Eid and Arafah Dates Locally are Not Required to Be On Same Dates as in Makkah
By Sheikh Aslam Abuismaeel
The Greatness of Eid and the day of ‘Arafah
Besides the great day of Eid ul Adha, also to come upon us now is the great day of Arafah. When asked about fasting on the day of ‘Arafah and our beloved Prophet Muhammed (s.a.w) said: “It expiates for the past and coming years.” [Sahih Muslim]. These two days are, quite simply, the 10th day and the 9th day of the Islamic lunar calendar month of Dhul Hijjah.
Yet Confusion About These Days
Yet in recent few decades only, some people have confused themselves thinking that the days of Arafah fast and the day of Eid ul Adha in our country need to be the day they are on in Makkah, since the Hajj is Makkah and Arafah is there. This is a mistake spreading among Muslims. Yet as we will see below briefly in 6 points, the Prophet (s.a.w) neither sought to know for himself nor to inform other cities the date of Eid / Arafah in Makkah for it to be followed in all other countries around the world. Rather what they Prophet (s.a.w) did and showed to others around the world is to seek the beginning of the month via sighting of the crescent of the new moon in our own areas, then do the Eid ul Adha on the 10th day after it, and the fast of Arafah the day before the Eid, i.e. the 9th Dhul Hijjah in our areas. Here are the 6 reasons for this listed in six points – very briefly – that clarify this issue for us.
Some reasons why Islam did NOT direct us to follow Makkah calendar for Eid day or Arafah fast here or in other cities
The Prophet’s Example for a Decade: During the time of the Prophet (s.a.w) the Prophet had 10 years in Medinah when he could have had a messenger check moonsighting in Makkah and then tell him in Medinah for people of Medinah to follow the Makkan 9th and 10th Dhulhijjah for their own Eid in Medinah. But he is not reported to have done such a thing ever. Every year they followed their local moon sighting. For further clarification, note that in those days, a caravan may typically take about 3 to 4 days to travel from Makkah to Medinah. A messenger dispatched for a news could reach in shorter time. If the moon is sighted in Makkah on the night before the 1st of Dhul Hijjah, there are still 10 nights and nine days before the Eid day – sufficient time for a rider to be dispatched from Makkah to Medinah and elsewhere to inform them of the day of Arafah and Eid/Hajj in Makkah for every other city to follow it – if that was what others were supposed to do. Yet the Prophet (s.a.w) never once in the ten years in Medinah sought to know the moon sighting dates of Makkah, neither for the special month of Hajj nor of Ramadan.
- Other Cities didn’t adopt Makkah Eid Calendar even when the Prophet led the Hajj (10H): You may then wonder, the important thing is to follow the Arafah of where the Prophet was. Again, in that case, during the next year, i.e. 10th year of Hijri, the Prophet left Medinah, travelled to Makkah and performed Hajj himself. Yet in the 10,000 or so hadith available to us (estimate is according to some earlier times scholars), the Prophet is never reported to have dispatched any messenger to Medinah or any city to inform them which is the day of Arafah in Makkah nor Eid day for others in other cities, such as Medinah, to follow the Makkah dates where the Prophet (s.a.w) was performing the Hajj and observing the Arafah. Nor did any Sahabah from any city seek to find Makkah day of Arafah or the Prophets day of Arafah or Hajj for other cities to follow it. They could have easily known. But they did not. Because we in other cities around the world are not supposed to follow the dates of Arafah and Eid in Makkah, rather we are required to follow our own areas’ sightings and dates. The Unity thus, according to the Messenger of Allah (s.a.w), is more so required for within one city more so than it is among Muslims across the globe.
- Arafah is the name for the 9th of the local lunar month regardless of when the 9th is in Makkah: In our time, though many scholars said we do not need to follow the dates of Makkah for Eid and Arafah, there are reports that one of our contemporary great Scholars said for Arafah that people around the world should find when day of Arafah is in Makkah so they follow same too in all cities around the world, because according to the Sheikh , Arafah fast is when people in Arafah stand. I do not have a vivid recollection at the time of writing this whether that particular Sheikh (r.a) said this or not. However, if the Sheikh did say this, it is clearly contrary to the Prophet’s practice as mentioned in the three points mentioned above. Whereas the day of Eid for the whole world is when it is 10th Dhul Hijjah in their city. Not in Makkah. Likewise with Arafah fast is when it is 9th Dhul Hijjah in their city and not in Makkah. This is how the Prophet did his whole life.
- The Khulafa Rashidun (A) could have easily known day of Arafah and Hajj in Makkah and dispatch messengers over the next nine days to tell other cities in Medinah, Kufah, Basrah, Najd, Bahrain, Yemen, Damascus, etc. But they DID NOT – there absolutely no reports of that. (B) In fact, in the time of Umar ibn al-Khattab, and the rest of the first century of Islam, civil administration, including postal services, were dramatically mastered and were efficient – with postal stations, i.e. Bareed, developed for quicker and more efficient delivery of mail, thereby reducing the time for people around the Muslim world, including Medinah, to know of moon sighting in Makkah for Eid and Arafah. Yet noticeably there is not a single account of Umar (r.a) or any khulufa rashidun or any Sahabah requiring to know Makkah dates for others to follow – they did not do this. (C) Sahabah after the Khulafah Rashidun Period: In fact during a Ramadan seemingly during the khilafah of Mu’awiah (r.a), Mu’awiah in Syria saw the moon and thus the city began fasting there a day earlier whereas Ibn Abbas, as the Scholar of Hijaz, did not sight the moon and thus began the Ramadan a day later after that of Damascus. Yet when Kuraib later during the month of Ramadan informed that to Ibn Abbas, the latter did not then adjust their dates in Medinah for the upcoming Eid ul Fitr to be aligned with the confirmed sighting in Damascus nor the other way, thus showing that (a) informing was possible and (b) yet the Sahabah did not follow the other city in Ramadan or Eid ul Fitr, just as the above points showed that the Prophet (s.a.w) did not adjust Medinah dates by trying to find out Makkah dates of Eid and Arafah. (D) Caravan’s moon sighting reports incident: As for what is reported that once a caravan came on a journey from outside Medinah and informed the Prophet (s.a.w) about a sighting of the moon, this was from caravan riders from the vicinity of Medinah and not from distant lands and other cities since the sighting that the caravan riders reported to the Prophet that they saw was merely a few hours ago the night before and thus the Prophet ordered, according to the narration, to not fast that morning but to do Eid the next day. This shows that the sighting was from a caravan journey of merely a few hours in the vicinity of Medinah and not another city such as Makkah far away.
- In books of Fiqh of the four Madhhabs (of Imams Abu Hanafiah, Malik ibn Anas, Shafi’ee and Ahmed ibn Hanbal), from time of their great Imams to later students and great reference scholars of those Madh’habs, they did NOT make any requirement for people in other cities to find out when Hajj is in Makkah for other cities to follow Makkah’s sighting dates of Arafah or Hajj / Eid-ul-Adha. It is NOT a case that we now have new ability to know Makkah dates in time for Eid since they already had that ability without much trouble at all, hence our situations with respect to possibility of knowing are not noticeably different, and hence we should today follow our local area moon sightings rather than seek to find the sighting of Makkah. If following their sighting for sake of unity was meritorious and desired, then given that it was possible then also, they would have followed Makkah dates, but they did not so we also should not consider this concept of multi-moon-phase-global unity, rather consider the unity of Muslims in one city being united as was the practice of the time of the Prophet (s.a.w), the Khulafa Rashidun, the Sahabah, the Fiqh Imams and the last 13 hundred years until the present day unfortunate state of Muslim minorities without a worthy scholarly leader of Muslims in non Muslim nations. Before the current scattered state, everyone in one city did the Eid united upon local sighting derived from Sunnah or a sound ijtihad view.
- Other Cities didn’t adopt Makkah Eid calendar even after Hajj prescribed in Islam (9H): You may think, that was before Hajj was legislated as Islamic worship. The Answer is that in the 9th year the Prophet sent Abu Bakr to lead Hajj while Prophet stayed in Medinah. Yet neither did the Prophet seek to know when is Arafah in Makkah that year nor 10th Dhulhijjah for people of Medinah to follow the same dates as in Makkah, nor did the Prophet tell Abu Bakr to follow Medinah moonsighting where the Prophet was that year. Remember, as above, in those days a normal caravan would reach between Makkah and Medinah in 3 days or maximum four. So the Prophet could have easily known the sighting of Makkah but he did not bother nor advise us or anyone to seek out when is Arafah in Makkah or Eid there for rest of world to follow it though he could have known but he did not. So that means we also should not try to follow Makkah dates thinking any greatness in it, rather we should follow our local moon sighting dates.
Conclusions & Summary
From all of above plus from general hadith prescribing seeking sighting of the crescent, it is quite clear that today’s confusion is indeed an erroneous and a mistaken notion whereby some people today incorrectly are assuming that we here need to follow Makkah Hajj calendar dates for our distant city’s Eid or Arafah here, it becomes clear that this is a mistaken notion. Clearly from the above we see that the Prophet (s.a.w), the Khulafa Rashidun (the Rightly Guided Successors of the Prophet), the Sahabah, the great Imams of Fiqh and other leading scholars of fiqh over the centuries all did not require Muslims in other cities to seek to find out the dates of Arafah and hajj in Makkah for all other cities to have to do their own Arafah and Eid according to the Makkah calendar dates for Arafah and Eid in Makkah. It is not from Islam for us to do our Arafah fast or Eid day on the same day as it is Makkah. Rather we do Arafah fast and Eid day by local lunar Islamic calendar of our city on the local 9th and 10th of the month of the Hajj, respectively.
An Appeal to all Muslims for Sake of Islam & Sunnah
Please stop following this new trend – and that is what it is a new erroneous trend! And see the sense in not seeking to do our Eid when it is in Makkah nor Arafah fast just as the Messenger of Allah did not.
Note: In Australia, Muslim scholars with needed expertise in Moon sighting have confirmed that in Australia the fast of Arafah (9th Dhul Hijjah) is on Friday 1st September 2017 and the Eid ul Adha (10th Dhul Hijjah) is on Saturday 2nd September 2017.
Written By Sheikh Aslam Abuismaeel
First Written on 6th Dhul Hijjah 1438H / 29th August 2017 CE
Last Edited on 8th Dhul Hijjah 1438H / 31th August 2017 CE