I. Details about the situation

The Kamal family lives in Michigan and is preparing to fast in the blessed month of Ramadan. A respected local scholar has announced that Monday is the first day of the blessed month, but other reputable institutions have announced it will be Tuesday. What should the Kamal family do? Are they required to fast on Monday?

II. Background

Ways of establishing moon sighting and the start of the lunar month could be in one or more of the following ways:

You sighted the moon yourself.
The testimony of two just (adil) men, provided that you do not have any knowledge of instances that they may be wrong and that you do not dispute their testimony.
A statement from a group of people or an organization from which one can obtain certainty or near certainty of the crescent sighting.
The passing of thirty days of the month of Shaban, which would guarantee that Shaban has ended and that the month of Ramadan will begin.
The spread of common news (shaya) such that the person becomes certain of the crescent sighting.

III. Ruling

In this scenario, since the statement of the respected local scholar is contrary to the statement of other reliable and trustworthy scholars or organizations, none of  the statements would be valid due to the contradiction and the failure of contentment [itminan] Hence, it is doubtful that Monday is the beginning of the blessed month of Ramadan. In a situation like this, Monday would be considered the last day of Shaban and Tuesday would be the beginning of Ramadan.

IV. Action

For the Kamal family, the beginning of the blessed month will be Tuesday, because we are in doubt whether the moon was sighted for Monday [istishab]. However, it is recommended for them to fast on Monday as yawm al-shak or the day of doubt.

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