Permissibility of using meteorological tools to sight the new moon
Q 3: It is impossible to see the new moon with the naked eye before 30 hours of its birth. After this period, it is impossible to see it because of weather conditions. Taking this into consideration, is it permissible for the inhabitants of
to use astronomical data in calculating the probable time of sighting the new moon and the outset of Ramadan, or must we see the new moon with the naked eye before starting to fast the blessed month of Ramadan?
(Part No. 10; Page No. 99)
It is permissible
to make use of observation instruments to sight the new moon, but it is not permissible to rely on astrological sciences in confirming the beginning or end of the month of Ramadan. Allah has not legislated it either in His Book or in the Sunnah of his Prophet (peace be upon him). Rather, Allah has legislated for us to establish the beginning and end of Ramadan through sighting the new moon, and accordingly to begin Sawm (Fast) by seeing the new moon of Ramadan and to end Sawm by seeing the new moon of Shawwal and to gather to perform Salat-ul-`Eid (the Festival Prayer). Allah has made the new moons mark fixed times and seasons for mankind and for performing Hajj. Therefore, it is not permissible for a Muslim to use any other method to determine the times of acts of worship, such as Sawm of Ramadan, celebrating the Two ‘Eids, going on Hajj, expiatory Sawm for killing by mistake or for committing Zhihar (a man likening his wife to an unmarriageable relative), and so on. Allah (Exalted be He) says:
So whoever of you sights (the crescent on the first night of) the month (of Ramadan i.e. is present at his home), he must observe Saum (fasts) that month
Allah (Exalted be He) also says:
They ask you (O Muhammad صلى الله عليه وسلم) about the new moons. Say: These are signs to mark fixed periods of time for mankind and for the pilgrimage.
The Prophet (peace be upon him) said:
Start Sawm when you see it (the new moon of Ramadan), and stop Sawm when you see it (the new moon of Shawwal); but if the sky is overcast (and you cannot see it), complete the number of days (of Sha‘ban for thirty days).
Based on this, people who do not see the new moon in their sighting place whether the sky is cloudy or clear should complete thirty days of Sha‘ban, unless it is seen in another location. If the new moon is confirmed in another location, they have to follow the decree of the Muslim ruler of their country, whether or not to start Sawm. His decree in this issue puts an end to any disagreement among the Fuqaha’ (Muslim jurists) concerning the issue of different locations of sighting the new moon. (Part No. 10; Page No. 100) If their ruler is non-Muslim, they should act according to the ruling issued by the council of the Islamic center in their country, whether to fast following the sighting of the new moon in another location or not to start fasting, considering the disagreement in different locations of sighting the new moon.May Allah grant us success. May peace and blessings be upon our Prophet Muhammad, his family and Companions.