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Moon-sighting and Eid

When Should `Eid Al-Aḍḥā Be Celebrated?

Mufti Muhammed Qamarul Hasan Qadiri
Translated by: Mohammad Ameen Marfani

Brothers in Islam,
This booklet has been prepared for the sole purpose of clarifying the confusion in the Muslim Ummah about the actual day of `Eid Al-Aḍḥā. Please read it carefully.

The Islamic calendar is based on the sighting of the Moon. The beginning and ending of the months rely on witnessing the Moonsighting. Allah ﷻ clearly mentions this in the Holy Qur’an:

يَسۡـَٔلُونَكَ عَنِ ٱلۡأَهِلَّةِ‌ۖ قُلۡ هِىَ مَوَٲقِيتُ لِلنَّاسِ وَٱلۡحَجِّ‌ۗ

They ask you about the new Moons. Say, ‘They are the signs of time for the people and pilgrimage (Ḥajj). (Baqara, 2:189)

وَجَعَلۡنَا ٱلَّيۡلَ وَٱلنَّہَارَ ءَايَتَيۡنِ‌ۖ فَمَحَوۡنَآ ءَايَةَ ٱلَّيۡلِ وَجَعَلۡنَآ ءَايَةَ ٱلنَّہَارِ مُبۡصِرَةً۬ لِّتَبۡتَغُواْ فَضۡلاً۬ مِّن رَّبِّكُمۡ وَلِتَعۡلَمُواْ عَدَدَ ٱلسِّنِينَ وَٱلۡحِسَابَ‌ۚ وَڪُلَّ شَىۡءٍ۬ فَصَّلۡنَـٰهُ تَفۡصِيلاً۬

And We made night and day as two signs, then put the signs of the night blotted and the sign of day shining, that you may seek grace of Allah and that you may know the numbering of years, and the reckoning. And We have explained well everything separately. (Bani Isrā’īl, 17:12)

In both of these verses, the timings and days are appointed based on the Moon. The counting of years is also dependent on the passing of nights and days. The Noble Messenger of Allah ﷺ also clarified this very plainly for the simplicity of his Ummah in a complete form of law.

جَعَلَ اللَّهُ الْأَهِلَّةَ مَوَاقِيتَ لِلنَّاسِ فَصُومُوا لِرُؤْيَتِهِ وَأَفْطِرُوا لِرُؤْيَتِهِ، فَإِنَّ غُمَّ عَلَيْكُمْ فَعُدُّوا ثَلَاثِينَ يَوْمًا

Allah ﷻ created the new Moons for mankind to determine time. Therefore, by sighting the Moon, start the fast and end the fast (`Eid). If that Moon does not appear then complete the count of thirty (30) days. (Tafsīr Ibn Kathīr, Book 1, Vol. 2, pg. 306, Dar us Salam, Riyad/Dar ul Fiyah, Damascus, 1998)

For the Muslim Ummah, the Qur’an and Ḥadīth are the norm. By virtue of the Qur’an and Ḥadīth, we know that Islamic months begin and end upon the sighting of the Moon. The day after the Moonis sighted is the first day of the following month. If the Moon does not appear for any reason on the 29th day of any given month, then 30 days of that month should be completed and the following month should be started after its completion.

Some people, upon sighting the new Moon, assume that the new Moon seems to be of the second day. They rely upon the supposition of the second day Moon and say this is not the first day Moon (new Moon). The following Ḥadīth will be sufficient to nullify these comments:

عَنْ أَبِي الْبَخْتَرِيِّ قَالَ: خَرَجْنَا لِلْعُمْرَةِ فَلَمَّا نَزَلْنَا بِبَطْنِ نَخْلَةَ قَالَ: تَرَاءَيْنَا الْهِلَالَ، فَقَالَ بَعْضُ الْقَوْمِ: هُوَ ابْنُ ثَلَاثٍ، وَقَالَ بَعْضُ الْقَوْمِ: هُوَ ابْنُ لَيْلَتَيْنِ. قَالَ: فَلَقَيْنَا ابْنَ عَبَّاسٍ فَقُلْنَا: إِنَّا رَأَيْنَا الْهِلَالَ فَقَالَ بَعْضُ الْقَوْمِ هُوَ ابْنُ ثَلَاثٍ، وَقَالَ بَعْضُ الْقَوْمِ هُوَ ابْنُ لَيْلَتَيْنِ. فَقَالَ: أَيَّ لَيْلَةٍ رَأَيْتُمُوهُ؟ قَالَ فَقُلْنَا: لَيْلَةَ كَذَا وَكَذَا. فَقَالَ: إِنَّ رَسُولَ اللَّهِ صَلَّى اللَّهُ عَلَيْهِ وَسَلَّمَ قَالَ: (إِنَّ اللَّهَ مَدَّهُ لِلرُّؤْيَةِ) فَهُوَ لِلَّيْلَةِ رَأَيْتُمُوهُ

Hazrat Abul Bakhtari رضي الله عنه said, “We started our journey for ‘Umrah. When we reached Baṭn-e-Nakhla, we saw the Moon. Someone commented that it seemed like a third day Moon. Another person suggested that it was a second day Moon. Then we approached Hazrat Ibn `Abbās رضي الله عنهما and respectfully informed him that we saw the Moon on the way and that some of us made comments of it being a second day Moon and others a third day Moon. Then Hazrat Ibn `Abbās رضي الله عنهما asked which night we saw the Moon. We told him such and such night. He replied that the Holy Messenger ﷺ said, ‘Indeed Allah widened it for its sighting’, so the night on which you saw the Moon is to be relied upon. (Tafsīr Qurṭubi, Book 1, Vol. 2, Page 342, Maktaba Rashidiyya, Quetta)

This dilemma is now quite clear that Moonsighting is the basis of a month’s beginning and ending. If the Moon is not sighted on the 29th day of a given month, then thirty (30) days must be completed. At the same time when the Moon, if appearing to be thicker and staying longer on the horizon, is sighted upon a completion of 30 days, do not start speculating or assuming that it may be such and such day’s Moon. This is against the commands of our Holy Messenger ﷺ.

In our modern/postmodern context, we often hear people saying that this is the age of science, technology, and advancements in astronomy. They conclude that we can measure the velocity and location of the Moon. Based on this, many people assume one must follow scientific means and that there is no need to observe the Moon.

With due respect, we say that Islamic Sharia bases its verdict in light of the principles of astronomy. According to astronomical explanations, at the end of the month when the Moon is waning, the time between the disappearance and appearance of the Moon by the horizon is called “Muhāq” or the Unseen Time. During this phase, the Sun and the Moon are at approximately the same level on the horizon. Due to this, the Moon’s visibility is drowned by the Sun’s light. As a result, the Moon is invisible. The period of “Muhāq” ranges from 36 to 50 hours. However, after this phase, the Moon enters the New Moon period and emerges from the horizon (and the vicinity of the Sun). Afterwards, in the waxing phase, when the Moon is 12° (degrees) from the Sun, it becomes visible to the unaided eye.

Now take the words of the Ḥadīth that says, “Start the fast with the appearance of the Moon and end it with the appearance of the Moon.” This clearly points to the principles of “Muhāq” (when the Moon is invisible). Since the new Moon comes after completing its phase of “Muhāq”, there is a possibility of it being seen on the horizon. This is why Islamic Sharia does not recognize the birth of the Moon in blindness; rather, it considers its appearance on the horizon. The ruling of Sharia applies to the observance of the Moon. Only upon visibility does the month start, not before the appearance on the horizon.

IS “EID AL-AḌḤĀ DEPENDANT UPON ḤAJJ?
In North America, unfortunately, upon the announcement of starting of the month Dhul-Ḥijjah, discussions start floating on the assumption that “Eid Al-Aḍḥā should be observed on the second day of Wuqūf-e-`Arafāt (Ḥajj). Emphasis is exerted on the belief that there is no need to observe the Moon on a local level. Those who oppose this idea are thought to be wrong. Apparently, there is no logic towards that assumption. Now we will analyze the logic and ask our readers to read carefully.

If “Eid Al-Aḍḥā is dependant upon Ḥajj, then the following objections arise:
I. Making Ḥajj a condition or dependency factor for “Eid Al-Aḍḥā is against the Qur’an and Ḥadīth. There is neither proof of it in the Qur’an nor Ḥadīth because there is a long time span between the permissibility of both events. The `Eidain (‘Al-Fiṭr’ and ‘Al-Aḍḥā’) were made obligatory in the first year of the Hijrah calendar and Ḥajj was made obligatory in the ninth year of the Hijrah calendar. The “Eids were declared festivities eight years before Ḥajj was made obligatory.

عَنْ أَنَسٍ، قَالَ قَدِمَ رَسُولُ اللَّهِ صلى الله عليه وسلم الْمَدِينَةَ وَلَهُمْ يَوْمَانِ يَلْعَبُونَ فِيهِمَا فَقَالَ ‏ مَا هَذَانِ الْيَوْمَانِ ‏‏ ‏.‏ قَالُوا كُنَّا نَلْعَبُ فِيهِمَا فِي الْجَاهِلِيَّةِ ‏.‏ فَقَالَ رَسُولُ اللَّهِ صلى الله عليه وسلم ‏ إِنَّ اللَّهَ قَدْ أَبْدَلَكُمْ بِهِمَا خَيْرًا مِنْهُمَا يَوْمَ الأَضْحَى وَيَوْمَ الْفِطْرِ

Hazrat Anas رضي الله عنه reported that when the Messenger of Allah ﷺ came to Medina, the people had two days on which they engaged in games. He asked, “What are these two days (what is the significance)?” They said, “We used to engage ourselves on them in the pre-Islamic period. The Messenger of Allah ﷺ said, “Allah has substituted for them something better than them, the day of sacrifice (`Eid Al-Aḍḥā) and the day of the breaking of the fast (`Eid Al-Fitr).” (Sunan Abi Dawūd, Kitāb uṣ Ṣalāh, Bāb Ṣalāt il `Eidayn, Ḥadīth 1134 / Nasa’i, Kitāb Ṣalāt il `Eidayn, Ḥadīth 1556 / Sunan Bayhaqi, Book 3, Page 277)

All of the Islamic Laws since the time of our Noble Holy Messenger ﷺ are continuously being observed and followed. “`Eid al Aḍḥā” and Sacrifice are also being performed consistently without termination.

The Holy Messenger ﷺ performed `Eid Al-Aḍḥā prayers on the 10th of Dhul-Ḥijjah and then sacrificed animals. Now for argument’s sake, let us consider that `Eid Al-Aḍḥā is dependent upon Ḥajj. Then the question arises: How did Muslims perform `Eid Al-Aḍḥā and sacrifice animals without the Ḥajj for those eight years that didn’t have Ḥajj?

Apart from this, other doors of objection open up.

  1. As today’s technology in communication and its progressions make the transfer of information seem easy, knowing the day of Wuqūf-e-`Arafāt is simple. But when these technologies were not available, then depending upon Wuqūf-e-`Arafāt to observe `Eid Al-Aḍḥā would be impossible. In those days, the information of Wuqūf-e-`Arafāt would reach distant locations relative to Mecca in months, only after people would come back from the journey of Ḥajj.

Keeping in mind the above fact, how is it possible for Islamic Sharia to command its followers to go through the hardship which is beyond their reach? Allah says in the Qur’an:

لَا يُكَلِّفُ ٱللَّهُ نَفۡسًا إِلَّا وُسۡعَهَا‌ۚ

Allah does not burden any soul but to the extent of his strength…(Baqara, 2:286)

Still, despite this technological age, how many parts of the world have no such communication, yet Islam is practiced there and those who reside there observe their `Eid day based solely on local Moonsighting?

III. To link `Eid Al-Aḍḥā with Ḥajj does not have any basis, as Ḥajj is an act of worship which is limited to a specific location. On the contrary, `Eid Al-Aḍḥā and sacrificing animals are observed all over the world. How can a global event depend on a local event?

  1. Not having any Islamic historical evidence to link Ḥajj with `Eid Al-Aḍḥā, and inventing something which has no consistency and yet calling it an Islamic act, how can one suspend the rules of Islamic Sharia and formulate something new that never happened in Islamic history? To follow something unlawful can result in weakening the religion. (We ask Allah protect us from such things, Āmīn)
  2. Under the situation of the conflicting doctrine, it will follow that `Eid Al-Aḍḥā should be observed on a date other than the 10th of Dhul-Ḥijjah with the exception of Saudi Arabia, even though its dependency is upon the 10th of Dhul-Ḥijjah. As according to Ḥadīth, `Eid Al-Aḍḥā is to be observed on the 10th of Dhul-Ḥijjah only.

عَنِ الْبَرَاءِ بْنِ عَازِبٍ، قَالَ خَطَبَنَا رَسُولُ اللَّهِ صلى الله عليه وسلم يَوْمَ النَّحْرِ

Hazrat Barā’ bin `Āazib رضي الله عنه reported that the Messenger of Allah ﷺ gave us a sermon on the day of Naḥr (10th of Dhul-Ḥijjah). (Ṣaḥīḥ Bukhāri, Kitāb ul `Eidayn, Bāb Kalām il Imām wa’n Nās fī Khuṭbat il `Eid, Ḥadīth 983)

Suppose that the Moon is not sighted in Saudi Arabia, but in the countries west of Saudi Arabia, it is sighted. Therefore, in Saudi Arabia it will be the 9th of Dhul-Ḥijjah, but in the countries west of Saudi Arabia, it will be the 10th of Dhul-Ḥijjah. If you follow the opposing doctrine, in Saudi Arabia `Eid Al-Aḍḥā will be on Ḥajj day, but for people in western countries `Eid-Al-Aḍḥā will be on the 11th of Dhul-Ḥijjah, and that is against the rules of Sharia. Now suppose in Saudi Arabia the Moon is sighted, but for any reason it is not sighted in any countries west of Saudi Arabia. If it is 9th of Dhul-Ḥijjah in Saudi Arabia, then in western countries it will be 8th of Dhul-Ḥijjah. Under this condition, if `Eid Al-Aḍḥā and sacrifice are dependent upon Ḥajj, then the countries west of Saudi Arabia will have to observe `Eid Al-Aḍḥā on the 9th of Dhul-Ḥijjah which is, again, a deviation from the laws of Sharia. In Ṣaḥīḥ Bukhāri, this Ḥadīth is mentioned:

عَنِ الْبَرَاءِ بْنِ عَازِبٍ، قَالَ خَطَبَنَا رَسُولُ اللَّهِ صلى الله عليه وسلم يَوْمَ النَّحْرِ بَعْدَ الصَّلاَةِ فَقَالَ ‏ مَنْ صَلَّى صَلاَتَنَا وَنَسَكَ نُسْكَنَا فَقَدْ أَصَابَ النُّسُكَ، وَمَنْ نَسَكَ قَبْلَ الصَّلاَةِ فَتِلْكَ شَاةُ لَحْمٍ ‏.‏ فَقَامَ أَبُو بُرْدَةَ بْنُ نِيَارٍ فَقَالَ يَا رَسُولَ اللَّهِ وَاللَّهِ لَقَدْ نَسَكْتُ قَبْلَ أَنْ أَخْرُجَ إِلَى الصَّلاَةِ، وَعَرَفْتُ أَنَّ الْيَوْمَ يَوْمُ أَكْلٍ وَشُرْبٍ فَتَعَجَّلْتُ وَأَكَلْتُ وَأَطْعَمْتُ أَهْلِي وَجِيرَانِي‏.‏ فَقَالَ رَسُولُ اللَّهِ صلى الله عليه وسلم ‏ تِلْكَ شَاةُ لَحْمٍ ‏.‏ قَالَ فَإِنَّ عِنْدِي عَنَاقَ جَذَعَةٍ، هِيَ خَيْرٌ مِنْ شَاتَىْ لَحْمٍ، فَهَلْ تَجْزِي عَنِّي قَالَ ‏”‏ نَعَمْ، وَلَنْ تَجْزِيَ عَنْ أَحَدٍ بَعْدَكَ

Hazrat Barā’ رضي الله عنه reported: “The Messenger of Allah ﷺ gave us a sermon on the day of Naḥr (10th of Dhul-Ḥijjah): ‘The first thing we will do on this day of ours is offer the `Eid prayer and upon return we will sacrifice the animals. Whoever did so, he acted according to our Sunnah, and whoever sacrificed before the prayer, what he offered was just meat he presented to his family, and that will not be considered as sacrifice.’ Abu Burdah bin Niyār رضي الله عنه got up, and said, ‘O Messenger of Allah, I sacrificed before `Eid Al-Aḍḥā prayers. Now I only have a baby ram that looks like it is a little well over one year old.’ The Messenger ﷺ said, ‘Sacrifice it but it will not be sufficient for any-one else after you.’” (Ṣaḥīḥ Bukhāri, Kitāb ul `Eidayn, Bāb Kalām il Imām wa’n Nās fī Khuṭbat il `Eid, Ḥadīth 983)

From the study of this Ḥadīth, it is very clear that sacrifice before `Eid Al-Aḍḥā prayer is rejected by the Holy Prophet and he ordered Abu Burdah رضي الله عنه to sacrifice another animal. Now, consider those who make Wuqūf-e-`Arafāt a condition for `Eid Al-Aḍḥā and sacrifice. They may perform their sacrifice one day prior to the actual day. How do you think their sacrifice will be accepted in accordance with the rules? There is no danger of delaying the sacrifice and the `Eid prayers (with a legitimate excuse) until the 12th of Dhul-Ḥijjah. Even without an excuse, delaying `Eid prayers is permissible as an undesirable (Makrūh) act. Fiqh-e-Hanafi’s renowned book: “Fatāwa Qāḍi Khan” mentions the following:

وأما عيد الأضحى إن فاتت في اليوم الأوّل بعذر أو بغير عذر يصلى في اليوم الثاني فإن فاتت في اليوم الثاني بعذر أو بغير عذر يصلى في اليوم الثالث فإن فاتت في اليوم الثالث بعذر أو بغير عذر لا يصلى بعد ذلك

If the `Eid Al-Aḍḥā prayer, with a legitimate excuse, or not, is not performed on the first day (10th of Dhul-Ḥijjah), then it should be performed on the second day (11th of Dhul-Ḥijjah). If it is not performed on those two days, then it should be performed on the third day (12th of Dhul-Ḥijjah). After that, it cannot be validly performed. (Fatāwa Qāḍi Khān in marginalia of Fatāwa Hindiyya, Kitāb uṣ Ṣalāh, Bāb ul `Eidayn, Volume 1, Page 185, Maktaba Rashidiyya, Quetta)

In the light of these explanations, all aspects are quite clear that if `Eid Al-Aḍḥā prayers and sacrifices are performed before the 10th of Dhul-Ḥijjah, they will not be accepted in the eyes of the Sharia. However, if `Eid Al-Aḍḥā and sacrifices are performed after the 10th of Dhul-Ḥijjah, with a legitimate excuse, they will be treated as performed without any defect. Without any excuse, they will be acceptable, but undesirable (Makrūh).

WHAT IS THE MEANING OF “UNITY OF THE UMMAH”?
Some people, for the sake of unity of the Ummah, suggest that `Eid Al-Aḍḥā should be observed at the same time throughout the world. However, this act is impossible because of the different time zones of the world. The entire globe cannot follow the same time zone. For example, when it is 12:00 noon in Saudi Arabia, it is 8:00 PM in Sydney, Australia and 3:00 AM in Chicago, Illinois. So making Saudi Arabia a base, we cannot have the prayer of Zuhr at the same time in Sydney and Chicago.

Likewise, the Moonsighting in various parts of the world is different. Conclusively, the start and end of the months are also different because they are based on the actual Moonsighting, as Islamic months start at the appearance of the new Moon (and end as the new Moon of the next month is sighted). The Islamic concept of the unity of the Ummah is not whether the start of Ramadan, `Eid Al-Fiṭr, or `Eid Al-Aḍḥā is observed at the same time. This is even against the principles of nature.

The unity of the Ummah means that mutual relationships and cooperation must be firm. The conflict among the Ummah must be resolved. Our strength should be protected from creating divergences. There should be adherence to Allah’s Ḥalāl (Permissible) and Allah’s Ḥarām (Prohibited) as commanded by him. Any act that is Mustaḥab (doing such a deed will be rewarded but not doing it will not result in punishment) should be accepted as permissible and worthy of being rewarded. The same theme of unity is described in the Holy Qur’an:

وَأَطِيعُواْ ٱللَّهَ وَرَسُولَهُ ۥ وَلَا تَنَـٰزَعُواْ فَتَفۡشَلُواْ وَتَذۡهَبَ رِيحُكُمۡ‌ۖ وَٱصۡبِرُوٓاْ‌ۚ إِنَّ ٱللَّهَ مَعَ ٱلصَّـٰبِرِينَ

And obey Allah and His Messenger, and dispute not with one another, otherwise you will show timidity, and your strength will depart from you, and be patient, indeed Allah is with the patient ones. (Anfāl, 8:46)

Unity never means to disregard and disrespect Sharia, and in the name of unity, observe Ramadan, `Eid Al-Fiṭr, and `Eid Al-Aḍḥā whenever we please. Observing `Eid without any evidence or starting Ramadan without evidence of Sharia so that the unity would be maintained is completely against the rulings of the Qur’an and Ḥadīth.

We humbly request our Muslim brothers not to waste their ‘Ibādat (Rituals). Please do not ignore the obviously clear commands and injunctions of Allah and his Apostle and become guilty in the eyes of Allah and his Apostle. When you see the Moon, start the month, and if you cannot see the Moon (for any reason), wait for an acceptable witness according to the Sharia. If the witness is up to the standards of the rules of Sharia, then the new month starts. Otherwise, as the Noble Messenger ﷺ instructed, complete the thirty (30) days. Saudi Arabia’s prominent scholar Abdul Azeez bin Baaz himself, in his Fatawa (Verdict), ordered:

“The most trusted and authentic source of Moonsighting for a town is a local one.” [Further, he says,] “Some people think that the whole world should follow the Moonsighting of Mecca, Saudi Arabia and make it the base of their Ramadan and `Eid judgment. However, in the pure form of Sharia, there is neither any proof of it, nor is there any origin to this.” (Al-Baath Al-Islami, Dhul-Ḥijjah 1399 Hijri)

We surrender ourselves in the supplication to Allah: May He give the Muslims the ability to obey and follow the pure form of Sharia to the fullest. Āmīn; Bijāhi Ḥabībihī Sayyedil Mursalīn ﷺ.

 

 

 

Mufti Muhammed Qamarul Hasan Qadiri
Khatib and Imam of Al-Noor Masjid, Houston
Chairman of Rooyat-e-Hilal Committee of North America

11th Dhul-Qadah, 1426 Hijri
14 December 2005 A.D.

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