Fasting Fiqh Q and A

Different Masjids and Different Ramadan Dates? What to Do?

This is an article written by Imam Mustafa Umar for IIOC’s website. ICOI adopted the decision of the Fiqh Council of North America. For more info on their position and what it is based on see



Different masjids [mosques] in my area are using different methods to calculate when Ramadan will begin and end? Which one should I follow? What if my family is following a different one?

The Answer

There are certain things in Islam that have been left open to interpretation. The exact method used to determine the month of Ramadan is a matter of disagreement among scholars. There are two variables involved. First, whether the moon must be sighted in your locality or whether it may be sighted anywhere else where Muslims are present. Second, whether or not the moon must actually be observed or whether astronomical calculations can serve as a substitute for an actual sighting. It is our opinion that these methods all have some sound level of scholarship and therefore should not cause any unnecessary arguing in any Muslim community.
There may be two or more Islamic organizations which are using different criteria in your area. In that case, you would have to pick one to follow and stick to it. You may choose which one to follow by either:
  • following the most local Islamic organization
  • following the one you trust the most and believe that the scholarship at their center is more sound
  • follow the one your family is going with since you are living with them [hence, eating with them as well]
Whichever one you choose to go with, reflect on the ramifications it will have on both yourself and the people closest to you.
In closing, keep in mind that Allah will reward you for your intention and it is hoped that everyones fasting will be accepted, regardles of the scholarly differences of opinion that exist in this regard.

One reply on “Different Masjids and Different Ramadan Dates? What to Do?”

Yes Alhamdulillah there is a valid difference of opinion regarding this matter but isn’t it time to settle this difference for the sake of cohesion in local Muslim communities? It just doesn’t seem right that my local masjid is starting Ramdan today and a masjid only 10 miles away is going to start Ramadan a day later? Isn’t it symptomatic of a bigger problem in the ummah? Is it even healthy to have a difference of opinion in these kinds of matters?

As I understand, the fissure we’re seeing regarding this matter has to do with the local sighting of the moon Vs. calculation based estimate. At least this year it seems most masajid shunned calculation based estimate (this however doesn’t seem to be the case in the past years). What I perceive reason to be is that calculation based method only predicts global moon sighting and falls short on local moon sighting. Mostly the calculation based method results in moon sightings in remote corners of the world such as Polynesians Islands of Southern Pacific or the tip of the South American continent. These regions of the world are sparsely populted and don’t seem to host a sizeable Muslim community. So how do we confirm sightings in these regions of the world where Muslims are hard to find? Is it possible to enhance moon sighting algoritm to predict local moon sightings based on distinst geographical regions such as North America or North Africa etc? May a day will come when the moon sighting calculations will be precise enough to predecit hilal sighting down to a local community. Till such a day why can’t we reach a consensus so that local Muslims can start and end Ramdan on same dates?

May Allah forgive our sins, have mercy on us and unite our hearts.

I do apologize for this polemic but I honestly find this issue to be a fairly pestering one as it rears its head at least twice each year.

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