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What Are the Rulings Regarding the Fast of Prophet David?

Answered by Ustadh Tabraze Azam

Question: What are the legal maxims regarding the fast of Dawood (peace upon him)? How long can you do it?

Answer: Assalamu alaikum wa rahmatullah,

It is permissible to fast every other day as long as doing so: (a) does not weaken you from fulfilling your obligations of earning a living with the expected level of competency, supporting your dependents, praying whilst standing and the like, (b) does not entail harm to a spouse, whether physically, emotionally or otherwise, and (c) will not cause any harm to you in the long term.

If the aforementioned conditions are met, it would be a praiseworthy and recommended type of fast. Otherwise, the Prophet (Allah bless him and give him peace) reminded us that, “Your eye has a right over you. Your body has a right over you. Your spouse has a right over you.” (Muslim) Accordingly, fasting in moderation would be superior. Consider starting with a fast once or twice a week, and then if you want to increase, see if it is reasonably possible.

The Fast of Prophet David

The fast of the Prophet Dawud (Allah bless him and give him peace) was described by the Prophet Muhammad (Allah bless him and give him peace) as being the “most beloved of fasting to Allah.” (Bukhari) He would fast every other day such that his body did not have time to fully recuperate and settle into a normative schedule.

Of course, that is likely to happen to a certain level eventually, so perhaps this is the reason why the Beloved Messenger of Allah (Allah bless him and give him peace) didn’t actually do this himself. Rather, he would fast a month “until we thought he has no intention of stopping,” (Tirmidhi, al-Shama’il) and also the opposite.

The idea is that the irregularity maintains a sufficient level of hardship whereby a person can benefit more deeply from his sincere devotion and striving for the sake of Allah. Generally, what needs to be avoided is for worship to become a mere habit, or for one to lose sight of the purpose of the fast.

Important Sunna Fasts and Fasting Restrictions

However, please note that there are other, important, recommended sunna fasts which should not be omitted given the tremendous rewards transmitted regarding them. This includes the day of ‘Ashura (10th Muharram), optimally conjoined with the ninth or the eleventh of the month, and the day of ‘Arafa (9th Dhu’l Hijja). If your habit of fasting every other day would entail an omission of one of these two fasts, they should be given priority.

Moreover, it is impermissible to fast on the two ‘Eids and the three days after ‘Eid al-Adha, irrespective of whether or not you have a fasting habit. After all, fasting is a specific form of worship and if the Sacred Law (shari‘a) isn’t being followed, then one should think carefully about what one’s intentions are. I’d also recommend getting a book on praiseworthy intentions and supplications so that you can magnify the impact of the fast in your life.

(Razi, Tufat al-Muluk; Nahlawi, al-Durar al-Mubaha; Tahatwi, Hashiyat al-Tahtawi ‘ala Maraqi al-Falah; Qari, Mirqat al-Mafatih Sharh Mishkat al-Masabih)

Please also see: Fasting: A Comprehensive SeekersGuidance Reader

And Allah Most High knows best.

Wassalam,

[Ustadh] Tabraze Azam

Checked and Approved by Shaykh Faraz Rabbani

Ustadh Tabraze Azam holds a BSc in Computer Science from the University of Leicester, where he also served as the President of the Islamic Society. He memorized the entire Qur’an in his hometown of Ipswich at the tender age of sixteen and has since studied the Islamic Sciences in traditional settings in the UK, Jordan, and Turkey. He is currently pursuing advanced studies in Jordan, where he is presently based on his family.

Changing my Intention While Fasting

Answered by Shaykh Yusuf Weltch

Question: If I begin a make-up fast, then change my intention to a voluntary fast, does that affect the type of fast?

Answer: Jazak Allah Khairan for your question.

Your change of intention, after having started a fast, will not harm or alter your fast, whatsoever. The original intention upon which the fast was started will remain.

“…the fasting person, who is making up an obligatory fast, if after having started the fast, he intends to start a different fast, it would not harm (the original fast).” [Maraqi al-Falah]

Allahu ‘Alam

[Shaykh] Yusuf Weltch

Checked and Approved by Shaykh Faraz Rabbani

Shaykh Yusuf Weltch is a graduate from Tarim; a student of Habib Umar and other luminaries; and authorized teachers of the Qur’an and the Islamic sciences.

Making the Most of Ramadan (Part 1)

As Ramadan gets closer, here are some highlights from our popular On-Demand course, Making the Most of Ramadan: Transformative Lessons from Learned Islamic Scholars.making the most of ramadan

Part 2: The Aims of Fasting by Shaykh Faraz Rabbani

In this section, Shaykh Faraz covers portions of the book, “The Higher Aims of Fasting,” by the great scholar Al-Izz ibn Abd As-salam, who was known as “The Sultan of the Scholars” due to his high rank and profuse understanding in the religion. He was an expert in Islamic law amongst other sciences.

It is divided into 4 sections:

  1. Duty & Virtues of Fasting from Qur’an & Sunna
  2. The Sunnas and Etiquette of Fasting
  3. The Spiritual Works of Ramadan
  4. Fasting and Spiritual Works Beyond Ramadan

Through this course you will get a true sense of the ultimate purpose of fasting based on the Quran and the blessed Sunnah of the Beloved Prophet, Allah bless him and give him peace. There are plenty of hadiths mentioned throughout the class that you may benefit from listening to or even memorising, to better internalise the meaning.

You will also discover the 7 great virtues of the fast. Such as raising in ranks; expiation of errors, breaking desires and so on.

The book has a very valuable  section on the adab(etiquette) of fasting such as guarding the tongue and what to break the fast with.

As the blessed month of Ramadan, this course is a must have in order to be mentally prepared and energised before its arrival.

For more information about this class or to register, click here.


Making the Most of Ramadan (Part 2)

As Ramadan gets closer, here are some highlights from our popular On-Demand course, Making the Most of Ramadan: Transformative Lessons from Learned Islamic Scholars.making the most of ramadanmaking the most of ramadan

Part 2: The Sweetness of His Love by Imam Zaid Shakir

In this course, special guest Imam Zaid Shakir, known for his powerful speeches and tireless service to communities across North America and beyond, will take you on a very special journey of deep reflection.

Drawing on the many aspects of fasting, he develops on the increase in one’s God-consciousness and obedience through fasting. He reflects on how fasting impacts an individual, growing the desire to initiate an inner transformation.

Imam Zaid goes on about how to attain forgiveness as a reward of the fast, on how and why you should seek Allah to attain forgiveness as a reward of fasting. Do you know the immense reward of feeding someone who fasted all day? How about drawing closer to Allah by feeding one of His servants?

Ramadan is not only about the day where one fasts, but its also and mostly about its blessed nights. You will learn about the incredible value of Laylat al-Qadr (the Night of Destiny), it’s immense worth, and why you should make more effort on that night more than any other nights.

Lastly, through this course you will learn about reviving your spiritual energy, and have a more profound understanding of how it can affect and improve your life, and the relationship between fasting, spiritual energy and elevation.  

So many good insights, not to be missed!

For more information or to register, click here.


Making the Most of Ramadan (Part 3)

As Ramadan gets closer, here are some highlights from our popular On-Demand course, Making the Most of Ramadan: Transformative Lessons from Learned Islamic Scholars.making the most of ramadanmaking the most of ramadanmaking the most of ramadan

 

Part 3: The Expression of Love by Ustadha Zainab Ansari

 

In this section,  Ustadha Zainab focuses on the relationship between us and Allah through the lens of love.

You will learn that fasting is actually a way to be expressing your love to Allah by following the commitment inscribed in the book of God and the Sunnah. Fasting is essentially an invisible act or worship, with no one knowing that you’re fasting except yourself and your Lord. This creates an aspect of strong intimacy between yourself and Allah.ramadan

Through the physical difficulty of hunger, you are proving your love to Allah. By you being gifted obey Him and fasting for His sake only, you may start to realise that you received this blessing and ability out of His immense love for you. Indeed, it is Allah who creates in you a physical desire to please Him, and you choose respond to him just to please Him. This is what love is all about.

When you fast, you overcome the primal instinct to attain a higher spiritual level. Resisting your hunger helps to raise your spiritual strength and improves your control over the body and soul. Food can be a mean to discipline yourself, or it can be a test and a mean to spiritual disaster.

Ustadha Zainab talks about the implementation of a strong relationship with the Qur’an, the Divine Word of Allah, and the night prayers. There is a spiritual secret to be discovered by the seeker if he searches thoroughly.

Ramadan might be the moment of an epiphany for you. That moment you turn your life around and travel the blessed path which you always wanted to sail onto. People get spiritual openings through Ramadan all the time. Seize that Ramadan to be one of them!

For more information or to register, click here.


 

Tasting Something When Fasting

Answered by Shaykh Abdul-Rahim Reasat

Question: Is my fast invalid if I taste something in my mouth?

Answer: Wa ‘alaykum assalam wa rahmatullah wa barakatuh

I pray you are well.

Merely getting a taste of something in your mouth does not invalidate your fast. It has to pass down your throat to invalidate the fast. In these situations, you merely tasted something, and that does not affect the fast.

Unavoidable Substances

Steam, smoke from traffic, flour that disperses in the air, and similar substances which are hard to avoid do not invalidate the fast if they are inhaled with a valid excuse. It would be pretty difficult to cook or have a shower without having any of the streams enter one’s mouth or nose, so it is excused. (Shurunbulali, Maraqi al Salah; Ibn Abidin, Radd al Muhtar)

Learn for Confidence

The Messenger of Allah, Allah bless him and grant him peace, said, “Indeed [the practice of] the din is eased itself, and no one makes it hard on themselves except that it overwhelms them.” (Bukhari) This is a central hadith, and it clearly shows that following the sunna should make religious practice easy.

One of the ways to make things easy is to learn them properly from an experienced and qualified teacher. This goes a long way in alleviating unnecessary worries. Please register for a course, and actively take part in it to maximize the benefit you get. Registration will open in a week or so.

May Allah grant you the best of both worlds.

[Shaykh] Abdul-Rahim Reasat

Checked and Approved by Shaykh Faraz Rabbani

Shaykh Abdul-Rahim Reasat began his studies in Arabic Grammar and Morphology in 2005. After graduating with a degree in English and History he moved to Damascus in 2007 where, for 18 months, he studied with erudite scholars such as Shaykh Adnan Darwish, Shaykh Abdurrahman Arjan, Shaykh Hussain Darwish, and Shaykh Muhammad Darwish. In late 2008 he moved to Amman, Jordan, where he continued his studies for the next six years in Sacred Law (fiqh), legal theory (Usul al-fiqh), theology, hadith methodology, hadith commentary, and Logic with teachers such as Dr. Ashraf Muneeb, Dr. Salah Abu’l-Hajj, Dr. Hamza al-Bakri, Shaykh Ahmad Hasanat, Dr. Mansur Abu Zina, and others. He was also given licenses of mastery in the science of Qur’anic recital by Shakh Samir Jabir and Shaykh Yahya Qandil. With Shaykh Ali, he was able to study an extensive curriculum of Qur’anic sciences, tafsir, Arabic grammar, and Arabic eloquence.

Prayer Timings In Places Far From the Equator

Answered by Ustadh Tabraze Azam

Question:

Assalamu alaikum, I’m considering moving to Anchorage, Alaska in a few months and i’m concerned about prayer timings. I know that fatwas have been issued about fasting in such regions, but I’m curious as to how prayer works in general. Have any fatwa in the Hanafi school been issued on this matter?

Answer: Wa alaikum assalam wa rahmatullah,

Praying in the summertimes is a challenging issue for those who live in higher latitudes across the world. Given that Anchorage is situated beyond approximately fifty degrees north of the equator, the days are very long in summer, and consequently, prayer times are very close together through the night.

The first thing which becomes clear is that there is an actual sunset on every day of the year. Accordingly, the sunset prayer (maghrib) would need to be prayed at its proper time, and nothing else will do. This is because the prayer only becomes due when the legal cause (sabab) is realised, namely, the setting of the sun.

Determining ‘Isha and Fajr Times

The difficulty arises in determining the beginning times for both the nightfall (‘isha) and dawn (fajr) prayers. The reason for this is that the normal signs for both are absent, or at least unclear for the latter prayer. The later Hanafi school concluded that the nightfall prayer (‘isha) remains binding even in places where the legal cause isn’t found. This is what Muslims in such latitudes do, and it is the more precautionary position.

Given that is the case, the question is how to calculate the beginning of the time. If the shift to the position of Imam Abu Hanifa’s two companions (sahibayn) isn’t possible or practical, which is clearly the case because of your geographical location, then an alternative would be to follow a dispensation (rukhsa) from another legal school (madhhab) in order to pray without much delay after sunset. Thereafter, if you would like to uphold precaution (ihtiyat), you may make up (qada’) one nightfall prayer (‘isha) after the summer period is over, and when actual times have returned. The reason for this is that the prayer would only enter your dues on the first day of the period after the entry of the dawn prayer (fajr), and thus praying before the legal cause has been met would have been invalid. According to the Hanafis, in the case that the prayer time does not enter, the nightfall prayer (‘isha) would enter your dues after the entry of the dawn prayer (fajr), but determining if this is in fact the case is normally a little more complex.

As for the dawn prayer (fajr), there are two primary methods proposed by senior contemporary scholars: (a) closest day (aqrab al-ayyam), where the last real time for dawn is maintained, and (b) half the night (nisf al-layl), where the night is split into two halves. For all intents and purposes, the difference between these positions is nominal, and both are acceptable to follow. The latter position is arguably more precautionary, but the common Muslim won’t be held responsible on the Final Day for scholarly differences of opinion as the expectation is merely that he follows upright, learned, righteous, respected scholars.

Resting Well and Planning Ahead

Practically, and if we take the summer solstice as an example, you could sleep till midnight, then rise to awaken for the sunset prayer (maghrib). According to my calculations, the second half of the night would begin at approximately 2am. Thus, you’d only be up for about two hours at this time, give or take some, in order to pray these three prayers. This could incidentally be the time you engage in remembrances (adhkar), recitation, supplication or other acts of devotion too. Alternatively, you could pray the sunset (maghrib), and then arise for the dawn prayer (fajr) later and towards the end of its respective time, ensuring to pray the nightfall (‘isha) prayer before it.

So this is certainly something that you should consider well as being able to take care of your religious duties is important. If you have decided to move, then consider researching how the local community deals with this issue, and pray the Prayer of Need (salat al-hajah) regularly, seeking divine facilitation in fulfilling your obligations. I’d also suggest following the sunnas of sleep with greater rigour, taking a midday nap (qaylula), resting well after work, and trying out alternative medicines, if needed, to help find a suitable cure for your condition. Allah Most High says, “And whoever is mindful of Allah, He will make a way out for them.” (Sura al-Talaq 65:2)

If, despite trying, you find much hardship in following all of this, you can consider following a different legal school (madhhab) in this matter, if there is more leeway therein, in order to make your religious life more manageable. Undoubtedly, matters like this are more difficult for some than others, and you aren’t bound by a particular position, as long as, at the end of the day, you follow sound, reliable scholarship correctly by meeting all conditions (shurut) and integrals (arkan).

Finally, there are many nuances to this discussion, and differing possibilities, so the aforementioned is clearly not an exhaustive study of the topic. In the context of community prayers and the mosque, there may be other factors which need to be taken into consideration, so please bear that in mind. For a detailed and comprehensive treatment of this issue, I’d recommend Dr. Asim Yusuf’s “Shedding Light on the Dawn.”

(Ibn ‘Abidin, Radd al-Muhtar ‘ala al-Durr al-Mukhtar (2.506); Marjani, Nazurat al-Haqq; Tahtawi, Hashiyat al-Durr al-Mukhtar)

Please also see: How Should I Pray in a Country Where the Sun Doesn’t Set? and: How Can I Know the Time for Fajr in a Country Where There Is No Real Darkness? and: Fasting in Extreme Latitudes

And Allah Most High knows best.

Wassalam,

[Ustadh] Tabraze Azam

Checked and Approved by Shaykh Faraz Rabbani

Ustadh Tabraze Azam was born and raised in Ipswich, a small town on the east coast of England. He memorized the Qur’an in his youth and has led congregations in tarawih prayers at home and abroad. He earned his Bachelor’s degree in Computer Science and Management from the University of Leicester, serving as the head of the university’s Islamic Society. Shortly thereafter, he moved to Amman, Jordan, to study the Islamic sciences full-time with a variety of distinguished traditional scholars. He is now an experienced teacher himself, answering religious questions regularly, and teaching students of knowledge privately and online. Presently, he is pursuing advanced studies and specialization in Amman where he resides with his wife and children.

The Point of Worship in Ramadan – Shaykh Faraz Rabbani

In this timely reminder, Shaykh Faraz Rabbani reminds us that our acts of worship in Ramadan are means to an end – seeking Allah Most High. He uses the Qur’anic verses on fasting to show us the objectives of such works of worship. Furthermore, he urges us to find our purpose in our devotional acts by seeing them as a means to seek our Lord.

*This video was recorded on  May 15, 2018.

Why Can’t We Unite? A Brief Overview of Moon-Sighting Wars (And How To Avoid Them) – Shaykh Sohail Hanif

Shaykh Sohail Hanif makes sense of the annual moon-sighting debates.

The blessed month of Ramadan is almost upon us. It is a month of contemplation, fasting, prayer and tranquility. But just as the tranquility of Paradise is “surrounded by disliked matters,”[1] Ramadan can only be arrived at after crossing the uncomfortable terrain of moonsighting debates. In this run up to the sacred month, otherwise ordinary words can acquire great rhetorical force: “Local!” “Global!” “Sighting!” “Calculations” “Saudi!” “Pakistan!” Each word is backed up by arguments, documents and video clips. But must these exchanges be inevitable, and is there a way out of this impasse? I believe there is if we read our classical heritage with some care.

It’s All Backed By Classical Scholarship

It is true that since the earliest times, scholars of Islamic law have disagreed over the correct method of declaring the beginning of the blessed month. There is a classical precedent for local sighting, global sighting, and even astronomical calculations. Thus, the disagreements that beset us at the beginning of the blessed month do have a basis in classical scholarship. However, there is something that we are missing as we churn out these classical positions: the missing point is process.

Process, Process, Process

Classical works of Islamic law provide details on how the new moon is to be established.

  • We are told by some classical jurists that if the sky is clear, a large number of people are required to have seen the moon. This is because the sighting of only a few people on a clear night is inherently suspicious since most onlookers did not see it.[2]
  • If the sky is overcast, then some jurists stipulated two witnesses for a valid sighting,[3] treating it as akin to establishing a fact in court, whilst others accepted a single witness,[4] treating it as a religious report.

In either case, they required that the individuals be morally upright. The question here is, who is it that will determine whether a group sighting is large enough on a clear night? Who is it that will decide whether a witness is upright or not? Who will determine the number of witnesses required on an overcast night? Each of these points has its own conditions that need to be verified by one who is both suitably trained and is vested with the authority to do so. This is the Muslim judge who has been placed in a position to declare the beginning of the month. Thus, the entry of Ramadan is established through a judicial process.

Waiting For Official Judgement

The commencement of Ramadan is not a private matter for individuals to declare. Individuals are only to raise their possible sightings to the appropriate authority who will then consider whether to accept or reject the sighting, and will consider which conditions to consider to declare the beginning of the month. This is why books of Islamic law discuss the case where an individual is sure that he/she saw the new moon, but was unable to convince the judge of this; should such a person fast? The commonly stated answer is that such a person does fast. However, this only applies to the person in question; everyone else is to await the official judgement on the matter.[5]
This is why, in Muslim countries, one rarely finds households divided over when they start fasting or celebrate Eid. In these countries, there is typically a governmentally appointed council that is vested with the authority to declare the beginning of the month. The man on the street need only turn on the radio or the television to know if the appointed council has declared the beginning of Ramadan. This is the process that works of sacred law attest to. The reason for this is clear. The communal purpose of Ramadan and Eid cannot be realised if a society is divided over when it starts and finishes the month. This process prevents that from happening.

What About Muslims Living As Minorities?

So what should people do in a minority context such as Britain? The answer is clear; the community must strive to appoint a representative council to declare the entry of the blessed month, which the community must then follow. This is not a new idea; there are many chapters of the law that attest to this. The Friday prayer is one example. Classical works of law imply that towns should, ideally, have only one Friday prayer service, so that the entire town comes together for a single congregation every week. This led to the question of who was to appoint the one imam to deliver the sermon and lead the town in prayer. If left to the people, each group and sect would vie endlessly to have its own group represented.
The answer, at least according to scholars of the Hanafi legal school, was that only the ruler, or the one appointed by the ruler, could choose the imam of this congregation.[6] The public had no authority to start their own Friday prayer. They could only choose to pray behind the appointed imam, or stay at home. In the minority context, scholars of the Hanafi school stated that where there is no Muslim ruler to make such a decision, the community itself must come together and appoint the imam.[7] In this case, no one individual can choose to lead the Friday prayer, only the one appointed by the community. This is effectively what happens in Mosques all over Britain. Mosques represent communities; members from the community run these mosques as representatives of the community, and they determine who leads the Friday prayer.
Shariah courts in Britain attempt to apply the same logic. Where there is no Muslim ruler to appoint judges to annul marriages in which women are abused, the Muslim community can come together to appoint a body to represent them in performing such a function. There is precedent to all of this in the works of Islamic law. The matter of Ramadan must be treated likewise.

Avoiding Sectarianism

Now, one might hear a voice stubbornly declare, “Okay, I’ll follow this appointed body as long as they follow local sightings!” Unfortunately, this is not how the process works. If the authority is vested in a judge, or a body acting as the judge, the prerogative is theirs to decide which method to use. The insistence of only observing the “correct” Ramadan is akin to insisting that only the “correct” Muslim enters one’s mosque; it is a thought process that is sectarian in nature and destructive in consequence. Unless the appointed judicial body totally violates and steps outside of what is considered acceptable opinion, it has to be followed. So where do we find this pool of acceptable opinion?
The world of Sunni Islam, the Muslim majority, ultimately settled on limiting the pool of acceptable opinion to the four established schools of law: the Hanafi, Shafi‘i, Maliki and Hanbali. This is not to say that great scholarship cannot exist outside of these schools. However, when it came to process, it was impossible to run a society with its need for clearly identifiable rules and procedures, if there was no clear way to limit and define acceptable legal opinion.[8] And as these four schools had matured to such a degree that it became increasingly hard to be recognised as one trained in law outside of the domain of these four schools, with their clearly defined hierarchy of rules, and great tradition of legal literature to draw upon, it made sense to only accept them as representing the law of God in the society of man. This Sunni paradigm ran Muslim societies for centuries, and it is of great use to us. It relieves us of having to force our own correct answer onto others. It is enough for an answer to be acceptable, after which we must strive for the right process in order to establish the will of God on earth.

Every Method Has A Basis In Sacred Law

If we look at the large corpus of legal works authored under the aegis of these four schools of law, we will find that every method currently followed, in Britain or elsewhere, has a basis in sacred law.

  • Relying on astronomical calculations, for example, is an opinion that a number of reputable scholars across legal schools have championed, with the strongest voices belonging to the Shafi‘i school.[9]
  • Global sighting, meaning following a sighting from a faraway land, has been upheld as the strongest opinion of the Hanafi and Hanbali schools, and, according to some, the Maliki school.[10]
  • Local sighting, meaning each locality following its own sightings, has been seen as the strongest opinion of the Shafi‘i school, and, according to some, the Maliki school.[11]

In truth, if a person looks through the corpus of legal works, he/she will see that the methods that were deemed acceptable were vast. As long as the judicial council vested with the authority to declare Ramadan follows any of these, then it must be followed. It is that simple.
So what to make of the long articles defending local sighting as the correct way to declare Ramadan, or global sighting, or other methods? These should all be seen as academic papers. These would be presented to such a judicial body to advise of the best method to follow. Otherwise, they are of little practical consequence because an individual cannot declare their own month.
The issue of moonsighting illustrates the wider purpose of the central devotional acts of Islam that make up its five pillars. Each of these upholds not only the faith of individuals, but the very community of faith to which these individuals belong. The detailed rules of the ritual prayer, fasting and zakat provide much guidance and clarity onhow a community of faith is to be formed, strengthened and spiritually nourished. If the community finds itself in discord and disarray, its members can only blame themselves for not having established these pillars as they were instructed.

References
Note: Most references below are to the Kuwaiti Fiqh Encylopaedia (al-Mawsu‘ah al-fiqhiyyah al-kuwaytiyyah) which is perhaps the best and most accessible comparative fiqh reference compiled in the modern era, contributed to by leading scholars across the Muslim world. Each entry in the encyclopaedia provides references to the primary legal sources from which it draws.
[1] “The Fire is surrounded by lusts; and the Garden is surrounded by disliked matters;” al-Bukhari, hadith no. 6487.
[2] This is the insight of the Hanafi legal school: al-Mawsu‘ah al-fiqhiyyah al-kuwaytiyyah, c.v. “Khabar,” vol. 19, p. 16. Some Maliki texts also indicate this: al-Mawsu‘ah al-fiqhiyyah al-kuwaytiyyah, c.v. “Ru’yat al-hilal,” vol. 22, p. 25.
[3] This is the strongest position of the Maliki school: al-Mawsu‘ah al-fiqhiyyah al-kuwaytiyyah, c.v. “Khabar,” vol. 19, p. 17; and c.v. “Ru’yat al-hilal,” vol. 22, p. 25.
[4] This is the strongest position of the Shafi’i and Hanbali schools, who stipulate this whether the sky is overcast or clear, and of the Hanafi school, who only stipulate this if the sky is overcast: al-Mawsu‘ah al-fiqhiyyah al-kuwaytiyyah, c.v. “Khabar,” vol. 19 pp. 16-17; and c.v. “Ru’yat al-hilal,” vol. 22, pp. 25-7.
[5] This is the opinion of all four schools of law, who differ only on whether such a person must expiate for consciously violating the fast, or not. Some notable scholars of the early Muslim community, however, held that such a person is not obliged to fast at all. There is greater disagreement concerning someone who sees the new moon for the month of Shawwal (the day of ‘Id al-Fitr) if the judge does not accept their testimony. Many scholars held that such a person does not fast; although, Malik and Ahmad b. Hanbal (founders of the Maliki and Hanbali legal schools) held that such a person must ignore their own sighting and fast. See al-Mawsu‘ah al-fiqhiyyah al-kuwaytiyyah, c.v. “Ihlal,” vol. 7, pp. 150-1.
[6] Al-Marghinani, al-Hidayah, ed. Talal Yusuf, 4 vols. (Beirut: Dar Ihya’ al-Turath al-‘Arabi, 2000), vol. 1, p. 82.
[7] Al-Laknawi, ‘Umdat al-ri‘ayah ‘ala Sharh al-Wiqayah, ed. Salah Abu al-Hajj, 7 vols. (Beirut: Dar al-Kutub al-‘Ilmiyyah, 2009), vol. 1, pp. 321-3; Ibn ‘Abidin, Radd al-muhtar ‘ala al-Durr al-mukhtar, (Cairo: 1885), vol. 1, pp. 540-1.
[8] A good exploration of the social need for fixed rules as the reason for the dominance of the schools of law is Mohammad Fadel, “The Social Logic of Taqlīd and the Rise of the Mukhtaṣar,” Islamic Law and Society, 3, (1996): pp. 193-233.
[9] Scholars upholding this can be traced all the way back to the first Islamic century. The textual basis for this opinion is the hadith narrated by al-Bukhari, “When you see it [the new moon of Ramadan] then fast; and when you see it [the new moon of Shawwal], then break the fast. If it is hidden from you (ghumma ‘alaykum) [i.e. if the sky is overcast] then estimate it (fa-qdiru lahu);” (al-Bukhari, hadith no. 1900). The last verb, fa-qdiru, can be validly understood to mean calculation. Of the scholars who held this, are Abu al-‘Abbas b. Surayj (d. 306/918), one of the leading founders of the classical Shafi‘i school, the Shafi‘i scholar and renowned mystic Abu al-Qasim al-Qushayri (d. 465/1072), the leading Shafi‘i judge Taqi al-Din al-Subki (d. 756/1355), the Shafi‘i legal theorist al-Zarkashi (d. 794/1392), the renowned Maliki legal theorist al-Qarafi (d. 684/1285), and some Hanafi scholars. The late Shafi‘i commentator al-Qalyubi (d. 1069/1659) held that all sighting-claims must be rejected if calculations show that a sighting was impossible, stating, “This is manifestly obvious. In such a case, a person may not fast. Opposing this is obstinacy and stubbornness.” See al-Mawsu‘ah al-fiqhiyyah al-kuwaytiyyah, c.v. “Ru’yat al-hilal,” vol. 22, pp. 31-4. The leading scholar of the late Shāfi‘ī school Muhammad al-Ramli (d. 1004/1596) held that the expert astronomer was obliged to follow his own calculation as was the non-astronomer who believed him; this position has been used by some contemporary Shafi’i scholars to state that in the modern world, with its precise calculations, the strongest opinion of the Shafi’i school should be that everyone must follow calculations; see ‘Umar b. al-Habib al-Husayni, Fath al-‘ali fi jam‘ al-khilaf bayna Ibn Hajar wa-Ibn al-Ramli, ed. Shifa’ Hitu (Jeddah: Dar al-Minhaj, 2010), pp. 819-22. See also the fatwa of the Hanafi scholar Dr Salah Abu al-Hajj (http://www.anwarcenter.com/fatwa/معنى-حديث-لا-تصوموا-حتى-تروا-الهلال-ول) last accessed 9/5/2016) which states, after arguing against relying on calculations, “However, the position of [following] calculations is the position of a considerable group of jurists, so it is a respected disagreement in Islamic law, whereby, if a state were to adopt it, it is not rejected, because the judgement of a judge removes disagreement, and the adoption of a state is [as] the judgement of a judge.”
[10] Al-Mawsu‘ah al-fiqhiyyah al-kuwaytiyyah, c.v. “Ru’yat al-hilal,” vol. 22, pp. 36-8.
[11] Al-Mawsu‘ah al-fiqhiyyah al-kuwaytiyyah, c.v. “Ru’yat al-hilal,” vol. 22, p. 37. The authors of the Mawsu‘ah state that local sighting is only the strongest opinion of the Shafi‘i school. However, many key Maliki texts also attest to the superiority of local sighting; see for example al-Dasuqi, Hashiyat al-Dasuqi ‘ala al-Sharh al-kabir, 4 vols. (Beirut: Dar al-Fikr, n.d), vol. 1, p. 510.

Photo by Bernd Thaller. Republished with much gratitude to our friends at Islamicate.

Get Ready for Ramadan: Reflecting on the Great Opportunity – Ustadh Amjad Tarsin

Ustadh Amjad Tarsin highlights the great opportunity for all Muslims in Ramadan to draw closer to Allah and be granted salvation. He urges everyone to reflect on that opportunity and increase in their aspirations for the good in Ramadan.