It was narrated on the authority of Abu Hurairah, may Allaah be pleased with him that the Messenger of Allaah, peace and blessing be upon him, said: “Do not anticipate Ramadhaan by fasting one or two days before it begins, but if a man habitually fasts, then let him fast.” (1).

It was narrated that ‘Abdullaah ibn ‘Umar, may Allaah be pleased with them, said: “I heard the Messenger of Allaah, peace and blessing be upon him, saying, “When you see the crescent (of the month of Ramadhaan), start fasting, and when you see the crescent (of the month of Shawwaal), stop fasting; and if the sky is overcast (and you cannot see it), then regard the month of Ramadhaan as of 30 days.”  (2).

Such are two great Hadeeths related to anticipating Ramadhaan by fasting one or two days before it begins and seeing the crescent of Ramadhaan and Shawwaal. We will tackle in the following points the benefits and rulings that they have.

Firstly, the Hadeeth of Abu Hurairah, may Allaah be pleased with him, indicates the prohibition of anticipating Ramadhaan by fasting one or two days before it begins. It was also stated in the narration reported by Al-Bukhaari, may Allaah have mercy upon him: “None of you should fast a day or two before the month of Ramadan…” (3).

At-Timithi, may Allaah have mercy upon him, said after reporting this Hadeeth: “Muslim scholars have disliked that one precedes Ramadhaan by fasting a day or two before Ramadhaan because Ramadhaan is the month of Fasting.” end quote

Ibn Hajar, may Allaah have mercy upon him, said: “Muslim scholars have said the Hadeeth means do not precede Ramadhaan by fasting before it so that one may be in the safe side and the fasting of Ramadhaan may be distinguished.”

Secondly, this Hadeeth indicates that the one who used to fast some in a certain way is excluded from this prohibition such as the one who used to fast on Thursdays for example, and then Ramadhaan comes directly after it. He is excluded from such prohibition. Al-Haafith ibn Hajar, may Allaah have mercy upon him, said: “Exception here means that whoever used to fast, he is allowed to do it because he is accustomed to do it and leaving the accustomed matters is actually difficult while this has nothing to do with welcoming the month of Ramadhaan in anything.” End quote

Furthermore, making up for the missed fasts and vows are also included in such exception. Scholars have said: “Making up for the missed fasts and vows with the decisive evidences are also excluded from this prohibition for they are to be fulfilled and thus the decisive obligation cannot be invalidated by what is uncertain.”

Thirdly, Al-Haafith ibn Hajar, may Allaah have mercy upon him, said: “This Hadeeth implies a refutation for the opinion of those who view that one can observe fasting before seeing the crescent and those who view the permissibility of the general supererogatory fasting.”

Fourthly, Muslim scholars, may Allaah have mercy upon them, have stated a number of wisdoms of this prohibition such as breaking fast before Ramadhaan makes one strong and energetic to fulfill the fasting of Ramadhaan and that the supererogatory fasting will not be mixed with the obligatory one. Such wisdoms also include that ruling is based on seeing the crescent and thus whoever precedes it with fasting one or two day is trying to annul this ruling. All of such wisdoms are deduced from this prohibition and whether they are the wisdoms behind prohibition or there are many others, the prohibition of preceding Ramadhaan with fasting one or two days will remain as it is.

Fifthly, the Hadeeth indicates with his apparent meaning that it is permissible to fast three days or more before Ramadhaan because the Hadeeth only prohibits fasting a day or two before it. So, if one fasts five days before Ramadhaan for example and then breaks fasting, then this will be something permissible and is not included in the prohibition. In spite of this fact, some scholars made prohibition starts from the middle of the month of Sha‘baan. However, this is incorrect for the weakness of the Hadeeth reported in this regard. Allaah Knows best.

Sixthly, it was stated in the Hadeeth narrated by ‘Abdullaah ibn Umar, may Allaah be pleased with them: “When you see it, start fasting,…”refers to the crescent.

His saying: “…and if the sky is overcast (and you cannot see it),...” due to dust, cloud or the like.

Seventhly, the Hadeeth has an explicit indication that the beginning of the month of Ramadhaan or Shawwaal depends on seeing the crescent. Thus, if the crescent is seen on the 30th night of Sha‘baan, then this is a proof that Ramadhaan has started. The same applies to seeing the crescent on the 30th of Ramadhaan, then this is a proof that the month of Shawwaal has started. That is because the Messenger of Allaah, peace and blessing be upon him, said: “When you see the crescent (of the month of Ramadhaan), start fasting, and when you see the crescent (of the month of Shawwaal), stop fasting…”

Accordingly, if the crescent of the 30th night of Shawwaal is not seen, then fasting has not become obligatory yet and the month of Ramadhaan has not started yet.

Eighthly, The Hadeeth also indicates that if the crescent is not seen on the 30th night of Sha‘baan and this is due to cloud, dust and the like, then the Messenger’s, peace and blessing be upon him, instruction here is to “…then regard the month of Ramadhaan as of 30 days.”

Scholars have two different opinions regarding the meaning of this wording:

1- It is obligatory to fast this day so that one may be in the safe side. Those scholars regarded the Arabic wording to mean limiting it i.e. let it (the month of Sha‘baan) be twenty-nine days only and this is the well known opinion reported from the Math-hab of Imam Ahmad, may Allaah have mercy upon him.

2- It is the opinion of the majority of the Muslim scholars that it is not obligatory to fast it and if one fasts it as a day from Ramadhaan, it will not be valid or sufficient because it is not from Ramadhaan. Those scholars regarded the Arabic wording as completing the month of Sha‘baan with thirty days as it was explicitly stated in the narration reported by the two prominent scholars Al-Bukhaari and Muslim on the authority of Abu Hurairah, may Allaah be pleased with him, that the Prophet, peace and blessing be upon him, said: “Start fasting on seeing the crescent (of Ramadhaan), and give up fasting on seeing the crescent (of Shawwaal), and if the sky is overcast (and you cannot see it), complete thirty days of Sha‘baan.” (4) This is the opinion of Sheykh Al-Islaam Ibn Taymiyyah and his student Ibn Al-Qayyim, may Allaah have mercy upon them.

Ninthly, the Prophet, peace and blessing be upon him, said: “Start fasting on seeing the crescent (of Ramadhaan),…”, if the crescent is sighted in any country, is it obligatory upon all Muslims worldwide to observe fasting or not?

Scholars held different opinions regarding this issue:

1- Imam Abu Haneefah and the well known opinion of Imam Ahamd, may Allaah be pleased with them, stated that all Muslims worldwide are required to fast because the beginning of Ramadhaan was proved and its rulings are well established.

2- A group of the scholars is of the opinion that the people of a given country are not obliged to follow the sighting of other countries and that every country has its crescent. They quoted the Hadeeth narrated on the authority of Kurayb, may Allaah be pleased with him, where he said, "While I was in Shaam, the month of Ramadhaan commenced. We saw the crescent on the night of Friday. I then returned to Al-Madeenah at the end of the month. ‘Abdullaah ibn ‘Abbaas asked me, 'When did you see the crescent?' I said, 'We saw it on the night of Friday.' He said, 'Did you see it yourself?' I said, 'Yes, and the people also saw it and they fasted and so did Mu‘aawiyah.' He said, 'But we saw it on the night of Saturday. So we shall continue fasting until we complete thirty days or we see it (the new crescent of Shawwaal).' I said, Is not Mu‘aawiyah's sighting and fasting sufficient for you?' He replied, 'No; this is how the Messenger of Allaah, peace and blessing be upon him, commanded us.' (5)  [Reported by Muslim].

 

Imam Ash-Shaafi, may Allaah have mercy upon him, discussed this issue in some details saying: “If there are differences in moon sighting between countries, then every country has its ruling in this issue and if the moon cannot be seen, then they have only one ruling regarding fasting and breaking fasting.” This is the opinion that Sheykh Al-Islam Ibn Taymiyyah, may Allaah have mercy upon him, has also adopted.

Tenthly, this Hadeeth refutes the claim of those who depend on astronomical calculations only away from seeing the crescent. The Messenger of Allaah, peace and blessing be upon him, linked the beginning and ending of the month with seeing the crescent with the normal eyesight. This actually does not contradict the modern technologies that help one see better. 

 

__________________________

 

1) Reported by Imam Al-Bukhaari 4/127 no. (1914), in the Book of As-Sawm (Fasting), the chapter: Do not start fasting one or two days before Ramadhaan, Imam Muslim 2/762, no. (1082), in the Book of Fasting, the chapter: Do not start fasting one or two days before Ramadhaan, and Abu Daawood 1/713, no. (2335), in the Book of Fasting, the chapter: Regarding whoever connected Sha‘baan with Ramadhaan.

2) Reported by Imam Al-Bukhaari 4/133 no. (1900), in the Book of Fasting, the chapter: Should it be said Ramadhaan or the month of Ramadhaan?, and Imam Muslim 2/759, no. (1080), in the Book of Fasting, the chapter: The obligation to fast Ramadhaan when the crescent is sighted, and to break the fast when the crescent is sighted, and Ibn Maajah 1/529, no. (1654), in the Book of Fasting, the chapter: When you see the crescent (of the month of Ramadhaan), start fasting, and when you see the crescent (of the month of Shawwaal), stop fasting.

3) Reported by Imam Al-Bukhaari 4/127 no. (1914), in the Book of Fasting, the chapter: Do not start fasting one or two days before Ramadhaan, and Imam Muslim 2/762, no. (1082), in the Book of Fasting, the chapter: Do not start fasting one or two days before Ramadhaan.

4) Reported by Imam Al-Bukhaari 4/199 no. (1909), in the Book of Fasting, the chapter: The saying of the Prophet, peace and blessing be upon him, "Start observing Saum on seeing the crescent of Ramadhaan, and stop on seeing the crescent (of Shawwaal)" and Imam Muslim 2/762, no. (1081), in the Book of Fasting, the chapter: It is permissible to fast or not to fast during Ramadan for one who is travelling for no sinful purpose, and Imam Ahmad 2/454 – 456.

5) Reported by Imam Muslim 2/765, no. (1087), in the Book of Fasting, the chapter: Each land has its own sighting of the moon, and if they see the crescent in one land, that does not necessarily apply to regions that are far away from it.

 

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