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Let’s not allow moonsighting to strain family relationships

moonsightingBy Muneeb Nasir

(August 20, 2009) – Starting Ramadan on the same day in North America is no longer just a community issue but it has percolated down to become a family one.

Many extended families are finding themselves in a most difficult position where family members are starting and ending the month of Ramadan on separate days because they attend different Islamic centers or subscribe to different views.

This is a pitiful state for a religious community to be in, especially one that values relationships so highly.

Indeed, it is a crisis of authority at all levels – from leaders to followers.

Will Muslims be able to start and end the month of Ramadan on one day in North America?

Occasionally, but it would not be by consensus any time soon.

It would only be as a result of circumstance – that is, if the moons align properly it may happen once in a while.

So improving this most difficult situation should be the objective of leaders and followers alike and new approaches are required.

The issue needs to be framed properly.

It is no longer about the validity of various theological positions but it is about authority in the Muslim community.

Firstly, deciding when to begin and end Ramadan and celebrate Eid is not an individual decision and any credible Imam or leader should be teaching his followers the importance of being with the congregation (jamaat).

Secondly, deciding when to begin and end Ramadan and celebrate Eid is not an individual Mosque’s decision but a community one and any Imam or leader should know this and support one of the North American bodies that have credible scholars who give Islamic rulings.

Thirdly, it is important that decisions of this sort be made in North America and not by bodies or individual scholars outside of this community and as such, however right those Imams and Mosques believe they are to follow Middle Eastern rulings, they must know that we are living here and this is our home, and working towards unifying our local community is one of their most important priorities.

Finally, keeping families together is more important than the finer legal points.

Let us all agree, followers and leaders alike, that both the Fiqh Council of North America and the Hilal Committees are both credible bodies in North America with qualified scholars who are doing their best and we should not spend our time trying to find out who is more right.

And let families come to a consensus before the major Islamic events that they will not allow themselves to be divided at these most important times of the year.

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  • Josee

    Why could we not, one year follow Saudi Arabia and the other year follow the canadian moon sighting? I think it’s more important that families are not divided depending on which mosque they go to.
    Let’s face it, the major challenge of this centery is to find a way to bring everyone together. If the Muslims can’t do it, who can?


  • Mara

    Shouldn’t we be looking at the Quran for the answer / guidance on this?

  • Roshanali Lakhani

    I agree with you.

    The Fiqh Council of Canada’s decision to follow according to scientific calculation is absolutely right as we all know the correct time of Crescent’s birth- therefore we can’t go wrong and whole Muslim Ummah here in North America (Canada)should start/end Ramadan together.However, Hilal Commitee’s decision to follow moonsighting method (seeing crescent in Canada in most of the time – specially in winter months is not possible and people wait and wait to get the news depending crescent sighting in Califirnia –is not right.

    To follow Saudi Arabia’s times is altogether wrong because we perform all our daily Salats throughout the year according to local times! So we should all follow as per sunrise/sunset times locally viseversa new moon birht-(crescent.)

  • hasan farooq

    plain and simple ” follow the quran” and u’ll get ur answer. makes me sick that for the last 16 years or so i have only been able to see muslims in canada celebrate eid on a same day just once…yes just once…we need to unite locally b4 we unite globally.(this is for those who follow the middle east for eid)
    salam and ramadan mubarak.

  • Muhammad

    As Salaamu Alaikum wa Rahmatullahi wa Barakatuhu,

    I think there is a big misconception about the “3rd opinion” or as some like to call it, “following Saudi” or “following the middle east”.
    That opinion is based on the hadith, that if someone sights the moon (he must be a credible person) then fast. I really do believe it’s that simple. In Rasool Allah Sal Allahu Alaihi wa Sallam’s time, if someone saw the moon they fasted. Once, he, Sal Allahu Alaihi wa Sallam, sent out several companions in order to sight the moon. Only one came back (abdullah ibn ‘umar radiAllahu anhu) having sighted the moon. So what did they do? They fasted. He didn’t ask him how far did you go, or how come the others didn’t see it. This is the prophetic tradition, plain and simple.
    Should there be a council? should there be a geographic boundary? – why when it’s so simple. If we want to complicate things then we will always be faced with similar dilemma’s with some affecting our progress and unity.
    With the advent of both rationalization and science (including geograpihc boundaries) into the deen, our problems will only increase. Surely the sweet simplicity of the sunnah should be sought in all matters.