The Fiqh Council of North America after careful research, deliberations and discussion has adopted a new position regarding the determination of the beginning of the Islamic lunar months. This position is based primarily on the following Fiqhi premises:
Sighting the Hilal (ru’yah) is not an act of ‘ibadah in itself; it is rather a means to know with certainty about the beginning of the new month related to Islamic ‘Ibadat.
Ru’yah as a means was indicated and used by the Prophet Ðpeace be upon him- because he himself said that the Ummah at that time was not literate and did not know how to write or to calculate (complicated astronomical data).
Some classical jurists were willing to accept the calculations. Some classical jurists refused to allow calculations in this matter because in their time astronomy and astrology were not quite distinct sciences. Jurists were suspicious that astronomical predictions may not be based on exact science but on whims, conjectures, magic etc.
During the last century an increasing number of Muslim jurists indicated that calculations could be used to negate erroneous reports of crescent sighting. Some jurists were of the opinion that calculations could also be used as a positive method to determine the new Islamic lunar months.
There are now many Muslim astronomers who have been working for many years to develop a global lunar Islamic calendar. Fiqh Council particularly appreciates the efforts of its consultants Dr. Imad ad-Dean Ahmad, Dr. Khalid Shaukat, Dr. Muhib Durrani and Dr. Ahmad Salamah. Dr. Salah Soltan and Dr. Zulfiqar Ali Shah also presented scholarly papers to give thorough evidence from Fiqh Perspective that the use of calculations is not against the Sunnah of the Prophet Ðpeace be upon him.
The Fiqh Council of North America considered the following factors in making its decision:
Use of calculations in determining the Islamic dates is not against the Sunnah. Sure astronomical methods are now available to provide a sound basis for the determination of the Islamic dates of Ramadan and the two Eids. Shari’ah is based on ease and considers the convenience of people.
Announcement of Islamic dates ahead of time will reduce a lot of hardship, chaos and confusion that happen every year at the time of the beginning of Ramadan and the two Eids. Announcement of Islamic dates will help Muslims to plan their activities in advance, facilitating their ability to take off from work or school. Many other benefits will result from this.