Bismillahi Al-Rahmani Al-Rahim
Sighting The Moon Is Globally Binding
My first question regarding fasting is the issue of sighting
the moon. I once read an English translation of an answer by the late Saudi
scholar Ibn Uthaimin (May Allah have mercy on him) who considers
himself a Hanbali and he said the main position of the Hanbali
school is on the local sighting and he preferred this
This is quite strange as some Salafis in the US strongly support the
international moonsighting position (which is endorsed by Al-Albani)
and make it almost like a question of aqidah.
The strong Hanbali position is on the international sighting. Is
If we live in a Muslim country (like Malaysia), that supports the
local sighting, what should we do? Can we privately fast a day
earlier and break our fast a day earlier (according to the
international sighting)? I have always preferred the international
sighting but not followed it. [...]
Shafi'is seem to prefer the local position as endorsed by Imam
Al-Nawawi (May Allah have mercy on him)
[Question slightly reformatted]
Whether or not a locally sighted moon is binding for distant lands
is an issue that comes up each year. The mu`tamad position with the
Shafi`is it that it is binding only for lands that share the same horizon.
The position with the Hanbalis is that it is globally applicable. And
within each mathhab, you can find supporters for both positions.
What is important for everyone to understand from the very beginning is
that both sides have their evidence, and both sides can respond to each
other's evidence. No one ignored the Qur'an and Sunna, rather each side
understood the texts in a slightly different way.
As for the position in Hanbali mathhab:
The relevant section in Zad Al-Mustaqni` reads that
Someone could argue that "the people" ("al-nass") refers to all people in
the land where it was sighted, or that it means all people in general. The
second seems most likely because the phrase "al-nass" indicates
universality, and "kulluhim" is another phrase indicating the same and
gives emphasis. So it's best to see what we can dig up in other books.
- if the people of one land site it, it is necessary/binding for the
people--all of them--to fast
Dalil Al-Talib & Nail Al-Ma'arib & Hashiyat
- On (p172) there is something to the effect that if people spotted the
moon in the beginning of the month and then traveled a long journey to
another land where they did not see the new moon at the end of the month
that they would break their fast. This supports the idea that sighting
the moon locally is binding for distant lands as well.
Al-`Umdah & Al-`Udda
- On (p269, Ashqar edition) the basic text and commentary agree with
the above: one witness in one land is good enough for the entire ummah.
The hashiyah does contradict this.
- On (p196) there isn't really anything either way.
- On (p101) there is no indication of there being an alternative
opinion, but it does list an opinion that if the imam fasts the people
fast with him
- On (p144) there isn't really anything useful, but in Ibn Badran's
hashiyah there is.
- He says that in Al-Furu` and Al-Iqna` that the moon
being sighted in one land suffices for other lands, even if they do not
share horizons; and that Ibn Taymiyyah said it suffices only for lands
that share the same horizon (just like the mu`tamad Shafi`i
- He then adds another issue: if the sighting is reported by means of
the telegraph, is it binding? He wrote an answer to it in one of his
books of fatawa for Kuweit which I do not have, but he says here that the
end result is that if the person passing on the information is
trustworthy then it is. And Allah knows best.
- On (1: 320) it says that if it spotted in one land, all people must
And may Allah be well pleased with all of the scholars just mentioned.
- On (2:303-4) it says what Sheikh `Abd Al-Qadir Ibn Badran wrote
- Also noteworthy on (2:303) is this phrase: "Sheikh Al-Islam Zakariya
said in Sharh Al-Buhja". Ma sha Allah; such wonderful adab with Sheikh
Al-Islam Zakariya Al-Ansari Al-Shafi`i. This is how people are supposed
to refer to each other's mashayakh.
So, I really don't see how Ibn `Uthaymin (Allah have mercy upon him) can
say that the opinion in the Hanbali mathab is that the locally sighted moon
is only locally binding. I can find nothing at all to support this. Ibn
`Uthaymin is a Hanbali, and in fiqh he is said to be quite knowledgeable. I
would be curious as to whether or not he actually said this. It would not
be difficult to find out, since he has a commentary on Zad
Al-Mustaqni`, however I do not possess it so I cannot verify it.
As for the other questions: I decline to answer. You need a faqih, and I
am at best a reporter of what can be found in books.
And Allah knows best.
wa al-salamu `alaykum