It is no wonder that Muslims all over the world are yearning to see the new moon of Ramadan in order to commence the fasting of the blessed month. Muslims are required to demonstrate remarkable unity, and they should try to unify themselves as regards such occasions.

First of all, we’d like to state that Muslims should strive to do their best to achieve their unity in all aspects, not only in the beginning and end of Ramadan as well as in celebrating the `Eid. It is against the spirit of Islam for Muslims in the same country to be divided in their rituals and their Islamic dates and events. The Islamic spirit is against division and disunity. That is why Muslims are not allowed to hold two congregational Prayers in one mosque at the same time.

Every year, differences appear here and there regarding the sighting of the new moon of Ramadan. This is due to different sightings and different opinions. What we want to stress here is that there should be more unity, and this unity can be achieved by making collective decisions by the representatives of the Ummah in each region and not by individuals acting arbitrarily on their own.

Dr. Sano Koutoub Moustapha, professor of fiqh and its principles states the following regarding this matter:

Indeed, it is disheartening to observe that the Muslim countries and communities around the globe will surely be fasting on different days. Thus, each country or community has its own way to determine the beginning and end of Ramadan.

Furthermore, my opinion is that there is no compulsion or obligation that Muslims must fast on the same day if they are living in different countries. In other words, it shouldn’t be considered as a disunity when Muslim countries and communities fast on different days as this had  happened  in the first century of Hijrah. The hadith of Kuraib is well known on this. He reported that Umm Fadl, daughter of Harith, sent him (her son Fadl) to Mu`awiyah in Syria. I (Fadl) arrived in Syria and did the needful for her. It was there in Syria that the month of Ramadan commenced. I saw the new moon (of Ramadan) on Friday. I then came back to Madinah at the end of the month. `Abdullah ibn `Abbasm (may Allah be pleased with him) asked me (about the new moon of Ramadan) and said, ‘‘When did you see it?’’ I said, ‘‘We saw it on the night of Friday.’’ He said, ‘‘(Did) you see it yourself?’’ I said, ‘‘Yes, and the people also saw it and they observed fast and Mu`awiyah also observed fast.’’ Whereupon he said, ‘‘But we saw it on Saturday night. So we would continue to observe fast till we complete thirty (fasts) or we see it (the new moon of Shawwal).’’ I said, ‘‘Is the sighting of the moon by Mu`awiyah not valid for you?’’ He said, ‘‘No, this is how the Messenger of Allah (peace and blessings be upon him) has commanded us’’ (Muslim).

Yet, it is forbidden and prohibited for Muslims living in the same country or community to fast or end their fast on different days. For example, the Muslims in the United Kingdom must fast the same day, they must refer to the leadership of Muslims in the United Kingdom , not the leadership of Muslims in any other country. They don’t need to refer to Muslims in Nigeria, Saudi Arabia, Pakistan, or India , or anywhere else. Thus, they have to follow the instruction and the method adopted by the Islamic leadership in their community. Likewise the Muslims in Saudi Arabia must follow the instruction of the Islamic leadership in the country.

All in all, it is forbidden to bypass the instruction of leadership in the country or community. The unity is an obligation behind the leadership regardless of its shortcomings.