Question: What is the ruling on Sawm (Fasting) the last day of the month of Sha‘ban, if the scholars in a certain country did not reach an Ijma‘ (consensus of opinion) on confirmed sighting of the new moon of Ramadan, but later discovered that it was truly the first day of Ramadan? This happened in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia in the year 1404 A.H. Some people fasted on sighting the new moon of the month of Ramadan or being told of the sighting by reliable witnesses. Their Sawm turned out to be valid, as was confirmed later. They started and ended Sawm based on the sighting of the new moon. Yet, some shaykhs issued Fatwas saying that the Sawm of those who did not see the new moon is invalid, as they acted contradictory to the Jama‘ah (majority group) of Muslims even if they were wrong. The Fatwas went on to say that only the Muslim scholars of each country are entitled to confirm the sighting of the new moon. It also says that the Sawm of a person who relies upon the opinion issued concerning sighting the new moon by other scholars than those of their residence country, is invalid and they have to make up for it.
Answer: Anyone who sights the new moon of Ramadan on the night before the thirtieth of Sha‘ban or is told of the sighting by a reliable witness then fasts accordingly, their Sawm will be sufficient for them and they do not have to make up for it.
As for a person who fasts without sighting the new moon in person nor being told of the sighting by a reliable witness, then later discovers that it was the first day of Ramadan, their Sawm is not sufficient for them. In fact, they have to make up for this missed day and repent to Allah for fasting on the Day of Doubt (so called because there is doubt concerning it - is it the last day of Sha‘ban or the first day of Ramadan), because the Sahih (authentic) Hadiths reported from the Prophet (peace be upon him) indicate that it is prohibited to fast on the Day of Doubt.
May Allah grant us success! May peace and blessings be upon our Prophet Muhammad, his family, and Companions!
Permanent Committee for Scholarly Research and Ifta’