Fatwa number: 162
Category: Fatwas about fasting
Completing the month of Sha`bân as thirty days if we do not know the beginning of Ramadan by sighting the lunar crescent or by a declaration by the one who has sighted it
While a young man was taking his breakfast, his mother told him that they were on the day of doubt. The young man resumed his breakfast and told to himself that: if one of the other Muslim countries is fasting this day, I will fast; otherwise, I will not. What is the ruling concerning this case? And what are the consequences linked to it?
All praise is due to Allah, the Lord of the Worlds. Peace and blessing be upon whom Allah sent as a mercy to the Worlds, upon his Family, his Companions and his Brothers till the Day of Resurrection.
It is obligatory for the person who neither saw the new moon nor was informed by who saw it to complete the month of Sha`bân with thirty days, then he has to start fasting; the Prophet صلَّى الله عليه وسلَّم said: “Fast when you see it [the new moon] and stop fasting when you see it, and if it is cloudy then complete the month with thirty days”(1). Also, it is not permitted to him to fast the thirtieth day of Sha`bân because it is the day of doubt. On this subject an interdiction of fasting is mentioned in the hadith of the Prophet صلَّى الله عليه وسلَّم reported by `Ammâr Ibn Yâssir رضي الله عنهما: “Whoever fasts the day of doubt, has surely disobeyed Abu Al-Qâsim(2)”(3). Yet, he must inquire about his fasting as far as possible; using the available means in order that he worships Allah عزَّ وجلَّ in a sure and clear way. He should, as well, have an intention to fast since the night if he knew, by seeing the crescent of the moon, that the first day of Ramadan would be the day after.
Furthermore, even if the opinion which says that seeing the crescent of the moon has to be unified all over the islamic countries implies accordance between the rulings of the Sharia and the moon locations, and goes with the Sharia’s will to unify the Muslims, to gather them in performing the rites of Islam and to preserve them from divergence; except that the purposive measure requires that if the Muslims’ ruler considers to apply one of the two opinions: whether the unification or the divergence of moonrises; and declares a ruling according to it, it becomes incumbent on each person under his ruling to observe fasting or not, as the Muslim believes that the ruler has precedence to make Ijtihâd (jurisprudential effort) although it is in one Muslim country; as what is considered in prayers in group is to perform them in a group with an imam in order to ward off disunion. This opinion is unanimously adopted, whether by those who consider the time of moonrises or those who do not, in accordance with the Prophet’s صلَّى الله عليه وسلَّم saying: “Fasting is the day when you (i.e., the Muslim community) fast, Iftâr (breaking the fast) is the day when you (all) break your fast and Adha (sacrifice) is the day when you (all) offer your sacrifice”(4).
Allah is the Source of success to all good. Our last prayer is all praise is due to Allah, the Lord of the Worlds. Peace and blessing be upon our Prophet صلَّى الله عليه وسلَّم, his Family, his Companions and Brothers till the Day of Resurrection.
Algiers, Sha`bân 24th, 1416 H
Corresponding to January 15th, 1996.
(1) Reported by Al-Bukhâri, chapter of “Fasting” (hadith 1909) and by Muslim, chapter of “Fasting” (hadith 2568), from the hadith of Abu Hurayra رضي الله عنه.
(2) Abu Al-Qâsim is the nickname (Kunyah) of the Prophet صلَّى الله عليه وسلَّم (translator’s note).
(3) Reported by Al-Bukhâri without mentioning its chain of narrators but with an expression of certainty, concerning the hadith of the Prophet صلَّى الله عليه وسلَّم: “If you see the crescent start fasting …”, by Abu Dâwûd, chapter of “Fasting” (hadith 2336), by At-Tirmidhi chapter of “Fasting” (hadith 689), by An-Nassâ'i, chapter of “Fasting” (hadith 2200), by Ibn Mâjah, chapter of “Fasting” (hadith 1714), by Ad-Dâraqutni in his “Sunan” (hadith 2147), on the authority of `Ammâr Ibn Yâssir رضي الله عنهما. See “Al-Irwâ'” by Al-Albâni (4/126). Moreover, the Sheikh Abu `Abd Al-Mu`iz made a study about this hadith, included in “Silsilat Fiqh Ahâdîth As-Siyâm” the second series.
(4) Reported by At-Tirmidhi chapter of “Fasting” (hadith 701), by Ibn Mâjah, chapter of “Fasting” (hadith 1729), by Ad-Dâraqutni in his “Sunan” (hadith 2206), from the hadith of Abu Hurayra رضي الله عنه. This hadith is judged authentic by Al-Albâni in “Assilsila As-Sahîha” (1/45) and by Al-Arna'ût in his recension of “Sharh As-Sunna” by Al-Baghawi (6/248).