How to Determine the Start of Ramadan

In the name of Allah,


Fasting during Ramadan is one of Islam’s pillars. The Qur’an and Sunnah mandate it. Scholars disagree on whether someone who abandons it out of laziness has committed disbelief. The correct judgment is that he has not disbelieved.


Ramadan begins with:


First: An upright Muslim (male or female) with good eyesight sees the Ramadan crescent.


Second: The end of the 30 days of Sha’ban if the crescent for Ramadan was not seen.[i]


On the thirtieth night of Sha’ban, if the new moon is unseen, this method should be used[ii]. In this regard, the Prophet (PBUH) said: “The (lunar) month (can be) twenty-nine nights (i.e. days), so do not fast until you see the new moon and do not break fasting until you see it. And if the sky is overcast, then you have to estimate the period (i.e. to complete Sha ‘ban as thirty days).”[iii]


Using Calculation


The Prophet (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) said, “Fast when you see it (the new moon) and break your fast when you see it,” therefore using computations to establish Ramadan’s start is bida’h.


If an adult, sane, trustworthy, reputable Muslim with good eyesight claims to have seen the crescent, we should trust him and act accordingly (i.e., start fasting)[iv].


On the day of uncertainty, Abu Haneefa, Malik, and Hanbal consider makruh to fast.


According to the Mudawwana [Maliki Book], this prohibition is disliked[v]. According to Ibn ‘Abdu’s-Salam, “What is plausible is that it is a restriction based on what at-Tirmidhi related in a hasan sahih hadith:


‘Ammar ibn Yasir stated, “Whoever fasts the Day of Doubt has disobeyed Abu’l-Qasim (the Prophet).”[vi]

Imam Shaifi says it’s forbidden. The hadith’s clear prohibition supports this[vii].


Reports of companions fasting on the day of doubt


It has been reported that ’Umar Bin Al Khattaab, ’Alee Bin Abee Taalib, ’Abdullaah Bin ‘Umar, Anas Bin Maalik, Aboo Hurayra, Mu’aawiya, ’Amr Bin Al ‘Aas, Al-Hakam Bin Ayyoob Al Ghifaaree, ’Aa’isha, Asmaa, Saalim Bin ‘Abdillaah, Mujaahid, Taawoos, Aboo ‘Uthmaan An Nahdee, Mutriq Bin Ash Shikhkheer, Maymoon Bin Mihraan, Bakr Bin ‘Abdillaah Al Muzanee, and Ahmad Bin Hanbal- fasted on the day of doubt.


It is said that Aboo Hurayra (R.A)  said, “I would rather start Ramadan a day early because if I wait, I will miss a day.” Mu’aawiya said, “I would rather fast for a day during Sha’baan than not during Ramadaan.”


Answers Ibn Qayyim:


These traditions suggest fasting on doubtful days as a precaution, and Anas stated he did so to obey authority.


Ahmad stated, “People fast and break their fast in accordance with the imaam, and the comments and deeds of the prophet of Allaah (may Allaah send salutations upon him) which we have narrated do not suggest that it is essential or forbidden to fast on a cloudy day.” One may fast for precaution or not.


Ibn ‘Abbaas said, “I’m shocked that someone might fast a day or two in advance when the Messenger of Allaah (may Allaah send salutations upon him) has stated: (do not advance Ramadaan). He seemed to criticize Ibn ‘Umar. [viii]


Ibn Umar’s fasting on the day of doubt contradicts his own Hadith. When a narrator’s action and narrative disagree, Usool Al-Fiqh says to follow the narration[ix].

The correct opinion is that it is forbidden, or Haraam, to fast the day before Ramadan because it is overcast, and you are unsure whether the moon is visible[x].


Ammar ibn Yasir said: “Whoever fasts on the day concerning which there is doubt has disobeyed Abu’l-Qasim (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him).”[xi]

Al-Hafiz ibn Hajar said, “From this, it was understood that it is forbidden to fast on the day of doubt because the Sahabah would not say such a thing based on their own opinions. A report like this has the same status as a marfu’ hadith.”

Shaykh Muhammad ibn ‘Uthaymin (may Allaah have mercy on him) said,

“The most right of these opinions is that it is haram, but if it is shown to the ruler that it is mandatory to fast this day and he instructs the people to fast, then no one should go against his opinion, and that means no one should indicate that he is not fasting on that day, rather a person (who has a different opinion) may not fast, but he should do so secretly,”[xii]




[i] Summarized Islamic Fiqh In Light of the Qur’an and Sunnah, Muhammad bin Ibrahim bin Abdullah al-Tuwayjiri 1st Edition, page 839

[ii] A summary of Islamic Jurisprudence by Dr. Salih Al-Fawazan, Vol 1- page 377

[iii] Al-Bukhiri 1907

[iv] Rulings pertaining to Ramadan, A Collection of Works by Sheikh Muhammad Salih Al-Munajjid, Islamfuture, page 27

[v] The Risala Ibn Abi Zayd Al Qaywarani’s Manual of Islamic Law, Translated by Aisha Bewley page 360

[vi] Sunan an-Nasa’i 2188

[vii] Fasting is Protection, Dr. Khaled Ibn Abdul Rahman Al Jeraisi, Page 43

[viii] Ibn Qayyim Al-Jawziyya (ZAD AL M AA’D) PROVISIONS OF THE AFTERLIFE, WHICH LIE WITHIN PROPHETIC GUIDANCE, Translation Ismail Abdus Salaam, Dar Al-Kotob Al-llmiyah Publication, 2010, Page 127

[ix] The Comprehensive Fiqh of Fasting (Zaad Al-Mustaqni’), Shaykh Ahmad Jibril, page 33

[x] The Comprehensive Fiqh of Fasting (Zaad Al-Mustaqni’), Shaykh Ahmad Jibril, page 34

[xi] This was narrated by al-Tirmidhi and classed as sahih by al-Albani in Sahih al-Tirmidhi, 553.

[xii] (Al-Sharh al-Mumti’, 6/318),  see also, 13711


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