Why Ibn Abbaas did not accept the sighting of the people of Ash-Shaam
Fatwa No: 138991

Question

Assalaamualaykum, Dear scholar, many people say the narration of kuraib cannot be used to prove that each region has its own sighting because they say: 1. Kuraib was not a reliable witness, 2. It was on the ijtihad of Ibn Abbas (ra) [even though we see that Ibn Abbas said this is the way the prophet (saw) taught the sahabah], 3. Kuraib and the people of Sham did a mistake on date and looked for the Hilal of Ramadan on Thursday which was the 28th of Shaban (for which we see no basis), 4. Ibn Abbas did not get 2 witnesses, 5. Kuraib only gave a news and not a shahadah Kurayb said: “While I was in Shaam the month of Ramadan commenced. We saw the new moon on the night of Jumu`ah. I then returned to Madeenah at the end of the month. `Abdullaah ibn `Abbaas (radiyallaahu `anhumaa) asked me: “When did you see the new moon?” I said: “We saw it on the night of Friday.” He said: “Did you see it yourself?” I said: “Yes, and the people also saw it and they fasted and so did Mu`aawiyah (radiyallaahu `anhu). He said: “But we saw it on the night of Saturday. So we shall continue fasting until we complete thirty days or we see it (the new moon of Shawwal).” I said: “Does not Mu`aawiyah’s sighting suffice you?” He replied: “No; this is how the Messenger of Allaah (sallallaahu `alaihi wa sallam) commanded us.”” Could you please clarify these points or any reason why this hadeeth is rejected/accepted. Jazaakallah khay

Answer

All perfect praise be to Allaah, The Lord of the Worlds. I testify that there is none worthy of worship except Allaah, and that Muhammad  sallallaahu  `alayhi  wa  sallam ( may  Allaah exalt his mention ) is His slave and Messenger.

First of all, saying that each country should act according to its sighting of the crescent, or that all countries should abide by the sighting of any other country, is a matter of difference of opinion which is a considerable one. However, this should not be a reason for division and dissension among Muslims, and magnifying this matter is in general due to the lack of religious knowledge. In any case, we will answer your questions in the following points:

1- Saying that Kurayb  may  Allaah  have  mercy  upon  him was not a trustworthy witness is not a correct statement; rather, he was a trustworthy person according to the consensus of the scholars. An-Nawawi  may  Allaah  have  mercy  upon  him said: “They (the scholars) agreed on his trustworthiness and Al-Bukhari and Muslim, reported many narrations from him.

2- Saying that what Ibn ‘Abbaas  may  Allaah  be  pleased  with  him said is just an Ijtihaad (i.e. exerting his personal judgment) and it was not attributed to the Prophet  sallallaahu  `alayhi  wa  sallam ( may  Allaah exalt his mention ) is refuted by his statement “The Prophet of Allaah ordered us…..” according to the understanding of those who say that each country has its own sighting of the moon. Al-‘Atheem Abaadi  may  Allaah  have  mercy  upon  him said: “…The scholars who said that the people of a given country are not obligated to follow the sighting of other countries stick to the Hadeeth of Kurayb, and their evidence is that Ibn ‘Abbaas  may  Allaah  be  pleased  with  him did not act according to the sighting of the people of Ash-Shaam (Greater Syria) and at the end of the Hadeeth he said: “This is what the Prophet  sallallaahu  `alayhi  wa  sallam ( may  Allaah exalt his mention ) ordered us (to do)”; therefore, this is evidence that he learnt from the Prophet  sallallaahu  `alayhi  wa  sallam ( may  Allaah exalt his mention ) that it was not an obligation for one country to act according to the sighting of another country.

3- Claiming that Kurayb  may  Allaah  have  mercy  upon  him and the people of Ash-Shaam were all wrong is a claim without evidence because in the same Hadeeth, Kurayb  may  Allaah  have  mercy  upon  him said: “…While I was in Ash-Shaam, we saw the crescent on the night of Friday (i.e. Thursday night) …and I said the people saw it and they fasted (according to seeing it) and Mu’aawiyah also fasted….” Therefore, they saw it with their own eyes.

4- As regards saying that Ibn ‘Abbaas  may  Allaah  be  pleased  with  him did not seek two witnesses, then the answer to this is that Ibn ‘Abbaas was not in need of this, because even if two persons witnessed that the people of Ash-Shaam fasted on Friday, then Ibn ‘Abbaas would not agree with them because he was of the view that each country has its own sighting. The one who needs to bring two witnesses and should seek them is the one who wants to prove the information to be true. It might be that you just wanted to say that Ibn ‘Abbaas  may  Allaah  be  pleased  with  him did not act according to the statement of Kurayb  may  Allaah  have  mercy  upon  him because it was a testimony of one witness only and not two witnesses and that he did not reject it because each country has its own sighting and some scholars are of this view. However, this (saying that Ibn ‘Abbaas  may  Allaah  be  pleased  with  him did not act according to the statement of Kurayb  may  Allaah  have  mercy  upon  him because it was a testimony of one witness) is refuted by the apparent meaning of the statement that he (Ibn ‘Abbaas  may  Allaah  be  pleased  with  him) was of the view that each country has its own sighting. Al-Mubaarak Poori  may  Allaah  have  mercy  upon  him said: “According to this statement, Ibn ‘Abbaas  may  Allaah  be  pleased  with  him did not act according to the news of Kurayb because it was a testimony and a testimony is not confirmed by the witness of one person, but it appears from his statement that he did not reject it because of this; rather, he rejected it because the ruling of the sighting does not apply to the people who are in far away lands.” This is also refuted by the fact that Ibn ‘Abbaas  may  Allaah  be  pleased  with  him was one of those from whom it was narrated that the beginning of the month of Ramadan is confirmed by the testimony of one trustworthy witness. Indeed, it would take too long to mention what was narrated in this regard.

5- In regard to saying that the statement of Kurayb is just a news and not a testimony, then it appears that you misunderstood it, because what An-Nawawi  may  Allaah  have  mercy  upon  him mentioned in this context is that some people were of the view that the news of Kurayb was a testimony and a testimony is not confirmed by one person, however, he clarified that Ibn ‘Abbaas did not reject it because of this. An-Nawawi  may  Allaah  have  mercy  upon  him said: “Ibn ‘Abbaas did not act according to the news of Kurayb because it was a testimony and a testimony is not confirmed by one person, but it appears from the Hadeeth that he did not reject it due to this; rather, he rejected it because the ruling of the sighting does not apply to the people who are in far away lands.” For more benefit, please refer to Fataawa 115026, 86833 and 83817.

Allaah Knows best.

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