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.

Not starting to fast when Ramadaan commences claiming that a Shaykh has not commanded

Question: I have some relatives who do not start their fast with us when Ramadaan commences, claiming that one of their Shaykhs in Makkah has not commanded them to start the fast. Thus, they may delay their fast for one or two days after us. They have been approached with advice in order to follow the community in the beginning of the fast, but they still insist on their practice. Their excuse is that their Shaykh has not yet commanded them to start fasting and he has not sighted the new moon.

My question, Your Eminence, is: Can the sighting of the new moon be established by the witness of one man, two men, or more? What is the ruling on the fast of those people? Should I maintain good relations with them or desert them? And what is the ruling on my dealing with them and keeping good relations with them? Please give us Fatwaa’ regarding this, may Allash reward you with the best, and may Allaah benefit everyone with your knowledge!

Answer: The Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) said: 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, then calculate it (the months of Sha’baan or Shawwaal as thirty days.) In another narration, he (peace be upon him) said… read more here.

Variance in the appearance of the new moon in different countries

Question: We hope you will advise us concerning the times of Imsaak (time of day that marks the beginning of the Fast) and Iftaar (breaking the Fast) with regard to us, may Allaah protect you!

Answer: There is a statement issued by the Council of Senior Scholars in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia on explaining the beginning and ending of the time of a day of fasting, the text of which is as follows:

First: The difference in moon sighting is something which is well known, and there is no difference among the scholars concerning this. Rather the difference of scholarly opinions has to do with whether the difference in moon sighting matters or not... read more here.

Verifying the sighting of the new moon

Question: We are writing to you from the island of Andaman and Nicobar located in the Bay of Bengal 1200 km far from Calcutta which is the nearest city to this group of islands in India. Our brothers, the Hanafee’s begin Sawm (fasting) according to crescent sighting in Calcutta, although the difference in the time of sunset between our islands and the city of Calcutta is fifteen minutes.

As for the Shaafi`ee’s, they begin Sawm depending on sighting the crescent in any of these islands, and each of them has their own evidences. Please, Your Honor, give a satisfactory answer. May Allaah bless you and help you serve Islam and the Muslims.

Answer: You should verify the sighting of the crescent, whether in Calcutta or in your islands, as there are many related Hadeeths concerning this matter. It was related by Al-Bukhaaree from Aboo Hurayrah (may Allaah be pleased with him) that the Messenger of Allaah (peace be upon him) stated... read more here.

Travel distance allowing breaking Sawm (fast)

Question: What is the distance of travel in kilometers that warrants breaking Sawm (Fast)? What if a traveler observes Sawm?

Answer: Some scholars maintain that one is allowed to shorten a a four-Rak`ah Salaah (Prayer consisting of four units) and break Sawm during the daytime in Ramadaan in any travel in the literal sense, i.e. whether the distance is long or short. However, the majority of scholars stipulate a distance of about 80 km… read more here.

A traveler having sexual intercourse during the day of Ramadaan

Question: Two traveling spouses availing themselves of the Rukhsah (concession) allowing travelers not to observe Sawm (Fast) and to shorten Salaah (Prayer); what is the ruling on their having sexual intercourse during the daytime in Ramadaan?

Answer: Travelers are allowed to refrain from Sawm during the daytime in Ramadaan, but they should make up for it later, because Allaah (Exalted be He) says: …and whoever is ill or on a journey, the same number [of days which one did not observe Sawm (fasts) must be made up] from other days. Accordingly, it is permissible for them to eat, drink, and have sexual intercourse as long as they are traveling… read more here.

Salaah and Sawm (fast) during travel

Question: What are the rulings related to Salaah (Prayer) and Sawm (Fast) during travel? Which is better: offering Salaah in full and observing Sawm, or making use of the Rukhsah (concession), i.e. shortening Salaah and breaking Sawm? Please, bear in mind that long-distance travel at the present time neither takes much time nor causes hardship.

Answer: It is permissible for a traveler during Ramadaan to break Sawm and shorten the four-Rak`ah Salaahs (Prayers consisting of four units), which is the better course of action than Sawm and offering complete number of Rak`ahs. It is authentically reported that the Prophet (peace be upon him) said: Allaah loves that His Concessions be availed of, just as He loves that His Commands be abided by. The Prophet (peace be upon him) also said… read more here.

Committee for sighting the new moon

Question: Is it permissible for Muslims who are living in a non-Muslim country to form a committee to confirm the sighting of the new moon of Ramadaan, Shawwaal, and Dul-Hijjah?

Answer: It is permissible for Muslims living in non-Muslim countries to form a committee consisting of Muslim members to take on the responsibility of confirming the sighting of the new moon of Ramadaan, Shawwaal, and Dul-Hijjah… read more here.