Celebrations In Islaam
Establishing Islamic Dates

New Crescents Determine the Islaamic Dates
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Allaah (SWT) has set crescent sighting as the only means for establishing dates of various Islaamic occasions such as `Eeds and Hajj. He says:

They ask you [Muhammad] concerning the crescents. Say: They are but signs to mark fixed periods of time for men and for Hajj.1

The Count Of A Month
`Aa'ishah, Anas, Ibn `Abbaas, Ibn `Umar, Jaabir, and Umm Salamah (radiAllahu `anhum) reported that the Messenger saws said:
A month can be twenty nine days.2

     Abu Hurayrah (radiAllahu `anhu) reported that the Prophet saws said:
A month can be twenty nine days; and it can be thirty days. So, fast when you see the crescent; and break your fast when you see it. If it is obscure to you, then complete the count of thirty days.3

The Obligation To Sight The Crescent
The Messenger saws emphasized that crescent sighting is required in determining the beginning and end of the month of Ramadaan. A large number of sahaabah (radiAllahu `anhum) reported that the Prophet saws said:
Fast (Muslims) when you see the crescent; if it is obscure to you, then complete thirty days in the count of Sha`baan. And break your fast when you see the crescent; if it is obscure to you, then fast thirty days.4

     Furthermore, the Prophet saws forbade starting or ending the month without the required sighting. Ibn `Abbaas and Ibn `Umar (radiAllahu `anhum) reported that he saws mentioned Ramadaan and said:
Do not fast until you see the crescent; and do not break your fast until you see it again. If the crescent is obscure to you then count thirty days.5

The Crescent Of Sha`baan
The Prophet saws took great care to precisely determine the beginning of Sha`baan, because one can then count twenty nine days and watch for the crescent of Ramadaan, or complete thirty days before beginning the fast. `Aa'ishah (R) said:
"The Messenger saws was more concerned about (determining the beginning of) Sha`baan than other months. He would then fast at the sighting of (the crescent of) Ramadaan. If it were obscure, he would count thirty days (of Sha`baan) and then fast."6

     Abu Hurayrah (radiAllahu `anhu) reported that the Messenger saws said:
Start counting for Ramadaan from the crescent of Sha`baan.7

Witnesses Needed To Establish The Sighting
The `ulamaa' agree that two trustworthy Muslim witnesses are sufficient to establish a crescent sighting. This is based on a report by `Abd ur-Rahmaan bin Zayd bin Al-Khattaab that a number of the sahaabah (radiAllahu `anhum) told him that Allaah's Messenger saws said:
Fast when you see it; break your fast when you see it; and keep the day count for sighting. If it is obscure to you then complete thirty (days). And if two just Muslim witnesses testify (that they saw it) then fast or break your fast.8

     Many `ulamaa' further believe that only one trustworthy person's testimony is necessary for determining the beginning of the month. The basis for this is that Ibn `Umar (t) said:
"The people were looking out for the crescent (of Ramadaan). I informed the Prophet saws that I saw it. So he fasted (on the following day) and ordered the people to fast."9

The Day Of Doubt
The Day of Doubt is the thirtieth day of Sha`baan. It is so called because it could have been the first day of Ramadaan had the crescent been sighted on the preceding night. The sahaabah avoided fasting on this day because the Prophet saws prohibited it. The fact the some of them (ex. Ibn `Umar radiAllahu `anhu) fasted on it as a precaution should be attributed to their unawareness of the prohibition.
     Ibn `Abbaas (radiAllahu `anhu) said: "I am surprised at those who precede the month [of Ramadaan by fasting] when I heard the Messenger saws say:
Fast when you see the crescent; and break your fast when you see it. If clouds or darkness or dust prevent you from seeing it, then complete the count of Sha`baan. Do not start the month too early, and do not join one day of Sha`baan (in fasting) with Ramadaan."10

     Abu Hurayrah, Huthayfah and Ibn `Abbaas (radiAllahu `anhum) reported that the Messenger saws said:
Do not precede the month (of Ramadaan) by fasting one or two days, unless it coincides with your regular fasting.11

     Silah reported that he was visiting `Ammaar Bin Yaasir (radiAllahu `anhu) (on the thirtieth of Sha`baan). Food was brought in, and a man declined to eat because he was fasting. `Ammaar then said:
"Anyone who fasts on the doubtful day has indeed disobeyed Abal Qaasim (Muhammad saws)."12

  1. Al-Baqarah 2:189.  - Back to text 
     
  2. Al-Bukhaaree, Muslim and others.  - Back to text 
     
  3. Recorded by an-Nasaa`ee; judged authentic by al-Albaanee.  - Back to text 
     
  4. Recorded by Al-Bukhaaree, Muslim, and others; narrated by Abu Hurayrah, `Aa'ishah, `Adiyy Bin Haatim, Huthayfah, Ibn `Abbaas, Ibn `Umar, Jaabir Bin `Abdillaah, and other Sahaabah.  - Back to text 
     
  5. Al-Bukhaaree, Muslim and others.  - Back to text 
     
  6. Recorded by Abu Daawood, Ahmad and others; judged authentic by al-Haakim, ath-Thahabee and al-Albaanee.  - Back to text 
     
  7. Recorded by at-Tirmithee and al-Haakim; judged authentic by al-Albaanee.  - Back to text 
     
  8. Recorded by Ahmad, an-Nasaa`ee and ad-Daaraqutnee; judged authentic by al-Albaanee.  - Back to text 
     
  9. Recorded by Abu Daawood and others; judged authentic by ath-Thahabee, Ibn Hajar and al-Albaanee.  - Back to text 
     
  10. Recorded by Ahmad, an-Nasaa`ee and others; judged authentic by al-Albaanee.  - Back to text 
     
  11. Recorded by Abu Daawood, an-Nasaa`ee and others; judged authentic by ath-Thahabee, al-Albaanee and others.  - Back to text 
     
  12. Recorded by Abu Daawood, at-Tirmithee and others; judged authentic by ad-Daaraqtunee, al-Albaanee and others.  - Back to text 
     
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