As yet another Ramadan comes, the question arises? should we follow the opinion of the local moonsighting, or the international moonsighting? Great arguments erupt, people insulting each other left and right, breaking ties, breaking families …
Brothers and sisters, ya Muslims, WAKE UP!! Realize that all the opinions which are backed by the scholars are correct!
What? All of them?
Yes. all of them.
How does that work? In Islam, we have scholars (‘ulama), and we have people who have the knowledge and tools and responsibility to give fatwa (mujtahidoon). For us, the ignorant lay-people, we don’t have the tools or knowledge; we are sinful if we try and make fatwa out of ignorance (even if we’re right–the way a random guy off the street is still liable to be hauled into jail for doing brain surgery, even if he succeeded).
Islamically, the scholars are the ones who determine what exactly Allah wants from us. They wade neck-deep into books and books of Qur’an, tafseer, ahadith, opinions of companions and tabieen, rulings of previous scholars, consensuses of the ummah, and so on. More importantly, they are the ones who determine which opinions are acceptable.
And it’s a tough job. At the end of it, you’re saying, “Allah wants this.” That’s a big statement to make! Don’t take it lightly!
So what about the moonfighting issue? What have the scholars said?
According to the scholars, there are multiple correct opinions about when to start Ramadan. Not just one. More than one. And they all have legitimate proofs.
What are some of the opinions that have scholarly backing?
- Local moonsighting is correct.
- International moonsighting is correct.
- Calculating the dates is correct.
So what does this mean for you and me? What are we supposed to do, if every opinion has some legitimacy?
- Find people of knowledge and Taqwa, and follow them. Let them do the hard work of determining what’s the best opinion each year, and follow it. Trust them. They have more knowledge, and they have taqwa of Allah; they won’t try and follow their desires.
- Accept that (almost) every opinion has legitimate scholarly backing. This means that, if someone follows an opinion that’s not yours (and who are you, anyway?):
- They’re not kaafir
- They’re not faasiq
- They’re not sinners
- Their fast is not invalidated; it’s legitimate.
- They’re not doing anything haraam
They should NOT break their fast and make it up
Follow the majority. If 80% of the massajid in your area follow one opinion, and just two or three masjids follow a different opinion, don’t be those two or three masjids.
Relax! Chill out! Don’t get so stressed! Take an opinion and run with it; don’t cause stress to yourself, your family, your relatives, your friends. Chill!
And this difference-of-opinion thing? Islamically, with an issue, two people (who have the knowledge and tools and responsibility) make fatwa; the one who’s wrong? He gets one rewards, subhanallah! Not sin! Reward! Why? Because he had the tools and knowledge, and he did his best; even if he’s wrong, he gets reward! And the one who’s right? He gets two rewards!
So RELAX! Enjoy Ramadan! It’s a time of ibadah, a time to turn over a new leaf, a time to pick up new good habits and drop some old bad ones.
Ramadan Mubarak to you and your families!
Muhammad Alshareef. Lecture. AlMaghrib. Rizq Management. University of Toronto, Toronto. June 2006.
Muhammad Alshareef. Lecture. AlMaghrib. Code of Scholars. University of Toronto, Toronto. August 2005.