Moonsighting or Moonfighting

The Fiqh Council of North America and the Islamic Society of North America (ISNA) have decided to use astronomical calculations to determine the beginning and ending of the Islamic lunar calendar.

Ok, mark your calendars. Using these calculations, ISNA has announced the start of Ramadan as September 23, 2006 and Eid as the First of Shawwal October 23, 2006.

In addition to these decisions, ISNA has also published an Islamic calendar through 2011. Ma sha Allah.

Now, let the mercy for differences of opinion deriving from valid ijtihad begin with our tongues and in our hearts.

When we studied this issue in an AlMaghrib seminar the topic was called “Moonsighting or Moonfighting”. We learned the three major opinions namely sighting in each locality, following Saudi, and using calculations and then some of the subsections under these opinions. All three opinions derive some of their proof from a single hadeeth.

At the time of the sahaba (may Allah (SWT) be pleased with them) different parts of the Muslim world began fasting at different times including Madinah and Ash Sham so it shouldn’t matter if the start of the fast in North America differs from the start in Saudi.

Some advice from our instructor Muhammad Alshareef:
– Determine who is your leader and follow their decision
– Try and follow the widest body of leadership (such as ISNA over ISYH Islamic Society of Your House)
– Have mercy for all three opinions because they derive from valid ijtihad

I intend to follow ISNA but if my local masjid differs from ISNA as they have in the past then I will go with my masjid because I trust their leadership and it would not make sense to differ from them.