Some Rules Regarding Sighting of the Moon

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[From Beheshti Zewar]

1. The moon of Ramadaan was not sighted because of clouds or some dust in the sky. However, a religious-minded, pious and honest person gives testimony that he has sighted the moon. The sighting of the moon will thus be established irrespective of whether the person is a male or a female.

2. If the moon of Eid is not sighted because of clouds, the testimony of one person will not be acceptable irrespective of how reliable a person he may be. Instead, the sighting of the moon will only be established if two reliable, pious men or one reliable, pious man and two reliable, pious women give testimony that they have sighted the moon. If four women alone give testimony, it will not be acceptable.

3. The person who does not follow the requirements of the Deen and continues committing sinful acts, e.g. he does not offer salaat, does not keep fasts, is in the habit of speaking lies or commits some other sin and does not confine himself to the dictates of the Shariah; his testimony cannot be relied upon according to the Shariah. This is irrespective of the number of oaths he may take in order to give credence to what he is saying. In fact, if there are several people like him, even then their testimony will not be acceptable.

4. This notion which has become popular among the masses that the day on which the 4th of Rajab falls, on that same day the 1st of Ramadaan will fall has no validity in the Shariah. If the moon is not sighted, fast should not be kept.

5. Upon seeing the moon, one should not say that the moon appears to be very big and that it appears to be the second moon. This is an evil habit. It is mentioned in a Hadith that this is a sign of qiyaamah. When qiyaamah will draw near, people will talk in this manner. In short, do not even rely on the size of the moon as to whether it is big or small. Nor should you rely on the Hindus who say that today is dooj (the second day of the lunar fortnight) and that the moon will definitely be sighted today. In the Shariah, all this is regarded as nonsense.

6. If the skies are absolutely clear, even the testimony of several persons will not be acceptable and the sighting of the moon cannot be established. This is irrespective of whether it is the moon of Ramadaan or the moon of Eid. However, if a very large number of people give their testimony that they have sighted the moon to such an extent that the heart feels that such a large number of people cannot be lying and that it is impossible for them to be concocting a story, then only will the sighting of the moon be established.

7. A rumour has spread in the entire city that the moon had been sighted yesterday and that many people had seen it. However, after making many enquiries, not a single person could be found who had actually sighted the moon. Such a rumour cannot be acceptable.

8. A person sighted the moon of Ramadaan. Apart from him, no one else in the entire city sighted the moon. Furthermore, this person does not follow the dictates of the Shariah. The residents of the city should not fast and cannot rely on this person’s testimony. However, this person will have to fast. And if he fasts for the full thirty days and the moon of Eid has not been sighted as yet, he will have to keep one additional fast and celebrate Eid with the rest of the residents of the city.

9. A person sighted the moon of Eid alone and the Shariah did not accept his testimony. This person cannot celebrate Eid as well. He must fast the following day and should not rely on his sighting of the moon. Nor should he break his fast.

[More rules from another section]

1. If the moon of Ramadaan is sighted on the 29th of Sha’baan, commence fasting the following morning. However, if it is not sighted or cannot be sighted because of clouds, do not fast the next morning as long as there is a doubt as to whether Ramadaan has commenced or not. Instead, complete the 30 days of Sha’baan and thereafter commence the fasts of Ramadaan.

2. Because of clouds, the moon was not sighted on the 29th of Sha’baan. Do not even keep a nafl fast the following day. However, if a person is in the habit of fasting on Mondays and Thursdays or any other specific day, and coincidentally that day falls on the 29th, then in such a case it will be preferable to keep this fast. Thereafter, if he receives the news of the sighting of the moon on the 29th, the fast of Ramadaan will be fulfilled with that very nafl fast. He does not have to make qada of it.

3. Because of clouds, the moon was not sighted on the 29th of Sha’baan. Do not eat or drink anything the following day until an hour before mid-day. If news of the sighting of the moon is received from somewhere, make the intention of fasting. If no news is received, one can commence eating and drinking.

4. The moon was not sighted on the 29th. Do not think that since tomorrow is not Ramadaan, let me keep my qada fast of the previous year, or let me keep the fast that I had vowed to keep. On such a day, it is also makruh to keep the qada, kaffarah, and nazr (vowed) fasts. No fast should be kept on that day. If a person keeps the qada or nazr fast, and later he receives the news of the sighting of the moon; even then the fast of Ramadaan will be considered. He will have to repeat the qada or nazr fast. If he does not receive any news of the sighting of the moon, the fast will be valid for whatever reason he had kept it (i.e. whether it be a qada or a nazr fast).

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