People in Africa fasting according to sighting Ramadan's crescent in Makkah


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Q 2: Can people living in Africa, fast according to the sighting of the crescent in Makkah ?


A: The Council of Senior Scholars in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia has issued a decree concerning the question that reads: Firstly, the fact that the new moon appears at different times in different places is a well-established fact; no scholar disputes this. However, scholars differ as to whether this is significant or not. Secondly, the question as to whether different times of moonrise is something significant is a theoretical question in which Ijtihad (juristic effort to infer expert legal rulings) is permissible (Part No. 10; Page No. 103) on both the scientific and religious levels. Scholars who reach the correct opinion will receive two rewards, one for being right and one for making Ijtihad; while those whose opinion is wrong will still be rewarded for their Ijtihad. The scholars' differences on this matter may be described as one of two: some of them think that the differences in the times of the moon's rising is of significance, and others think that it is not. Both groups cite evidence from the Qur'an and Sunnah (whatever is reported from the Prophet) and may even quote the same text, such as the Ayah (Qur'anic verse) in which Allah says, They ask you (O Muhammad صلى الله عليه وسلم) about the new moons. Say: These are signs to mark fixed periods of time for mankind and for the pilgrimage. And the Prophet's (peace be upon him) saying, Start fasting on seeing it (the new moon of Ramadan), and stop fasting on seeing it (the new moon of Shawwal). The difference is in the interpretation of the texts, as each group has its own methods of deriving evidence. Owing to certain considerations and the fact that this difference may have unfavorable consequences, the members of the Council of Senior Scholars determined that the matter is to remain as it is, for over the fourteen centuries since this religion [Islam] has emerged we know of no time when the Islamic Ummah (nation) was united in the sighting of the crescent. Therefore, the council determined to let every Islamic state have the right to choose one of the two said opinions with the help of its scholars. Thirdly, the council has looked at the issue of confirming the new moon by calculations and what was said on this matter in the Qur'an and Sunnah, and they have studied the opinions of scholars on this matter. They unanimously decided that astronomical calculations do not count when it comes to confirming the new moon in the issues based on Shari`ah (Islamic law) because the Prophet (peace be upon him) said, Start fasting on seeing it (the new moon of Ramadan), and stop fasting on seeing it (the new moon of Shawwal). And Do not fast until you sight it (the moon) and do not break your fast until you sight it. In addition, there are other evidence supporting this issue. (Part No. 10; Page No. 104) May Allah grant us success. May peace and blessings of Allah be upon our Prophet Muhammad, his family and Companions!




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