As Ramadan is fast approaching within 24 hours or less, we will be witnessing the mercy of this month and the more we prepare for it the more of its benefits we acquire inshaAllah. Some of the ways we can prepare are:
• Purifying our intentions,
• Repenting to Allah, and
• Knowing the rules and regulations of this month such as conditions, pillars, and etiquette.
Conditions are matters that have to be completed before engaging in any legal action be it worshiping or other dealings. The general conditions for the fasting to be valid are Islam, age of distinction, and to be free from menstrual and birth periods.
Another specific additional condition for fasting in Ramadan is to have certain and concrete knowledge of the beginning the month of Ramadan. Sighting the moon or completing thirty days of the ending month are the only two legal ways to determine the beginning of the new month in Islamic jurisprudence. The Prophet (May the peace and blessing of Allah be upon him) was very clear about this fiqh ruling "Fast by sighting and break the fasting by sighting it and if you are barred from seeing it, then complete the number of Sha’ban thirty days”
This Hadith of it’s different narrations is Mutawatir which is the highest level of authenticity. Muslim scholars throughout the centuries built their unbreakable consensus on this hadith and rejected everything that says otherwise including fasting by astronomical calculations. Some of the scholars who reported such consensus are Imam Zayn Alabidin of Hanafi School, Imam Ibn Abdul Barr of Maliki School, Imam Annawawi of Shafi School, Imam Ibn Quddama of Hanbali School, Imam Ibn Hazm of Dahiria School, and other independent scholars.
In Usul Alfiqh (fundamentals of Fqh), if consensus is reached among scholars then it never breaks because scholars do not reach consensus unless and until there is an overwhelming and irrefutable evidence supporting the conclusion of such a ruling. Therefore it is obligated on all Muslims to base their fasting on the sighting of the moon not by astronomical calculations. Also, I would urge all brothers and sisters in Islam to learn about any act of worship before starting it.
May Allah accept our fasting and prayers in this blessed month and all the other months of the year.
Wassalamu Alaikum ww.
Imam Yusuf Abdulle of Boston Islamic Center