Determining Beginning Date of Ramadan 2020 / 1441H
بِسْمِ اللهِ الرَّحْمَنِ الرَّحِيم
Praise be to God the Creator of the world, the One Who exists without beginning, without end, without location , without a “how” and Who does not depend on time. Nothing resembles Him in anyway and He hears and sees everything without organs. Whatever you imagine, God is different from that. May the elevation in degree and preservation of his community of what he fears for it, be granted to our master MuHammad Al-‘Amin, the Honest One, who called for following Islam, the religion of truth, the religion of all the Prophets: of the First, Adam, to the last MuHammad.
Determining the beginning of RamaDân
The obligation of fasting the month of Ramadan begins upon the occurrence of one of two matters:
1. To sight the crescent of Ramadan after the sunset of the twenty-ninth (29th) day of Sha`bân (the month directly preceding Ramadan) or, if the crescent is not seen,
2. Completing thirty (30) days of Sha`bân
So, the beginning of the month of Ramadan, as well as the end of the month, is determined by sighting the crescent. If the crescent was not sighted, then the month would be completed by thirty days, as is the case with determining all the months of the lunar calendar. This is taken from the Hadîth of the Prophet MuHammad صلى الله عليه وسلّم related by Al-Bukhâriyy and Muslim:
« لا تَقَدَّمُوا رَمَضانَ بِيَومٍ أَوْ يَومَين صُوموا لرؤيتِه وأفطِرُوا لرُؤيتِه فإنْ غُمَّ علَيكم فأكْمِلوا عِدَّةَ شَعبانَ ثلاثينَ يوما »
which means: « Do not fast one or two days before RamaDân. Start the month when you see the crescent, and end it when you see the crescent. If you are blocked from seeing it, then complete thirty days of Sha`bân. »
So, on the 29th day of Sha`bân 1441 , directly after the sun sets, Muslims look towards the western horizon. If the crescent (of the new moon) is seen, the following day will be the first day of RamaDân. If it is not seen, Sha`bân, and the day after that is the first day of RamaDân. If there were to be an Islamic judge, he would confirm the beginning of RamaDân if one upright Muslim, whose testimony is acceptable to the judge, bears witness he saw the crescent.
Several conditions must be met for a person's testimony to be acceptable to the judge in this matter. He must be Muslim, male, pubescent, free, clear of enormous sins, clear of having his sins exceed his acts of obedience, and abiding by the manners of the people of his class. The judge does not confirm the beginning of the month of RamaDân. He does not announce to the general public to commence fasting relying solely upon their testimony. However, if just one upright Muslim, who has satisfied the aforementioned conditions testified to the judge he saw the crescent, the judge would confirm the beginning of RamaDân for the next day. This is known from the Hadîth related by Abu Dawud from the route of `Abdullâh Ibn `Umar. `Abdullâh Ibn `Umar told the Prophet صلى الله عليه وسلّم he had sighted the crescent, so the Prophet صلى الله عليه وسلّمfasted the next day and ordered the others to fast as well. This Hadîth was authenticated by Ibn Hibbân.
Be warned of those who determine the month of RamaDân relying upon astronomical calculation. Prophet MuHammad صلى الله عليه وسلّم informed us that such calculations are not relied upon in determining such matters. Imam AHmad may Allâh raise his rank related in his Musnad that the Prophet صلى الله عليه وسلّم said:
« نحنُ أمةٌ أميةٌ لا نكتُبُ ولا نحسِبُ الشهرُ هكذا وهكذا »
which means: « We are a nation which does not depend on writings and calculations to determine the beginning of the month. The month is either twenty-nine or thirty days. »
Praise be to Allâh سبحانَه وتعالى , how easy the matter is! Any Muslim with sound and proper sight can observe the crescent. He does not need to rely on complex calculations which only a few people understand.
لحمد لله رب العالمين