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Eid al-Fitr: share your photos, videos and stories

The Guardian World news: Islam - 17 July, 2015 - 09:18

As the month of Ramadan ends Muslims around the world are celebrating Eid-al-Fitr. Share your photos, videos and stories

Muslims around the world are celebrating Eid al-Fitr on Friday, the festival that marks the end of the islamic holy month of Ramadan and the first day of the new month of Shawwal. If you’re taking part we’d love to hear from you.

Eid-al-Fitr begins after the first sighting of the new moon with Muslims traditionally gathering to pray, give to charity and break their fast with family and friends. In many countries it is also a public holiday and schools and government offices close.

Related: UK Muslims on the end of Ramadan: 'My grandmother always hosts Eid'

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UK Muslims on the end of Ramadan: 'My grandmother always hosts Eid'

The Guardian World news: Islam - 17 July, 2015 - 06:01

Five people from across the country explain how they will be celebrating the festival of thanksgiving

Eid is supposed to be a really spiritual day as well, it’s not supposed to be about just eating and having a good time

A big part of Eid is giving

The preparation is part of the fun

This year for the first time I’ll be leading one of the Eid prayers for the mosque

I have four children – aged 15, 12, eight and six. They’ve been waiting for Eid the whole month

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Thousands of British Muslims prepare to celebrate Eid in Birmingham park

The Guardian World news: Islam - 17 July, 2015 - 06:00

From small beginnings, outdoor event to mark end of Ramadan expected to attract size of crowd associated with Reading and Leeds music festivals

Up to 70,000 people are expected to converge on a Birmingham park on Friday to celebrate Eid al-Fitr, the festival of thanksgiving to mark the end of Ramadan.

Celebrate Eid in Small Heath park is being billed as the biggest gathering of Muslims in Europe, with worshippers and revellers attending from across the UK.

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Hell will freeze over before I pull out of Reclaim Australia's rally | George Christensen

The Guardian World news: Islam - 17 July, 2015 - 04:05

It is the extremists – Islamists and Neo-Nazis – who are bigots, not the men and women of Mackay who will protest at Reclaim Australia

My acceptance of an invitation to speak at a Reclaim Australia rally in my home town of Mackay this weekend has obviously upset some of those who lean to the left.

In typical keyboard warrior fashion, a petition hit the stratosphere almost instantly urging Tony Abbott, the prime minister, to stop me from attending this rally.

Related: Coalition MP will speak against 'radical Islam threat' at Reclaim Australia rally

Related: 'Reclaiming Australia' from Islam is really about reclaiming whiteness

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Eid Reflections – Maintaining Our Spirituality Throughout The Year

Islamicate - 17 July, 2015 - 00:40

Ramadan has now passed us by, and now we are enjoying the feasts of Eid. Many of us would have read the Quran cover to cover; others may have heard it being recited to them in the night prayer. But how many of us took the time out to really ponder over the verses of our Creator? It has become commonplace to robotically follow certain rituals of Ramadan giving little thought as to how we could be increasing our spirituality. For the introspective Muslim, God has commanded that we reflect often, in order to form an understanding of what Allah wants from us, so that our adherence is not relegated to merely rites and rituals where one is simply going through the motions; our adherence to God’s words should hold a deeper connection to leading a life of submission to Him. As yet another Ramadan passes us, it is this sentiment that we should be taking with us for the forthcoming year.

During my studies in philosophy, I was very intrigued by Aristotle’s opinions in the Nicomachean Ethics on how one can live the best possible life. Whilst philosophers have spent years discussing and interpreting Aristotle’s work, the general consensus is that not only is it about living a good life but that one of the purposes of the Ethics lies in its aim to create good living through contemplation and performing virtuous acts, a theme that remains consistent throughout. Of course, the idea that constant contemplation and performing good deeds leading to a ‘good life’ are not alien concepts for the Muslim, as God continually reminds us in the Quran on the benefits of performing tafakkur (contemplation) and ‘Amalus-SaaliHaat (righteous deeds). The Quranic emphasis on reflection and introspection is a remedy to ensure that our lives aren’t spent in a monotonous fashion. In a month when perhaps many of us would have rekindled a relationship with the Quran, reflecting on the words of Allah is a way for us to help achieve the good life that we all seek.

Another philosopher’s works that I find to be pertinent are those of John Stuart Mill’s. His discussion on pleasure is of interest, as he claimed that there are higher and lower pleasures – the idea that we can invoke the intelligent, ‘higher pleasures’, such as reading or writing and separate them from our ‘lower pleasures’ such as eating and drinking. Naturally, this is something that Muslims have been practicing throughout the month of Ramadan. We have spent an entire month focusing on the ‘higher pleasures’ of remembering God, daily recitation of the Quran, offering charity, and generally suppressing our ‘lower pleasures’. Although we are allowed to eat, drink and engage in sexual relations during the hours of darkness, it is evident that one of the purposes of our fasts being in the daytime is to ensure that we constantly engage our higher faculties; the emphasis is on attaining God’s pleasure by immersing ourselves with actions that have been encouraged in the sacred texts, and this can only be done if the distraction that our baser desires offer us are restricted to the nocturnal hours. This is not to say that indulging in lower pleasures are inherently bad or immoral in any sense; in the next life, food and sexual gratification will be fulfilled in ways that are beyond one’s comprehension. In this life, however, excessively indulging in lower pleasures disrupt the believer’s state that should be a perpetual pursuit of higher pleasure – seeking the pleasure of their Creator. Ramadan is a reminder for us, that the sweetness of seeking Allah’s pleasure through thought and contemplation far outweighs any pleasure we attain from our baser desires.

The consolidation of choosing to engage oneself in the spiritually higher pleasure of reading the Quran and reflecting on its verses, just as God commands us to, is one that is not only rewarding to one’s mental capacities, but sets the path to success for the next life. But this behaviour should not be restricted solely to the month of Ramadan. In fact, by consigning this mindset to just one month means that the remembrance of God isn’t as important, except during thirty days of the year.

Many cite that the Companions of the Prophet would prepare months in advance for Ramadan. Choosing the spiritually higher pleasure and immersing oneself in reflection of the texts and of one’s actions should be a perpetual state; in fact, contemplation is a utilisation of one’s higher faculties, therefore to reflect on God’s words, the prophetic traditions, on one’s intentions and actions, and on the nurture of the Islamic spiritual growth of one’s own family prevents distraction from the lower pleasures and, by extension, distraction from the pursuit of God’s pleasure. I have included nurturing familial obligations as God commands us to fulfil our duties to our families, which are an important aspect of their spiritual growth; however, some view family as mere distractions and their spiritual cultivation is therefore neglected.

Thus, as I pen this on the night before Eid, let us cease viewing Ramadan as a temporary state of spiritual bliss, but rather use everything we have learned as the foundation for a more spiritual life. We should therefore endeavour that any action we undertake is a result of occupying our higher faculties through introspection and reflection of our duties as Muslims. As this highly revered month bids us farewell, let us become an army of people in awe of Allah through contemplation of His Words.

The Soul of Our Family – A Ramadan Love story

altmuslim - 16 July, 2015 - 21:25
This is Day 29 of Altmuslim’s #30Days30Writers series for Ramadan 2015. By Precious Rasheeda Muhammad “There is no soul but has a protector over it.” —The Holy Quran, Surat At-Tariq, 86:4 We were in our navy blue Dodge Caravan, the one my husband Carl travelled from Virginia to New Jersey to buy from a government [Read More...]

Newsweek: European far-Right parties ‘seeking anti-Islam coalition with Jewish groups’

Loon Watch - 16 July, 2015 - 21:08

Europe_Nations_Freedom

Not new information. We’ve been noting this trend among many of the nationalist, fascist European parties for quite some time now.:

By , Newsweek

Right-wing European political parties are seeking to sow religious discord in Europe by approaching Jewish organisations in a bid to form an anti-Islamic alliance.

Speaking to Newsweek on condition of anonymity, a senior figure in one of Europe’s largest Jewish organisations has revealed that their group has been approached in the past year by MEPs, including members of the Austrian Freedom Party, seeking to create a coalition to combat the rise of Islam in Europe. They emphasized that all approaches had been flatly refused.

Last week, Marine Le Pen and other far-Right politicians met with Vadim Rabinovich, the chairman of the European Jewish Parliament (EJP), prompting criticism from European Jewish leaders.

Now the source says that far-Right’s rapprochement with Jewish groups is far from new as politicians from various parties have attempted to court their group, offering to “be friends with Jews” if Jewish groups “help us in our fight against Muslims”.

In a meeting chaired by Le Pen last Wednesday, Rabinovich met with 10 representatives of the Europe of Nations and Freedom, a bloc of nationalist parties in the European Parliament formed in June.

The bloc includes the Austrian Freedom Party, whose current leader Heinz-Christian Strache was criticised for posting a cartoon perceived as anti-Semitic on his Facebook page. The party’s former leader, Jörg Haider, who died in a car crash in 2008, previously described the Nazi concentration camps as “penal camps” and referred to SS officers as “upstanding men of character”.

The European Jewish Association, which claims to be the biggest federation of Jewish organisations in Europe, said that the EJP risked “magnifying the problem” of anti-Semitism by “giving a platform to those seeking to spread messages of hate”.

Dr Moshe Kantor, president of the European Jewish Congress, said he was shocked that the EJP met with “fig leaf racists and anti-Semites” and added: “It goes without saying that these people [the EJP] are as unrepresentative of the vast majority of European Jews as this collective of Le Pen’s MEPs is of the vast majority of European citizens.”

In a statement on the EJP’s website, Rabinovich said he was “very surprised” by the negative reaction from other Jewish groups.

“The meeting with the [Europe of Nations and Freedom] opens the new dialogue, which, in our firm conviction is what Europe needs today – a dialogue of everybody with everyone, in order to preserve peace and tolerance and combat anti-Semitism in Europe,” said Rabinovich.

He added that a joint statement with Le Pen had condemned anti-Semitism as “the cancer of Europe”.

The EJP was founded in 2011 by Rabinovich and another Ukrainian Jewish billionaire, Igor Kolomoisky. Upon its foundation, it was criticised for including famous persons such as David Beckham and Stella McCartney in its original batch of election candidates. The elections were announced online without many candidates being informed.

Read the entire article…

Coalition MP will speak against 'radical Islam threat' at Reclaim Australia rally

The Guardian World news: Islam - 16 July, 2015 - 05:47

Queensland MP George Christensen announces on Facebook he will attend Mackay rally to defend Australia against ‘the threat of radical Islam’

Coalition MP George Christensen has announced he will speak at the Reclaim Australia rally in Queensland on Sunday, saying he wants to defend Australia’s freedoms from “the threat of radical Islam”.

The controversial Nationals MP made the announcement on his Facebook page.

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Moonsighting – Unity or Lunacy?

Islamicate - 16 July, 2015 - 01:20

Down the centuries, people have associated full-moon nights with weird occurrences and strange behaviour. An increase in crime, mayhem and madness, lunatics on the loose – werewolves, even, have all been linked to the eerie effects of the full moon. ‘It is the very error of the moon. She comes more near the earth than she was wont. And makes men mad,’ wrote Shakespeare in Othello. In fact, the very notion of lunacy and of calling someone a lunatic; a madman or insane person, comes from luna, the Latin word for “moon” (lunaticus, “moon-struck”).

Full moon phases aside, bouts of lunacy and madness may be seen during another of its phases: the new [crescent] moon. For it is here you’ll see that even the otherwise mild-mannered Muslim, usually not one to argue or to get involved in the ‘politics’ of things, become ‘moon-struck’ with madness and frenzy. Yes, determining when the new moon for Ramadan has been observed or not brings out the werewolf in many of us!

The story’s familiar. Muslims wait in pious anticipation for Ramadan, wondering who will sight the moon, and where? News comes that it’s been spotted. Where? In Ye Olde Middle-East (usually, it seems, in Saudi Arabia). Voices dissent. Objectors insist that astronomical calculations make the so-called sighting impossible. But we are assured that just and reliable witnesses have sworn to sighting the crescent moon. Who now to believe? What now to do? Meanwhile, egos warm up. Confusion kicks off. The game begins. Some scholars try to keep the peace trying desperately to referee the match. Other scholars take entrenched positions, yelling from the sidelines. The lay folk feel to wade in and egg on their team. Shouting starts. Arguments intensify. Unity wavers. Lunacy attacks. Lunacy slyfully dribbles the ball past Unity’s fragile defence, whacking the ball straight into the back of the net. Final whistle goes. Game over. Lunacy wins. Unity loses … yet again!

Bickering on the terraces, rivalry in the hearts, and bitter words on the tongues linger long after the whistle is blown. As the unsettled and frustrated crowds make their way home, murmurs are mumbled beneath edgy breaths: Will Unity ever have its day?

I’m not the first person to suggest the following, and I’ll certainly not be the last: But good intentions are not going to be enough to resolve the problem. What is needed is to understand why there is such a difference in the first place, and what the Islamic ruling on moon sighting is. Only then can we begin to know what collective options are lawfully open to us and what, if anything, we can do to unify our ranks. As it happens, the fiqh aspect of it (if we omit the practical details and focus on the basic theory) isn’t that difficult to grasp.

No doubt, the arrival of Ramadan is confirmed by sighting the new crescent moon, or by the passing of thirty days in the month immediately before Ramadan – the month of Sha‘ban. The Prophet, peace be upon him, decreed:

“Fast when you see it [the new moon] and end the fast when you see it. If it is hidden from you, then wait until thirty days of Sha‘ban have passed.”[1]

Based upon the above hadith, most jurists hold that if there is a confirmed sighting of the new moon in any given country or region, fasting becomes obligatory for all those living there and for those living in other countries and regions too – whether they are nearby or distant. This is provided news of the sighting reaches them in a reliable and binding manner. Distance is not an issue: reliable sighting and reliable conveyance of the sighting is. This is the opinion of the Hanafis, Maliks and Hanbalis. According to these jurists, ‘Fast when you see it (sumu li ru’yatihi),’ refers to all Muslims being bound to wherever a sighting of the new moon takes place globally.[2]

In contrast, another group of jurists (mainly the Shafi‘is) believes that the you refers to the sighting of the moon for a particular region. People resident in that region and in ‘nearby’ regions of the confirmed sighting must fast. Those in ‘distant’ regions aren’t required to follow the sighting. Rather, they are to follow their own regional sighting. The term ‘nearby’ is, however, disputed. Some judge it in terms of a specific number of miles, some in terms of same sighting-zone (ittihad al-matla‘), while others in terms of nearby countries.[3]

Those who advocate that each region should take its own sighting into consideration, and need not follow the sighting of others, base their view on the following narration: Kurayb who, having been sent by Umm al-Fadl to Syria on an errand, recollects: ‘I reached Syria and completed the errand. Whilst in Syria, the new moon for Ramadan appeared. I saw the new moon on Thursday night. I then returned to Madinah at the end of the month where ‘Abd Allah b. ‘Abbas inquired about the new moon, asking me: “When did you observe the new moon?” I replied: I saw it on Thursday night. He said: ‘Did you actually see it?” I replied: Yes, as did the people; so they fasted and so did Mu‘awiyah. He said: ‘We spotted it on Friday night, so we shall not stop fasting till we complete thirty days or we sight it [the new moon].” I said: Doesn’t Mu‘awiyah’s sighting and fasting suffice? He said: “No! This is how we were instructed by Allah’s Messenger, peace be upon him.”‘[4]

Thus the classical manuals of fiqh, or Islamic law, essentially convey to us two views concerning how the month of Ramadan should commence – either by global sighting or by local sighting. In order to unify our ranks in Ramadan, we will have to first unify our word by agreeing to one of the two valid ways of moonsighting. Here, opinionated egos will need to be reigned in (as will sectarianism, braderi-clan bigotry, party politics and geo-political agendas), in order to reach a common accord. Saudi-sponsored mosques will have to learn to ignore their paymasters and put the welfare of the Muslims of this country first – considering the issue on its own merits and not driven by external motives. There simply isn’t a view in the shari‘ah that states we are duty bound or encouraged to follow the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia in its moonsighting, even more so given its highly-controversial track record. Ironically, the kingdom’s two most respected religious authorities, the late Shaykh ‘Abd al-‘Aziz b. Baz and the late Shaykh Ibn ‘Uthaymin, were both committed advocates of local sighting – repeatedly giving fatwas that people should follow their own country’s sighting.[5]

Unquestionably, each view has its textual support and historical validity, as well as its practicality and its pros and cons. Perhaps we should stick with the majority view and opt for global sighting, trying to keep in line with the ummah at large? Or perhaps we should opt for local sighting, and so shield ourselves from the divisive hullabaloo that usually accompanies global moonsighting?

British Muslims need to see a growing voice of unity emerge from their scholars and religious leaders on this issue. We need to see some sort of consensus forming, even if slowly. Some scholars have been trying to bring the relevant players around the table for this very purpose – but given that Britain, this sceptred isle, this little world, this precious stone set in the silver sea, is but a small island – it seems they’ve not quite done enough.

If for some bizarre reason we cannot manage to unite on one of the above two ways of commencing Ramadan, then all is not lost. For it seems that the shari‘ah has given us another lifeline. The Prophet, peace be upon him, said:

“Fast when they fast and stop fasting when they stop, and sacrifice they day they sacrifice.”[6]

Imam al-Tirmidhi says after relating this hadith: ‘Some of the scholars explain that this hadith means: to fast and break fast along with the congregation and the majority of people (anna’l-sawma wa’l-fitra ma‘a’l-jama‘ah wa ‘izam al-nas).’[7]

The London-based jurist and legalist, Sh. Haitham al-Haddad, argued unsuccessfully for adopting the majoritarian view several years back in a live TV debate (see here and also here). Some of his fellow panelists, as well as some in the audience, seemed to thoroughly miss his point. They were under the impression that he was insisting we should all follow Makkah – when in fact he was insisting we should all follow Makkah only if that is what the majority are already doing. If the majority are doing something else, then that is what should be followed was his emphasis. It seems that all some people were hearing was a Saudi-schooled scholar telling British Muslims to follow Saudi moon sightings. Yet that wasn’t the case at all. The shaykh was simply insisting on applying the fiqh understanding from the above hadith. Regrettably, the TV debate was a serious lost opportunity.

So how could this hadith be practically employed? Well, it could be used only if one of the other two moonsighting methods cannot be decidedly agreed to. So whether the country follows the Hanafi view on moonsighting – as they constitute the majority of Muslims in the UK; or follows the majority of mosques – which seem to be Deobandi in persuasion; or follows Makkah – not because of Saudi, but because that’s what the masses are perhaps now doing: regardless of whether they do it through convenience, confusion or ignorance. If a majoritarian practice by British Muslims can be discerned and accepted, then perhaps our collective hand has been forced and the decision been made. Whatever be the case, and in the absence of a national unified British Muslim moonsighting body, this majoritarian option should not be so easily dismissed. ‘Ulema and mosque committees could have their work cut out for them.

Where can we go from here? We do urgently need to ignite a more fruitful national scholarly discussion concerning the fiqh of moonsighting; the sooner, the better. And if not national, then we should certainly think of how we can unite our word in more cities and regions of Britain. What we ask is for our ‘ulema and our religious leaders to step up to the mark and steer this ship, as only they can. This is a religious burden far too great for anyone but them to bear. The rest of us – we can certainly make suggestions; but beyond that we need to reign in our individualistic tendencies and align ourselves with the larger collective and the greater good.

Of course, there are other problems related to moonsighting which need to be ironed out. The main one, it seems, concerns the use of astronomical (falaki) calculations to determine the new moon and its sighting. I’ll suffice here by saying that the majority of jurists have, and still continue to rule out the use of calculations. The hadiths, they protest, stipulate actual ‘eye-witnessing’ or ‘seeing’ the crescent after sunset on the 29th day. If it is seen, the new month begins; if not, the month has thirty days and the next month automatically starts after the sunset of the 30th day. What could be simpler, they argue, for any society in any time or place! For them, using calculation is conjectural (zanni) in the knowledge it yields. Moreover, astronomical calculations and computational algorithms are beyond the grasp of the general masses to master, and the Lawgiver only obligates people with what their masses can reasonably know.

Some modern voices argue that since pre-modern Muslims did not have access to the precise moonsighting calculations we have today, therefore we shouldn’t be held hostage to their scientific limitations, upon which their medieval fatwas rested? This, I suggest, is to be wholly ignorant of the facts. While it is true they didn’t have the algorithmic computations we have today, the Muslim world of old was certainly not backward nor scientifically-stunted in terms of lunar calculations. On the contrary, astronomers (and scholars who were learned in astronomy) held public offices throughout Muslim lands, producing highly complex and impressive computations, charts and almanacs for lunar sightings and visibilities. This is attested to by both modern Muslim as well as non-Muslim specialists in the field. Yet despite this, the near totally of jurists still insisted on sighting the moon as a textually-stipulated duty. Why? Because sighting is the actual legal rational, or ‘illah, for commencing the month.[8] In fact, the Hanbali scholar Ibn Hubayrah, and another of the school’s masters, Ibn Taymiyyah, as well as the Maliki legalist al-Qarafi, all cite a unanimous agreement of the Salaf and the Four Schools on not using calculations – regardless of how accurate they may be.[9]

Another mistaken notion embedded in the above voices is the claim that we modern people have now got moon visibility calculations down to a tee; that is simply not true. It appears that two distinct lunar events are being conflated here – the moon’s birth or conjunction (where the earth, moon and sun, in that order, are in roughly the same line), and the moon’s visibility from the earth. The first can be calculated as a matter of fact; the second, only as a matter of prediction – even if such predictions are highly accurate. That is to say, astronomers can calculate the positions of the sun, moon and earth, relative to one another down to a dot, and can hence determine the new moon’s birth with pinpoint accuracy. Such unquestionable precision is not the case when it comes to calculating the new moon’s actual visibility from here on earth. To put it in Islamic legal jargon, calculating the new moon’s conjunction is qat‘i, certain, beyond doubt; calculating its visibility from the earth, zanni: [highly] probable. For there is no one specific formula for determining the visibility of the new young moon. Instead, it rests on several factors: the moon’s path across the sky (angle of ecliptic), how much dust or pollution there is in the sky, and even the sharpness of the observer’s eyesight. In cases where the moon’s path doesn’t run parallel to the horizon, but rather at right angles to it, the young moon may be spotted as little as 24 hours after it was new. If it does, then at least 36 hours.

Since new moon [conjunction] calculations are incredibly accurate, some argue that they can and should be used to aid and narrow the scope of visibility forecasts, as well as rule out any negative moonsightings. Which means that any claims of spotting the young [crescent] moon from earth before conjunction occurs, or before it is physically possible to see (such as when the moon sets before the sun does), will be ruled out and considered invalid. Only those sighting will be accepted that fall within the scope of astronomical calculations.

On the face of it, this sounds very reasonable. The conditions for a valid testimony of moonsighting must be physically and rationally possible. Decisive astronomical data can be used to rule out dubious or questionable testimonies or sightings, but not to establish the actual crescent. That has to be done through actual valid sighting. This is the opinion of the jurist-astronomer, and research lecturer at the Oxford Centre for Islamic Studies, Sh. Afifi, and other jurists for the last several centuries. Incidentally, and given his credentials, Shaykh Afifi’s fatwa on moonsighting is possibly the most definitive word on the subject in the English language: it can be read here.

Now while this view combines the best of both worlds, it seems to have one gremlin under its bonnet; one niggling glitch. A growing size of groups and individuals, over the last decade or so, have testified to seeing the young moon before the astronomical data said it was possible! And it’s not just a matter of one or two individual in Saudi Arabia that are doing so. The Indian scholar, Shaykh Yahya Numani informed me last year that he has been an advocate of the above, negative moonsighting view for some time now. Yet recently, some of his seniors, and those whose knowledge, integrity and moonsighting abilities he firmly trusts, have testified to seeing the moon before the astronomically possible times too. He said that it has been seen by groups consisting of many individuals across various parts of India over the past few years! It’s a bit of a pickle. Then again, maybe they’re events for which one can invoke the legal maxim: al-nadiru ka’l-ma‘dum – ‘the rare occurrence is like something that has not happened’? Or a case of: al-zannu la yu‘aridu’l-qat‘a – ‘the probable cannot override the definite’? But what is definite here, the negative moonsighting or the several/tens of witnesses? Is one shari‘ah bound to accept the calculation, or accept the large body of witnesses? Further juristic clarification is needed here.

Just before concluding, I’d like to throw into the discussion two points to consider: the first concerns the idea of a ‘universal’ start day for Ramadan, or a ‘universal’ ‘Id day. Has that ever been such a thing? Yes, there is the juristic view that the sighting of one place is binding on all other places that come to reliably know of it. Yet the actual practice of the ummah, for long ages now, has been for every place to follow its own Imam or head of state, or its own regional sighting. This has been the agreed upon practice for long ages now. In fact, historically, we do not see any one of the caliphs or rulers of the Islamic caliphate ever sending out royal decrees or letters to the various provinces to follow their moonsighting. Even in the hadith of Kurayb, we just don’t find Mu‘awiyah (who was the caliph of the time) sending out a state decree or edict to make his moon sighting binding on all other provinces. Hence Ibn ‘Abbas did what he did. The idea of a universal day of fasting, or ‘Id, where Muslims all around the globe unitedly fast and celebrate, is a very touching and sentimental thought; but contrary to the ummah’s historical practice. Indeed, some hold that this newfangled notion of calling for a universal day is actually a bid‘ah: an innovation having no basis in Islam, at odds with the historically agreed upon practice of the ummah.[10]

The second issue concerns what we Muslims in Britain should do. Given the above, and given also that Shaykh Afifi and others up and down Britain consistently moonsight every month – and have been religiously doing so for many years, we should all seriously consider following local moonsighting. The benefits of doing so will not be hidden from the readers: Firstly, we have Greenwich observatory to give us excellent visibility predictions for the moon (as do websites like moonsighting.com). Secondly, local moonsighting has been successfully practiced by Muslims in Britain for decades (along with Morocco, which falls in our local moonsighting zone). Thirdly, British Muslims can take charge of their own affairs in this highly erratic issue, rather than waiting on global news and the complications, controversies and confusion it so often brings. Fourthly, local moonsighting would also allow for the various religious groups up and down Britain to more easily unite on a common word, God willing. Fifthly, by doing so we could return to a more normative, pragmatic and historically-rooted way of moonsighting, prior to the 1972 Arabian fiasco and prior to the 1986 geo-political jostling in Britain. The Afifian method would be employed – use calculations so as to rule out negative sightings; be guided by data for visibility predictions to aid actual sighting, and then actually go out and try and sight that sought after slither of silver. Wa’Llahu’l-musta‘an.

Conclusion: for now, for this Ramadan, rather than everyone doing their own thing and further fragmenting unity, it is best to delegate authority to our local mosques and follow their decision. It is important to give up one’s personal opinion in favour of the local mosque, simply for the sake of greater unity. Since we have no single agreed-upon national hilal committee here in the UK that could act as our ‘Imam’ as it were, we should devolve responsibility to the next authoritative level, which is that of mosques. The burden is then upon them to get it right. If one feels that their local mosque is out of sync with other mosques in the city or area and one is convinced that their mosque is truly out of step with the majority, then they should quietly differ from their local mosque – without making a fuss of furore about it. But if the local mosque is in sync with others in the area or city, then even if one disagrees with them personally, one should fast with the majority of people.

Until we don’t have a clear, decided national majority, local or regional majorities are going to have to suffice. As has been written elsewhere, let’s not make this Ramadan an issue of moonsighting vs. moonfighting! Let’s keep our egos, tempers, tongues and personal opinions in check. Or else, what would that be saying or portraying about ourselves as Muslims?

Before the mid-eighties, when we used to all follow Morocco’s moonsighting here in Britain, urban legend has it that the man in Morocco who was tasked with the job of telexing or faxing us the good news that Morocco had just spotted the moon, forgot or fell asleep. We had to collectively (and inconveniently) make up a missed day of Ramadan later. That one unintended foul was a game-changer; it was to bring other less benign things into play. Players who had, up until then, performed pretty well were substituted. Egos, envy and geo-politics jogged on to the pitch. Instead of that magic, unified 4-3-3 formation, came division and disarray. The game’s never been quite the same since. The game’s never been quite that beautiful.

Whether the urban legend is true or not, I’d like it to think it is. I’d like to believe that we British Muslims were not too long ago more unified; only so it can give us hope for a more unified future. Hope is incredibly important.

And Allah knows best.

 

[1] Al-Bukhari, no.1776; Muslim, no.1080.
[2] The Hanafi position is typified in Ibn Abidin, Radd al-Muhtar (Riyadh: Dar ‘Alam al-Kutub, 2003), 3:363-4; the Maliki in Khalil b. Ishaq, al-Tawdih Sharh Mukhtasar Ibn al-Hajib (Beirut: Dar Ibn Hazm, 2012), 2:203; the Hanbali in al-Bahuti, Sharh Muntaha al-Iradat (Mu’assasah al-Risalah, 2000), 2:341.
[3] The Shafi‘i positioned is summarised in al-Nawawi, Sharh Sahih Muslim (Beirut: Dar al-Kutub al-‘Ilmiyyah, 1995), 7:172.
[4] Muslim, no.1087; al-Tirmidhi, no.693, where he said: ‘The people of knowledge act by this hadith that every region has its own moonsighting.’ A thorough discussion of both views is presented in al-Kandahlawi, Awjaz al-Masalik (Damascus: Dar al-Qalam, 2003), 5:22-31.
[5] Ibn Baz, Majmu‘ Fatawa wa Maqalat Mutanawwi‘ah (Riyadh: Maktabah al-Ma‘arif, 1997), 15:85, 99, 102; Ibn ‘Uthaymin, Sharh al-Mumti‘ (Riyadh: Dar Ibn al-Jawzi, 2005), 6:310-11.
[6] Al-Tirmidhi, no.697.
[7] Jami‘ al-Tirmidhi (Riyadh: Dar al-Salam, 1999), 178; n.697.
[8] Consult: H. Yusuf, Cesarean Moon Births (USA: Zaytuna Institute, 2007), 52-58. The shaykh also discussed (pp.36-52) the view of the five scholars who apparently allowed calculations to begin the month – based on the hadith: ‘… if it is cloudy, then estimate it (fa in ghumma ‘alaykum faqduru lahu).’ [Al-Bukhari, no.1900; Muslim, no.1080]. He shows how, firstly, they permitted this only if the sky is overcast on the 29th night (as per the hadith); that is, obscurity is a condition for calculation. Secondly, even if one were to argue that obscurity wasn’t essential, there is nothing decisive in their words to suggest they advocated calculations in lieu of moonsighting.
[9] See: al-Ijma‘ ‘inda A’immat Ahl al-Sunnah al-Arba‘ah (Riyadh: Maktabah al-‘Ubaykan, 2003), 77; Majmu‘ Fatawa (Riyadh: Dar ‘Alam al-Kutub, 1991), 25:207; al-Furuq (Beirut: Maktabah al-‘Asriyyah, 2002), 2:177, respectively.
[10] Al-Tayyar, Wablu’l-Ghamamh fi Sharh ‘Umdat al-Fiqh li Ibn Qudamah (Saudi Arabia, Madar al-Watn, 2012), 2:141; Zawman, Ghayat al-Muqtasidin Sharh Manhaj al-Salikin (Saudi Arabia: Dar Ibn al-Jawzi, 2013), 2:86; and the aforementioned fatwa of Afifi.
 

A Ramadan of My Own

Muslimah Media Watch - 15 July, 2015 - 23:59
A couple of years ago, I bought my first bike. I had a bike as a child, but since I inherited it from my sister it wasn’t technically mine. I loved that battered old thing, used to spend long hours finding all the slopes in the vincinity and rushing down them as fast as I could. Then I [Read More...]

Virginia Muslims Deplore Mosque Attack

Loon Watch - 15 July, 2015 - 20:06

Virginia Muslims Deplore Mosque Attack

OnIslam

VIRGINIA – Amid increasing trend of Islamophobic attacks against Muslims, a US Muslim advocacy group has called on the American authorities to thoroughly investigate the attack on Virginia mosque as a possible hate crime.

“Because of the effort required to sever the air conditioning lines, the history of previous incidents targeting the mosque and the rise in anti-Muslim incidents nationwide, we believe it is essential that law enforcement authorities investigate a possible bias motive for this vandalism,” Ibrahim Hooper, the National Communications Director of the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR), was quoted by NBC Washington News.

According to CAIR, an official with Manassas Muslim Association reported heavy copper air conditioning pipes at the mosque were cut Monday as worshipers finished morning prayers.

Worshipers heard a strange noise around 5 am but thought it was trash being picked up, Northern Virginia Bureau Chief Julie Carey reported.

When the mosque began to warm up, they went outside and found the severed pipes.

Manassas Police are currently investigating the attack.

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NY Daily News: Man broke 19-year-old woman’s jaw, hurled anti-Muslim remarks at her

Loon Watch - 15 July, 2015 - 19:57

NY_ChinaTown_Hate_Crime

Police say the victim was talking to her brother when the suspect accused her of talking about him and punched her in the face.

BY

A 19-year-old Brooklyn woman’s jaw was fractured by a man who hurled his fists and anti-Muslim remarks at her in Chinatown, cops said Tuesday.

The woman was wearing “garb identifiable with the Muslim faith” and speaking to her brother in Urdu when the man accused the pair of talking about him at 10:40 p.m. Saturday on East Broadway, police said.

“B—h, what you say, you racist motherf—er, you talking about me in your own language?” the 5-foot-10 black man wearing a dark baseball hat, T-shirt and pants said before yelling the slurs, spitting at and punching the woman, cops said.

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