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ISNA announces Eid dates in accordance with Saudis rather than Islam

Zafar Bangash

The Fiqh Council of North America, which is linked to the Islamic Society of North America (ISNA), has issued an astonishing statement regarding the date of Eid al-Adha, which amounts to a recommendation that Muslims ignore the commandments of Allah. The statement recommends that Muslims follow the Saudis in determining the date of Eid al-Adha in preference to the commandments of the Qur’an, despite the Saudis’ established record of marking the two Eids, and other key dates, on the wrong days.

Dhul Hijjah Moon Data

Saturday, February 1, 2003
5:48am (Toronto) / 10:48am (GMT)

Therefore, on February 1, no visibility possible anywhere in the world


Sunday, February 2

(Age of moon at sunset in Toronto: 36 hours)

Dhul Hijjah 1

Monday, February 3

Eid al-Adha (Dhul Hijjah 10) falls on Wednesday, February 12, 2003

The correct timings of Ramadhan, Eid al-Fitr, Eid al-Adha and Hajj are quite clear if one follows the Qur’an and the Sunnah of Allah’s noble Messenger (saw). Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala says: “They ask thee [O Prophet] about the hilaal [the thin crescent that appears in the sky]: Tell them, they are for determining the seasons and the day of Hajj” (Qur’an 2:189). There are also severalahadith of the Prophet (saw) that emphasise sighting the moon for the start of each Islamic month.

It is now well established that the Saudi regime uses the birth of the moon, instead of the sighting criterion, to determine the dates. To go along with the Saudis is to go against the commandments of Allah and the Sunnah of Rasool-Allah (saw), which is a grave sin. No amount of sophistry about Muslim unity can change this fact, although the Fiqh Council is trying to obscure it.

The Fiqh Council’s statement, issued last November, reads in part: “Last year, the Fiqh Council of North America recommended to the Shura Council of North America that the determination of Eidul Adha be based on sighting the Crescent in North America. This recommendation was based on numerous Fatwas of several prominent scholars from various parts of the world. They indicated that there is no sound basis for distinction between the determination of Ramadan and Eidul Adha, either by unity of Matla’ or difference of Matla’.” (The full text of this statement can be found at the website www.moonsighting.com.)

The Fiqh Council statement admits its longstanding position to determine the beginning and end of Ramadhan on the basis of sighting the crescent in North America. Determination of Eid al-Adha on the same basis is seen as being more consistent. It also admits that a considerable proportion of the Muslim community in North America appears more inclined to the above “fatwas”. The problem with its statement arises when it asserts that the Fiqh Council’s decision to adopt these “fatwas” is motivated by the desire that “there may be greater unity among Muslims.” Muslims do not need the fatwas of scholars about issues on which there are clear instructions in the Qur’an and numerous authentic ahadith of the Prophet (saw). Fatwas are needed on issues about which there are no clear injunctions.

The statement goes on to say that the “recommendation” was “contingent on educating the Muslim community prior to Eid about the impending change and the reasons behind it.” Instead there were heated arguments and less unity. Now the Fiqh Council has decided to go back to the practices of jahiliyya by adopting a position that is not based on the Qur’an and the Sunnah of Allah’s Messenger (saw).

Can unity among Muslims be achieved by violating the commands of Allah? Is there anything in the Qur’an or ahadith literature that tells us that we must follow those who control Makkah, and must determine the day of Eid al-Adha by the arbitrary determination of the days of Hajj by the occupiers of the Haramain? There is the well-known example of Abdullah ibn Mas’ud (ra), one of the Prophet’s Companions, who went to Makkah for Hajj according to the moonsighting in Madinah. He planned to arrive in Makkah on the eighth of Dhul Hijjah; when he arrived there, the people were already in Arafat. Upon enquiry, he was told that the moon had been sighted earlier in Makkah and that it was the ninth of Dhul Hijjah, the Day of Arafat. Neither during the time of the Prophet (saw) nor during that of his illustrious Companions, may Allah be pleased with them all, was there any attempt to determine when the people of Makkah were going to perform Hajj so that the rest of the Muslims could celebrate Eid al-Adha the following day. So how can Muslims now introduce such bid’ahs and claim to be serving the cause of Muslim unity?

Who are these so-called scholars who have the cheek to advise us to disobey Allah (astaghfirullah) for the sake of ‘unity’? And who are the scholars whose “fatwas” are considered to take precedence over the commands of the Qur’an and the Prophet (saw)? It is utterly unacceptable to claim that “there is room in Islamic Fiqh to adopt a weaker, but still acceptable opinion if that achieves greater benefit (maslaha); in that case greater unity.” This is nonsense. Muslims cannot obtain benefits by flouting Allah’s clear commands; real benefits can accrue to us only in complete obedience to Allah.

Article from

Crescent International Vol. 31, No. 22

Dhu al-Qa'dah 13, 14232003-01-16

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