Ramadan’s New Moon and Unity
Here, we’d like to state that Muslims should strive and do their best to achieve their unity in all aspects, not only in the beginning and end of Ramadan and celebrating the `Eids. It is against the spirit of Islam to see Muslims in the same country divided in their rituals and their Islamic dates and events. The Islamic spirit is against division and disunity.
Muslim scholars have differed regarding the following issue: if the new moon is sighted in one region or country, ought the people of other regions to follow this sighting or follow their own sighting? The preferable view is that Muslims in other regions and countries are to follow this sighting as long as these countries share one part of the night.
However, if this unity cannot be achieved nowadays, then Muslims in each country must be united and start fasting on the same day. The dilemma of Muslims in the West, for example, is that they are divided between their locality and their countries of origin. Some are inclined to follow their countries of origin or major Muslim centers like Saudi Arabia. This, in fact, causes division among Muslims living in the West and they fail to achieve the least level of unity regarding their Islamic dates and events. Moreover, this causes Muslims problems with the authorities in these countries and deprives them from some of their rights. For instance, Muslims cannot demand the day of `Eid as a day off if they do not agree on a certain day.
In this regard, the eminent Muslim scholar, Sheikh Yusuf Al-Qaradawi, states:
We should be keen and strive to achieve the unity of Muslims regarding the beginning and end of fasting and all other rituals. We should not lose hope in achieving this goal or removing the obstacles in its way.
However, it is to be stressed that anyhow if we fail to achieve the unity of the whole Muslim nation, we should at least be keen to achieve the unity of Muslims in each country. It is not acceptable at all that Muslims of the one country or city be divided among themselves and differ regarding the beginning of the fast so that some of them start fasting on one day while the others do not observe the fast on that day.
It is agreed upon that the decision of the ruler or the people in authority and charge of Muslims affairs lifts the differences in disputable matters. Therefore, if the authority in charge of ascertaining the sighting of the moon in a given country (such as Dar al-Iftaa [House of Fatwa], Supreme Court, or Presidency of Religious Affairs) announces the sighting of the new moon, then Muslims in such region should follow its decisions, as it is obedience in goodness even if the decision differs with other countries.
In light of the above mentioned facts, Muslims are to achieve unity among themselves. They are to follow their own recognized authorities in order to achieve this goal. It is also the duty of Muslim organizations to reach an agreement on this issue in order not to cause disunity and division among Muslims.
As for relying on astronomical calculations, the fatwa issued by the European Council for Fatwa and Research, states:
“Astronomical calculations are to be concerned on condition that they do not contradict the possibility of sighting in any country. If these calculations rule out the possibility of sighting, however, the sightings of individuals are rejected and refused as they may have occurred out of mistake, imagination and even a false and untrue claim.
The Council affirms that astronomical calculations are different from astrology. We mean by astronomical calculations the fruits of modern science of astronomy which is built upon sound arithmetic and scientific bases which has advanced enormously and helped man to reach the moon and other planets.”