In the Name of Allah, the Most Gracious, the Most Merciful.
As-salāmu ‘alaykum wa-rahmatullāhi wa-barakātuh
Q: Shaykh Suliman, I am confused about the two different Dhul-Hijjah start dates, please explain in detail as to which date I should use and why?
You should start Dhul-Hijjah 1439 from 13 August 2018, the Arafah fast (on the mbani and celebrate Eidul-Adha on Wednesday 22 August 2018.
My reasons for stating this are as follows:
Local Sighting and Arafah date is local
It is the opinion of scholars in Islam that local Moonsighting should be followed. The scholars of Saudi Arabia just like all other scholars have advised British Muslims that sighting in Britain or countries close to Britain should be followed. The scholars in Saudi Arabia have stated that Dhul-Hijjah should also be started based on local Moonsighting, answers of the scholars from Haramain can be seen on this page. You will also find the Hadeeth of Ibn Abbas (RA) from Saheeh Muslim:
Due to adverse weather conditions, the Moon could not be sighted in Britain but it was sighted at our partner location at La Rochelle, France and here is the picture:
It was also sighted in our closest Muslim country of Morocco and here is the Fax:
It was also sighted in South Africa and here is the picture:
Indonesia, Malaysia, India, Pakistan etc all have their day of fasting and Eidul-Adha is different to Saudi Moonsighting and there is no harm in this matter. In fact, a large number of Muslims (if not the majority) have it on a different day to Saudi Arabia, so there is no doubt that having a different day to Saudi Arabia is valid. It is the opinion of Saudi scholars as well.
Those in Saudi Arabia should follow the judgement of Saudi scholars and follow their local sighting. My comments are restricted to British Muslims.
There has never been a sighting of the new crescent in the history of keeping records of a Moon which is less than 6 hours old. Saudees have achieved something which should be scrutinised scientifically, reviewed, debated and discussed. It is up to them to do so, my recommendation is that British Muslims should opt for caution and disregard Saudi sighting for Britain.
Casting aside the technical discussions, the simplest method of verification is that when the Moon is sighted at a location, all locations due West have a far better chance of sighting the Moon (because the sunset is later). Ibn Taymiyyah (RA) said:
قال ابن التيمية: أحدها: ان الرؤية تختلف باختلاف التشريق والتغريب، فإنه متى رؤي في المشرق وجب ان يري في المغرب ولاينعكس، لأنه يتاخرغروب الشمس بالمغرب عن وقت غروبها بالمشرق، فإذا كان قد رؤي ازداد بالمغرب نوراً وبعداً عن الشمس وشعاعها وقت غروبها، فيكون أحق بالرؤية، وليس كذالك إذا رؤي بالمغرب، لأنه قد يكون سبب الرؤية تأخرغروب الشمس عندهم، فازداد بعداًوضوءً، ولما غربت بالمشرق كان قريباً منها. (مجموعه الفتاوى جلد13 ص62)
“...One of them being that if the hilal has been sighted in the east then this will necessitate sightings in the west. However this is not true the other way round. This is because the time of sunset in the west is after the time of sunset in the east. If the moon has been sighted (in the east) then one will observe a much brighter and a more illuminated moon in the west...[Majmu‟ Al Fatawa Volume 13, Page 62]"
This Moon was not seen anywhere East or West of Saudi Arabia. It was not seen anywhere on the globe except for Saudi Arabia.
Once again, I am stressing that Muslims in Saudi Arabia should follow their scholars and my comments are restricted and addressed to British Muslims only.
Caution in Islam
We have been sighting the Moon locally and regionally) in Britain and have 12 years of records that are public and available for all Muslims in Britain to track:
Saturday was the 28th of Dhul-Qa’adah (in Britain) and a day of partial Solar eclipse, why would we let go of meticulous (local) sighting and follow sighting news from Saudi Arabia which was not observed anywhere on the globe?
The advice of Prophet Muhammad (sallā Allāhu ʿalayhi wa-sallam) is for us to leave what is in doubt and adopt what is free of doubt. Why should we abandon 12 years of transparent, public (local/regional sighting) which all scholars (including Saudi scholars) have advised us to implement and adopt something which is not the pristine Sunnah and doubtful (for us)?
دَعْ مَا يَرِيبُكَ إِلَى مَا لَا يَرِيبُكَ ، فَإِنَّ الصِّدْقَ طُمَأْنِينَةٌ ، وَإِنَّ الْكَذِبَ رِيبَةٌ
Leave that which makes you doubt for that which does not make you doubt, for truth leads to reassurance and lies lead to uncertainty [Tirmidhi]
Eidul-Adha is 3 days:
Qurbani and Eidul-Adha can be done on all 3 days.
Let’s explore our situation. The sighting of Saudi Arabia is not binding on us and we have some doubts regarding its authenticity. Therefore to perform Qurbani on the 21 August 2018 can potentially be invalid.
There is no doubt about the Moonsighting (on Sunday) and it is confirmed by multiple sightings around the world (East and West). There is no doubt to perform Qurbani on the 22 August 2018 and even by Saudi sighting (which is doubtful) it is still the second day so the Eid Salah and Qurbani are both valid.
Why would you insist on putting your Eid Salah and Qurbani in doubt by not opting to celebrate Eidul-Adha on 22 August 2018?
It is therefore my strong recommendation that you should start _Dhul-Hijjah_ 1439 from 13 August 2018, the Arafah fast should be on the 21 August 2018, perform your Qurbani and celebrate Eidul-Adha on Wednesday 22 August 2018.
Impact on Muharram/Ashura
If we were to adopt this Saudi Moonsighting, it will impact the Moonsighting for Muharram 1440. We will be sighting for a non-existent Moon to start Muharrram.
It is Sunnah to fast on Ashura and it is critical to fast on the right day
In contrast, if we go by our own authentic local Moonsighting and start of Dhul-Hijjah 1439 from Monday, the sighting for Muharram 1440 will be on Monday, the 10 September 2018 which is possible and valid.
This is one more proof that our local/regional sighting is working in Britain.
If I was in Saudi Arabia at this time, I would suggest for Muslims to follow (local) Saudi sighting. If I was in South Africa, I would advise Muslims to follow (local) South African sighting. In short Muslims should follow their own Moonsighting so my recommending is within the context of Britain and British Muslims should follow their Moonsighting.