The Official Website of the Office of His Eminence Al-Sayyid Ali Al-Husseini Al-Sistani

Question & Answer » Crescent Sighting

1 Question: What is the ruling on the sighting of the crescent and determining the 1st day of the month?
Answer: Sighting of the new moon is ascertained by knowledge of the actual sighting or through solid news of such sighting, or some other means. Certainty can also be achieved through common knowledge. Amongst other sources of ascertaining the sighting of the new moon is the lapse of thirty days on Sha’ban’s crescent for the start of Ramadhan to be confirmed, or thirty days on the crescent of Ramadhan for the new moon of Shawwal to be confirmed [and so on]. Sighting can also be confirmed by the evidence of two witnesses of impeccable character ('adil).
However, sighting of the new moon is not recognised by the evidence of women, or by the evidence of one just witness, even with oath, or by the words of astrologers. Neither by its absence after dawn dusk, so that it could be said that it belongs to a previous night, nor by the evidence of two just witnesses, if the evidence is not confined to their own sighting of the newly born moon. Sighting is not recognised too when it is seen before zawaal so that the day of sighting be from the ensuing month. The impression of a ring it may give, proving that it could belong to a previous night, cannot be accepted as well.
2 Question: If Ramadhan crescent is sighted in one city would it suffice the sighting in another city?
Answer: Should the new moon be sighted in a city, it would suffice the sighting in another city, provided the two fall on the same horizon. That is, if the new moon was sighted in the first town, there would bring about a strong confidence of sighting it in the second.
3 Question: What is the way of knowing that the new lunar month has started?
Answer: You should be able to know that by sighting the new moon in your country or nearby countries that share the same horizon; in other words, if the crescent is sighted in one country, it should be seen in the other, were it not for natural barriers, such as clouds, mountainous terrain, and the like. The beginning of the month cannot be established by sighting the crescent through a telescope or binoculars.
4 Question: What is the evidence of sighting the crescent?
Answer: The evidence could be one or more of the following:
1. You have sighted it yourself.
2. The testimony of two men of impeccable character, provided that you do not have any knowledge of instances that they may be wrong, and that you do not dispute their testimony.
3. The lapse of thirty days on the month of Sha’ban, thus reaching certitude that Sha’ban has come to an end and that the month of Ramadhan shall commence.
4. When the news of the birth of the moon of Ramadhan becomes commonplace that you are sure of the sighting.
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