1. The Muslims are obliged to fast for the “Month of Ramadan” by the Verses 02:182 & 185 of the Qur’an. (يا أيها الذين آمنوا، كتب عليكم الصيام، كما كتب على الذين من قبلكم لعلكم تتقون). The functional translation of this verse is as follows: “O believers, fasting for the Month of Ramadan is prescribed upon you as it was prescribed upon the nations before you. By this practice, you may live as fully aware and mindful of God.
  2. The verse 02:185 reads in Arabic as follows: (فمن شهد منكم الشهر فليصمه. ومن كان مريضا أو علي سفر، فعدة من آيام أخر. يريدالله بكم اليسر ولا يريد بكم العسر). The functional translation of this verse is as follows: “Whosoever found the Month of Ramadan at home and is in good health, he/she must fast during the Month. But whosoever happened to be sick or travelling, he/she may observe the fasting in other days afterwards. God intends to make your life easy, and He does not intend to make it difficult.”
  3. When the above verses are explained within their regulatory Shari’ah context of ‘the causes and means’ (الأسباب والوسائل), one would be compelled to conclude as below:

(a).      The verse 02:182, is dedicated to make the fasting in the Month of Ramadan obligatory upon the Muslims, as it was the case with the nations before Islam.

(b).      The verse 02:185 however, provides the cause as to when, how or on whom the fasting for the Mont of Ramadan is obligatory.

(c).      The exclusive meaning of the verse 02:185, ‘to find the Month of Ramada at home’ (شهود الشهر), means the entry of the Month (i.e. دخول الشهر), during which, a believer is neither travelling nor sick.

(d).      The question then arises, in proving the entry of the Month, what is the role of the new moon and the sighting of it by the naked eyes?

(e).      The answer is: The role of the new moon for the Month of Ramadan or Shawwal is nothing but that of an old and traditional mean and tool.

(f).      Using this tool, the believers during the time of the Prophet (P), used to determine that the above two months have in fact entered. Hence, the fasting at Ramadan or break of it at Shawwal.

(g).      Other than seeing the moon physically, no other tools were available to them, during the time of the Prophet (P), to determine the entry of the above two months.

(h).      This is why the Prophet (P) had clearly spelt out the reason to see the new moon physically: “We are illiterate nation; neither do we know how to calculate, nor do we know how to write” (انا أمة أمية، لا نكتب ولا نحسب). So, generally, a month is consisting of twenty-nine days. [1]

(i).       As such, the Prophet had said, “So, fast upon seeing the new moon of Ramadan and break it upon seeing the new moon Shawwal (صوموا لرؤيته وأفطرا لرؤيته)[2]. But if you cannot see the new moon of Ramadan, so complete the counting of Sha’ban thirty days, then start fasting for the Month of Ramadan”.

(j).      Now that we know precisely how to calculate the beginning of the month and end of it, hundreds of years in advance, using the old mean and tool is no more necessary or relevant according to the Shari’ah

(k).      Here is a clear example for it: According to the verse 22:27 of the Qur’an, the Prophet Ibrahim declared to the people to go to Haj “walking and on horseback” (وأذن في الناس، يأتوك بالحج رجالا وعلي كل ضامر).  But these days, we go to Hajj using the car or aeroplane. Is it allowed?

(l).       Obviously, the answer is YES! So, the mention of ‘going to hajj walking and on horseback’ was meant to mention the old means of transport during the time of the Prophet Ibrahim. So, as long as the modern-day cars and aeroplanes take us to Hajj, using them as a tool and means of transport would be allowed.

(m).    The same is also true of using scientific calculations to determine the entry of Ramadan and Shawwal to fast or celebrate the Eid al-Fitr accordingly.

[1] Sahih Bukhari Hadith No. 1814 & Sahih Muslim Hadith No. 1080.

[2] Sahih Muslim Hadith No. 1081.