Moonsighting in Australia by Mufti Shabbir Ahmed



 By Imam Dr. Shabbir Ahmed, Rooty Hill Mosque, Islamic Association Western Suburbs, Sydney.


الحمد لله الذى جعل القمر نورا و قدره منازل لتعلموا عدد السنين والحساب و الصلاة والسلام على سيد الأنام سيدنا و مولانا محمد ة على آله و صحبه و من تبعهم الى يوم الدين.

All of us should thank Allah U that He has created and made us  the followers of the Prophet Muhammad r. All the pride that one can possibly feel for such a great blessing is not enough. Now it is our duty that by comprehending the uniqueness of the great Prophet r, we should follow him r in all aspects of our life. Because he r was Ameen, we should accept all of his orders without any changes. We should not use our intellect against his r orders. Allah U has revealed many verses in Quran in respect of obeying the Prophet r. Some of the verses are as follows:

         1.   ” لقد كان لكم فى رسول الله أسوة حسنة لمن كان يرجوا الله واليوم الآخر ” (الأحزاب:21)       

“You have a good example in the Messenger of Allah(SWT) for everyone who looks forward to Allah(SWT) and the Last Day, and remember Allah(SWT) unceasingly.”            (Quran 33:21)


         2.   قل إن كنتم تحبون الله فاتبعونى يحببكم الله ويغفرلكم ذنوبكم والله غفور رحيم.       

 (آل عمران:31)                               

“Say: If you love Allah(SWT), follow me, Allah(SWT) will love you and forgive your sins. Allah(SWT) is Forgiving and Merciful.”

               (Quran 3:31)


          3.                  (النساء : 65).            فلا وربك لا يؤمنون حتى يحكموك فيما شجر بينهم 

“But nay, by your Lord, they will not be true believers until they ask your arbitration in their disputes. Then they will not doubt the justice of your verdicts and will submit to you entirely.”                     (Quran 4:65)


          4.                                    و من يطع الرسول فقد أطاع الله . ( النساء:80)

“He that obeys his messenger obeys Allah(SWT) thereby.                 (Quran 4:80)


          5.       ‏          ومن يطع الله و رسوله فقد فاز فوزا عظيما (الأحزاب : 71)

“And (know that) whoever pays heed to Allah(SWT) and His Messenger has already attained to a mighty triumph.”              

(Quran 33:71)

Along with these verses, there is another verse, which emphasizes too much on obeying the Prophet r and mentions that if the Prophet passes a decision in some affair then no one else has any right in that affair, and we have no other way except to obey the Prophet r . If someone disobeys and uses his own logic in that affair, then that person goes himself in astray. Thus Allah U says:

6.       و ما كان لمؤمن و لا مؤمنة إذا قضى الله و رسوله أمرا أن يكون لهم  الخيرة من أمرهم و من يعص الله و رسوله فقد ضل ضلالا مبينا. (الأحزاب:36)

“Now whenever Allah(SWT) and His Messenger have decided a matter, it is not for a believing man or a believing woman to claim freedom of choice in so far as they themselves are concerned.”                     (Quran 33:36)

In addition to Quranic verses, there are several Ahaadith where it is ordered to obey the Prophetr.

          1.          عن  جابر بن عبد الله (فى حديث طويل ، قال بعض الملا ئكة :) فمن أطاع محمدا فقد أطاع الله ، ومن عصى محمدا فقد عصى الله.( البخارى : 13/249)                                                                                                                                         

Whoever obeyed Muhammad, he obeyed Allah U and whoever disobeyed Muhammad, he disobeyed Allah U .

                                                                     (Bukhari: 13/149)

          2.                                    لايؤمن أحدكم حتى يكون هواه تبعا لما جئت به. (شرح السنة)

No one among you can become a true complete believer unless he surrenders his own desires against those things which I brought. (sharh ul Sunnah)

3.  عن أبى هريرة – رضى الله عنه – أن رسول الله – صلى الله عليه وسلم-  قال : كل أمتى يدخلون الجنة إلا من أبى  قيل : ومن يأبى يا رسول الله قال: من أطاعنى دخل                   

        الجنة ومن عصانى فقد أبى. (البخارى : 13/ 249)                                                                              

My whole Ummah will enter the paradise except he who refused, He was asked: oh, Prophet of Allah! who refuses? He r said: he who obeyed me, will enter the paradise and he who disobeyed, indeed he refused.

Anyhow there are numerous Ahaadith where it is ordered to obey the Prophet r. But these days many people just rely on their own logic and give up the Prophet’sr orders. They present the logic that these days science is advanced too much therefore, it is impossible to obey the Prophet’s r orders. They say that these orders were  applicable the time when science was not so advanced.

It is very disgraceful that these days muslims are talking like that. Was Islam revealed only for underdeveloped countries or all the people are equally treated? Obviously Islam is revealed for all the mankind without any distinction between rich or poor, educated or uneducated, urban or rural, all are equal in Islamic laws. Therefore, such a discrimination will never be acceptable.

It is essential for all of us to follow the Prophet r specially during such a time when people are giving up Prophet’s sunnah. During such a time the importance of obeying the prophet’s sunnah becomes manyfold because the follower of sunnah during such a time is promised to be rewarded equal to one hundred martyrs. According to one Hadith “Whoever keeps alive my one sunnah at the time when my ummah is divided,  will get the reward equal to one hundred martyrs.

I think now is the time that if we follow some of those sunnahs which are being completely given up, for sure we get great reward.

Sunnah of Moon Sighting:


Among the sunnahs of our Prophet r  one is the sighting of the moon which is being given up and ignored these days. There are many Ahaadith in this respect that “Start fasting in Ramadan after sighting the moon and  celebrate Eid after sighting the moon”.

Worship Days are Based on Moon Sighting:


The fact is that  according to Islamic law all those duties which are for full days are based on moon sighting. For example start of fasting and end of fasting  are based on moon sighting. The days of Hajj , a pillar of Islam, are decided by sighting the moon. For zakat, completion of the year is determined by moon. The completion of a woman’s ‘iddat is also calculated according to lunar days. Similarly there are numerous laws which are based on moon sighting.

Fasting and Eids: Celebrations or Ibadat:

First we should see the real purpose of fasting, Eids, Hajj etc. Are all of these, specially Eids just celebrations or ‘ibadat? If we take them as celebrations only then there is no further deliberation. In this case we can celebrate Eid whenever we like  and all of us can participate together in order to show total Muslims unity. But if we really think, that all these events are ‘ibadat, then we are bound to strictly follow the rules of shari‘ah. There is absolutely no room for personal opinion  or our own logic. Whatsoever conditions shari‘ah has fixed for us, we are bound to practice them. Thake the example of fasting. One can argue that why the period between dawn and sunset is fixed for fasting? Why not until Isha? Similarly instead of fasting 29 or 30 days why we cannot fast for 28 or 31 days? Regardless of the moon what is the harm in fasting 29 days or 30 days? Similarly, in order to show unity, why  not start fasting or celebrating Eid on the day when majority of the people are celebrating without sighting the moon.

The answer to all of these —– arguments is that is nothing but —–  of the commandment of Allah U and the tradition of His messenger. If we follow the laws of shari‘ah, then our practice will become an ‘ibadat.



Philosophy of Moon Sighting:


Allaamah Haafiz Ibn-e-Hajr has described the philosophy of moon sighting in a beautiful way. He mentions “Prophet r has ordered that if the sky is cloudy then complete 30 days of fasting. This means that if the moon is not sighted then 30 days are to be completed. Prophet has not said that in the case when moon is not sighted consult the scientists or astronomers. In fact the philosophy behind this order is that by counting 30 days everyone can know about the new month. Everyone will be equal in that case. Further if we follow the principle of moon sighting then there will be no dispute. (Fath ul Bari 4:109)

May Allah U grant Allaamah Ibn-e-Hajr high reward. He has passed a beautiful decision about 550 years ago. Our basic error is that we have thrown our Prophet’s saying behind our backs. Whenever Muslims will do like this, Allah U will punish us through our own disputes.

The great scholar Shah Waliyyullah has also described the philosophy of moon sighting in his book Hujjat-Ullahil- Baaligah: “I say that when shariah has bound fasting with the lunar month, then if a doubt is faced it is necessary to follow the shariah principle: that is, if the moon is sighted, it is well and good, otherwise, one should complete 30 days.” (Hujjat-Ullahil- Baaligah 2:51)

The Great Mufti of Pakistan Mufti Muhammad Shafi‘ describes the philosophy of moon sighting:

“The truth of the matter is that Islam does not believe in discrimination based on countries, language or geographical locations. According to Islam all the Muslims whether in the east or in the west are equal. Its laws are not for a few cities only, but it is applicable for all the mankind in the world. In this world there are many more villages and towns in number than the cities where despite of the modern scientific developments, still the knowledge of science and the equipment of communications have not reached. Were the Prophet’s r   orders only for a few educated citizens and were it compulsory for us to resort to scientific equipment or to fly above the clouds in order to confirm the new moon, it would have been extremely difficult for most of the followers of Islam. Leave the previous fourteen hundred years aside, and imagine that even in the 20th century this would have been posed enormous difficulties for Islamic world. Moreover if adopting such methods were declared as more rewarding, then the rich people would get more reward just because they have the scientific equipment and airplanes. In such circumstances it would be out of control for the poor to secure better reward in respect of fasting and prayers. This notion is completely against the spirit of Islam.” (Risalah Ruyat-e-hilaal pp. 20-21)

Quranic Verses Regarding New Moon:


Now we overview Quranic verses regarding the new moon.


1.          يسألونك عن الأهلة قل هى مواقيت للناس والحج . (البقرة:189)


“People ask you (O’ Prophet) about the new moon. Say: They are fixed seasons for mankind and for the pilgrimage”.              (Quran 2:189)

Allaamah Haafiz Ibn-e-Katheer explains this verse: “Abul Aaliah says that he has been informed that some companions of the Prophet asked him(r) why the new moon is created? In response to this question Allah(SWT) revealed this verse. The Prophet(r) has told us that Allah(SWT) has created new moon for fasting, Eid, counting the special days of a woman and for the determination of various religious affairs.” Haafiz Ibn-e-Katheer has further explained that ” Hazrat Abdullah Bin Umar(r) has mentioned one Hadith in this respect that Prophet said “AllahU has created new moon for the mankind to determine the time, therefore, start fasting after sighting the moon and celebrate eid after sighting the moon and if the sky is cloudy then complete 30 days for fasting”. (Tafseer Ibn-e-Katheer 1:214)

Abdullah Bin Abbas(r) has explained this verse: ” People used to ask the Prophetr about the moon that sometimes it becomes bigger and sometimes smaller. What is the reason behind this? Answering to this Allah U sent the revelation: “O’Muhammad Say: It tells the people different times. That is, the moon is for decisions in religious affairs and for counting the special days for women.” (Tafseer Ibn-e-Abbas pp. 21)

2.          هوالذى جعل الشمس ضياء والقمر نورا وقدره منازل لتعلموا عددالسنين      والحساب . (يونس :5)                   

“He is the one who appointed the sun a splendour and the moon a light, and measured for her stages, that you might know the number of years, and the reckoning.  

                                                                            (Quran 36:5)

Shaikh-ul-Islam Ibn-e-Taimiyah explains this verse: “The count of months and years depend on the stages of moon and similarly some mathematical and other calculations also depend on moon, because we rely the calculations involved in  many events on the lunar month. That is why Allah U has declared moon as a tool for measuring time and specially the hajj time. The things which I have mentioned clearly state that the completion of months and years depend on moon and nothing else is the substitute of the moon, because the moon is in front of everybody and thus provides ease for everybody. Further, it provides a consensus which is free from any dispute.”

          3.                                 والقمر قدرناه منازل حتى عاد كالعرجون القديم (يس :20)

“And for the moon We have appointed  stages till she return like an old shrivelled palm-leaf.” (Quran 36:39)


Hazrat Shaikh-ul-Islam Allaamah Shabbir Ahmad Uthmani explains this verse: “Like sun, the moon does not remain in a fixed condition, instead, it grows bigger or reduce in size every day. Allah(SWT) has fixed 28 stages for the moon, which the moon covers according to a fixed system. The previous verses describe the days and nights, then came the description of the sun which helps growing the crops. Now we describe the moon which is responsible for determining the months. When the sun overshadows the moon at the end the month and thus the moon becomes invisible. After some time it becomes visible, and then grows bigger and bigger until the 14th night and then starts reducing, and at last it reaches the stage when it becomes thin and bent like an old palm-leaf.”

                                                                              Tafseer Usmani pp. 574)

Ahaadith Regarding Moon Sighting:

It seems reasonable now, that we should study some Ahaadith about sighting of the moon. There are several Ahaadith on this topic. Prophetr has mentioned about moon sighting in many different words. When I started looking into these Ahaadith, I found about 40 Ahaadith on this topic. Many companions of the Prophetrhave narrated Ahaadith regarding moon sighting. Among them are Umar Bin Khattaab, Abdullah Bin Umar, Abu Hurairah, Abdullah Bin Abbas, Aisha Siddiqah, Huzaifah, Talaq Bin Ali, Jabir Bin Abdullah, Bara’ Bin Aazib, Abu Bakarah Nufai’ Bin Haarith, Raafi’ Bin Khadeej, ‘Adi Bin Haatim  y .

Similarly almost every book of Hadith has narrated Ahaadith regarding moon sighting including Bukhari, Muslim, Al-Tirmazi, Ibn-e-Majja, Abu Dawood, Muattaa Malik, Musnad Ahmad Bin Hanbal, Sunan Al Baihaqi, Sahih Ibn-e-Khuzaimah, Sahih Ibn-e-Habbann, Majma-ul-Zawaaid, Sunan-al-Darqutni, Muattaa Muhammad, Musnad Abu Dawood Altiyaalisi.

Ahaadith regarding moonsighting:


Now I quote some Ahaadith so that we know the importance of moon sighting.

1.                                    عن ابن عمر أن رسول الله – صلى الله عليه وسلم – ذكر رمضان    

فقال : لا تصوموا حتى تروا الهلال ، ولا تفطروا حتىتروه فإن غم

 عليكم فاقدروا له . ( البخارى : 4/119 ،  و المؤطا :1/286)                  

Abdullah Bin Umar t narrates that the Prophet r said, “Do not start fasting until you see the moon and do not celebrate eid until you see the moon. If the sky is cloudy, complete 30 days of fasting.” (Bukhari 4:119, Muslim 1080)

2-                                                           عن أبى هريرة – رضى الله عنه – قال : ذكر رسول الله  – صلى الله عليه وسلم – الهلال فقال : إذا رأيتموه فصوموا و إذا رأيتموه فأفطروا فإن أغمى عليكم

فعدوا ثلاثين . (مسلم  : 1081 ، النسائى : 4/ 133 و ابن ماجه : 1688)

Abu Huraira t narrates that the prophet r said, “When you see the moon then start fasting and when you see the moon celebrate Eid. If it is cloudy then complete 30 days of fasting.

                           (Muslim 1081, Al-Nisai 4: 133, Ibn-e-Majja 1688)

3.              عن ابن عباس – رضى الله عنهما – عن النبى – صلى الله عليه وسلم – قال: صوموا لرؤيته وأفطروالرؤيته   فإن  حال بينكم وبينه سحاب أو ظلمة أو هبوة فأكملوا العدة …..                   

ولا تصلوا بيوم من شعبان .

 ( نسائى :4/153 ، البيهقى : 4/207 و صحيح ابن خزيمة : 3/204 )          

Abdullah Bin Abbas narrates that the Prophet r said, “Start fasting after seeing the moon and celebrate eid after seeing the moon. If clouds or darkness or dirt fall between you and the moon, then complete the count of 30 days. And do not fast one day earlier from Ramadan.

 (Al Baihaqi, 4:207, Ibn-e-Khuzaima 3:204, Musnad Ahmad 3:438, Al-Tirmadhi 688, Al-Nisai 4: 153)

4.             عن عائشة – رضى الله عنها – قالت : كان رسول الله – صلى الله  عليه وسلم – يتحفظ من هلال شعبان ما لا يتحفظ من غيره ، ثم يصوم لرؤية رمضان فإن غم عليه عد ثلاثين يوما ثم صام .    

 (مسند أحمد : 6/ 149 و أبو داود : 318)                                            

Aisha Siddiqah narrates what the Prophet r used to do by himself regarding the moon. She narrates, “Prophet r used to take extra care of Shaaban moon, that he never cared in any other month. After that, he used to start Ramadan fasting after sighting the moon. If the sky were cloudy he(s) used to complete 30 days of Shaaban, and then started fasting.   (Musnad Ahmad 6:149, Abu Dawood 318).


Imagine how much our Prophet cared about the Shaaban moon, but these days people pay no heed in this matter. Obviously if we mistake in Shaaban, automatically Ramadan will be mistaken and if we start fasting on the wrong day, we will celebrate eid on wrong day.

عن حذيفة – رضى الله عنه – قال: قال رسول الله – صلى الله عليه وسلم-:                    

 لا تقدموا هذا الشهر حتى تروا الهلال أو تكملوا العدة .                                          

( النسائى : 4/135 ، صحيح ابن خزيمة : 3/203 و صحيح ابن حبان :875)                  

Huzaifa t narrates that the Prophet r said, “Never postpone the month of Ramadan unless you see the moon or complete 30 days for Shaaban.”    (Abu Dawood 318, Al-Nisai 4:135, Sahih Ibn Khuzaimah 3:203, Sahih Ibn-e-Habbaan 875)


6-          عن عدى بن حاتم قال: قال رسول الله – صلى الله عليه وسلم – : إذا جاء رمضان فصم رمضان ثلاثين إلا أن ترى الهلال قبل ذلك . ( مجمع الزوائد : 3/146 )                        


Adi Bin Hatim t narrates that the Prophet r  said, “When you come across Ramadan, fast for 30 days or unless you see the moon (then fast for 29 days).”   Majma-ul-Zawaaed 3: 146)

As I mentioned earlier there are many Ahaadith regarding this matter but briefly the above Ahaadith show that the Prophet r repeatedly mentioned that firstly the fasting and the Eid should be based on moon sighting and secondly moon sighting is also a necessity for the commencement of lunar month.

Science and Shari‘ah:


 These days it propounded that since this is the age of science, we should take benefit of scientific research and Ijtihad. Moon sighting should not be necessary for the commencement of lunar month. The question is that to what extent we can have the permission of science while giving up shari‘ah and that can we call this practice as Ijtihad? Here two notions are advocated by others:

1. To follow science while giving up shari‘ah.

2. To consider recent research as Ijtihad. For the first claim that action should be taken on Scientific findings in place of Shari‘ah, no true researcher will permit it.  If any one does, he is not a researcher.  It is a ridiculous and absurd proposition.

Yes, the second point may be discussed as there is no contradiction between Islam and science.  If there is any, it is because of our own approach.  As a Muslim we should take the Shari‘ah and Science side by side but Shari‘ah should be assigned a primary position.  Many examples can be given but not possible to mention in this short treatise.  Let us have the most relevant example of Hilaal.  As the calendar is prepared not every month but once a year, if the moon’s visibility is possible from observatory findings on 29th of a month, we count that month of 29 days otherwise of 30 days in preparing the yearly calendar beforehand.  This is to follow scientific findings.  In addition to this, efforts are made to sight the moon every month.  If the moon becomes visible according to the calendar, we follow it otherwise the month is taken of 30 days in accordance with the rules of Shari‘ah.

The astronomical Criteria applied the sighting of the moon (Crescent) should only be used as a guide so as to eliminate the confusion as to when the new moon (Hilaal) is most likely to be seen at a particular geographical location. Total ignorance of the local astronomical data leads to chaotic situation specially at the commencement of each lunar month.

That is what exactly is the position the Islamic Calendar is in these days all over the world. It is a classical example of self-inflicted injury.

The question of accepting the evidence regarding the moonsighting does not arise at all when we know for sure that the new moon is not even born at the time of reported sighting of the new moon. By the way the new moon time also called Lunation or Conjunction time is an astronomical phenomenon which occurs as a monthly basis, which has absolutely nothing to do with the visibility of the Hilaal (Crescent). This topic is discussed in detail later in this article.

Some Important Terms:

It is important to know the terms related with the moon’s visibility through observatory and scientific findings in order to rely upon the witness from any other city or locality.  It may not be so, that some one informed the sighting of the moon and calculations proved that probability of visibility being out of question, even the Time-To-Moonset or New Moon Time did not occur.  It happened in Sydney that the persons shouting for science did not even think of having the data for the NEW MOON TIME for determining fasting and the two Eids.  Some times it happened that, even the time of moonset being before the time for the sunset, fasting and Eids were declared.  The irony is that the so-called admirers of science do not act upon the scientific findings. They do not really know what they are talking about.

Let us now understand the following terms:


1.     MOHAQUE – Time Unseen

2.     TAWLEED-E-QAMAR: New Moon (Conjunction)

3.     WAJUD-E-QAMAR: Moon-existence

4.     IMKAAN-E-ROOYAH: Probability of Moon-Sighting.

1.                 MUHAAQUE.  When the dark portion of the moon is in front of earth and the lit portion in front of the sun, this is the TIME UNSEEN (MUHAAQUE).  NEW MOON is the middle of the TIME UNSEEN.  There is about one day and night mohaque before new moon and one day and night muhaque after new moon.  Thus mohaque  is for two or three nights in total.

2.                 TAWLEED-E-QAMAR.  New Moon is termed as Meelaad-e-hilaal, Wilaadate-hilaal or Tawleed-e-Qamar in Arabic.  Allah U has fixed the courses of the moon referred to as قدّره منازل in the Holy Quran.  When the moon, after its course, comes exactly in front of the sun and the earth also comes in the same line, NEW MOON TIME commences.  (Note: It is to be clarified that there is no birth of the moon.  The word Tawleed is just a term used as a misnomer from the beginning.  Islam does not consider this tawleed or new moon time.  Islam refers to the moon sighting that occurs after an angular distance of 10-12o between the moon and the sun.

3.                 WAJOOD-E-QAMAR.  After the sunset that occurs after the NEW MOON, for some time how small it may be even for one minute, the moon remains on the horizon.  This existence of moon after sunset is called Wajood-e-Qamar (Moon-Existence).

Now the question arises!  Can the date be fixed by this MOON-EXISTENCE?  Some consider the very existence of moon sufficient whether it has become hilaal or not.  This idea is wrong rationally as well as traditionally.  As the moon of few minutes is not exactly between the sun and earth in line but a little highly offset, it sets after the sun having the black portion towards the earth and the lit one towards the sun.  Hence rationally such moon is not visible.  Even by seeing through telescope, only the black silhouette of the moon may be visible but not the moon- the Hilaal.  Traditionally Shari‘ah can not accept this moon as the condition is the visibility of Hilaal – the moon, not its silhouette.

4. IMKAN-E-RU’YAH.  There is a great difference between  WAJOOD-E-QAMAR and IMKAN-E-RU’YAH.  For WAJOOD-E-QAMAR the existence of moon on the horizon even for one minute after sunset is sufficient enough while for Probability of moonsighting, the moon should be at an average distance of 12o from the sun to be out of the lit rays of the sun to have its bright portion in front of us.  Hence if the horizon is clear, moon can be sighted by the eyes.  This is known as Probable Moonsighting Time.

The Basis of Islamic Calendar:


The Islamic Calendar should be based on the PROBABILITY OF MOONSIGHTING in order to avoid all the differences.  It is a matter of regret that the advocates of science, leaving aside the IMKAN-E-ROOYAH, make decisions on WAJUD-E-QAMAR and sometimes even on the NEW MOON, having the moonset before the sunset.  Both these decisions are wrong scientifically as no scientist of the world can confirm the visibility of the moon on MOON EXISTENCE or WAJUD-E-QAMAR.

Prof. Dr. Mohammad Ilyas visited Sydney last year.  During a talk, he stressed that there should be no differences if a calendar is prepared on the IMKAN-E-RUYAH.  He declared that the time difference between the moonset and the sunset i.e. the elongation should be minimum of 40 minutes for the visibility of the moon.

Science and Shariah both can agree on the IMKAN-E-RUYAH.  Problem arises when on one hand the scientific findings are not used and on the other hand, the persons acting on Shariah are considered outdated and backward.  Obviously in such a situation differences will arise and there will be three Eids for one.  Muslims will quarrel and the non-believers will make fun of the believers.  The sin will be accounted to the persons who spoil the fasting and Eid celebrations.

It is a sin to have Ramadan fasting in the month of Shaabaan and similarly it is a great sin to have Eid in the month of Ramadan.  Both these mistakes are because of leaving Shariah as well as not acting upon scientific findings.  What are the intentions of such people?

Science has nowadays made so much progress that there should not be any problem in preparing Islamic Calendar.  The present observatory not only tells us about the visibility of the moon on any date but provides the following details:

1) The birth of the moon 2) The moon setting 3) The sun-setting 4) The age of the moon 5)The period for the moon on horizon after sunset 6) The angular distance of the moon from the sun i.e. elongation 7) The altitude of the moon in degrees 8) Visibility of the moon by the people 9) The first place in the world for moon’s visibility 10) The size of the moon.

Conditions for the Possibility of Moon-sighting in Relation to Observatory:

There are two factors directly effective for moon-sighting.


1.                Elongation:


Elongation is the angular distance between the moon and the sun.  The limit bound for the moon to be away from the sun to be out of the rays of the sun is fixed differently by different persons.

a)                 One claims it to be 8o but observation nullifies it.

b) Some claim it to be 10o but most have the consensus on 12o.

It has been observed that the moon is out of the bounds of the sun after 12o.

The author of ‘Al-Tasreeh’ narrates:

‘When the moon is at 12’ from the sun, we can see the moon i.e. a shining portion of the moon.  It is called al-hilaal.’          (Al-Tasreeh, p.52)

The above quotation indicates that hilaal is not formed for an elongation less than 12o.

Thus the technical word hilaal is assigned to the shining portion of the moon that can be seen.  Following is in Sharah Chaghmini:

‘When moon is 12o away from the sun, we can see the edge of the moon and it is called hilaal.’

(Sharah Chaghmini, p. 90)

It is appropriate here to present the quotation from the book ‘Falakiyat-e-Jadeedah’ by the renown professor of Jamia Ashrafia , Maulana Moosa Roohani.  It is a good presentation:

“The findings of the old and modern astronomers are different in relation to the visibility of the first moon about the eastern angular distance between the sun and the moon.

1.    At the time of sunset, moon should be at least 10o away from the sun in east for the visibility.

2.    It should be 8o

3     The moon should be at such a distance from the sun in east that it remains shining at least for 40 minutes.

4.    The distance should be 12o

5.    The distance should be 12-13o.  The old or new scholars of astronomy agree 13o as the sufficient distance for the purpose of visibility.

Hence the 12o distance points out that in the end of month when the moon is 12o or less, it will vanish from sight till after surpassing the sun it travels 12 towards east away from the sun.  Thus the moon can be out of sight at least for 24 degrees: 12 degrees on one side and 12 degrees on the other side.

It should be known that moon travels 1o in two hours.  Hence there should be a period of 48 hours at the end of the month in which moon will not be visible – 24 hours on the west of the sun and 24 hours on the east of the sun.  Thus it is clear that the age of new moon should be at least 24 hours.   For version No. 1 (10o) and version No. 2 (8o) the age of the moon will be 20 and 16 hours respectively and the non-visible period of the moon will be 40 and 32 hours respectively.”



The above quotation has made it clear that the elongation of 12o is essential for the visibility of the moon.  Ten degrees may be considered provided the age of moon is adequate but eight degree is extremely rare.  The second important term is the altitude on which the visibility depends.

2.               Altitude:


     (The Elevation of Moon from the Earth)

It is an important measurement.  At the time of sunset the moon should be at least 5o  higher than the sighting place for the visibility of the moon.  If the altitude is not at least 5o, even the elongation of 20o will not enable the visibility of the moon.  Only when the moon is of many days and wide enough, then the moon can be visible only even at an altitude of 3o.

The tragedy is that the persons who advocate the advancement of science to make decisions about the moon by calendar much earlier, do not properly use scientific principles.  Their decisions depict that neither elongation nor altitude is taken into consideration.  Sometimes the sighting is approved for an altitude of 1 or 2o, even sometime at minus altitude i.e. before the sunset.  Such decisions neither follow science nor Shariah.  What they follow are their whims.  Here the purpose is not to criticize others but to draw attention towards agreeing on the principles of science and shariah.

Some days ago I had a talk with the Curator of Sydney Observatory Dr. Nick Lomb on this topic.  He also agreed that the visibility is never possible on the day of NEW MOON or with minus or 2-4 degrees altitude of the moon.  Moon can be visible one or two days after the NEW MOON when the difference between sunset and moonset is at least 47 minutes.

In the Sydney Sky Guide, 1997,  Dr Nick Lomb has  introduced the topic ‘The Visibility of the Moon’ on page 28.  He published this section so that Muslims do not quarrel and observe fasting and the two Eids unanimously.

 Following is the most relevant excerpt of this section from page 28.

“At new moon we do not see the moon at all. It is then in the same direction as the sun and so the lit side is away from us.  A day or two after the new moon we start seeing a small part of the lit side as a thin crescent.


The first visibility of the crescent is sometimes of interest for religious or other reason.  It can be seen low in the west after sunset one or two days after new moon.  A Malaysian astronomer has worked out a good rule of thumb to estimate whether the crescent will be visible on a particular evening or not. At Sydney’s latitude the time lag between sunset and moonset is at least 47 minutes.”

After the above quotation the position of science is very clear.  I have observed for the last four years after my arrival in Sydney that the decision-makers declared fasting and the two eids before sighting the moon without observing the scientific principles.

Following is the report for previous years and prediction for 1997.

YEAR  1993


1.                 Ramadan was commenced on 23-2-93 in 1993 which required the moonsighting for the evening of 22-2-93.  Following is the scientific data for the moon on that evening.

NEW MOON TIME                   12:05AM

SUNSET TIME                             07:40PM


SUNSET                        19 HR 35 MIN

MOONSET TIME                   07:40PM


SUNSET & MOONSET                   NIL

Kindly think how correct it was to decide for commencing Ramadan on 23-2-93 while there was no time difference between sunset and moonset on 22-2-93.  No scientist can agree that the moon was visible on that evening when there is no time difference between the sunset and moonset.

2.                 Eid-ul-Fitr was celebrated on 25-3-93.  Let us go through the data about the moon .  Following are the data for the moon on 23-3-93.

NEW MOON TIME                   05:14PM

SUNSET TIME                             06:03PM


SUNSET TIME                             49 MIN

MOONSET TIME                   05:40PM


& MOONSET                    MINUS(-)23 MINUTES

The data of the moon on the evening of 24-3-93 should determine the celebration of Eid-ul-Fitr on 25-3-93.  It is given below.

SUNSET TIME                             06:02PM


SUNSET                        24 HR 48 MIN

MOONSET TIME                             06:09PM


SUNSET & MOONSET                   07 MIN

The age of the moon on 24-3-93 was enough but the elongation was of 07 minutes equivalent to less than 2’.  There should be at least 10-12’ elongation for the visibility of the moon.

We celebrated Eid on 26-3-93 which was correct both from scientific point of view as well as Shariah.  It was scientific as the age of the moon on the evening of 25-3-93 was 48 hours and 46 minutes.  The time difference between sunset and moonset was 41 minutes.

3.                 Eid-ul-Adha was celebrated on 1-6-93.  Following are the data for the moon on the evening of 22-5-93 (11 days before).

NEW MOON TIME                   12.07AM

SUNSET TIME                   O4:58PM


SUNSET TIME                   16 HR 51 MIN

MOONSET TIME                   05:24PM


 & MOONSET                    26 MINUTES

The age of the moon was much less as well as the time difference between sunset and moonset was 26 minutes much less than 40 minutes.  I made phone contacts on that night throughout Australia but no one sighted the moon on that night. We declared Eid-ul-Adha for 2-6-93 as the correct one from both scientifically and Sharaiah point of view.

YEAR 1995

4.                 Ramadan was commenced on 1-2-95.  Following are the data for the moon on 31-1-95.

NEW MOON TIME           09:48AM

SUNSET TIME                                08:02PM


SUNSET TIME                               10 HR 14 MIN

MOONSET TIME           07:54PM


& MOONSET                                   MINUS(-) 08 MINUTES

See the climax of ignorance!  Ramadan was commenced when the moon set before the sunset.  Islamic Association Western suburbs Sydney commenced Ramadan on 2-2-95 again correct according the Shari‘ah as well as science.  The age of the moon was 34 hours and 13 minutes and the difference between sunset and moonset was 32 minutes.  The moon was seen at many places in Australia.

5.                 Eid-ul-Fitr was celebrated on 3-3-95.

 Following are the data the moon on the evening of 1-3-95.


SUNSET TIME                             07:33PM


SUNSET TIME                             MINUS(-) 03 HR

                                       15 MIN

MOONSET TIME          07:05PM


& MOONSET                    MINUS(-) 28 MIN

Most of the persons celebrated on 3-3-95.  For this the visibility of moon on the evening of 2-3-95 is required.

Following are the data for the moon on the evening of 2-3-95.


SUNSET TIME                          07:31PM


SUNSET TIME           20 HR 43 MIN

MOONSET TIME           07:40 PM


& MOONSET                               09 MIN

The time difference between sunset and moon set is 09 minutes for which it is absurd to sight the moon on that evening.  We declared Eid on 4-3-95.  From Shariah point of view we completed 30 days fasting and from scientific point of view the age of the moon on the evening of 3-3-95 was 44 hours and 42 minutes with elongation of 44 minutes.

6.                 Eid ul Adha was celebrated on 10-5-95 when the age of moon on 30-4-95 (11 days before) was 13 hours and 40 minutes and the elongation was of 19 minutes only.  These dates refute the sighting of the moon on that evening IAWSS declared 11-5-95 for the celebration of Eid ul Adha the age of the moon being 37 hours and 39 minutes and the elongation was of one hour and one minute on the evening of 10-5-95.

YEAR 1996


7.                 Ramadan was commenced on 22-1-96 while the age of the moon was 20 hours and 17 minutes and the elongation was of 17 minutes on the evening of 21-1-96.  There was no question of sighting the moon on that evening.  Some persons commenced Ramadan on 21-1-96 when the age of the moon was minus 3 hours and 42 minutes and the elongation was minus 34 minutes.  Which science such person followed?

We commenced Ramadan on 23-1-96 very correctly.

8.                 Eid-ul-Fitr was celebrated on 20-2-96 when the age of the moon was only 9 hours and 15 minutes and the moonset was also 5 minutes before sunset on the evening of 19-2-96.  IAWSS declared Eid on 21-2-96.  The moon was sighted at different places and the age of the moon was 33 hours and 13 minutes and the difference between moonset and sunset was 37 minutes.

9.                 Eid ul Adha was celebrated on 28-4-96 for which it was necessary to sight the moon on the evening of 18-4-96.  The age of the moon was only 8 hours and 40 minutes and the time difference between moonset and sunset was only 14 minutes on that evening which make the sighting of the moon impossible IAWSS declared Eid on 29-4-96 very correctly.

YEAR 1997(future)


As the calendar can not be ,made every month, it is quite wise to prepare annual calendar beforehand.  The very basis of preparing Islamic Calendar should be the principle of IMKAN-E-RUYAH to avoid any clashes with Shari‘ah.

10.             Let us plan for the commencement of Ramadan.  Let us check the possibility of sighting the moon on 9 January 97 to commence Ramadan on 10 January 97.  Following are the data for the moon on the evening of 9-1-97.

NEW MOON TIME           03:26PM

SUNSET TIME                              08:10PM


SUNSET TIME           4 HR 44 MIN

MOONSET TIME           7:57PM


& MOONSET                                                MINUS(-)13 MINUTES

The age of the moon is only 4 hours and 44 minutes and the moon is setting 13 minutes before the sun.  How is it possible to commence the fasting on 10-1-97 even scientifically.

Let us now check for the commencing of Ramadan on 11 January 1997.  Following are the data of the moon on the evening of 10 January 1997:

SUNSET TIME                                   8:10 PM


AT SUNSET                                       28 HR 44 MIN

MOONSET TIME                               8:49PM


SUNSET & MOONSET                       39 MIN

We also prepared the calendar for 1997 according to which after consulting the data from the observatory, Ramadan is commencing on 11-1-97.

11.             Eid-ul-Fitr is proposed to be celebrated on 9 February 97, according to some calendars.  Following are the data of the moon on the evening of 8 February 97.

NEW MOON TIME                         02:06PM

SUNSET TIME                              07:55PM


SUNSET TIME                               17 HR 49 MIN

MOONSET TIME            8:11 PM


& MOONSET                                  16 MIN

There is only difference of 16 minutes between sunset and moonset which will never allow the visibility of the moon on the evening of the 8 February.  We have indicated 10 February for Eid ul Fitr celebrations based on scientific calculations  but this is not final.  If the moon is sighted on 8 February anywhere in Australia we should celebrate Eid on 9th because of the Shari‘ah’s order.  The possibility is least.

Kindly look into the whole record presented above and decide yourself how right we have been.  Our job is not to criticize others but to point out truth from Islamic point of view.  The purpose is to inform the facts to the Muslim Community so that every person decides himself or herself by ascertaining the correct situation.

The Myth of Muslim Unity and Its Clarification:

The argument is presented: The sighting of the moon is sunnah and the Muslim Unity is Fard.  Hence for the sake of unification, even if we have to keep fast on wrong day, we should carry on.  Even if we have to celebrate Eid on fasting day, we should do it for the sake of Muslim Unity.  It looks very attractive and very catching slogans but we have to search for some verse from the Quran or  some hadith of the Prophet r which directs us to leave aside the obvious command of the Prophet ror Allah U for the sake of Muslim Unity.  If it would have been so, the problem would have been solved by accepting the myth of Muslim Unity.

But the fact is just the opposite.  Allah U says in the Quran:

واعتصموا بحبل الله جميعا و لا تفرقوا (آل عمران : 103)                                      


‘And hold fast the Rope of Allah(SWT) all together and don’t       bifurcate.’ (Quran,3:103)

In this verse the differences and grouping have been forbidden but not by throwing the Shari‘ah away but by confining in the domain of Shariah.  The Quran claims that the differences will crop up by abandoning Shari‘ah.  Allah U says:

يآ أيها الذين آمنوا أطيعوا الله و أطيعوا الرسول و أولى الأمر منكم فإن تنازعتم فى شئ فردوه إلى الله والرسول إن كنتم تؤمنون بالله واليوم الآخر “. (النساء : 59)

‘O ye who believe! Obey Allah(SWT), and obey the messenger and then of you who are in authority; and if ye have a dispute concerning any matter, refer it to Allah(SWT) and the messenger if ye are (in truth) believers in Allah(SWT) and the Last Day.  That is better and more seemly in the end.          (Quran, 4:59) 

This verse clearly directs that the unity can be attained, not by leaving the Shari‘ah, but by following the Shari‘ah.

There are many Ahaadith that point out that there is no subjugation by disobeying Shari‘ah The Prophet r says:

                                        لا طاعة لمخلوق فى معصية الخالق

“No obedience to any creature for the disobedience of the Creator.”

Any unity which is allowed by abandoning Shariah is a deception and not the unity.  Shariah does not allow this.

It is said that how the majority of Muslims are wrong and the minority is on the right track.  It is imperative to follow each aspect of Islam to be on the truth.  The Prophet r says:

                        لا تزال طائفة من أمتى يقاتلون على الحق (مسلم : 878)

“There will always be a group of my ummah who will be on the truth and will fight for the Truth.”( Muslim : 787)

The Prophet r has not mentioned that the majority will be on the right path but just one group (may be minority.)

By proper study of the verses of the Quran and the Ahaadith of the Prophet r it will be quite obvious that the consensus of the knowledgeable persons is required in particular that of the followers of the Sunnah.

Difference of Horizons:


How strange it is that our brothers who are advocates of science do not attach importance to the difference of Horizons.  Whence moon is sighted at any place they consider as if the moon is visible everywhere  in the world.  Time is not the same for the whole world.  When we are praying Zuhr in Australia, people in Saudi Arabia will be praying Fajr.  We cannot perform Fajr prayers at Zuhr time by following Makkah Mukarramah’s timing as the center of the Muslim world.  No Mufti in the world will agree to it.  There is a unanimous decree by Ulema that people should offer prayers according to their local timings.  The same principle should be extended for Ramamdan and the two Eids.  When the moon is sighted according to the local time,  the fasting be commenced and the two Eids should be performed.

The Grand Mufti of the Saudi Arabia Kingdom Sheikh Abdul Aziz bin Baaz has explicitly mentioned in one of his essays that the horizon of the whole world can never be one and therefore it is not correct to consider Makkah Mukarramah as the center for the whole world for the visibility of the moon.  He says:

 “The issue of the Horizon Difference in relation to the visibility of the moon is controversial among some scholars. In a meeting of the scholars of  Darul Ifta after a long discussion it was passed with a big majority that the local visibility, because of the horizon’s differences, should be adopted.”

At the end of his essay the Mufti writes:

“Some persons think that the decision about fasting and the two Eids should be taken by considering the visibility of the moon at Makkah Mukarramah as the basis.  There is no base and no argument for this in the Holy Shari‘ah.”

(Al Baathul Islami, ZulHijjah 1399AH)

Allamah Muhiyy-ul-Din Nawaiwi writes:

“This is the correct view of our scholars that the visibility of the moon at one place is not meant for all the Muslims in the world.  It will be implemented only to the extent of the area up to which the prayer is not to be shortened (Qasr).”

(Muslim with Sharah Nawawi, 1/348)

Allamah Ibn Rushd Andulusi writes:

“All fuqahaa’ are unanimous that the moonsighting verdict for one city will not be applied to another far distant city, for example Hijaz (Saudi Arabia) and Andulusia (Spain): the sighting for one will not be applied for another.”

(Bidaayatul Mujtahid: 1/278)

To cut short, for setting the issue of the local visibility of the moon, it is quite satisfactory to go through the following event that took place in the time of the companions of the Prophet r.  This event has been narrated by Imam Muslim in Sahih Muslim Shareef. The narrator is Kuraibt

 “I was sent by Ummul Fazal to Syria to Muaawiyah t for accomplishing her task.  I was there that the moon for Ramadan was sighted.  I myself saw the moon in the evening of Friday.  Then at the end of Ramadan I came back to Madinah Munawarrah.  Abdullah bin Abbas  inquired about the sighting of the moon there in Syria.  I informed that the moon was sighted on Friday night.  Ibn Abbas then asked: Did you yourself see the moon on Friday night? I replied, “Yes and many besides me sighted the moon and they all commenced the fasting.  Muaawiyah t also commenced fasting.  Then Ibn Abbas said But we sighted the moon on Saturday night and therefore we will keep on fasting till thirty days are completed or we see the moon.  I said, “Don’t you think the sighting of Muaawiyah t is sufficient for your fasting.  Ibn Abbas replied, “No. The Prophet r has ordered such as we are doing.”

(Muslim 1/348)

May Allah U grant us the full comprehension of Islam and enable us to follow the Blessed Sunnah of the Prophet r correctly.

Wa Aakhiro Daawaanaa anil hamdu lillahi Rabbil Aalameen.


1.     Abu Dawood by Sulaiman bin Asha’th (-275AH)

2.     Bidaayatul Mujtahid by Ibn Rushd Andulusi (-595)

3.     Bukhari by Muhammad bin Ismail (-256AH)

4.     Fath ul Bari by Hafiz Ibn Hajr Asqalani(-856AH)

5.     Fulkiyat-e-Jadeedah by Maulana Musa Roohani

6.     Hujjatul lahil Balighah by Shah Wali Ullah(-1175AH)

7.     Majma-ul-Zawaaid by Ali bin Abi Bakr al Haishmi (-807AH)

8.     Musnad Ahmad by Imam Ahmad bin Hanbal(-241)

9.     Muattaa Imam Malik by Imam Malik bin Anas(-179Ah)

10. Muslim by Muslim bin Al Hajjaj al Qishyari (-261)

11. Risaalah Ru’yat-e- hilaal by Mufti Aazam Pakistan Muhammad Shafi(-1396AH)

12. Ruyat ul hilaal wal Hisaabil Falaki by Sheikhul Islam Ibn Taymiyah(-728AH)

13. Sahih Ibn Habbaan by Muhammad bin Habbaan al Basti (-354AH)

14. Sahih Ibn Khuzaimah by Muhammad bin Ishaq bin Khuazimah (-311AH)

15. Sharh Chaghmini by Mahmoud Muhammad Chaghmini(-1270AH)

16. Al Sunan Al Baihaiqi by Ahmad bin Hussain al Baihaqi(-458AH)

17. Sunan Ibn Majah by Muhd bin Yazid.

18. Sunan Al Nisai by Ahmad bin Shoaib Al-Nisai.

19. Sydney Sky Guide by Dr Nick Lomb.

20. Tafseer Ibn Abbaas by Muhammad Bin Yaqoob Shirazi(-817AH)

21. Tafseer Ibn Kathir by Hafiz Ibn Katthir (774AH)

22. Tafseer Uthmani by Allamah Shabbir Ahmad Usmani (1369AH)

23. Tirmizi by Mohammad bin Eisaa Tirmizi(-279AH)