Shaikh Hussain Rasheed,
Rep. of Maldives
Assalaamu Alaikkum WRWB
me first of alI thank the Ministry of Islamic Affairs for arranging my
meeting with the astronomers of the Falaki Committee of Maldives to
discuss about Islamic Lunar Calendar.
Since there was no time to
explain the subject in detail at the meeting arranged with the Falaki
Committee of Maldives, I wish to submit this detailed information
regarding the subject.
May I proceed with the explanations
concerning the subject? The incidence of the Sahaba (RA) performing the
prayers at different times during a war time against the orders of the
Prophet SAW is not comparable with the difference of dates in different
Islamic countries in the world. Observing different dates is a great
mistake. The basis of the Islamic shariah is Quran and Sunnah of the
Prophet SAW. There cannot be any difference between Quran and Sunnah.
Both are same. Allah SWT has informed us in the Quran. "If he had
forged a false saying concerning us we surely would have seized him by
the right hand and then we would have cut off his artery. 69:44-47
Prophet SAW had fasted in ten Ramadans during his life time. In these
months he had never searched the Hilaal for beginning the fasting or
celebrating the Eid. He had not asked his companions to search for the
Hilaal in order to begin the month after seeing it. If it had happened
like that please give me a hadees explaining this matter.
explanation from the religious side during the meeting was that there
is nothing in the Quran regarding the finding of the months. In the
Hadees it has come down to us: "Soomoo li ru'uyathihi wa afthiroo li
ru'uyathihi" meaning "fast when you see it and break the fast when you
see it". This translation of the Hadees however contradicts the Quran.
It could never mean that you begin the fasting on the next day after
seeing the Hilaal.
The correct interpretation should be "you begin the fasting according to the view of the Hilaal".
SWT has explained this matter very clearly through many verses of the
Quran. "They ask you about the phases of the moon; tell them they are
dates for the people and Hajj" 2:189. This explains very clearly that
people have to use the dates shown by the moon phase in their worldly
affairs as well as for fixing the days of the 8, 9 and 10th of Zul
Hijjah for the annual Hajj. The word "ahillah" has not been used in any
other place of the Quran except in this ayath. The translators search
for the meaning of the words of the Quran in the Quran itself.
the "ahillah" is the plural of the word "Hilaal". But Allah SWT has not
used the word 'Hilaal' anywhere in the Quran. So, we cannot say that
the meaning of Hilaal is the first setting crescent that we see in the
western horizon in the beginning of the month. The lexicons say that
the seven crescents seen in the beginning and in the ending of the
months could be called 'Hilaals'. It is the Hilaal that is seen in the
national flag of the Maldives. This is not in any way the first
crescent that is seen in the western horizon on the first day of the
month. Ahillah and Manaazil are interconnected and when one is changed
the other must change.
And moreover, the Thafseers of Ibn
Kathir, Kurtubi etc explain 36:39 that the first crescent becomes
visible to the world on the first day of the month after sun set. Then
if the next day is taken as the first day of the month the actual first
day of the month will be lost. Would Allah and His Rasool SAW order the
people to do such a thing? Certainly the Prophet SAW would not burden
the people with such an impractical task.
In our times
everywhere in the world the fasting of Ramadan begins after the
crescent is seen by the naked eye. Even in the two sacred mosques the
announcement of the fasting is followed by the statement that such and
such people have seen the Hilaal. But the Astronomical calculations
reveal that the crescent cannot be visible on the particular day when
they have announced its sighting. And sometimes it is not present on
the horizon at the time of sun set. Is this wrong? No, it is not wrong
because even though it is not present there it could be present at
another place, just as the solar eclipse cannot be seen all over the
world. But the moon overtaking the sun is the criterion for the change
of the month.
On the last day of the month the moon rises before
the sun and in the evening, the moon sets after the sun. The crescent
will not be visible due to the proximity and the glare, but the next
day must be the first day of the month because the event of the moon
overtaking the sun, which is the criterion for the change of the month,
has already taken place before the end of that day.
Why did the
Prophet SAW disagree with the calendar prevalent at his time in Arabia?
It was because the dates of that calendar did not tally with the
Ahillah and Manaazil of the moon as directed in the Quran 2:189. This
issue arose when the fasting was made compulsory in the second year of
the Hijra. The verse of fasting was revealed in the month of Shaban.
When they were told to fast in the month of Ramadan they would
naturally begin the fasting as they were used to begin Ramadan earlier
. In their calendar every Shaban had 29 days. When they are told to
celebrate Eid on the first of Shawwal they will do it according to
their calendar. Every Ramadan had 30 days in their calendar. The
Prophet SAW informed them that unlike in their artificial calendar, in
some years Shaban will have 30 days and Ramadan 29 days according to
the manaazil of the moon which showed the dates and months.
this put them in a difficult situation. How will they make the calendar
for the next year? The Prophet SAW informed them, "We are an unlettered
people; we do not write or record our dates. So, we will fast according
to its view and celebrate Eid according to its view". They had no other
means to know the dates except by seeing the phases of moon.
an illiterate person can identify the date by seeing the moon phases.
The first crescent will be seen to some parts of the world. The second
and the third will be seen all over the world. The second and the third
will not be alike. The third day's crescent will set later than the
second and they will be comparatively different in size. Those who are
unable to distinguish the third from the second could be counted among
the careless and could be compared with the cattle as Quran says.
can clearly understand from an incident that took place at the time of
Ibn Abbas RA about seeing the crescents. Some of the Companions (RA) of
the Prophet SAW set out for performing Umra. They camped at a place and
saw the Hilaal. Some of them said it was 3 days old while others said
it was 2 days old. None of them said it was one day old. It is clear
from this that they did not see the Hilaal in order to begin the month.
They wanted to know the date by seeing it. After performing Umra they
returned home and met Ibn Abbas RA. They knew that Ibn Abbas RA was
well versed in such matters. The Prophet SAW had prayed to Allah SWT to
bestow upon Ibn Abbas RA the knowledge of Fiqh. When they told him
about their dispute he asked them on what day they had seen it. When
they replied they had seen it on such and such day, Ibn Abbas RA said
the Prophet SAW had told him: "Allah has arranged it for observation.
So, the Hilaal that you saw belonged to that day." That is if you saw
it on second day it is for the second day, which has already past and
if you saw it on the third day it is for the third day which has
already past meaning that the Hilaal that is seen is not for next day.
will be utterly wrong to take the next day after seeing the Hilaal as
the first day of the month under the light of this Hadees. In the days
of the Sahaba RA they did not have the astronomical calculations of the
sun and the moon. They had to see the sun for their time and moon for
their date. They judged their time by the angle of the sun and the date
by the manaazil and ahillah of the moon, which is the angle between sun
and moon. Now we need not look at them as we know their calculations.
The proof for this is that man has been able to land on the moon and
come back to earth with material from it. This happened in 1969AD.
the moon is observed correctly according to the method of observation,
the month will never go wrong. The interpreters of the Hadees "Soomoo
li ru'uyathihi" explain that it means to fast in Ramadan only. It
should not be in Shaban or Shawwal. That is a day of one month should
not enter into the other month. It is forbidden.
Allah SWT has
fixed some months as 29 days and some months as 30 days on the very day
of creation says the Quran. 9:36 so, changing the months of 29 into 30
and vice versa as we like will be wrong and it is not allowed in the
Shariah. If we did so it would be tantamount to taking a partnership
with Allah SWT and this sin of Shirk will not be forgiven 4:116.
we examine the calendars of Maldives we can see the months of 29
changing to 30. The criterion used in this calendar is based on sun set
and moon set at Maldives. If the moon set is later, the next day is
taken as the new month and if not one more day is added. This will give
a local date only. But the date must be universal because date stands
for the day. If Saudi Arabia made the calendar according to their
location sometimes they would get different dates but the days would be
same. So the date of birth of children born at different places on the
same day of the week will have different dates of birth if recorded
according to their calendar. Such an erratic dating system will not be
acceptable for international use. The calendar system prescribed for
the mankind by Allah cannot contain such discrepancies because Allah
SWT knows everything very well.
In the past month of Jumadil
Akhir, the world had witnessed 28 phases for the moon. The moon was not
visible on the last day of the month. The first waxing crescent was
seen on Saturday the first of Jumadil Akhir. The last waning crescent
like Urjoonul qadeem was witnessed on Friday morning the 28th of the
month. Moon was not visible on the 29th Saturday. In Hadees it has come
down to us. "The month is of 29 days so do not fast without seeing the
moon and do not celebrate Eid without seeing it." This informs us that
we should not give 30 days to a month of 29. If we did so, we would be
taking a partnership with Allah SWT and this sin is so great that He
will never forgive us.
The month of Rajab began on Sunday. The
world witnessed the first crescent of Rajab after sun set of Sunday,
the first day of Rajab. The last waning crescent like urjoonul qadeem
was seen on Saturday the 28th of Rajab before sunrise. The moon was not
visible on Sunday the 29th of Rajab. If anyone of you had seen it
please let us know. There was a solar eclipse on that day. But the
calendar of Maldives gives 30 days to Rajab! They have included Monday
the first of Shaban in Rajab. How great is the mistake committed
because of the wrong criterion? They have given 29 phases to Rajab
whereas Allah SW has appointed 28 phases only!
Because of the
mistake committed in Rajab the calendar of Maldives begins Shaban on
Tuesday. So, the 29th of Shaban will be Tuesday whereas according to
the Mannazil appointed for the moon Tuesday is the 30th of Shaban! On
Tuesday sun and moon are in one manaazil and moon has no phase. This is
the last day of the month and after completing 30 days, Ramadan must
naturally begin on Wednesday. This is the Sunnah of the Prophet. Any
other method will be a Bid'ah. For Maldives Tuesday is the 29th and the
moon will not be seen on Tuesday because it is the last day of the
month on which moon has no phase. Then translating "Soomoo li
ru'uyahihi" as "fast when you see it" will not be appropriate. The
Prophet SAW would not have issued such a meaningless order.
first waxing crescent, hilaal of Shaban was witnessed on Monday the
first of Shaban after sun set. The last visible phase like urjoonul
qadeem would be seen on 29th of Shaban Monday morning before sun rise.
On 30th Tuesday the moon would not be visible to earth because the sun
and the moon would be in one manaazil and the moon would be without
phase that day. The moon would overtake the sun and set after the sun
in the end of that day. Since the moon could not overtake the sun by
29th, Monday, we complete 30 on Tuesday following the Sunnah and after
completing 30, Ramadan must begin naturally on Wednesday. The first day
of Ramadan would be Wednesday.
We would see the first waxing
crescent Hilaal after sun set of that day. According to the manaazil of
the moon this Ramadan has 29 days only. The last waning crescent like
urjoonul qadeem would be seen on Tuesday morning the 28th of Ramadan.
Moon cannot be visible on Wednesday the 29th of Ramadan. That day the
sun and moon would be in one manaazil. Thursday will be the first day
of Shawwal. It is the day of Eidul Fitre, the day on which fasting is
forbidden. Maldivian calendar giving 30 days for Ramadan is contrary to
the astronomical calculations. The mistake has taken place because the
wrong criterion of sun set and moon set is used to define the month.
the discussion, the incident of different dates in Damascus and Medina
at the time of Ibn Abbas RA came up . Difference of dates in two cities
was not established in that event as there was no evidence. The
inhabitants of Medina had begun fasting of Ramadan on Saturday after
seeing the Hilaals of Jumadil Akhir, Rajab and Shaban as directed by
the Prophet SAW. But Kuraib after returning from Syria said that Syria
had begun fasting on Friday. He reached Medina in the last days of
Ramadan. But the people of Medina and Ibn Abbas RA did not believe this
because they had followed the Sunnah of the Prophet SAW and they were
sure that they had not missed the first day of Ramadan. How could they
believe that they had missed the first day of Ramadan on the words of a
single person? A man arriving after travelling three or four weeks
could forget the day of fasting at Sham. In such a matter one man's
statement cannot be accepted and so Ibn Abbas RA dropped the matter.
is far away and the date there will be different" is a wrong statement.
Damascus and Medina lie almost on the same longitude with a slight
difference. The date in the two cities cannot be different.
Imams and other great scholars have ruled out the difference of dates.
The inhabitants of Medina and Damascus pray the Jumu'a almost at the
same time on the same day and the date that represents the day cannot
be different. How could Ibn Abbas RA give the wrong verdict that the
date of Sham and Medina would be different because it is far away? Ibn
Abbas RA was well versed in jurisprudence.
The Hadees of Kuraib
was examined by the Imaams. None of them had opined that the date could
be different in different cities as it is stated now. All the Imaams
have agreed unanimously that the month begun at some place must be
applicable to all those who get the information even though the places
may be far apart.
Two bothers living in two distant cities die
on the same day at the same time. The person dying later will inherit
the other. But difference in dates would create confusion and the real
inheritor would not get his right. A great person of knowledge in
jurisprudence like Ibn Abbas RA would not issue such a fatwa.
10:5 Allah SWT informs us that the changes that come to the moon phase
are meant to show the dates for mankind. The moon is not like sun. It
does not rise at the same time every day. It sets at different times
every day. For a casual observer the sun seems to rise almost at the
same time every day. The moon varies from 40 minutes to one hour per
day in its rising or setting.
The sun is always round in shape.
The moon is round only for one day in a month. On other days its shape
and rising is different. This change is meant for showing the dates for
the people. The 7th day moon will be overhead at sun set. It will be in
the seventh manaazil. That is about 84-90 degrees away from the sun. It
travels about 12 degrees per day. It lags about 48 minutes per day over
On the first day the moon will remain on the horizon
for about an hour after sun set. On the second it will remain for about
2 hours. The elongation on the first will be about 12 degrees and on
the second 24 degrees. It will go on increasing in size and distance
every day. On the 7th day the moon will be nearly on the meridian at
sun set. It will be slanting towards west. The size will be a little
less than half. In months of 29 it will be just half and in months of
30 it will look a little thinner. Usually the months of 30 repeat
consecutively for 3 times and in this case the crescents will be
comparatively thinner. Months of 29 repeat for two times and the
crescents will appear fatter than usual.
A serious observer can
easily distinguish the months of 29 and 30. When Allah SWT has arranged
the phases in such an easy way, our inability to distinguish them is
only because of our ignorance or negligence. We believe the only way
for fixing the months is to see the first appearing of the moon in the
western horizon. The first waxing crescent will be seen only on the
first day after sun set. By looking for it on the last day we cannot
find the beginning of the month correctly. It is a wrong method. The
moon which is seen on the first day cannot be seen on the last day of
The moon is near and the sun is far away. If we
adopted the method of sun set and moon set difference for fixing the
months sometimes those who are ahead in time will go behind and the
time keeping order in the world will get upset. In the daily routine
some are ahead in their activities while others are behind. Those
praying the Jumu'a prayer first are at 9 hours ahead of Kaba. Those who
pray Jumu'a last are 15 hours behind Kaba.
The person ahead
going behind is something like entering into the houses through
backdoors. It is a wrong way and it contradicts the Quran. It is not a
practice worthy of Muslims. It contradicts astronomical rules also. Our
earth is like a globe. One side has day while the other side has night.
As the earth spins on its axis days and nights alternate and give us
our seven days. One day goes and the other day comes. So, there must be
a fixed place on earth where days end and begin. Where is this place
When we look into the compulsory activities of the
Muslims this can be understood easily. Every day when the sun is
overhead Zuhar prayer must be prayed. When the sun comes overhead on
Thursday the Zuhar is prayed. But on Friday Jumu'a is prayed instead of
Zuhar. So, there must be a place on earth where Zuhar and Jumu'a
interchange. At this place one group will be compelled to pay Zuhar
while others prayed Jumu'a. This cannot happen where people lived
because it will make a separation in the community. Islam does not
Allah SWT who ordered in Quran 62:9 "When the call for
prayer is announced on the Day of Jumu'a you hasten to the remembrance
of Allah and leave your business" knew very well about the conditions
of this world. Al Imam Shafie R had said that a place where two Jumu'a
days unite like this should not be at a habitable location. It should
be in the sea where people cannot settle and the sea in between the
lands should be at a distance necessitating the lessening (Qasre) of
canonical prayers. The existence of such a place in the world was known
only recently about a hundred years ago after people began to go round
the world. This place is situated in the middle of the Pacific Ocean.
Many small islands similar to our Maliku and Divehi Rajje lie scattered
In Samoa an island of the Pacific ocean people pray Zuhar
prayer of Thursday while on the west of it in Fiji Island people pray
the Jumu'a prayer of Friday! This is the place where change of day and
date take place in the world. It will be wrong to change it at any
other place. If it is done the Zuar and Jumu'a will get combined and
last day of fasting and Eid will be combined. This is Haram in the
Shariah. Haraam and Halaal of Allah will be violated.
not mean that all people in the world should celebrate Eid at the same
time. Jumu'a can be prayed at noon of Fiday only and Eid can be prayed
at the morning of Eid day. Allah SWT has informed us that Jumu'a day is
one day that is Friday. In the same way the other days too must be one
and same for all. If the Eid is on Thursday, all must observe it on
The Prophet SAW has informed us "Fasting is on the day
people fast and Eid is on the day people celebrate Eid." From this it
is clear that all people living in the world must begin and end fasting
on the same day. The dates must be fixed according to the view of the
moon and all should have same date. When the month is fixed at any
place according to the observation of moon phases, people all over the
world must agree to it.
For example if the people of Maldives
fixed Wednesday as the first of Ramadan according to the observation of
moon phases, then all people in the world must accept Wednesday as the
first of Ramadan. In the same way if the people of America finished
Ramadan on Wednesday the 29th and celebrated Eid on Thursday the first
of Shawwal, all people living in other parts of the world must accept
their decision and observe Eid on Thursday. Today the communication
facilities have united the world and we see what is happening on the
other side of the globe instantaneously. Allah SWT was well aware of
this at the time of creation.
The earth revolves around the sun
and the moon perambulates the earth as we perambulate the Kaba. The
earth spins on its axis and one spin is one day for us. The moon's
perambulation around the earth is one month for us. A month has 29 or
30 days. The average is 29.53 days. 12 months make a year. A year has
354.371 days. We get this by multiplying 29.53 with 12. Just as months
are of 29 or 30 days the years too are of 354 or 355days.
are two types of lunar months in astronomy. There are two types of days
also. The correct spin of the earth can be measured only by comparing
with a star. This day is called sidereal day. The exact revolution of
the moon around earth can be measured in comparison with a star which
is far away. This month is called sidereal lunar month. These are used
for astronomical calculations and they are not required in civil life.
Sidereal day is about 23 hour and 56 minutes and sidereal month is
about 27.3 days.
Since the earth perambulates the sun the
measurements taken with the sun will be different. But we must use this
measurement. The solar day is 24 hours and synodic month measured with
the sun is 29.53 days. Our days and the dates shown by the moon phase
are caused by the sun, not by the stars. So our calculations must be in
comparison with the sun and our months should be Synodical.
Quran informs us: "it is not fit for the sun to overtake the moon and
the night is not the forerunner of the day. All of them float in an
orbit". (36:40). The meaning is that the day comes first and the moon
overtakes the sun in the course of floating in their orbits. This
overtaking is witnessed in every lunar month. In every month after
overtaking the sun, the moon moves away from the sun and comes back
again to overtake it once again. At the rate of about 12 degrees per
day it traverses the stages (manaazil) and changes its phases
(ahillah). When the moon and sun are 90 degrees apart the phase is
half. When it is at 180 degrees the phase is full. Then it comes back
as it had gone away and at 90 degrees it is half and at 0 there is no
phase. The moon is not visible to earth on this day.
prior to this, the crescent is visible like an urjoon ul qadeem (old
withered stalk of date bunch) around Fajr time on the eastern horizon.
This gives people the prior information that the month is ending
tomorrow. After the end of the month the first day of the next month
must follow. That day evening (the first day) the Hilaal will be seen
on the western horizon after the sun set. Allah SWT has explained it so
clearly in His Book; but we think that there is nothing about it in the
Quran! In a month of 30 we can see 29 phases and in a month of 29 we
can count 28 phases of the moon. The Prophet SAW had taught how to
count them with fingers.
The months cannot go wrong if we
observed the phases. Making months of 29 into 30 and vice versa will be
tantamount to violating Allah's limits. Allah has informed in the Quran
9:37 "postponing is an increase in disbelief whereby the disbelievers
are going astray; they make it legal in one year and illegal in another
year thereby they forbid what Allah has allowed. Their bad actions are
made pleasant to them and Allah does not guide those who disbelieve".
is Allah SWT who gave sun, the sunlight and moon, the moonlight and He
appointed stages for the moon so that you may know the count of moon
ages (the dates) and the calculations. Allah SWT has not created this
without purpose. He explains His ayaths for the people who understand."
10:5. When Allah SWT has explained so well about the months and dates,
some people have misunderstood the words of the Prophet and said that
if a cloud came in between, 30 days should be completed even to months
which Allah SWT has given 29 days! Thus the natural calendar given to
people by Allah SWT has been made useless in the world. Clouds cannot
change the time shown by the sun and clouds cannot change the dates
shown by the manaazil of the moon.
We are now using the
Gregorian calendar and Allah had ordered "Accept what the Messenger has
brought for you and refrain from what he has objected." Arabs were
using a calendar at the time of the Prophet SAW. But he SAW has not
accepted it. There was the Jewish artificial lunar calendar also. This
too was not chosen. He SAW ordered the people to mark the dates
according to the view of the crescents. The Prophet SAW never ordered
people to begin the month after sighting the new crescent. The custom
prevalent in Arabia at that time was to begin the month when the
crescent becomes visible. The Prophet SAW did not accept this wrong
The calculations of the lunar month are made simple.
Solar and lunar eclipses help us to check the calendar dates with the
naked eye observation without using any instruments. The solar eclipse
occurs when the sun and moon are in the same stage (manaazil). The moon
is not visible to earth on this day. This is the last day of the month.
It is the day of conjunction or new moon. The lunar eclipse occurs in
the middle of the month. It will fall on 14th in the months of 29 and
on 15th in the months of 30.
If the months are to be found out
by observation we must look for the urjoonul qadeem, the last waning
crescent. It will be seen in the morning before sun rise. When it is
seen it will be certain that it will not be seen on the next day, which
is the day on which sun and moon are together in one manaazil. It is
the last day of the lunar month. This day can be found out even two or
three days in advance by estimating the gap between the sun and the
moon. The fingers can be used to measure it.
this correct method, searching for the new moon in the western horizon
in order to begin the month spoils our efforts. It is not the method of
the Prophet SAW and the Sahaba RA. It is not a Sunnah, but a Bid'ah
introduced later on into religion. By looking at the sun set we can
never begin the month on the correct day, but we will get cheated by
it. The Muslim Ummah is always suffering because of this treacherous
way of moon sighting.
Francois Pyrad de laval who was
ship-wrecked in Maldives in 1600AD and spent 5 years in captivity has
recorded in his book that the people of Maldives fixed their Ramadan
and Eids after sighting the crescent of the new month. Because of this
it was differently observed in different islands of the Maldives. If
this was according to the Sunnah should we not follow it by all means?
But now all Islands in Maldives observe it on the same day!
Maldives the prayer times are not alike in all islands. The time is
different in the western islands and eastern islands. And this
different must be observed. "Establish prayers from the declination of
the sun till it goes into the darkness of night and recitation of Quran
of Fajre. Certainly the recitation of dawn will be witnessed."17:78
says the Quran.
So, let us give up our own methods and follow
the Sunnah of the Prophet SAW. Let us get rid of all sorts Bid'ah which
mislead us. Making the lunar calendars basing on the sun set and moon
set difference is contrary to Quran and Sunnah. It is also wrong
according to astronomical rules. The Sunnah of the Prophet SAW was to
act according to the information from other sources. So we must see
whether the moon remains in any horizon at sun set. The month must
change according to that. It is because the date & day must be same
throughout the world. One day and different dates will not be
acceptable in the world time keeping order.
Let us give up the
wrong and impracticable method of beginning the months after seeing the
first waxing crescent and come back to the right method of Quran and
Sunnah of watching the waning crescents in order to begin the new month
on the right day without missing the first days of Ramadan and
committing the mistake of fasting on the day of Eid on which the
Prophet SAW had forbidden to fast. When we make the scientific lunar
calendars we have to take the day of conjunction as the last day of the
Hijri month and we get correct dates according to the Ahillah and
manaazil of the moon as directed in the Quran. The moon phase data can
be had from the internet for any required year.
As I am not an
experienced writer, there may be lines which are redundant. I am sorry
for that. My aim is to drive home the matter in your minds. I am
thankful to Allah SWT for granting me this chance and the ability to
write this article. Thank you very much for giving me this useful
Ali manikfan, Muraduganduvar,
Maliku, Advisor, Hjri committee of India.
Camp: Male, Maldive Islands
18 Shaban 1431H/29 July 2010AD