Why is it compulsory to sight the moon with naked eye to mark the beginning or end of Ramadan?Why cant we adopt the scientific methods available today to sight the moon and bring an end to this extremely disgusting debate between different sects which, as a matter of fact, is driving the younger generation away from Islam?
Will appreciate your answer with references!
From time immemorial, it has been an established fact that a lunar month either comprises of twenty nine days or thirty days but can never exceed thirty days.When the directives of fasting were revealed in the Quran prophet(pbuh) clarified to his companions that you should begin Ramadan when you sight the moon and you should finish it when you sight the moon(that is the moon of Shawwal).Since, there was a possibility that muslims may insist on keeping thirty fasts, prophet Muhammad(pbuh) elucidated for them that you only complete thirty days if the weather is cloudy on the 29th day and the moon cannot be seen.
Although there are many directives regarding moon sighting but the one which gives a very clear message is from the book of Imam Muslim.The narrative says;
الشَّهْرُ تِسْعٌ وَعِشْرُونَ فإذا رَأَيْتُمْ الْهِلَالَ فَصُومُوا وإذا رَأَيْتُمُوهُ فَأَفْطِرُوا فَإِنْ غُمَّ عَلَيْكُمْ فَاقْدِرُوا له (مسلم ، رق1080
A month can also be of twenty nine days; so if you sight the moon, begin the fast and if you sight it break the fast; if the sky is not clear complete the days(which means, complete thirty days). (Muslim, No: 1080)
This narrative is reported by ‘Abdullah Ibn ‘Umar (rta). Same narrative is reported from from Abū Hurayrah (rta)in the same words.
One can see that prophet Muhammad(pbuh) used the methods to sight the moon which were prevalent in his time; and that is, sighting it through naked eye.No where in any hadith was it made mandatory to see the moon with a naked eye only.The message in the ahadith is to ensure, as much as one can, that the birth of a new moon is witnessed irrespective of the method.
It becomes very clear from the deliberations above that if thirty days are completed in a month, moon-sighting is not required at all as a lunar month can never be of thirty one days.So the issue of moon sighting doesn’t stand valid in this case anyway.
In our view, there is nothing wrong in using the modern technology and knowledge to ascertain whether the month is a twenty nine day month or not. Infact , we strongly recommend to adopt all the modern scientific methods in sighting the moon as such methods are likely to unite the Umma on Eid celebrations, which sadly, is appallingly divided at present.
Allah knows the best