1. Letter to Dr. Ahmad Muhammad Al Moqri, Director of the Islamic jurisprudent Academy, Makkah, dated 25-09-1993 (09-04-1414)
This is one of the earliest letters on the subject. The episode of Kuraib is often quoted to support the view that seeing Hilal is a must to accept the beginning of the month. The letter brings out the error in reckoning the actual day of sighting the moon in Sham on which the report was made to Ibn Abbas (RA). It also challenges the interpretation of the Hadith as permitting change of dates according to the wish of the people and emphasizes the Qur’aanic verse “The postponement is an addition to disbelief (9:37) and that any addition to disbelief is a sin.
Dr. Ahmad Muhammad Al Moqri,
Director for the Islamic Jurisprudent Academy,
Muslim World League, Secretarial General,
Makkah Al Mukarramah,
Assalamu alaikum W.R W.B
I am delighted to receive your letter No.10/3649 dated 14.03.1414 with the Fatwa enclosed. Thank you very much. Please refer my letter-dated 26.01.1993/ 04.08.1413 addressed to Dr. Abdullah bin Omar Naseef also. A copy is enclosed. Here in India we have different versions of the Hijra Calendar. These are not made according to the Quraan and Sunnah. There is a disparity in their dates and this is absurd.
As regards the Hadees of Kuraib (R) quoted in the Fatwa, I have the following points to place before you for your kind consideration and justified action.
(a) In which month did Kuraib (R) start from Madina to Sham?
(b) Kuraib (R) and Ibn Abbas (R) were Sahaba. Both of them were aware of the Hadiths (1) Do not fast without observing the Hilal and do not celebrate Eid without observing it."(2) “Fasting is on the day on which the people fast, the Eidul Fitre is on the day on which the people observe the Eidul fitre and the sacrifice is on the day on which the people perform sacrifice.” and (3) “If two Muslims bear witness commence fasting and celebrate the Eid.”
(c) It is seen from the Hadees of Kuraib (R) that the people of Sham looked for the Hilal of Ramadan on the 29th of Shaban, which was a Thursday. The people of Madina looked for the Hilal of the same Ramadan on the 29th of Shaban, which was a Friday. There is a disparity in this. Friday of Sham is certainly Friday of Madina. So the disparity in the date is certainly due to a mistake in their observation of the Hilal. They did not know that there was a disparity. They had no knowledge or means to verify whether there was any discrepancy in their dates. Their distant towns were not connected by communication. They had no telephones. Now if I want, I can talk to you.
(d) Kuraib (R) had reached Madina in the last days of Ramadan after a long and tedious journey through the desert traveling more than a thousand kilometers. It is quite probable that he would have forgotten the day on which they sighted the Hilal at Sham. It would have been actually on a Friday just as Madina! He could have made a mistake. He had no one else to corroborate his statement that Ramadan began on Friday at Sham even though many people came with him. Under these circumstances how could Ibn Abbas (R) who was the judge give a verdict relying on Kuraib's (R) doubtful statement? He had no other alternative but to rely on the sighting of the Hilal on the 29th of Ramadan at Madina as taught by the Prophet (saw). In any way this does not mean that Ibn Abbas (R) was against the unity and cooperation of the Muslim towns and countries in the religious matters of fasting and feasting. This does not mean that the dates of Madina and Sham are actually different. If such a thing were taught by the Prophet (saw) Ibn Abbas (R) would have quoted the very words of Rasoolullah instead of saying: “like this Rasoolullah ordered”. There is no evidence in this Hadees to establish that according to the Qur’aan and Sunnah, the dates of two places on the Earth can be different. If any one said so, it would certainly be a false allegation against Allah and His Apostle (SAW). On the other hand this Hadees clearly proves that the Sahaba (R) had learnt from the Prophet (SAW) that all should commence fasting on the same day and all should feast on the same day. The day and date must be same for all.
(e) Time is very important. Nothing can happen without time. Nothing can be achieved without time conscience, coordination and cooperation. Islam has certainly laid great importance on this. Prayer has fixed timings. Fasting has fixed timings. Celebrations have fixed timings. These depend on the Local Time according to the Sun’s angle, no matter whether the Sun is seen or not. The period of Ramadan is a fixed period by Allah and it is defined by the Moon's rotation around the Earth, no matter whether the Moon is seen or not. People have no right to change this period. The message of Hilal of Ramadan and the Eids must be conveyed to all Muslim countries and all Muslims must cooperate. The Muslims must be united like the bricks in a wall. United we stand, divided we fall.
(f) It is strange to note that the Fatwa warrants the change of dates according to the whims of the people. This allows disparity of dates in the Islamic towns and countries. This creates discord among the Muslim Brethren. Every year the holy period of Ramadan and the Eids are unnecessarily postponed in these parts because of mere ignorance and negligence in observing the Hilal. People rely on the false calendars and look for the Hilal on the wrong day! The Fatwas issued without proper study of the matter warrant this unnecessary postponement of the holy period, which is a great sin in the sight of Allah (swt). The Qur’aan says, “The postponement is an addition to the disbelief. Thereby the disbelievers are led astray, for they make it lawful in one year and forbid it another year in order to adjust the number forbidden by Allah and make such forbidden ones lawful. The evil of their deeds is made fair-seeming to them and Allah does not guide the people who disbelieve.” (09:37).
Thinking people have made various inventions to measure and observe time. Standard time, Greenwich Mean Time, United Time Coordination etc., are very essential in the day to day affairs of this fast moving world. Without this every thing will come to a stop.
If we stick on to the old dogmas leaving behind the Book of Allah and the tradition of His Apostle (saw) and every Muslim town and country acted without coordination and cooperation how could the Muslims have any power in them? How could they achieve any success?
In practice Muslims follow the others. It looks as if the Muslims cannot run this world without the date system of the Christians. The Fatwa also warrants the statements made by the others. “Islam is old. It is suitable only for the desert Arabs who lived 14 centuries ago,” The Qur’aan reads: “And the Apostle said: Oh my Lord! Certainly my people have treated this Qur’aan as out-dated” (25:31)
I have great pleasure in sending you a copy of my paper entitled “The Qur’aan, Science and the Hijra calendar” for your kind perusal.
I request the Fikh Academy of the Muslim world league, in the name of Islam, to review the matter and pass a resolution to observe the correct Hijra calendar throughout the world. All of us must adhere to the Book of Allah and the tradition of His Apostle (SAW) instead of sticking to the dogmas of the people of the past.
May Allah guide us all to the straight path!
M. ALI MANIKFAN