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When Should Eid Al-Adha Be Celebrated?

Mufti Muhammed Qamarul Hasan Qadiri
Translated by: Mohammad Ameen Marfani
Publisher: Al-Noor Society of Greater Houston, Texas, 77081

Dear Brothers in Islam,
This booklet is prepared for the sole purpose of clarifying the confusion in the Muslim Ummah about the actual day of Eid Al-Adha. Please read this with a careful understanding.

The Islamic calendar is based on sighting of the Moon. The beginning and ending of the months relies on witnessing the Moon sighting. Allah Subhanahu Wa-Ta’ala clearly mentions this in the Holy Qura’an :

'They ask you about the new moon. Say you, ‘They are the signs of time for the people and pilgrimage (Hajj).' 2:189 (Sura Al-Baqarah, Verse 189)

“And We made night and day as two signs, then put the signs of the night blotted and the sign of day shining, that you may seek grace of Allah and that you may know the numbering of years, and the reckoning. And We have explained well every thing separately.' 17:12 (Sura Bani-Israil, Verse 12)

In both of these verses the timings and days are appointed based on the Moon. The counting of years is also dependent on the passing of nights and days. The Noble Prophet of Allah (Peace Be Upon Him) also clarified this very plainly for the simplicity of his Ummah in a complete form of law.

“Allah Subhanahu Wa-Ta’ala created moon for mankind to determine time. So by sighting the Moon, start fast and end fast (Eid). If that Moon does not appear then complete the count of thirty (30) days.' (Tafseer Ibn-e-Katheer, Book 1, Page 214)

For the Muslim Ummah, Qura’an and Hadith are the norm. By virtue of the Qura’an and Hadith we know that Islamic months begin and end upon sighting of the Moon. The day after the Moon is sighted is the first day of the following month. If the Moon does not appear, for any reason, on the 29th day of any given month, then 30 days of that month should be completed and the following month be started after the completion.

Some people, upon sighting the New Moon, start assuming that the New Moon seems to be of the second day. They rely upon the supposition of the second day Moon and say this is not the first day Moon (New Moon). The following Hadith will be sufficient to nullify these comments:

“Hadhrat Abul Bakhtari (May Allah Be Pleased With Him) said, ‘We started our journey for Umrah. When we reached Batn-e-Nakhla, we saw the Moon. Someone commented that this seems like a third day Moon. Another person suggested that this is a second day Moon. Then we approached Hadhrat Ibn-e-Abbas (May Allah Be Pleased With Him) and respectfully informed him that we saw the Moon on the way. Some of us made comments of it being a second day Moon and others, third day Moon. Then Hadhrat Ibn-e-Abbas (May Allah Be Pleased With Him) asked which night you saw the Moon. We told him such and such day. He replied that the Holy Prophet (Peace Be Upon Him) said that the night you witnessed the New Moon is the night you rely on.’”
(Tafseer Qurtabi, Book 1, Vol. 2, Page 344)

This dilemma is now quite clear that Moon sighting is the basis of a month’s beginning and ending. If the Moon is not sighted on the 29th day of a given month, then thirty (30) days must be completed. At the same time when the Moon, if appearing to be thicker and staying longer on the horizon, is sighted upon a completion of 30 days, do not start speculating or assuming that it may be such and such day’s Moon. This is against the commands of our Holy Prophet (Peace Be Upon Him).

In the context we hear people saying that this is the age of science, technology, and advancements in astronomy. They conclude that we can measure the velocity and location of the Moon. Based on this, many people assume one must follow scientific means and that there is no need to observe the Moon.

With due respect, we say that Islamic Shariah bases its verdict in the light of principles of astronomy. According to astronomical explanations, at the end of the month when the Moon is waning, the time between the disappearance and appearance of the Moon by the horizon is called “Muhaaq” or the Unseen Time. During this phase, the Sun and the Moon are at approximately the same level on the horizon. Due to this, the Moon’s visibility is drowned by the Sun’s light. In result, the Moon is invisible. The period of “Muhaaq” ranges from 36 to 50 hours. However, after this phase, the Moon enters the New Moon period and emerges from the horizon (and the vicinity of the Sun). Afterwards, in the waxing phase, when the Moon is 12° (degrees) from the Sun, it becomes visible to the unaided eye.

Now take the words of Hadith which says, “Start fast with the appearance of Moon and end fast with the appearance of the Moon.” This clearly points to the principles of “Muhaaq” (when the Moon is invisible). Since the New Moon comes after completing its phase of “Muhaaq”, there is a possibility of it being seen on the horizon. This is why Islamic Shariah does not recognize the birth of the Moon in blindness; rather it considers its appearance on the horizon. The ruling of Shariah applies to the observance of the Moon. Only upon visibility does the month start, not before the appearance on the horizon.

In North America, unfortunately, upon the announcement of starting of the month Zel-Hijjah, discussions start floating on the assumption that Eid Al-Adha should be observed on the second day of Oqoof-e-Arafaat (Hajj). Emphasis is exerted on the belief that there is no need to observe the Moon on a local level. Those who oppose this idea are thought to be wrong. Apparently, there is no logic towards that assumption. Now we will analyze the logic and ask our readers to read carefully.

If Eid Al-Adha is dependant upon Hajj, then the following objections arise:
I. Making Hajj a condition or dependency factor for Eid Al-Adha is against the Qura’an and Hadith. There is neither proof of it in the Qura’an nor Hadith because there is a long time span between the permissibility of both events. The Eidain (‘Al-Fitr’ and ‘Al-Adha’) were made obligatory in the first year of the Hijrah calendar and Hajj was made obligatory in the ninth year of the Hijrah calendar. The Eids were declared festivities eight years before Hajj was made obligatory.

“Hadhrat Anas (May Allah Be Pleased With Him) reported that when the Messenger of Allah (Peace Be Upon Him) came to Medina, the people had two days on which they engaged in games. He asked, ‘What are these two days (what is the significance)?’ They said, ‘We used to engage ourselves on them in the pre-Islamic period. The Messanger of Allah (Peace Be Upon Him) said, ‘Allah has substituted for them something better than them, the day of sacrifice (Eid Al-Adha) and the day of the breaking of the fast (Eid Al-Fitr).’” (Abu Dawood, Book 1, Page 161) / (Nasaee, Book 1, Page 231) / (Sunane Bayhaqee, Book 3, Page 277)

All of the Islamic Laws since the time of our Noble Holy Prophet (Peace Be Upon Him) are continuously being observed and followed. “Eid al Adha” and Sacrifice are also being performed continuously without termination.

The Holy Prophet (Peace Be Upon Him) performed Eid Al-Adha prayers on 10th of Zel-Hijjah and then sacrificed animals. Now for argument’s sake, let us consider that Eid Al-Adha is dependant upon Hajj. Then the question arises: How did Muslims perform Eid Al-Adha and sacrifice animals without the Hajj for those eight years that didn’t have Hajj?

Apart from this, other doors of objection open up.

II. As today’s technology in communication and its progressions make the transfer of information seem easy, knowing the day of Oqoof-e-Arafaat is simple. But when these technologies were not available, then depending upon Oqoof-e-Arafaat to observe Eid Al-Adha would be impossible. In those days the information of Ooqoof-e-Arafaat would reach distant locations relative to Mecca in months, only after people come back from the journey of Hajj.

Keeping in mind the above fact, how is it possible for Islamic Shariah to command its followers to go through the hardship which is beyond their reach? Allah says in the Qura’an:

“Allah places not burden on any soul but to the extent of his strength...”
2:286 (Sura Al-Baqarah, Verse 286)

Still, who knows that in this technological age, how many parts of the world have no communication; and yet, Islam is practiced there and those who reside there observe their Eid day based solely on local Moon sighting.

III. To link Eid Al-Adha with Hajj does not have any basis, as Hajj is an act of worship which is limited to a specific location. On the contrary, Eid Al-Adha and sacrificing animals are observed all over the world. How can a global event depend on a local event?

IV. Not having any Islamic historical evidence to link Hajj with Eid Al-Adha, and inventing something which has no consistency and yet calling it an Islamic act, how can one suspend the Islamic Shariah’s rules and formulate something new that never happened in Islamic history. To follow something unlawful can result in weakening the religion. (May Allah protect us from such things. Aameen!)

V. Under the situation of the conflicting doctrine, it will follow that Eid Al-Adha should be observed on a date other than the 10th of Zel-Hijjah with the exception of Saudi Arabia, even though its dependency is upon the 10th of Zel-Hijjah. As according to Hadith, Eid Al-Adha is to be observed on the 10th of Zel-Hijjah only.

“Hadhrat Baraa bin Aazib (May Allah Be Pleased With Him) reported that the Messenger of Allah (Peace Be Upon Him) gave us a sermon on the day of Nahr (10th of Zel-Hijjah).”
(Bukhari, Book 1, Page 132)

Suppose that the Moon is not sighted in Saudi Arabia; but in the countries west of Saudi Arabia, it is observed. So when in Saudi Arabia it will be the 9th of Zel-Hijjah, in the countries west of Saudi Arabia, it will be the 10th of Zel-Hijjah. If you follow the conflicting doctrine, in Saudi Arabia Eid Al-Adha will be on Hajj day, but for people in western countries Eid-Al-Adha will be on the 11th of Zel-Hijjah. And that is against the rules of Shariah. Now suppose in Saudi Arabia the moon is sighted, but for any reason it is not sighted in any countries west of Saudi Arabia. If it is 9th of Zel-Hijjah in Saudi Arabia, then in western countries it will be 8th of Zel-Hijjah. Under this condition, if Eid Al-Adha and sacrifice are dependant upon Hajj, then the countries west of Saudi Arabia will have to observe Eid Al-Adha on the 9th of Zel-Hijjah which is, again, a deviation from laws of Shariah. In Saheeh Bukhari, this Hadith is mentioned:

“Hadhrat Baraa (May Allah Be Pleased With Him) reported: The Messenger of Allah (Peace Be Upon Him) gave us a sermon on the day of Nahr (10th of Zel-Hijjah): ‘The first thing we will do on this day of ours is offer the Eid prayer and upon return we will sacrifice the animals. Whoever did so, he acted according to our Sunnah, and whoever sacrificed before the prayer, what he offered was just meat he presented to his family, and that will not be considered as sacrifice.’ Abu Burdah bin Niyaar (May Allah Be Pleased With Him) got up, and said, ‘O Messanger of Allah, I sacrificed before Eid Al-Adha prayers. Now I only have a baby ram that looks like it is a little well over one year old.’ The Prophet (Peace Be Upon Him) said, ‘Sacrifice it but it will not be sufficient for any-one else after you.’” (Bukhari, Book 1, Page 132)

From the study of this Hadith, it is very clear that sacrifice before Eid Al-Adha prayer is rejected by the Holy Prophet and he ordered Abu Burdah (May Allah Be Pleased With Him) to sacrifice another animal. Now, consider those who make Oqoof-e-Arafaat a condition for Eid Al-Adha and sacrifice. They may perform their sacrifice one day prior to the actual day. How do you think their sacrifice will be accepted in accordance with the rules? There is no danger of delaying the sacrifice and the Eid prayers (with a legitimate excuse) until the 12th of Zel-Hijjah. Even without an excuse, delaying Eid prayers is permissible as an undesirable (Makrooh) act. Fiqh-e-Hanafi’s renowned book: “Fatawa Qazi Khan” mentions the following:

“If the Eid Al-Adha prayer, with a legitimate excuse, or not, is not performed on the first day (10th of Zel-Hijjah), then it should be performed on the second day (11th of Zel-Hijjah). And if it is not performed on those two days, then it should be performed on the third day (12th of Zel-Hijjah). After that, it can not be validly performed.”
(Fatawa Qazi Khan, Volume 1, Page 89)

In the light of these explanations, all aspects are quite clear that if Eid Al-Adha prayers and sacrifices are performed before the 10th of Zel-Hijjah, they will not be accepted in the eyes of Shariah. But if they are performed after the 10th of Zel-Hijjah, Eid Al-Adha and sacrifices, with a legitimate excuse, will be treated as performed without any defect. Without any excuse, they will be acceptable, but undesirable (Makrooh).

Some people, for the sake of unity of the Ummah, suggest that Eid Al-Adha should be observed at the same time throughout the world. However, this act is impossible because of the different time zones of the world. The entire globe cannot follow the same time zone. For example, when it is 12:00 noon in Saudi Arabia, it is 8:00 PM in Sydney, Australia and 3:00 AM in Chicago, Illinois. So making Saudi Arabia a base, we can not have the prayer of Zuhr at the same time in Sydney and Chicago.

Likewise, the Moon sighting in various parts of the world is different. Conclusively, the start and end of the months are also different because they are based on the actual Moon sighting, as Islamic months start at the appearance of the New Moon (and end as the New Moon of the next month is sighted). The Islamic concept of the unity of the Ummah is not whether the start of Ramadan, Eid Al-Fitr, or Eid Al-Adha is observed at the same time. This is even against the principles of nature.

The unity of the Ummah means that mutual relationships and cooperation must be firm. The conflict among the Ummah must be resolved. Our strength should be protected from creating divergences. There should be adherence to Allah’s Halal (Permissible) and Allah’s Haram (Prohibited) as commanded by him. Any act that is Mustahab (doing such a deed will be rewarded but not doing it will not result in punishment) should be accepted as permissible and worthy of being rewarded. The same theme of unity is described in the Holy Qura’an:

“And obey Allah and His Messenger, and dispute not with one another, otherwise you will show timidity, and your tied strength will depart from you, and be patient.” 8:46 (Sura Al-Anfal, Verse 46)

Unity never means to disregard and disrespect Shariah and in the name of unity, observe Ramadan, Eid Al-Fitr, and Eid Al-Adha whenever we please. Observing Eid without any evidence or starting Ramadan without evidence of Shariah so that the unity would be maintained is completely against the rulings of the Qura’an and Hadith.

We humbly request our Muslim brothers to not waste their ‘Ibaadat (Rituals). Please do not ignore the obviously clear commands and injunctions of Allah and his Apostle and become guilty in the eyes of Allah and his Apostle. When you see the Moon, start the month; and if you can not see the Moon (for any reason), wait for an acceptable witness according Shariah. If the witness is up to the standards of the rules of Shariah, then the new month starts. Otherwise, as the Noble Prophet (Peace Be Upon Him) instructed, complete the thirty (30) days. Saudi Arabia’s prominent scholar Abdul Azeez bin Baaz himself, in his Fatawa (Verdict), ordered:

“The most trusted and authentic source of Moon sighting for a town is a local one.” [Further, he says,] “Some people think that the whole world should follow the Moon sighting of Mecca, Saudi Arabia and make it the base of their Ramadan and Eid judgment. However, in the pure form of Shariah, there is neither any proof of it, nor is there any origin to this.” (Al-Baath Al-Islami, Zel-Hijjah 1399 Hijri)

We surrender ourselves in the supplication to Allah: May He give the Muslims the ability to obey and follow the pure form of Shariah to the fullest. Aameen; Bejahe Habeebihee Sayyedil Mursaleen (Peace Be Upon Him).

Mufti Muhammed Qamarul Hasan Qadiri
Khatib and Imam of Al-Noor Masjid, Houston
Chairman of Rooyat-e-Hilal Committee of North America

11th Zel-Qadah, 1426 Hijri
14th December, 2005 A.D.

Al-Noor Society of Greater Houston
6443 Prestwood
Houston, TX 77081
Tel: (713) 779-1304

Activities of Masjid Al-Noor, Houston:
1. Five times prayer with Jama’at
2. Full time Hifz-ul-Quran classes
3. Regular Quran Nazirah classes, to teach how to read the Holy Quran
4. Sunday special classes for children of various ages
5. Arabic language class every Tuesday
6. Dars-e-Quran and Hadith every Friday
7. Ashura-e-Muharram-ul-Haraam
8. Urs-e-Imam Ahmad Raza
9. Eid-e-Milad-un-Nabi 
10. Gyarhween Sharif
11. Urs-e Khwaja Gharib Nawaz
12. Shab-e-Meraj
13. Shab-e-Baraa’t
14. Ramadhan-ul-Mubarak celebrations
15. Observance of Khulafa-e-Rashideen Days
16. Aimmah-e-Arbaa’h Day
17. Marriage Ceremony
18. Funeral Service
19. Family Counseling
20. Bazm-e-Hassan Naat Program