Every year we see some moon-sighting squabbles for one reason or another. This post is not on moon-sighting fiqh – it is simple sensible considerations to community decision makers and average Muslims (i.e me) on moon-sighting attitudes. I hope this helps community leaders make the most reasonable decision for their community, whatever that decision may be. My only hope is we outgrow this and realize moon-sighting is simply a yearly test from Allah.
“You will know you can preach and open your mouth when you love the people before you.” ~Imam al-Haddad
- Advice to the Decision-makers: Understand the struggles of the common Muslim. The Muslims are hungry all day, tired late-night after tarawih, many are desperately praying for shifa and rahma so their grief is constantly on their mind. Naturally then Muslim patience is thin and prone to fight and anger. Do not give them a reason to be angered!
- For every decision no matter how small ask yourself: What would Nabi ﷺ do?
- Is your decision-making out of touch with the average non-masjid-going Muslim? Are you deciding on a pedestal or have you taken the pulse of the community of Muslims? Do Muslims share your same conviction in your method of deciding or are they apathetic? Is there a deep reservoir of religious sentiment mixed with resentment in your community? Is your decision a fragile one that will test the community’s iman? Imam al-Shaybani said Imam as-Shafi’i would spend a lot of time talking with dyers to get to know their society, their concerns and adat, which is poignant because dyers were a stinky occupation. Can we expect the same from imams and community leaders today?
- Non-Muslim: Can non-Muslims venues accommodate Eid on either day? If not, do they deserve our business? Are we by default, letting non-Muslims choose which day we celebrate Eid on?
- Time constraints: You only have one chance at moon-sighting and announcing, you cannot change it halfway through the night. Can you expect people to change the day of Eid minutes before they go to bed?
- Risk assessment: What is at risk? What community bonds, fundraising efforts and attracting Eid-only Muslims are on the line with your decision?
- Who is having rahma on whom? Is the imam having rahma on the Muslims with his decision? Or are the Muslims being patient and merciful with the imam?
- Community Politics: Is the moon-sighting one battle in a long line of battles with another Muslim group or party?
- Is it worth losing the ajr of a possible Laylatul Qadr night by fighting for the reward of getting the day of Eid correct? I don’t think so, one is smaller and one is greater.
- Are community leaders intoxicated by the microphone? Are you jealous and wish you could be on the microphone and limelight instead of them?
- Don’t make your decision contingent upon another party of Muslims loyalty. Don’t make your moon-sighting niyyah to up-end another Muslim party.
- Is it more probable than not, you will err in moon-sighting this year?
- Is it better to be quiet and leave it to another party to decide? Is it guaranteed you will pick the right day every single year?
- Is there any good deed in picking the right day but with bad adab? No, you will upset Muslims and ruin their celebration.
- Before arguing consider: How can you make dua for the Muslims izzah during the Eid dua if you have fractured the Muslims the night before?
- Remember the Qur’anic ayahs against sectarianism: So direct your face toward the religion, inclining to truth. [Adhere to] the fitrah of Allah upon which He has created [all] people. No change should there be in the creation of Allah . That is the correct religion, but most of the people do not know. Adhere to it, turning in repentance to Him, and fear Him and establish prayer and do not be of those who associate others with Allah, or of those who have divided their religion and become sects, every faction rejoicing in what it has. (Rum: 31-32) and the verses [Allah said], “O messengers, eat from the good foods and work righteousness. Indeed, I, of what you do, am Knowing. And indeed this, your religion, is one religion, and I am your Lord, so fear Me.” But the people divided their religion among them into sects – each faction, in what it has, rejoicing. (al-Muminun: 51-53)
- Have you made salat al-istikhara before announcing the moon-sighting decision?
- Have you recited the dua of the new moon?
- Is the moon not a symbol of Rasulullah ﷺ? The Madinans sang Tal’al Badru alayna when Nabi ﷺ emigrated to Madina. It was the Madinans who equated seeing Nabi ﷺ with seeing the full moon and it is Nabi ﷺ who told us we will see Allah SWT in the Next life just as if we see the full moon.
- Recall the hadith: “The best of my umma are those who observe prayer times by shadow on the ground & sight moon with their eyes.” (Tabarani) You do not need to be a community leader to do this.
- Advice to the Common Muslims
- Is there any sin on you if the imam picks the wrong day? No, there is no sin on you. The sin, if there is any sin, is on the imam and not the Muslims that follow the imam.
- Cheer up fellow Muslims on Eid. Hand out candy and treats to kids and balloons.
- Be patient and tolerant with Muslim community leaders, especially if they are elderly. For some of them, this is their only time to take a lead and change the direction the community is heading in, for better or worse.
- This is a time-limited trial – it lasts not more than 24 hours, so don’t prolong it by talking about it ad nauseam.
- Pray that these troubles are solved and Allah puts in their place much good.
Maybe this will not benefit anybody but somebody has to say these things. Ramadhan mubarak.
Subhana kallahumma wa bihamdika ash-haduana la illaha illa Ant astaghfiruka wa atubu ilayk, ameen.