When to fast for Arafah?

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*When to fast for Arafah?*

Q) *When is the fasting of Yaum-e-Arafah this year?**Should we follow the 9th day of Zil Hijjah according to Makkah?*A)*In Mauritius, South Africa and those countries sighted moon on Sunday 12th August maghrib, then we should fast on Tuesday 21st August 2018 for the 9th of Zil Hijjah (Arafah).* 

The beloved prophet SAW said: ‘’The fast of 9th Zil Hijjah(Yaume Arafah) forgive the sins of past year and the current year.’’ (Sahih Muslim).قَالَ وَسُئِلَ عَنْ صَوْمِ يَوْمِ عَرَفَةَ فَقَالَ يُكَفِّرُ السَّنَةَ الْمَاضِيَةَ وَالْبَاقِيَةَ مسلم*

NOTE: IT IS NOT SUNNAH FOR HAJEES TO FAST ON 9TH OF ZUL HIJJAH-YAUME ARAFAH. RATHER THEY SHOULD ENGAGE THEMSELVES IN DUAS AND SUPPLICATIONS FROM AFTER ZAWAAL TILL SUNSET.**The beloved prophet Swalallahou `Alaihi Wasallam did not fast on 9th Zul Hijjah during his Hajj.(Bukhari)*   

Allah Ta`ala has stated in the glorious Qur-aan that there may be differences in moon sighting in the world. ‘’The one who comes to witness the month (of Ramadhaan), then he should fast.’’ (2:185) This verse not only refers to the residents of the region, but also to those who had travelled and returned home and found that Ramadhaan had started, then they should also fast. Nowadays, those who proceed for Umrah may have completed 30 days in Saudi Arabia, but if they return to their respective country which has not yet sighted the moon for Eid, then they should fast also on that last day of Ramadhaan. Furthermore, there were also differences in moon sighting between Saudi Arabia and other countries during the lifetime of Rasouloullah (SAW) and the sahabas (ra). It is reported on the authority of Muslim Shareef that it happened that Koureib was sent by Ummul Fadl, the mother of Abdullah bin Abbaas (r.a.), from Madinah to Syria for some work. There they had sighted the moon on Thursday night. They started fasting then. But when Kureib returned to Madinah at the end of Ramadhaan, Hazrat Abdullah bin Abbaas (r.a.) asked him about his trip and the moon. He answered that they had sighted it on Thursday night. Ibn Abbaas (r.a.) told him that in Madinah they had sighted it on Friday night. And they were going to complete 30 days accordingly. Kureib asked him whether they should not follow the moon sighting of Syria and Ameer Mu`awiyah (Chief of Muslims that time)? Abdullah bin Abbaas (r.a.) answered in the negative and told him that the prophet (SAW) had ordered them to follow their region`s moon sighting and not to interfere with other sightings elsewhere in the world. 

This hadith of Muslim Shareef does not represent the view of Ibn Abbaas (r.a.) alone. But it was the view of all sahabas (ra) present at that time. Because the celebration of Eid in Madinah was the concern of all present at that time. And no sahaba (ra) stood against the fatwa of Ibn Abbaas (r.a.). Hence there is Ijma` of the sahabas (ra) that our calendar should follow the moon sighting of our region. In that year, Syria had a different date for Eid from that of Madinah, although both countries were informed about their different sightings. 

We should note that during the period of the Islamic empire, there were efficient and quick postal services that developed through horsemen that would relay each other about every 20 kms. They could relay messages for thousand of kilometres during one day. Yet no one came forward to establish the same Eid day as such for all countries of the empire. 

Today we are witnessing a great progression in communication technology. We should bear in mind that the prophet (saw) ordered us not to be influenced by technology in moon sightings. Technology should not influence the established injunctions of our deen. The holy prophet (SAW) said: “We are an illiterate people. We do not write and we do not count. The months are like this: 29 or 30 days (he indicated with his fingers).” (Bukhari) We are called upon by the prophet (saw) to become the simplest of all people as regards the sighting of the moon. That is why we should not rely on telescopes or moon birth calculation in our moon sightings. But rather bare eye witnesses would be acceptable. Yes, one may accept the eye witness of someone who was nearby a few kilometres from that region, in the country side.

 But the strongest argument on that issue is the hadith of Hazrat Ibn Abbas (r.a.) who told us that it was the order of the prophet that we should follow our own moon sighting and should not be influenced by other moon sightings of other countries. (Muslim). In fact, Ibn Abbaas (ra) did not want to impose Saudia Arabia`s sighting on the Syrian people. Furthermore, Yaume Arafah is the 9th day of Zil Hijjah in every country. Yaume Arafah is unanimously 9th of Zil Hijjah and we cannot account 8th of Zil Hijjah as Yaume Arafah. Nor 11th Zul Hijjah.

 Furthermore if we assume that if we sighted moon before Makkah, then we would be one day ahead of Makkah. Hence the Hajees would in Arafah on our Eid-ul-Adhaa day. And it would have been haraam and not permissible for us to keep fast on Eid ul Adhaa day. In fact not permissible to fast on Eid ul Adhaa day and the 3 days that follows after that. 

Communication, technology should not influence our deen protocols. A century ago, Muslims were all fasting on the 9th day of Zil Hijjah for yaume Arafah. At that time, no one could know when the pilgrims were in Arafah. Today also, we should become ‘’the illiterate people’’ and follow the simple moon sighting of our own country. The more important fact is that, after the information of the sighting of the moon had come to the people of Madinah, they did not change their own sighting. We also should not change our local moon sighting.


 Mufti Mackoojee

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