The beginning and the end of the fasting of Ramadan is obligatory with the sighting of the moon (الهلال). Narrated by Abu Khuraira, the Messenger of Allah ﷺ said:
Quote: صوموا لرؤيته وأفطروا لرؤيته فإن غم عليكم الهلال فأكملوا عدة شعبان ثلاثين يوماً
“Start fasting on seeing the crescent (of Ramadani), and give up the fasting on seeing the crescent (of shawwal), and if the sky is overcast (and you cannot see it), complete thirty days of Sha’ban”
(Saheeh Bukhari and Muslim).
However, there are different opinions amongst the Ulama’s; jurists and scholars on how to establish on the month beginning or end, because of the different methods of sighting, depending when, either it is a clear or a cloudy night, whether one person is enough to sight the moon, whether two persons, or many.
Then there are also opinions on the (‘ḥukm ) rule on sighting; whose sighting is accepted and whose sighting is rejected, and how many sightings does it require.
Concerning when to begin to fast, there is a Hadith (متفق عليه) which reveals that a single sighting is enough to begin fasting. The hadith reported by Abu Dauda in his Sunan Al-Darimi, where Ibni Umar (رضي الله عنهما) said that he went out to sight the moon and everyone (other Ṣaḥāba) went out to sight it. He saw the moon, he came back and reported to the Prophet Muhammad ﷺ who then asked other Ṣaḥāba and they said they had not seen it. Then the prophet ﷺ fasted and ordered that people start fasting.
Quote: تراءَى الناس الهلال ، فأخبرت النبي – صلى الله عليه وآله وسلم – أني رأيتُه ؛ فصامه وأمر الناس بصيامه
“The people looked for the moon, so I informed the Messenger of Allah that I had sighted it. He fasted and commanded the people to fast” (Sunan Abu Dauud).
However, according to what is reported in Hadith ibn Abbas, the opinion is at least two sightings are necessary to end Ramadhan.
The relied upon opinion (mu-utamad) of the Hanbali is that a single sighting is enough to begin Ramadhan, while the Hanafi Madhab retains that you need a large number but without a clear definition of what a large number is.
Whereas the question of no sighting, in other words when the moon is not sighted at all, opinions defer whether it is not sighted when the search has been on a clear night or on a cloudy night.
At the time of the prophet Muhammadﷺ, it was a very simple searching. The practice was to see the moon with a naked eye. If they saw it, they fasted. If they didn’t see it, they completed the 30 days of Shaban. Same applies to breaking the fast, if they did not see the moon, they completed the 30 days of Ramadhan.
Later on, there came in some few differences of opinions among scholars, this, when telescopic sighting happened to be invented and people begun using visual aids to look for the moon.
Some of the scholars did not allow this, and maintained that we need to use the naked eye like the original teachings of the prophet Muhammad ﷺ. They took their opinion from a jurisprudence perspective (Fiqh). Other scholars who said we can use the visual aid, said so because a lot of the time the moon is there though not visible to a naked eye.
Then still there are different opinions within the mas-ala, when is the sighting to take place, is it on the 29th day when it’s clear, on the 29th day the whole day before the night or the day of the 30th before the night.
Anyway, the prophet ﷺ said to look for the moon on the 29th day, so it’s worth to go out and look for it. By searching for the moon, you’re certainly going to earn a reward for it, because the act itself is ibādah that was recommended by the prophet ﷺ. It is a moment of acceptance of duʿāʾ.
On the other hand, the opinion that whoever sees the moon first, the rest of the world should follow, is not a consensus, there is no unanimity in that opinion of jurisprudence. Although a big part of the world looks forward to following Saudi Arabia, who as example search the moon with visual aid (telescopic vision), and normally happen to see the crescent first, there is still no official declaration ruling out other different moon-search opinions.
Then there is an opinion regarding every region or every horizon matla-a, the opinion that every time the horizon differs, the moon sighting of that region should be singular.
On analysing the above opinions; the one about sighting with a naked eye among jurists and another among scholars that you are allowed to use a telescopic vision, then the Juristic perspective opinion that if one sees the moon it would be necessary that the others follow, then the opinion that different horizons should have their own sighting, the yardstick is to let the people take the opinion they feel is correct.
However, although many parts of the world look forward to following Saudi Arabia, who are used to searching the moon with visual aid (telescopic vision), and normally happen to see the crescent first, there is still no official juridical declaration ruling out other different moon-search opinions. And their opinion has no official or and relevant linkage to the sightings in the other places of the world, especially countries that are quite on different horizons such as Europe or the Americas. And that’s why we strongly believe that the moon search initiative set by The Grand Mosque of Rome will bring back the diverse Muslim communities in Europe to unanimity.
In the above context, and in accordance with the legitimate and legally valid principles, the Islamic Cultural Centre of Italy – Grand Mosque of Rome in collaboration with the National Institute of Astrophysics INAF, the Union of Italian Astrophiles UAI, and some other accredited observation groups, on the evening of the 29th of this Sha’ban went on to search the moon. This lunar observation produced positive results as the crescent moon of the month of Shawwal was sighted at the Astronomical Observatory of Cagliari in Sardinia, and hence the ʿīd day was announced on Monday 2ndMay 2022.
This observation also produced concrete results abroad, as it was approved by Muslim communities present in other European countries, to mention in particular the Pakistani Islamic Community in Germany and United Kingdom, where His eminence the Mufti Muhammad Bilal Qadri Attari and Mufti Shamsul Huda Misbahi spoke in person to the Imam of the Grand Mosque of Rome who ascertained them of the completion of the legally valid observation and eventually the sight of the crescent moon of the month of Shawwal. This observation too was adopted as legitimate in Britain, therefore announcing the ʿīd al-fiṭr
Day on Monday 2nd May 2022. However, though aware of this breakthrough, the Republic of Pakistan, due to their location on a different horizon and based on different other opinions, announced that Monday would be the thirtieth day of Ramadan and therefore ʿīd to be celebrated the following day, Tuesday.
In conclusion, it is a clear and positive indicator that the Italian model adopted by the Islamic Cultural Center of Italy – Grand Mosque of Rome, shows how in the future it is necessary to intensify coordination and cooperation at the European level in various fields, including the determination of the lunar observation with the aim of achieving a unified lunar calendar for the European countries.
And Allah is the patron of all success
Dr Abdellah M. Cozzolino