Whoever completes Sawm in a country and travels to another finding its people still fasting

Question: Someone completed the Sawm (Fast) of Ramadaan as thirty days in his own country. On the next day, he traveled to another country to find the people there observing Sawm. So he observed Sawm on that day like them to observe Sawm for thirty one days. He later came to know that the people of the country referred to had sighted the new moon of Ramadaan two days after his country had sighted it. In general, it may happen that after completing the Sawm of Ramadaan, either as twenty nine days in view of sighting the new moon of Shawwal or as thirty days for not sighting it, a Muslim travels to another country to find the people there still have to observe Sawm for two more days. In such a case, should such a person observe Sawm on these two additional days or not due to the fact that Ramadaan can be no more than 30 days? I greatly appreciate Your Eminence’s Fatwaa’ in this regard.

Answer: If someone, after completing the Sawm of Ramadaan in their country, breaks the Sawm on the first day of Shawwaal on a Shar`ee (Islaamically legal) basis, they should not observe Sawm if they happen to travel to another country where people are still observing Sawm because Ramadaan, according to their sighting, has begun there on a later date. This is because they are to abide by the calendar of the country where they initiated their Sawm provided that ending the Sawm was founded on a Shar`ee basis. However, they should not eat openly lest Fitnah (temptation) should take place… read more here.

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Sighting the new moon determines the beginning and end of Islaamic appointed times of rituals

Question: How is the first day of every month determined, and how do the scholars in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia know the number of the days of every Month when preparing the annual lunar calendar

The answer to this question is paramount for us due to huge disagreement on how to determine the first day of the month. This confusion causes some Muslims sometimes to fast one or two days before or after Ramadaan. Some of them celebrate `Eed Al-Ad-haa (the Feast of the Sacrifice) and sacrifice their animals on the Day of `Arafah. The only reason for this confusion is the lack of sound knowledge regarding the method of determining the first day of the month and the number of days in each month. Moreover, the new moon does not clearly appear to us on the first day of the month.

Answer: The beginning and end of Islaamic appointed times of rituals, such as Ramadaan, Hajj (pilgrimage), and other rituals are determined by sighting the new moon with the naked eye. It is not permissible to rely on predetermined calculations and calendars which are made for the next ten years. This ruling is based on Allaah’s (Exalted be He) Saying: 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 on the Prophet’s (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) saying: Observe the fast when you see it (the new moon) and break the fast when you see it (the new moon). If the sky is overcast, complete the month of Sha’baan as thirty days. (Related by Al-Bukhaaree and Muslim in their two Saheehs).. read more here.

Watching the crescent is the criterion of the beginning and end of Ramadaan

Question: You know, may Allaah safeguard you, what occurs every year, especially this year, with regard to the difference of the Muslim countries over the beginning and end of the obligatory Sawm (Fast). Some Libyans observed a thirty one-day Sawm; some other Libyans received a Fatwaa’ from their scholars and some of our scholars to break their Sawm in secret on the 30th day of Ramadaan. After the latter had broken their Sawm, they came to us seeking a Fatwa on their breaking Sawm. This resulted in a conflict of Fatwas. We have refrained from giving a Fatwa to this latter group. Also some countries observed Sawm after us like Morocco, and then they came to this country (Saudi Arabia). May you, kindly, submit these cases to the competent scholarly authorities whose issued Fatwas are accepted by the laypeople. We pose here, in brief, the questions we want to ask about as follows:

1. If the Sawm of those who observe Sawm a day before us is based – as some of them have mentioned- on seeing the crescent of Ramadaan (in their country), is it permissible for them to follow our country in its Sawm when they come here and observe Sawm for thirty one days?

2. If their Sawm is based on the calculation of time, would this mean they should observe Sawm thirty one days? Would the ruling differ if their Sawm was based on the calculation of Greenwich Meridian Time – according to some people, as the Greenwich Meridian line passes by Morocco at a two thousand km. Distance from Libya?

3. What is the legal ruling to be followed in the future in cases similar to those who broke their Sawm after completing thirty days, whether due to having been given a Fatwaa’ on their doing so or not? Also, what is the legal ruling to be given to those who observed Sawm for twenty nine days, following the Sawm of Saudi Arabia, while their country where they started Sawm for thirty days, as was the case in the previous years?

Answer: First: The criterion upon which the beginning and end of Ramadaan is based is watching the crescent, not astronomical calculations of time; as the Prophet (peace be upon him) said: Start fasting on seeing it (the new moon of Ramadaan), and give up fasting on seeing it (the new moon of Shawwaal). The Prophet (peace be upon him) also said: Do not fast until you sight it (the moon) and do not break your fast until you sight it. What is meant here is to observe Sawm on seeing the crescent of Ramadaan with the naked eye or by the tools that help a person watch the sky and identify the crescent, as the Prophet (peace be upon him) said: The beginning of Ramadaan is on the day when you begin fasting, the end of Ramadaan is on the day when you end it, and `Eed Al-Ad-haa is on the day when you sacrifice… read more here.