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Determining the beginning of the month of Ramadan

All praise is due to Allah the lord of the worlds and may Allah raise the rank of Prophet Muhammad and protect his nation from which he fears for them.

in Surat al-Baqarah verse #183 Allah The Exalted said:

يا أيـُّها الذين ءامنوا كُـتبَ عليكم الصيامُ كما كُـتبَ على الذين من قبلكم لعلكم تتقون

Which means: [O believers, Fasting is an obligation upon you as it was obligated upon the [Muslims] before you so it would help you to reach piety.]

The scholars of the four schools of Islamic Law (madhahib) agreed unanimously that the basis for determining the beginning of Ramadan is as follows: The crescent is visually observed after the sunset of the twenty-ninth (29th) day of Sha^ban. If the crescent is sighted, then the following day will be the first day of Ramadan. However, if the crescent is not sighted, then the next day will be the thirtieth (30th) of Sha^ban and the following day will be the beginning of Ramadan.

Some of the renowned scholars are as follows:

1. from the Shafi^iyy school : Al-Maziriyy, An-Nawawiyy, Shihab ud-Din ar-Ramliyy.

2. from the Hannafiyy school: The hafidh, the great linguist, Murtada az-Zabidiyy, Ibn ^Abidin, and others.

3. from the school of Imam Malik: Ash-Shaykh Muhammad ^Ulaysh al-Malikiyy, Al-Bajiyy, The judge, Ibn Rushd al-Malikiyy.

4. from the Hanbaliyy school: Al-Buhutiyy and Al-Khiraqiyy.

This is taken from the hadith of the Prophet related by al-Bukhariyy and Muslim:

[Do not fast one or two days before Ramadan. Start the month when you see the crescent and end the month when you see the crescent. If you are blocked from seeing it, complete Sha^ban thirty days.]

Based on the abovementioned, it is clear that the scholars of the four schools (madhahib) are in agreement upon not considering the sayings of the astrologers, astronomers, and/or mathematicians for determining the beginning and ending of the month of Ramadan.

Be warned of those who determine the month of Ramadan relying upon astronomical calculations. Prophet Muhammad informed us that such calculation is not relied upon in determining such matters. Imam Ahmad related in his Musnad that the Prophet said:

{We are a nation which does not depend on writings and calculations [to determine the beginning of the month]. The month is either twenty-nine or thirty days.}

Praise be to Allah, how easy the matter is. Any Muslim with a sound sight can observe the crescent. He does not need to rely on complex calculations only a few people understand.

Our advice to every Muslim is to abide by the sayings mentioned by the scholars of the four schools. The Muslim nation unanimously agreed on the high rank and integrity of those scholars.

Finally, blessed be those who abide by the Muslim Jama^ah, their masses of scholars, and the sayings of the Prophet, sallallahu ^alayhi wa sallam. The one who follows the mass of the nation succeeds and the one who strays, strays to Hellfire.

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