Seeing The New Crescent (Part 1)


In a hadith-i-sharif [1] quoted in Maraqil-falah, it is declared, "When you see the Moon start fasting! When you see her again, stop fasting." According to this order, the month of Ramadan begins when the waxing moon (the new crescent) is first sighted. In Ibni Abidin's discussion of the qibla [2] and in the books Ashi'at-ul-lama'at and Ni'mat-i islam, the authors (rahmatullahi ta'ala 'alaihim ajma'in) note that starting to fast by means of a calendar and calculation before seeing the new crescent is not permissible. It is wajib-i-kifaya for every Muslim to look for the new crescent on the thirtieth of the month of Sha'ban after the sunset and to go to the Qadi and inform him as soon as he sees the new moon.

[Islamic knowledge consists of two parts: religious knowledge ('Ulum-i-diniyya) and scientific knowledge ('Ulum-i-hikamiyya). The source of religious knowledge is adilla-i shar'iyya-i arbaa. This knowledge has been handed down in its complete and perfect form from the original source. It is beyond the capacity and scope of human intelligence. Calculation and other rational theories are not valid in this respect. That is to say, this transferred knowledge cannot be refuted or changed through one's mind or by calculation. Those who try to change this information through mental exercises are called philosophers. Philosophy has no place in religious knowledge. 'Ulum-i hikamiyya means scientific knowledge. The basis of scientific knowledge is calculation and experimentation. Rasulullah (sallallahu alaihi wa sallam) advised us not to try to change religious knowledge through calculation and experiment; on the other hand, he advised us to use calculation and experimentation in scientific research and to learn science from all sorts of sources, even if they are disbelievers.]

[1] hadith (sharif): i) a saying of the Prophet ('alaihi 's-salam).; al-Hadith ash-sharif: all the hadiths as a whole; ii) 'ilm al-hadith; iii) Books of the hadith ash-sharif. iv) Al-hadith al-qudsi, as-sahih, al-hasan: kinds of hadiths (for which, see Endless Bliss, II).
[2] qibla: direction towards the Ka'ba. The direction turned towards during worshipping (in Islam, toward the Ka'ba).