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Is the Saudi Arabian Moonsighting for Eid al-Fitr 1440/2019 really absurd?

In recent hours, the debate on who to follow for the announcement of Eid has reared it’s ugly head again! One group says the sighting is fake, impossible and against science, against many other countries and so on. Accusations of political influences and other technical issues the reasoning to reject sightings from Saudi Arabia or any other place in the World. Has an alleged impasse between religious discourse and scientific discourse come to pass?

So what is the reality of this situation? How as the normal lay Muslim should we react to this matter? How as students of Knowledge and scholars deliberating on this issue and involved in this public outpouring should we be acting?

Some invaluable advice and clarifications by Dr. Haitham al-Haddad on this hugely contentious matter, with the hope that all sides can see reason and that the proper adab/manners of differences can be maintained and in general the unity of Muslims can be strengthened.

Watch the video below:

Source: www.islam21c.com

About Shaikh (Dr) Haitham Al-Haddad

Dr. Haitham al-Haddad is a jurist and serves as a judge for the Islamic Council of Europe. He has studied the Islamic sciences for over 20 years under the tutelage of renowned scholars such as the late Grand Mufti of Saudi Arabia as well as the retired Head of the Kingdom's Higher Judiciary Council. He specialises in many of the Islamic sciences and submitted his doctoral thesis on Islamic jurisprudence concerning Muslim minorities. Shaikh Haitham is highly respected having specialised knowledge in the field of fiqh, usul al-fiqh, maqasid al-shari'ah, ulum al-Qur’an, tafsir, aqidah, and fiqh al-hadith. He provides complex theories which address the role of Islamic jurisprudence within a western environment whilst also critically re-analysing the approach of Islamic jurists in forming legal rulings (ifta’) within a western socio-political context. He has many well known students most of whom are active in dawah and teaching in the West. The shaikh is an Islamic jurist (faqih) and as such is qualified to deliver verdicts as a judge under Islamic law, a role he undertakes at the Islamic Council of Europe as Islamic judge and treasurer. Dr Haitham al-Haddad also sits on various the boards of advisors for Islamic organisations, mainly in the United Kingdom but also around the world.

5 comments

  1. With due respect the explanation given does not provide confidence.

    When calculations for fajr times when the sun is 18 degrees below the horizon (note: an event no-one can give shahada for – it’s calculations) is relied upon as ‘actual fact’ of sehri end time and fajr start time, to say that the same calculation methods which predict time and place for solar eclipses (moon travelling across the sun) is ‘theoritical fact’ and not ‘actual fact’ demonstrates naivety at best and indifference at worst.

    Visibility maps provided by UK’s HM Almanac Office (http://astro.ukho.gov.uk/nao/miscellanea/ramadan_2019/eid_al-fitr.html) and the Muslim astronomer website (https://moonsighting.com/1440shw.html) provide a base against which shahadas can be validated. Yes if it was possible no if it was not.

    The REAL issue here is not so much the astronomy but the lack of openness and transparency in how masjids decide Islamic dates. The priority should be to initiate a transparency campaign, to make the decision-making process/criteria transparent so Muslims can have confidence in how decisions have been reached. Following the majority is the objective but not to create a chicken and egg situation where few organisations change to following the sunnah of moon-sighting because they remain looking at each other saying the majority is doing it the day before.

    With principled discussion and transparency the majority will gravitate towards the sunnah insha’Allah so there will be, in time, no issue of being forced to chose between the demonstrably-unverifiable majority and the verifiable sunnah. May Allah swt grant success to those who strive for excellence.

  2. Muhammad Adeel

    Seriously. So with a clear sky is Saudi Arabia only 2 people as a witness?
    And we got so many people plus live streaming on Facebook of sighting the moon on the 4th.

  3. Basically you should make yourself blind if your leaders are blind

  4. Thanks for detailed explanation. In the end I am more confused / unsure after listening to Sh Haitham. I fully understand his explanation re car travelling a distance and difference between theoretical and practical results. Moving away from the subject for a moment there are instances many of us have experienced in our life time where the scientists have predicted / advised that moon and or sun eclipsed will take place on a certain date /time and will be visible in certain part of the world. For sure it has proved to be the case every time this prediction was made. My understanding is that the prediction re birth and visibility of moon is also made by applying the same knowledge by the scientist then why we should just leave it as theoretical and not practical result/ conclusion.
    Any argument/ explanation will highly be appreciated as I am eager to learn.

  5. Sheikh is out here to defend the Saudi Arabia’s wrong doing. Yes you can reject two persons testimony if it is absurd. Answer lied in his lecture itself. Lets take the example of the car itself. Suppose a car has top speed of 100 Miles. and someone testifies that the car traveled 500 miles in 4 hours then we can easily call him a liar and reject his testimony. A moon can not be visible in 6 hours of it’s birth. It is absurd. I had respect for him before but I will be very cautious to take any opinion from him

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