Sighting the new moon as the criterion in determining the beginning and end of Ramadan
Q 2: There is a great difference among Muslim scholars over determining the beginning of the Sawm (fast) of Ramadan and the day of `Eid-ul-Fitr (the Festival of Breaking the Fast). Some act upon the following Hadith:
Start fasting on seeing it (the new moon of Ramadan), and break your fast on seeing it (the new moon of Shawwal).
Others act upon the opinions of astronomers believing that the latter have reached the peak in the science of astronomy and can know exactly the beginning of lunar months. Consequently, these scholars fast according to the calendar.
The correct view which should be acted upon is that based on (Part No. 10; Page No. 107) the saying of the Prophet (peace be upon him),
Start fasting on seeing the new moon (of Ramadan), and break your fast on seeing the new moon (of Shawwal), and if the sky is overcast (and you cannot see it), complete the term (thirty days of Sha`ban.)
the criterion in determining the beginning and end of the month of Ramadan is sighting the new moon. The Shari`ah of Islam which Allah sent with our Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) is general and will last until Doomsday.Second: Allah (Exalted be He) has known everything about the progresses and advances of astronomy and other sciences, however 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
Besides, His Messenger (peace be upon him) explained it saying,
Start fasting on seeing it (the new moon of Ramadan), and break your fast on seeing it (the new moon of Shawwal)...
So, Allah makes the start and the end of the fasting of the month of Ramadan dependant on sighting the new moon and not on astronomical calculations even though He (Exalted be He) knows astronomers will advance in their astronomical calculations of the movements of stars. So, Muslims should refer to the Shari`ah which Allah sent with His Messenger (peace be upon him) and which enjoins them to rely on sighting the new moon to determine the beginning and end of fasting. There is Ijma` (consensus of scholars) on this view while the view of those who rely on astronomical calculation is strange and unreliable.May Allah grant us success. May peace and blessings be upon our Prophet Muhammad, his family, and Companions.