9 April 2023
Determination of Beginning and End of Ramadan
1. The determination for the beginning and end of Ramadan follows the guidance of Prophet Muhammad p.b.u.h. in a few narrations, among them a hadith which means: Do not fast until you have sighted the crescent moon, do not end your fast (celebrate Eid) until you have seen it (the Syawal crescent moon). If it is obscured from you, then regard the month of Ramadan as 30 days.
2. Based on the guidance, scholars use two primary criteria, hisab (calculation based on the science of astronomy) and rukyah (the sighting of the moon) to determine whether the crescent moon is visible.
Independent Determination by a Country
3. Based on the Shariah, it is not obligatory for one country to follow another. As narrated in the Hadith of Kuraib, where Saidina Ibn Abbas R.A. after mentioning that each country should act according to its sighting, he states that this was the order of Prophet Muhammad p.b.u.h. As a result, each country should rely on its own methods to determine the beginning of the Hijri calendar. Whether a country adopts the rukyah (sighting) method or the Imkanur rukyah (calculation) method.
Determination of Ramadan and Syawal by MABIMS Countries
4. In this region, differences in the start of the Hijri calendar have occurred very frequently in the past (as recent as 2014, 2015, 2016, 2017, 2021 and 2022) and may well occur again in future. For as long as we hold true to the principles of our faith and the guidance of Prophet Muhammad p.b.u.h, differences in the determination of the Islamic calendar is something which is neither unexpected nor alarming.
5. The religious authorities of other MABIMS countries adopt the rukyah method to determine key Islamic months such as Ramadan and Syawal. However, these countries might also not sight the crescent moon due to atmospheric factors despite fulfilling the MABIMS criteria.
6. In Singapore, it is generally extremely difficult for the crescent moon to be visible because of its climatic conditions, which is often cloudy. Thus, Singapore uses the Imkanur rukyah method, which was recently reviewed in 2021, based on more than 700 data points of crescent sightings from around the world. This criteria considers two parameters during sunset on the 29th day of the month – the elevation of the crescent moon (which must exceed 3 degrees) and the degree of elongation of the sun and the moon (which must exceed 6.4 degrees).
7. Although the results may differ, all MABIMS countries adopt a method of determination which is based on the principles and guidance of Prophet Muhammad p.b.u.h, and their individual results are valid in their respective contexts.
USTAZ DR MOHD MURAT MD ARIS
OFFICE OF THE MUFTI