In the Name of Allah, the Beneficent, the Merciful Announcement Concerning: The Crescent Moon of…
Dear brothers and sisters,
May Allah bless you and accept your deeds and fast this holy month.
The blessed month of Ramadhan is one of the most prominent examples of worshipping Allah and seeking His pleasure. At the same time, it is an opportunity to train one’s self by purifying it through group recitation of the Holy Qur’an and gatherings which remember Allah through supplication and the attainment of knowledge, which reach their climax on the Nights of Power (Qadr). After this, everyone prepares for the divine gift of the joyous day of Eid.
However, as this divine gift approaches, the discussion of unifying the joyous day heats up and the conversation of who is right and who is wrong sometimes overshadows some of the greatest attributes of this month, which are forgiveness, tolerance and respecting our differences.
As you well know, Islam is a religion rich with diversity of followers and opinions, and it is no secret that there are various rulings in regard to identifying the end of the month of Ramadhan, whether through moon-sighting or using astronomy. Such diversity is a healthy mix of ideas, and we ask you kindly to respect the diversity of our community and the different methods each group uses to mark the Eid and celebrate the holiday.
We are fortunate to have great jurists among us to guide us and set a great example of tolerance and respect for us to follow. For example, Ayatollah Sh. al-Fayyadh, Ayatollah Sayyid al-Hakim, and Ayatollah Basheer al-Najafi are three grand jurists in the Holy City of Najaf, and they differ in their verdicts on the unity of sighting horizons with Grand Ayatollah Sayyid Sistani. On more than one occasion, out of respect for the grand jurist and to unify their followers, they called upon their followers to delay the public announcement of Eid and performed the Eid prayer the next day.
We hope that we all work to emulate these great scholars, accept each other’s differences, educate others on tolerance and acceptance and focus on celebrating the joyous three-day Eid. May Allah accept our fast and set us on the right path.
- With the Greater Occultation of Imam Mahdi, may Allah hasten his appearance, come several challenges. One of these challenges is the absence of the ability to ascertain the actuality of the Islamic verdict on moon-sighting. Therefore, no one other than the infallible Imam (ajfs) knows the actual reality, in its entirety, such that they can claim that one opinion is correct while the others are wrong. Therefore, we must be accepting of other juristic opinions that are rooted in the knowledge of the Holy Household of Prophet Muhammad (s).
- The jurists are the ones that have the ability to derive Islamic laws. Without a doubt, the very nature of the derivation of Islamic laws means a diversity of juristic opinions and verdicts. Proving the sighting of the crescent moon is one such issue that has been subject to diverse juristic opinions during the period of the greater occultation. Therefore, we must be accepting of other juristic opinions that are rooted in the knowledge of the Holy Household of Prophet Muhammad (s).
- The sighting of the crescent moon is proven through the sighting of the moon by two just witnesses. The term “just” means a Muslim who is of the Twelver (Ithna ‘Ashari) school of thought who is consistent in fulfilling his religious obligations (al-wajibat) and who refrains from performing the forbidden acts (al-maharamat). The sighting of the crescent moon is NOT proven through the news of a “trustworthy” individual who has not actually sighted the moon. Therefore, it is important to know the religious ruling for the actual witnessing of the crescent moon.
- Contentment, in the religious context, is personal and others may not be bound by one’s personal contentment with the witnessing of the crescent moon. Therefore, contentment is not proof upon others and others are not bound by it.
- The offices of the grand jurists have web sites through which one can communicate directly if one wants to know a religious ruling. This can also be done through their dependable agents across the world. Therefore, there is no reason to disseminate the opinion of a jurist without checking with the proper resources.
- The jurists do not disagree with the astronomical data, in as much as they are concerned with it providing “knowledge” and “contentment” in the actual sighting of the crescent moon. There is no doubt that the astronomers are the experts in providing accurate calculations, however, they make it clear that their calculations are mathematical predictions and do not give certainty of the actual time and location that the crescent moon can be sighted. Therefore, the predictions of the scientists of astronomy are not binding, except if they give contentment.
- In the period of the Greater Occultation, the Eid prayer is recommended (not obligatory) and performing it on the following day is acceptable according to the jurists, with the intention of “rajaa’.” Therefore, there is a religious allowance to do so.
- Parents should make a sacrifice by taking a two-day vacation from work to provide joy and happiness to every member of the family. Such a sacrifice will be rewarded by increased wealth and blessings for the entire household because one brought happiness into the lives of the believers. Therefore, that which we do outside of Eid should be done on this occasion too.
- It is important to show understanding of the difficulty in unifying the Day of Eid, which will not occur as long as the Imam (ajfs) is in occultation and the door to juristic derivation of Islamic law stands. We should show transparency and tolerance by accepting such diversity and educating others and ourselves. Are we not accepting of diversity in other facets of our lives? Why not do the same when it comes to Eid? Therefore, there should be no reason not to open our Islamic centers to all, without bias to one group over another.
Predictions of the Crescent Moon of Shawwal 1437 AH
The astronomical data predictions do not show the possibility of sighting the crescent moon of the month of Shawwal 1437 on sunset of Monday, July 4, 2016 in North America. Rather, it provides data which gives certainty the sighting will easily be made on Tuesday, July 5, 2016 in most of North America. Based on this information, there is a very high possibility the first day of Eid will be Wednesday, July 6, 2016 if Allah (swt) wills. Look for the Crescent Moon Committee of The Council of Shia Muslim Scholars of North America announcement late Monday, July 4, 2016; or call (313) 562-4626.