Qamrul Khanson
Wisdom Prevails
Islamic Finance
Eid Al Fitrah Adha
Islamic Moonsighting
Test of Faith
Termination of Life
Human Forgiveness
Fear of Alloh
Strength of Faith
Trust in God
Dooms & Resurrection

Islamic Moon Sightings: Clarifications


Every month specially for the months of Ramado’an, Shawwal and Dhal Hijjah we hear the controversy behind the moon sighting with the people confused as to whether they should proceed with the country that sights the crescent, or whether they should follow the sighting in their own region, or whether they should follow with specific countries such as Saudi Arabia. It seems the essence of the debate revolves around the question of where the crescent is sighted. Instead, a more appropriate question would be whether the news of the sighting reached the people. The crescent is sighted by a Muslim who witnesses it with his own eyes and then he informs the ruler, and then the ruler informs the people, and then the people spread the news. The issue is not one of location but the issue is one of the news reaching the people. Let us see what Almighty Alloh and The Last Messenger Prophet Muhammad (SAW) advised us to do: -

"Ramado’an is the month during which The-Qur’an was revealed, providing guidance for the people, clear teachings, and the statute book. Those among you who witness this month shall fast therein. Those who are ill or traveling may substitute the same number of other days. (Almighty) Alloh wishes for you convenience, not hardship, that you may fulfill your obligations, and to glorify Alloh for guiding you, and to express your appreciation" {The Qur’an – Surah Al Baqarah (Chapter: The Heifer) 02:185}.

The sentence [Those among you who witness this month shall fast therein] is a conditional sentence and the ruling contained in a conditional sentence is established for those among you the condition applies to and it is not annulled for anyone who doest not see the crescent himself but depends on the news of moon sighting from anywhere but Islamic witness. So the sentence: Those among you who witness this month shall fast therein imply that whoever does not witness it shall fast on the applied Islamic evidence of moon sighting irrespective of geographical, political or altitude variances. This is the ruling which refers to Wahdat Al Matalee.

Sheikh Al Othaimeen (HUA) of Saudi Arabia explains that the opinion of most Saudi scholars is that the beginning of the new month need only be confirmed in any one of the Muslim countries. If the sighting of the new moon is confirmed in any Muslim country, it is then obligatory for all Muslims to use that sighting to begin the fast of Ramado’an or end it. According to this opinion, if the new month is confirmed in Saudi Arabia it is obligatory upon all Muslims, in all parts of the world, to fast if it is the beginning of Ramado’an and to end their fast if it is the beginning of Shawwaal. As per the Sheikh (HUA) this is the most common opinion held by the followers of Imam Ahmad Ibn Hanbal (RUA). However, he (HUA) does not see it as a befitting solution to moon sighting for the whole world; it remains his opinion not the divine decree.

It is well known amongst astronomers that the time the moon rises differs from place to place. The moon might be seen in one place and not in another. Therefore, according to the verse, whoever does not see it; they should follow the news of its sighting and are obliged to fast.

With regards to the Sunan, Ibn Omar narrated (RTA) that The Last Messenger Prophet Muhammad (SAW) said: If you sight it (the new moon of Ramado’an), then fast and if you sight it (the new moon of Shawwaal), then end the fast. And if it is obscured from you, then complete thirty days (of Sha'baan) [Mustadrak of Hakim].


Evidence in Sunan for Wahdat Al Matalee:

Wahdat Al Matalee refers to the concept that moon sighted anywhere in the world by a viable Muslim shall stand as a witness that a new month of Islamic Calendar has started by the day’s sunset.

Those scholars, who support Wahdat Al Matalee, say categorically that one cannot fix any one point on earth (e.g. <country-region><place>Saudi Arabia) for worldwide decision on date. Thus, sighting in USA / India / Yemen / Nigeria / Fiji etc. should be as valid in establishing the date worldwide including Saudi Arabia as the sighting in Saudi Arabia, if one follows Wahdat Al Matalee.

Those who seek unity among the diversity of Muslims all over the world emphasize that Muslims all over the world should comply with one Islamic calendar and it should be scientifically and astronomically corrected and followed by the confirmation from month to month by the Universal Hilal Committee represented by each nation and federated by the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia or Organization of Islamic Conference (OIC). This will not only make unity among diverse Muslim communities but also make an Islamic calendar a viable document to depend upon for our day to day religious and business obligations. We should make our efforts to create unity among Muslims by creating atmosphere for which an Ijtehad shall not be ruled out.

In another opinion, the country of <country-region><place>Saudi Arabia where the center of the world exists is Ka’ba. "The center of the world and center of Islam shall be considered as starting and ending point of a date at the time of Maghrib (sunset). Thus, the announcement of Hilal shall be from <country-region><place>Saudi Arabia and every country westward shall follow the suit".

According to the majority of scholars, it does not matter if the new moon has been sighted in a different location. In other words, after the new moon is seen anywhere in the world, it becomes obligatory for all Muslims to begin fasting, as the Prophet said: "Fast due to its sighting and break the fast due to its sighting". This Hadith is a general address directed to the whole Muslim world - that is "if any one of you sees the moon in any place, then that will be a sighting for all of the people" [Fiqh-us-Sunnah - Volume 3, Page 112: Different Locations].

The crescent is sighted by a Muslim who witnesses it with his own eyes and then he informs the ruler, and then the ruler informs the people, and then the people spread the news. The issue is not one of location but the issue is one of the news reaching the people. This is a more just question to ask.

"They ask you about the phases of the moon! Say, "They provide a timing device for the humankind (all together), and determine the time of Hajj". It is not righteous to beat around the bush; righteousness is attained by upholding the commandments and by being straightforward. You shall observe (Almighty) Alloh, that you may succeed" {The Qur’an – Surah Al Baqarah (Chapter: The Heifer) 02:189}.

Many of us are familiar with the above verse which is often quoted when discussing the topic of moon sighting. The essence of the verse lies in the fact that Almighty Alloh made the crescents Mawaaqeet (time table) for mankind, with the word Mawaaqeet being plural for Meqaat, and the word Meqaat describing a sign that fixes something in time or space. The places for entering into Ihram for Hajj and Umrah are known as Mawaaqeet because they are fixed places on Earth. Almighty Alloh describes the Day of Judgment as a Meqaat because its time of occurrence is fixed. Similarly Almighty Alloh refers to the crescent as a Meqaat because it is a sign which fixes the beginning of the lunar month.

Ibn Abbas (RTA) said, "A Bedouin came to the Prophet and said, "I have seen the crescent tonight. The Prophet said, "Do you bear witness that there is no god but Alloh and that Muhammad is the Messenger of Alloh" he said, ‘Yes.’ The Prophet said, "Bilaal! Announce to the people that they should fast tomorrow" [Musnad of Ahmad; Sunan of Abu Dawood; Sunan of Tirmidhi; Sunan of Nasa’ee; Sunan of Ibn Majah].

The sighting by a Muslim witness is followed by the announcement of the sighting. The news of the crescent is relayed from the witness to the Muslim ruler or the body of Muslims in the absence of a Muslim ruler. Then the news of the sighting is announced to the people. Hence, the witness sights the crescent through the eyes and the people sight the crescent through the news.

The news of the crescent being sighted is valid if it reaches the people. In the above text our Prophet (saw) was fasting thinking it to be the 30th fast of Ramado’an for the crescent of Shawwaal had not been sighted locally. Then travelers arrived who informed the Prophet (SAW) that they had sighted the crescent a day before. Our Prophet (SAW) did not reject the news. Rather he accepted the news and broke the fast indicating to the Ummah that the crescent is sighted when the news of its sighting reaches the people.

Anaes bin Malik (RTA) said "The moon of Shawwaal was covered by clouds for us, so we woke up the next day fasting. Some travelers came to <city><place>Medina toward the end of the day and they gave witness to The Last Messenger Prophet Muhammad (SAW) that they had seen the moon the previous day. So the Prophet (SAW) ordered them (the people of <city><place>Medina) to break the fast and to go out for their Eid the following day" [Sunan Ibn Majah].

Our Prophet (saw) united the Ummah by establishing a common day for the beginning of Ramado’an and a common day for Eid Al Fitrah. Again such unity is based on the news reaching the people with the rule being, ‘unity based upon knowledge. -02

So the Messenger of Alloh (SAW) ordered them to break the fast on a day they thought of as part of (Ramado’an) because some people other than them saw the moon of Shawwaal in a place other than Al-Medina al-Munawwarah, for the travelers saw the moon one day before they arrived in al-Medina.

Today the media allows the news of the sighting of the moon to be conveyed far and wide within a minute of the news of the sighting. The sighting has to be by the eyes as that are the legal cause, the use of astronomical calculation may not be forbidden but it should be supportive to the concept "eye sighting of the moon (Hilal)".

This is due to the saying of the Prophet (SAW) "If you have seen it fast, and if you have seen it break your fast. If it was cloudy over you estimate for it".

As Muslims living in the absence of the Qhaleefah, we must adhere to the Ahkam Shariah. As soon as we hear that a single Muslim has sighted the moon of Ramado’an we must start fasting and as soon as we hear that a single Muslim has sighted the moon of Shawwaal, we must break fasting and celebrate the day of Eid al-Fitr. "And say: work (righteousness); soon Alloh will observe your work and His Messenger and the believers. And soon you will be brought back to the knower of what is hidden and what is open. Then he will show the truth of what you did".

Number of Evidence for Moon sighting:

The event of sighting the moon is confirmed by sighting the new moon by an Islamic person who knows the technique of its appearance, even if it is seen by only one just person. Otherwise by the passage of thirty days in the immediately preceding month would start a new month. The Prophet has based the fast and it’s breaking on the sighting of the moon. One's own sight is enough for him and there is no need for another person's sighting.

Ibn 'Omar (RTA) said: "The people were looking for the new moon and when I reported to The Messenger Prophet (SAW) of Alloh that I had seen it, he fasted and ordered the people to fast". This is related by Abu Dawood, al-Hakim, and Ibn Hibban, who declared it to be Sahih [Fiqh-us-Sunnah - Volume 3, Page 111: The Arrival of Ramadan].

Commenting on these reports At-Tirmidhi states: "Most knowledgeable people act in accordance with these reports". They say that it is correct to accept the evidence of one person to determine the beginning of the fast. This is the opinion of Ibn Al Mubarak, Ash-Shafa’ie, and Ahmad (RUA). An-Nawawi (RUA) says that it is the soundest opinion. However, Abu Thaur (RUA) does not distinguish between the new moon of Shawwal and the new moon of Ramadan. In both cases, he accepts the evidence of only one just witness". -01

Ibn-Rushd (RUA) comments that: "The opinion of Abu Bakr Ibn Al Munzhir, which is also that of Abu Thaur and, I suspect, that of the Zhahiri school of thought, is supported by the following argument given by Abu Bakr al-Munzhir: there is complete agreement that breaking the fast is obligatory, that abstaining from eating is based on one person's report, and that the situation must be like that for the beginning of the month and for the ending of the month, as both of them are simply the signs that differentiate the time of fasting from the time of not fasting."

Ash-Shaukani (RUA) observes: "If there is nothing authentic recorded that states that one may only accept two witnesses for the end of the month, then it is apparent, by analogy, that one witness is sufficient, as it is sufficient for the beginning of the month. Furthermore, worship based on the acceptance of one report points to the fact that such singular reports are accepted in every matter unless there is some evidence that specifies the peculiarity of specific cases, such as the number of witnesses concerning matters of wealth, and so on. Apparently this is the opinion of Abu Thaur".


The key aspect of moon sighting is not where the crescent is sighted. Rather the key aspect is whether the news of the eye witnessed sighting reached the people. If the news reaches the people, then the people informed across the world should fast on the same corresponding day for the news has reached them and the moon follows the sun.

And if the news does not reach a people then the people rely on the local sighting of the crescent for they are not in a position to receive the news. In the modern times, electronic media nullifies absence of the news.

If a Muslim country decrees the beginning of month according to its own sighting and ignores the Wahdat Al Matalee then people of that country shall follow the decree as the responsibility of such a decree shall be on the ruler of the country.


1.    Fiqh-us-Sunnah, Volume 3: The Fast of Ramadan – URL:

2.    Moon Sighting - Is It Global or Local? – URL:

3.    Which Hilal (Islamic Crescent) to Follow – URL:

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