ON SIGHTING THE NEW MOON FOR THE COMMENCEMENT OF FASTING

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In his Sawq al-Umma Ila Ittiba`i as-Sunna (The Mobilization of the Umma Towards Following the Sunna), SHEHU Uthman Dan Fodio designates the chapter “On What Has Been Related Regarding the Obligation of Fasting Based Upon Sighting the New Moon and Breaking the Fast Based Upon Sighting It”.


by Shaykh Muhammad Shareef bin Farid





The SHEHU named this chapter such, following the pattern of the scholars of prophetic traditions who designated chapters in their collections on the obligation of seeing the new moon by sight for the commencement of Ramadan.


The SHEHU cites a prophetic tradition related in the Saheeh of al-Bukhari on the authority of Abu Hurayra; who said that the Prophet, may Allah bless him and grant hm peace said


 ((صُومُوا لِرُؤْيَتِهِ، وَأَفْطِرُوا لِرُؤْيَتِهِ، فَإِنْ غُمَّ عَلَيْكُمْ فَأَكْمِلُوا عِدَّةَ شَعْبَانَ ثَلاَثِينَ)).


 “Start fasting on sighting the new moon and break the fast on sighting it. If it is concealed from you, then complete the period of Sha`ban by thirty days.” 


The meaning of his words, upon him be blessings and peace: “Start fasting”; is to make the intention for fasting; and the entire night is the appropriate period for making the intention. 


The meaning of his words, upon him be blessings and peace: “…on sighting the new moon”; that is to say, fast as a result of or due to sighting the new moon. What is meant by sighting is the first appearance of the moon after the month of Shawaal. 


The meaning of his words, upon him be blessings and peace: “…and break the fast on sighting it”; is that there is no disagreement among the people of knowledge regarding breaking the fast that the sighting is not accepted except from the testimony of two men. 


An-Nawwawi said in his commentary upon Muslim: “The testimony of a single upright man of the new moon of the month of Shawwal is not permissible with all of the scholars.” 


The meaning of his words, upon him be blessings and peace: “If it is concealed from you”; that is to say, if overcast comes between you and being able to sight the moon moon, where it is covered during the night of the 30th of Ramadan. 



Al-`Ayni said: “This means that if the new moon is concealed from you. The clouds are called overcast because they conceal the skies. One says: ‘The new moon is overcast’, when it is concealed and it cannot be seen due to its concealment by clouds are its like.” 


The meaning of his words, upon him be blessings and peace: “…then complete the period of  Sha`ban by thirty days”; is that the legal benefits which can be extracted from this prophetic tradition is that the obligation of fasting and the obligation of breaking the fast which signals the ending of the fasting is by sighting the new moon. 


It is in accordance with this meaning that it was related on the authority of Abu Hurayra who said that the Messenger of Allah, may Allah bless him and grant him peace said:


 

((فَأَكْمِلُوا عِدَّةَ شَعْبَانَ ثَلاَثِينَ))

“Enumerate the new moon of Sha`baan for Ramadan.”


 

Is’haq said: “There is no fasting except by the testimony of two men.” This was also the opinion of Malik, al-Layth, al-`Awzai`, at-Thawri, and as-Shafi` in one of his opinions. 


They take as evidence the prophetic tradition of Abd’r-Rahman ibn Zayd ibn al-Khataab that he was once giving a sermon on a day which there was doubt regarding the new moon, and said: 


“Indeed, once I was sitting with the Companions of the Messenger of Allah, may Allah bless him and grant him peace, and I asked them about this and they narrated to me that the Messenger of Allah, may Allah bless him and grant him peace said: 


((صوموا لرؤيته وأفطروا لرؤيته وأنسكوا لها، فإن غم عليكم فأتموا ثلاثين يوماً، فإن شهد شاهدان مسلمان فصوموا وأفطروا)).

‘Start the fast based upon sighting and break the fast based upon sighting, and make your pilgrimage devotions based upon that. And if the new moon is concealed from you then complete the thirty days. For if two Muslim witnesses testify, then commence fasting and break your fast’.”


SOURCES:


Sawq al-Umma Ila Itiba as-Sunna - Arabic:


https://www.academia.edu/25494165/the_matin_of_the_Sawql-Umma_ila_Ittiba_as-Sunna_the_Mobilization_of_the_Umma_Towards_Following_the_Sunna_by_Shehu_Uthman_ibn_Fuduye_arabic


Sawq al-Umma Ila Itiba as-Sunna – English:


https://www.academia.edu/25498734/the_matin_sawql-umma_ila_ittiba_as-sunna_the_Mobilization_of_the_Umma_Towards_Following_the_Sunna_by_Shehu_Uthman_ibn_Fuduye_english


Tawq ‘l-Lama` wa Itmaam ‘n-Ni`ama by Shaykh Muhammad Shareef bin Farid - Arabic:


https://www.academia.edu/8765559/Tawq_l-Lama_wa_Itmaam_n-Niama_a_commentary_upon_the_Sawq_l-Umma_Ila_Ittiba_as-Sunna_by_Shaykh_Muhammad_Shareef_bin_Farid_arabic


Tawq ‘l-Lama` wa Itmaam ‘n-Ni`ama English:


https://www.academia.edu/8769703/Tawq_l-Lama_wa_Itmaam_n-Niama_a_commentary_upon_the_Sawq_l-Umma_Ila_Ittiba_as-Sunna_by_Shaykh_Muhammad_Shareef_bin_Farid_english

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