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2151Can a Qadhi (or Mufti) reject moon sighting testimony?

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  • Iqbal Shaikh
    Apr 23, 2014
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      Can a Qadhi (or Mufti) reject moon sighting testimony?
      Asslamo Allaikum Wa Rahmatullahi Wa Barakatuh,
      Many of our brothers and sisters are under the impression that the testimony of someone who attests to the sighting of the moon must be accepted. They further add that it is particularly binding when the person is of sound character, judgement and standing.
      This misunderstanding has reached such epic proportions that when (incorrect) sighting from Saudi Arabia is rejected some of our brothers and sisters immediately jump and say:
      1. Are you saying that Muslims in Saudia are liars?
      2. Are you claiming that Muslims in Saudia are deliberately misleading us?
      3. Are the people of lands closer to Makkah and Madinah not honest enough for you?
      When emotions are cast aside, it can be easily understood that nobody is accusing anyone of lies but the Ulamah have the right to investigate (and reject if necessary) testimonies which are incorrect. An incorrect testimony doesn’t mean that the person is a liar but merely means that a mistake has been made.
      Rejection of a testimony doesn’t cast any aspirations on the character of anyone, at all. The proof of this is rejection of testimony of Sahabah by Sahaba as authentically proven. Their may be other incidents (apart from these) but these two categorically prove that a Qadhi (or Mufti) does have a right to investigate (and reject) if necessary testimonies which are reported to him.
      The job of the Qadhi (or Mufti) is to reach a correct decision and in the Hanafi Madhab this is achieved by trying to adopt the testimony of a large group of believers (to avoid errors).
      Incident 1 (Sayyidina Umar (RA) rejecting the testimony of Sayyidina Anas (RA):

      حَدَّثَنِي إِسْحَاقُ بْنُ عُمَرَ بْنِ سَلِيطٍ الْهُذَلِيُّ، حَدَّثَنَا سُلَيْمَانُ بْنُ الْمُغِيرَةِ، عَنْ ثَابِتٍ، قَالَ قَالَ أَنَسٌ كُنْتُ مَعَ عُمَرَ ح وَحَدَّثَنَا شَيْبَانُ بْنُ فَرُّوخَ، - وَاللَّفْظُ لَهُ - حَدَّثَنَا سُلَيْمَانُ بْنُ الْمُغِيرَةِ، عَنْ ثَابِتٍ، عَنْ أَنَسِ بْنِ مَالِكٍ، قَالَ كُنَّا مَعَ عُمَرَ بَيْنَ مَكَّةَ وَالْمَدِينَةِ فَتَرَاءَيْنَا الْهِلاَلَ وَكُنْتُ رَجُلاً حَدِيدَ الْبَصَرِ فَرَأَيْتُهُ وَلَيْسَ أَحَدٌ يَزْعُمُ أَنَّهُ رَآهُ غَيْرِي - قَالَ - فَجَعَلْتُ أَقُولُ لِعُمَرَ أَمَا تَرَاهُ فَجَعَلَ لاَ يَرَاهُ - قَالَ - يَقُولُ عُمَرُ سَأَرَاهُ وَأَنَا مُسْتَلْقٍ عَلَى فِرَاشِي ‏.‏ ثُمَّ أَنْشَأَ يُحَدِّثُنَا عَنْ أَهْلِ بَدْرٍ فَقَالَ إِنَّ رَسُولَ اللَّهِ صلى الله عليه وسلم كَانَ يُرِينَا مَصَارِعَ أَهْلِ بَدْرِ بِالأَمْسِ يَقُولُ ‏"‏ هَذَا مَصْرَعُ فُلاَنٍ غَدًا إِنْ شَاءَ اللَّهُ ‏"‏ ‏.‏ قَالَ فَقَالَ عُمَرُ فَوَالَّذِي بَعَثَهُ بِالْحَقِّ مَا أَخْطَئُوا الْحُدُودَ الَّتِي حَدَّ رَسُولُ اللَّهِ صلى الله عليه وسلم - قَالَ - فَجُعِلُوا فِي بِئْرٍ بَعْضُهُمْ عَلَى بَعْضٍ فَانْطَلَقَ رَسُولُ اللَّهِ صلى الله عليه وسلم حَتَّى انْتَهَى إِلَيْهِمْ فَقَالَ ‏"‏ يَا فُلاَنَ بْنَ فُلاَنٍ وَيَا فُلاَنَ بْنَ فُلاَنٍ هَلْ وَجَدْتُمْ مَا وَعَدَكُمُ اللَّهُ وَرَسُولُهُ حَقًّا فَإِنِّي قَدْ وَجَدْتُ مَا وَعَدَنِيَ اللَّهُ حَقًّا ‏"‏ ‏.‏ قَالَ عُمَرُ يَا رَسُولَ اللَّهِ كَيْفَ تُكَلِّمُ أَجْسَادًا لاَ أَرْوَاحَ فِيهَا قَالَ ‏"‏ مَا أَنْتُمْ بِأَسْمَعَ لِمَا أَقُولُ مِنْهُمْ غَيْرَ أَنَّهُمْ لاَ يَسْتَطِيعُونَ أَنْ يَرُدُّوا عَلَىَّ شَيْئًا ‏"‏ ‏.‏
       
      Sayyidina Anas Ibn Malik (RA) reported: We were along with Ameerul-Mumineen Sayyidina Umar (RA) between Makkah and Medina that we began to look for the new moon. And I was a man with sharp eye- sight, so I could see it, but none except me saw it. I began to say to Sayyidina Umar (RA): Don't you see it? But he could not see it. Thereupon Sayyidina Umar (RA) said: I would soon be able to see it (when it will shine more brightly). I lay upon bed. He then made a mention of the people of Badr to us and said: Allah's Messenger (Sallallaho Alaihe Wassallam) showed us one day before (the actual battle) the place of death of the people (participating) in (the Battle) of Badr and he was saying: This would be the place of death of so and so tomorrow, if Allah wills. Sayyidina Umar (RA) said: By Him Who sent him with truth, they did not miss the places (of their death) which Allah's Messenger (Sallallaho Alaihe Wassallam) had pointed for them. Then they were all thrown in a well one after another. Allah's Messenger (Sallallaho Alaihe Wassallam) then went to them and said: O, so and so, the son of so and so; O so and so, the son of so and so, have you found correct what Allah and His Messenger (Sallallaho Alaihe Wassallam) had promised you? I have, however, found absolutely true what Allah had promised with me. Sayyidina Umar (RA) said: Allah's Messenger (Sallallaho Alaihe Wassallam), how are you talking with the bodies without soul in them. Thereupon he said: You cannot hear more distinctly than (their hearing) of what I say, but with this exception that they have not power to make any reply. [Muslim]
      Incident 2 (Sayyidina Ibn Abbas (RA) rejecting the testimony of Sayyidina Fadhal (RA):
      عَنْ كُرَيْبٍ أَنَّ أُمَّ الْفَضْلِ بِنْتَ الْحَارِثِ بَعَثَتْهُ إِلَى مُعَاوِيَةَ بِالشَّامِ قَالَ فَقَدِمْتُ الشَّامَ فَقَضَيْتُ حَاجَتَهَا وَاسْتُهِلَّ عَلَيَّ رَمَضَانُ وَأَنَا بِالشَّامِ فَرَأَيْتُ الْهِلَالَ لَيْلَةَ الْجُمُعَةِ ثُمَّ قَدِمْتُ الْمَدِينَةَ فِي آخِرِ الشَّهْرِ فَسَأَلَنِي عَبْدُ اللَّهِ بْنُ عَبَّاسٍ رَضِيَ اللَّهُ عَنْهُمَا ثُمَّ ذَكَرَ الْهِلَالَ فَقَالَ مَتَى رَأَيْتُمْ الْهِلَالَ فَقُلْتُ رَأَيْنَاهُ لَيْلَةَ الْجُمُعَةِ فَقَالَ أَنْتَ رَأَيْتَهُ فَقُلْتُ نَعَمْ وَرَآهُ النَّاسُ وَصَامُوا وَصَامَ مُعَاوِيَةُ فَقَالَ لَكِنَّا رَأَيْنَاهُ لَيْلَةَ السَّبْتِ فَلَا نَزَالُ نَصُومُ حَتَّى نُكْمِلَ ثَلَاثِينَ أَوْ نَرَاهُ فَقُلْتُ أَوَ لَا تَكْتَفِي بِرُؤْيَةِ مُعَاوِيَةَ وَصِيَامِهِ فَقَالَ لَا هَكَذَا أَمَرَنَا رَسُولُ اللَّهِ صَلَّى اللَّهُ عَلَيْهِ وَسَلَّمَ وَشَكَّ يَحْيَى بْنُ يَحْيَى فِي نَكْتَفِي أَوْ تَكْتَفِي
       
      Kuraib reported that Umm Fadl, daughter of Harith, sent him (Fadl, i.e. her son) to Sayyidina Mu'awiya (RA) in Syria. I (Fadl) arrived in Syria, and did the needful for her. It was there in Syria that the month of Ramadan commenced. I saw the new moon (of Ramadan) on Friday. I then came back to Medina at the end of the month. Sayyidina Abdullah Ibn 'Abbas (RA) asked me (about the new moon of Ramadan) and said: When did you see it? I said.: We saw it on the night of Friday. He said: (Did) you see it yourself? -I said: Yes, and the people also saw it and they observed fast and Mu'awiya also observed fast, whereupon he said: But we saw it on Saturday night. So we would continue to observe fast till we complete thirty (lasts) or we see it (the new moon of Shawwal). I said: Is the sightidg of the moon by Mu'awiya not valid for you? He said: No; this is how the Messenger of Allah (may peace be upon him) has commanded us. Yahya b. Yahya was in doubt (whether the word used in the narration by Kuraib) was Naktafi or Taktafi. [Muslim]
      Comparative Analysis?
      Can anyone in our times claim to be more pious, just, upright and truthful then the companions of Nabi (Sallalaho Alaihe Wassallam) about whom Allah (SWT) testifies?
      [48:29] Muhmmad (Sallallaho Alaihe Wassallam) is the messenger of Allah, and those who are with him are hard on the disbelievers, compassionate among themselves; you will see them bowing down in Ruku, prostrating themselves in Sajdah, seeking grace from Allah, and (His) good pleasure; their distinguishing feature is on their faces from the effect of Sajdah (prostration). This is their description in Torah; and their description in Injil is: like a sown crop that brings forth its shoot, then makes it strong, then it grows thick and stands straight on its stem, looking good to the farmers, so that He may enrage the disbelievers through them. Allah has promised forgiveness and a huge reward to those of them who believe and do good deeds.

      Addendum:
      Incident 3 (Sayyidina Anas (RA) in his old age):
      I am not sure about the aurthenticity of this so please consult Ulamah and also post comments if you have some information regarding it...
      تراءى هلالَ شهرِ رمضان جماعةٌ فيهم أنسُ بن مالك رضي الله عنه، وقد قارب المائة، فقال أنسٌ: قد رأيتُه، هو ذاك، وجعل يشير إليه، فلا يَرونه، ونظر إياسٌ إلى أنس، فإذا شعرةٌ مِن حاجبه قد انْثَنتْ، فمسَحها إياسٌ، وسوَّاها بحاجبه، ثم قال له: يا أبا حمزة، أَرِنا موضع الهلال، فجعل سيُّدنا أنسٌ ينظر ويقول: ما أراه
      A group (Jamaah) was attempting to sight the crescent for Ramadhan and it included Sayyidina Anas (RA) who was close to the age of 100. Sayydina Anas (RA) said that he had sighted the crescent.
      The rest (of the group) tried but couldn’t see it so Iyas (RA) looked towards Sayyidina Anas (RA) and he noticed a protruding eyebrow so he massaged (or caressed it) and the said, “O Abu Hamzah (RA) do you see it (the crescent), now”? So Sayyidina Anas (RA) looked again and he said I no longer see it.
      The query about the authenticity of this Athar has been sent to Hadithanswers.com
      Incident 4 (Stroy of Eyebrow from Mathnavi of Maulana Rumi (RA)):
      This is just a story in the Mathnwi of Maulana Rumi as follows (21-Omar and the man who thought he saw the new moon):

      OMAR was caliph; the month of the fast had come round. A crowd of people ran to the top of a hill to draw a good omen from the sight of the crescent moon.

      'See, Omar!' cried on. 'The new moon!'

      Omar did not see any moon in the sky.

      'This moon,' he remarked to the man, 'has risen from your imagination. Otherwise, how is it that I do not see the pure crescent, seeing that I am a better scanner of the skies than you? West your hand,' he went on,' and rub it on your eyebrow, then take another look at the new moon.'

      The man wetted his eyebrow, and no more saw the moon.

      'Yes,' commented Omar. 'The hair of your eyebrow became a bow and shot at you and arrow of surmise.'

      One hair through becoming crooked had waylaid him completely, so that he falsely claimed boastfully to have seen the moon.

      If one crooked hair can veil the whole sky, how will it be if all your parts are crooked?
      Tags: islam