Allah (sub­hanahu wa ta’alaa) says in the Glo­ri­ous Qur’an, “They ask you (O Muham­mad [sal­lAl­lahu alayhi wa salam]) about the moon. Say: ‘They are sea­sons fixed for mankind and for the pil­grim­age.’ The Prophet of Allah (sal­lAl­lahu alayhi wa salam) has said, “Keep fast after see­ing it (the moon), and break fast after see­ing it (the moon)”. The afore­men­tioned verse (ayah) and tra­di­tion (hadith) are clear that months on the Islamic cal­en­dar begin with the sight­ing of the new moon. The dis­cus­sion then arises in regards to whether or not a sight­ing of the moon marks the begin­ning of the cal­en­dar month for that spe­cific region or if it marks the begin­ning of the cal­en­dar month for the entire world. Accord­ing to Mufti Ebrahim Desai:

“The Jurists (Fuqa­haa) have dif­fer­ences of opin­ion on whether Ikhtilaaf-e-Mataalih is consid­ered (Mu’tabar) or not. Accord­ing to the Zaahir-e-Riwaayat (view con­sid­ered for Fatwa), it is not con­sid­ered which means that one reli­able sight­ing any­where (not only Saudia Ara­bia) in the world is valid. How­ever, the prob­lem in the sight­ing of the moon, as [you] cor­rectly stated that there are many errors in the sight­ing of the moon in Saudi Arabia. If the errors are rec­ti­fied and after Sha­haadah of an individual’s sight­ing the moon, deci­sion is taken in con­sul­ta­tion with the offi­cials of the Hilaal Sight­ing Com­mit­tee, then it will be valid for the entire Mus­lim Ummah. Sim­i­lar pro­ce­dures must be put in place in other coun­tries as well, as the moon may be sighted else­where and not nec­es­sar­ily Saudia Ara­bia.
In view of the present dis­crep­an­cies in moon sight­ing, the view that Ikhtilaaf-e-Mataalih is con­sid­ered may be adopted and each coun­try should make their own inde­pen­dent decisions. It is incor­rect for the Mus­lims in North Amer­ica (espe­cially the Arab brethren) to fol­low Saudia Arabia’s rul­ing on Eid-ul-Fitr and Eid-ul-Adha due to the moon­sight­ing being incon­sis­tent with Shari’ah laws of sight­ing the moon”.

It is often stated that in the spirit of unity that there should be an agree­ment through­out the world on the days of Ramadan, Hajj, and the two Eids. Mufti Taqi Usmani com­ments about this topic in response to an arti­cle writ­ten about join­ing with Saudi Ara­bia in celebra­tion of our hol­i­days on the same day for the sake of unity. He says:

1. The arti­cle has laid much empha­sis on the con­cept of unity of the Mus­lim Ummah, which no one can deny. At the same time, how­ever, one must appre­ci­ate that unity does not mean that the entire Mus­lim Ummah through­out the world should per­form their acts of wor­ship at one and the same time, because it is phys­i­cally not pos­si­ble. It is evi­dent that when people in Saudi Ara­bia are per­form­ing their Fajr prayers, those in North Amer­ica may still have not com­pleted their Isha prayers of the pre­vi­ous day. Sim­i­larly, when Muslims in Los Ange­les offer their Fajr prayers, those in India and Pak­istan are offer­ing their Maghrib or Isha prayer of the same day.

2. If it is made oblig­a­tory on all the Mus­lims in the world to offer their acts of wor­ship at one and the same time for the sake of unity, such unity can never mate­ri­al­ize (because of the time dif­fer­ences). It is, there­fore, obvi­ous that offer­ing one’s acts of wor­ship at dif­fer­ent times do not affect the con­cept of Mus­lim Unity.

What does the Mus­lim unity mean?

It means that all Mus­lims should treat each other with broth­erly sym­pa­thy and affec­tion and should not spread dis­or­der and dis­sention among them. Nor should they invent new ideas for­eign to the teach­ings of Quran and the Sun­nah which may lead to divi­sion and con­flict among Muslims.

It is also aston­ish­ing that the arti­cle views the cel­e­bra­tion of Eid al-Adha on dif­fer­ent days as being against the con­cept of Ummah while in the mat­ter of cel­e­bra­tion of Eid ai-Fitr, this con­cept is dis­pensed with. If the cel­e­bra­tion of Eid al-Fitr on dif­fer­ent days does not affect the con­cept of unity, how can it be said to harm unity in the case of Eid al-Adha.

3. It is true that Eid al-Adha falls imme­di­ately after the day of Arafat in Saudi Ara­bia, but it is not nec­es­sary that the Mus­lims in every coun­try should fol­low the same dates in their respec­tive areas. Hajj, no doubt, is tied with a par­tic­u­lar place but the cel­e­bra­tion of Eid al-Adha is not con­fined to that place alone. It is cel­e­brated every­where in the world and cannot be tied to the Saudi calendar.

4. The arti­cle admits that the cel­e­bra­tion of Eid al-Adha in other coun­tries was never linked with its cel­e­bra­tion in Saudi Ara­bia through­out the past 14 cen­turies. This, the author’s claim was because of a lack of com­mu­ni­ca­tion facil­i­ties. With vastly improved communication today, they argued that every­one almost any­where can find out the day of Hajj, and should cel­e­brate Eid al-Adha based on Saudi calendar.

There is a clear admis­sion in this argu­ment that it is not oblig­a­tory accord­ing to Quran or the Sun­nah to cel­e­brate Eid al-Adha accord­ing to Saudi cal­en­dar. Had this been so, Muslims would have tried their best to find the exact date of Hajj in Saudi Ara­bia. It is not cor­rect to say that it was not pos­si­ble in those days for peo­ple liv­ing out­side Saudi Ara­bia to know the exact date of Hajj, because this date is nor­mally deter­mined on the first night of Zul-Hijjah. There is a nine day period until Eid, which is more than suf­fi­cient to acquire this infor­ma­tion. How­ever, no jurists has ever stressed that such infor­ma­tion be col­lected in order to cel­e­brate Eid al-Adha accord­ing to Saudi dates.

Fur­ther, if the argu­ment of the arti­cle is accepted and it is held that the real inten­tion of Quran and Sun­nah was to link the cel­e­bra­tion of Eid al-Adha with the Saudi dates, as a manda­tory pro­vi­sion for all Mus­lims in the world, it means that the Shari’ah has stressed a prin­ci­ple which was not prac­ti­cal for 1300 years. It is not against the Quranic dec­la­ra­tion that Allah does not make a thing manda­tory unless it is prac­ti­cal for the human beings.

If the authors argue that the cel­e­bra­tion of Eid al-Adha was not linked with the dates in Makkah in the past but it has become a manda­tory require­ment of the Shari’ah now, then the ques­tion arises, who has abro­gated the pre­vi­ous prin­ci­ple and on what basis? There is no pro­vi­sion in Quran or the Sun­nah which orders the Mus­lims to cel­e­brate Eid al-Adha accord­ing to their local dates up to a par­tic­u­lar time and to link it with the dates in Makkah there­after. Who­ever con­sid­ers this and sim­i­lar ques­tions aris­ing out of this unprece­dented the­ory advanced in the arti­cle can appre­ci­ate its fallacy.

Mufti Shah Muham­mad Nawal ur Rah­man has stated that the hadith of which the Prophet (sal­lAl­lahu alayhi wa salam) has men­tioned about start­ing and stop­ping the fast upon sight­ing of the moon is actu­ally for the indi­vid­ual in a spe­cific region and not for the entire world. The dear Mufti has said that there have been instances through­out our his­tory where the pious pre­de­ces­sors in Mecca and Med­ina have fasted on dif­fer­ent days. Furthermore, he clears up a com­mon mis­con­cep­tion in which he states that the new month comes with the sight­ing of the moon and not the birth of the moon – which has often been claimed by those who are advo­cates for the lunar month start­ing at the cal­cu­lated tim­ing of its birth – as the sci­en­tific birth of the moon could not be cal­cu­lated four­teen cen­turies ago.

Finally, Maulana Mohammed Abdul­lah Saleem has also men­tioned – specif­i­cally in regards to Eid ul Adha being based upon a regional sight­ing, but in a man­ner which can be understood for all Islamic cal­en­dar dates:

“Allamah Shaami writes that as far as the view that there are mul­ti­ple hori­zons for the world, this is a mat­ter wherein there is no dis­pute; this is a mat­ter that can­not be denied. Allamah Shaami fur­ther writes that the only case where there is room for dis­pute in regards to whether there are mul­ti­ple hori­zons or a uni­ver­sal hori­zon is in the case of Eid-ul-Fitr and the ini­ti­a­tion of Ramadan. Notice, that Eid-ul-Adha is not men­tioned. Let us for the sake of future dis­cus­sion look at the dif­fer­ent points of views regard­ing the hori­zon and Ramadan/Eid-ul-Fitr.

Shafite schol­ars and the Hanafite schol­ars Zay’li’ and Saahibul Faidh, are in agree­ment that there is only one uni­ver­sal hori­zon for the world in the mat­ter of Ramadan and Eid-ul-Fitr. How­ever, the accord­ing to the more accepted Hanafite view, in addi­tion to Malaki and Han­a­balite schol­ars, this is not a valid con­clu­sion i.e., there are mul­ti­ple hori­zons in the mat­ter of Ramadan and Eid-ul-Fitr. This is based on a broader inter­pre­ta­tion of the hadith– begin fast with the sight­ing of the moon and ter­mi­nate the fast with the sight­ing of the moon– than that of the Shafite schol­ars, Imam Zayli’, and Saahibul Faidh, all of whom take a more restric­tive inter­pre­ta­tion of the same hadith to sup­port their view. Allamah Shaami then writes in regards to Hajj and Eid-ul-Adha the fol­low­ing: It is under­stood from the dis­cus­sion in Kitab-ul-Hajj that the view of mul­ti­ple hori­zons is cor­rect in the mat­ter of Hajj. If it is known that the cres­cent (of Dhul-Hijjah) was seen a day ear­lier in another town it will not make any­thing oblig­a­tory on them (the peo­ple of the town who saw the moon a day later) . Can this be said about the sac­ri­fice of those not per­form­ing Hajj as well? The rea­son­ing is clear. Mul­ti­ple hori­zons is adopted in the rul­ings of fast­ing because of its being related to ‘sight­ing’; ‘sac­ri­fice’ is con­trary to it. Appar­ently, the sac­ri­fice is like the tim­ings of the prayers. Every two has to go by its own time. There­fore, it is valid for those who are sac­ri­fic­ing on the third day accord­ing to their sight­ing even though it may be the fourth day accord­ing to the sight­ing some­where else”.