start of Ramadan, the witness of one trustworthy male or female is accepted. A large group sighting (Jame Ghafeer) will be necessary for clear skies.]
To help the UK Ulama/Hilal Committees make rapid and accurate Hilal decisions, we will adopt a remote testimony procedure via an audio/video conference call (e.g. Skype/Zoom). Remote testimonies will be taken individually from those who have sent (positive) ICOUK Hilal Reports and whose full identity (ID) is known to the Admins. Therefore, it is important to keep your ICOUK database profile up to date with your contact details and a recent ID Photo (of head and shoulders).
An ID Photo is very helpful to establish the identity of witnesses with minimum delays. A remote testimony from a stranger (unknown person) is not acceptable. The identity of males and females will be verified separately by male and female Admins and Scholars, respectively. Once the identity has been established, a voice-only testimony (i.e. with the video off) may be acceptable, InshaAllah.
All witnesses will be required to use the template below, by adding the details inside the angle brackets (< >).
My name is <full name> and I am from <city/town>. I testify that I saw the moon on <date/time> <before/after> sunset. The sky was <clear/cloudy> and the moon was seen on the <left/right> of sunset by <naked eye/binoculars>. The time of sunset was <hh:mm GMT/BST>.
The witnesses may be asked to provide some additional information (e.g. direction of the crescent moon horns), but the template details are the minimum required for Shariah and Scientific purposes.
Giving False Testimony
To give false testimony is a major sin (next to Shirk) because it is one of the characteristics of a hypocrite (Bukhari:2749), and hence a person should only testify to what they are sure of (i.e., without any doubts) and not lie. Allah says: "curse of Allah upon the liars". (Quran 3:61)
Narrated Abu Bakra (ra): The Prophet (ﷺ) considered Shahadah az-Zur (giving false testimony) among the most serious of major sins. [al-Bukhari and Muslim reported it in a long Hadith]. [Bulugh:1419]
Once the testimonies have been accepted by the ICOUK Ulama/UK Hilal Committees, the decision to start the month will be announced on the ICOUK website and/or social media channels. Other organisations may do the same via their own websites/social media channels. Note that the announcements for negative sighting reports are always later (than positive sighting reports), to allow extra time for receiving all the observation results from the last sighting point/moonset time!
Related: Importance of Moon Sighting | Importance of Reporting Hilal Sightings | Regional (Hilal) Testimony Coordinator Role (pdf)
Reference: Fatwa Jamia-Uloom Islamiyyah, Pakistan (2022) | Video Testimony Fatwa by Jamia Tur Rasheed, Pakistan (2018) [p.10]
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