1 Rabiuth Thaani 1434 -- 13 February 2013)
THE QUESTION OF THE HILAAL
(THE CRESCENT MOON)
The hilaal was not sighted anywhere in South Africa for Rabiuth Thaani, due it being overcast. However, the age of the moon was about 34 hours. In neighbouring countries the moon was sighted and today is the 2nd Rabiuth Thaani in Zimbabwe, etc. whereas it is the 1st for us in South Africa. At the end of the 30th day, the 34 hour hilaal was quite big. Does this not indicate that today is the 2nd of the new month. Should we not accept the news from neighbouring countries to have uniformity in our Islamic calendar?
The Shariah’s principle for determining the new month is the actual/physical sighting of the hilaal. The principle is not the birth of the moon or the number of hours lapsing since its birth or of the size of the hilaal. This principle is inviolable and was established by Rasulullah (sallallahu alayhi wasallam) himself, and on which there exists Ijma’ (Consensus) of the Ummah – of all Four Math-habs. This has been the Shariah’s way since the time of Rasulullah (sallallahu alayhi wasallam).
The factors mentioned in the above question are irrelevant, having no Shar’i significance whatsoever. The following Hadith recorded in Muslim Shareef refutes these irrelevant factors:
“Abul Bakhtari narrates: ‘We set off for Umrah. When we reached the Valley of Nakhlah, we saw the hilaal. (Due to its large size) some people said: ‘It is the moon of the third night.’ Some said: ‘’It is the moon of the second night.’ Then we met Ibn Abbaas, and we said: ‘We saw the hilaal, then some said it is of the third night whilst others said it is the second night. He (Ibn Abbaas) asked: ‘On which night did you see it?’ We said: ‘On a certain night.’ He said: ‘Verily, Rasulullah (sallallahu alayhi wasallam) said: ‘Allah deferred it (the hilaal) for sighting. It is the (1st) the night you have seen it.”
In another Hadith in Musannaf Ibn Abi Shaybah, it is mentioned: “Rasulullah (sallallahu alayhi wasallam) said: ‘Of the signs of the nearness of the Hour (of Qiyaamah) is the hilaal will be seen immediately (on its appearance without the need to search for it). It will then be said (by people): ‘It is the second night.”
Due to the large size of the hilaal, there will be no need to search for it as is the case at the end of the 29th night. People will then comment, as they do nowadays when they see a large hilaal, that it is the 2nd. Rasulullah (sallallahu alayhi wasallam) and the Sahaabah rejected such conclusions, and affirmed that it is the first moon. Thus, if at the end of the 30th day the moon appears large and bright, it will be in conflict with the Shariah to create a controversy based on the large size of the hilaal.
The issue of unity or uniformity is drivel. Just as Muslims perform Salaat at different times all over the world, without this constituting an interference in unity and uniformity, so too is it with the sighting of the hilaal. If it is the 1st in Zimbabwe, there is no Shar’i adversity or problem if it is still the 30th here in South Africa. The problems develop when people attempt to supersede the Shariah by endeavouring to transform a non-Shar’i issue into a Shar’i issue. The Deen is simple. Rasulullah’s command was: “If you see the hilaal (at the end of the 29th) then begin the fast. If the hilaal is not visible due to it being overcast, then complete the month 30 days.” The problem is that people are not satisfied with this simple Ruling of the Shariah. They seek to override Rasulullah (sallallahu alayhi wasallam) with their whimsical ideas such as ‘unity’ which has no relationship with sighting the hilaal and commencing the new month.
Whilst according to the Hanafi Math-hab, news of the hilaal sighting from other countries is acceptable, there are two factors which inhibits the Muslim community from accepting such news:
(1) There is no absolutely reliable connection in Shar’i terms between us and those in neighbouring countries or countries further abroad. Most of the Muslim organizations elsewhere, especially in our neighbouring countries are Salafi dominated. They rely on Saudi funding, and the Saudi regime utilizes its funding to assert its hegemony globally over Muslims.
(2) Half or perhaps more than 50% of the Muslim community consists of followers of the Shaafi’ Math-hab. Far-off sightings are not valid according to the Shaafi’ Math-hab. It is unreasonable and not permissible to capitalize on the ignorance of the local Shaafi’ sheikhs by imposing on the Shaafi’ community the Hanafi Fatwa which is not valid in terms of their Math-hab. The acquiescence of outfits such as the MJC is of no significance. The MJC is not a valid spokesman or voice of the Shaafi’ Math-hab. In fact, due to the acute dearth of Knowledge in the ranks of the MJC sheikhs, the Hanafi Ulama are better poised to advise the Shaafi’ community in terms of their Math-hab. In this age of anti-Taqleedi’ism, it is imperative that all Muqallideen adhere with tenacity to their respective Math-habs.
Another very important consideration is that the desired superficial ‘unity’ which is sought by forging unification of Ramadhaan and Eid with neighbouring countries, will never be achieved. On the contrary, it will culminate in greater disunity in South Africa for the simple reason that there is no single group of Ulama who can claim to represent the entire Muslim community of South Africa.
Different segments of the Muslim community have their own allegiances. Thus, the Mujlisul Ulama of South Africa, Jamiatul Ulama Gauteng, The Original Jamiatul Ulama Transvaal (Waterval Islamic Institute), Jamiatul Ulama Eastern Cape, Jamiatul Ulama Western Cape and many other organizations will not accept any decision by any Ulama outfit who enters into any hilaal agreement with neighbouring countries.
In view of this scenario, what does intelligence dictate? Eid on two different days in South Africa, with one segment of the community celebrating with Zimbabwe, etc., and another segment on a different day. Thus, whilst there will be a farcical ‘unity’ of a segment of the South African community with Zimbabwe for example, there will be real disunity and friction in the Muslim community of South Africa. Hence, the coveted ‘unity’ is a pipedream.
In addition, the Shariah does not demand this type of phantom unity. It is not part of the Ta’leem of the Shariah to forge Eid with other countries. Eid in all Muslim countries on the same day would be a valid demand if the Islamic World was governed by an Ameerul Mu’mineen whose decree would be valid and enforceable in all the lands under his jurisdiction. In the absence of Khilaafat, it is every man for himself. We are all swirling rudderless in a cesspool of iniquity which has effaced even the Imaan of innumerable so-called scholars and learned men, leave alone the masses.
For ensuring peace on hilaal issues, forget about forging ‘calendar unity’ with other countries. Adopt the simple principle which Rasulullah (sallallahu alayhi wasallam) had formulated and which the Ummah had adhered to for the past fourteen centuries. There is much barakat in the simplicity if Islam. When people introduce complexity into Islamic simplicity, shaitaan becomes snugly juxtaposed for spreading his mischief in the community.
So when you see the hilaal big, fat and bright after 30 days and 35 hours, don’t become a Sign of Qiyaamah by commenting that it appears to be the 2nd. It is sufficient for the hilaal to be a sign of Qiyaamah. You don’t need to complement it by making yourself also a sign of Qiyaamah with your baseless comments which the Hadith refutes.