Someone from Egypt wrote to Hazrat Amirul Momineen, Khalifatul Masih Vaa, stating, “I wish to enquire about the wuquf [standing] at ‘Arafat and the subsequent day of Eid-ul-Adha. The question is, when all the Muslims around the world are in agreement about the Day of ‘Arafah, then how do we differ from them regarding the day of Eid-ul-Adha? Huzoor-e-Anwaraa, in his letter dated 11 July 2022, provided the following response to this question:
“There is no doubt that the day of 9 Dhul-Hijjah is known as the day of wuquf at ‘Arafat, because on this day, those blessed with the opportunity to perform Hajj must stay for a while in the plain of ‘Arafat, as this is one of the obligatory pillars of Hajj. And on the 10th of Dhul-Hijjah – Yawm an-Nahr [Day of Sacrifices] – pilgrims perform ramy al-jamarat, offer sacrifices, and, after shaving their heads or trimming their hair, proceed to Mecca for the tawaf al-ifadah. However, those present for Hajj neither offer the Eid-ul-Adha prayer on this day nor do they make the sacrifices of Eid-ul-Adha.
“On the other hand, Muslims residing in the rest of the world celebrate Eid-ul-Adha on the 10th of Dhul-Hijjah. Those who are bestowed with the opportunity, in remembrance of the sacrifice of Hazrat Ibrahimas, act upon the continuous sunnah of the Holy Prophetsa and also present their sacrifices to Allah the Exalted.
“The remaining question, which you also alluded to in your enquiry, is whether the Day of ‘Arafah refers to the day when pilgrims are present in the plain of ‘Arafat for Hajj, or does it refer to the date of the 9th of Dhul-Hijjah?
“If by ‘Day of ‘Arafah’ one refers to that day and specific moment when the fortunate individuals performing Hajj stand in the plains of ‘Arafat, then that day and moment could be on the 8th of Dhul-Hijjah in some parts of the world and the 10th of Dhul-Hijjah in others. This is because the moonrise varies across different regions of the world.
“Similarly, in one country, that specific moment might fall during the daytime, while in another, it might be during some part of the night. However, if ‘Day of ‘Arafah’ is taken to mean the day of 9th Dhul-Hijjah, because it is the day on which those fortunate enough to perform Hajj stand in the plains of ‘Arafat in the vicinity of Mecca, based on the moon sighting for the month of Dhul-Hijjah in Mecca, then this day could vary in different parts of the world. This is because people in each region will consider their day based on the 9th date of the lunar month, according to the moonrise in their own locality.
“Hence, the scholars and jurists have differed on these two different scenarios. Those who consider the difference in moon sightings [in the different localities] valid, believe that in a country where the 9th of Dhul-Hijjah corresponds with the sighting of the moon for that locality, that will be considered their Day of ‘Arafah, and the people there will observe fasting on that day. Their evidence for this is the following instruction of the Holy Prophetsa:
صُومُوا لِرُؤْيَتِهِ وَأَفْطِرُوا لِرُؤْيَتِهِ، فَإِنْ غُبِّيَ عَلَيْكُمْ فَأَكْمِلُوا عِدَّةَ شَعْبَانَ ثَلَاثِينَ
“‘Fast when you see the crescent [of Ramadan], and break your fast when you see the crescent [of Shawwal], and if the evening is overcast, then complete thirty days of Sha‘ban.’ (Sahih al-Bukhari, Kitab as-sawm, Bab qawli n-nabiyyisa: idha ra’aytumu l-hilala fasumu wa idha ra’aytumuhu fa’ftiru)
“This hadith provides guidance about observing the lunar month based on the sighting of the moon.
“So now, if Muslims in Europe, America, Australia, Asia, and other regions start their Ramadan fasts and celebrate Eid according to the moon sightings of distant lands without observing the moon in their own localities, would this method be correct? According to the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community, such an action is contrary to the above-mentioned guidance of the Holy Prophetsa.
“Contrarily, those who do not consider the variation in moon sighting to be obligatory believe that in today’s age, with rapid transport and instant communication, when the news of the pilgrims’ presence in the plains of ‘Arafat reaches worldwide in real-time, the fast of the Day of ‘Arafah should be observed on the same day the pilgrims perform the wuquf at ‘Arafat, and that Eid-ul-Adha should be celebrated the following day.
“However, an objection to this argument is that there are certain countries where the moon is sighted even before it is in Mecca, meaning that when it is the 10th of Dhul-Hijjah in these countries, it is the Day of ‘Arafah in Mecca. If the people in these countries were to fast on the day when the pilgrims are at ‘Arafat, they would essentially be fasting on their day of Eid. It is well known that Islam prohibits fasting on the day of Eid.
“Furthermore, if the variation in celestial timings [such as moon and sunrises] are not considered necessary, then this should apply uniformly to every aspect; for instance, the times for breaking the fast and suhoor should align with the times in Mecca and Medina, and the prayer times should also be set according to the prayer times in Mecca and Medina, which is impossible. Therefore, if the variations in celestial observations are valid for these matters, they should also be considered valid for determining the commencement of Ramadan fasts, the days of ‘Arafah, ‘Ashura’, and Eids.
“In addition to this, our stance is supported by the narration from Hazrat Ibn Abbas, wherein Hazrat Kurayb narrates that Hazrat Umm Fadl bint Harithra sent him to Syria on behalf of Hazrat Muawiyara. He states, ‘Upon reaching Syria and having fulfilled the assigned task, I observed the crescent moon on a Friday night. Later, at the end of the month, when I arrived in Medina, the sighting of the moon was discussed with Hazrat Ibn Abbasra. He enquired, ‘When did you observe the crescent moon?’ I replied, ‘We saw it on the night of Friday.’ He further questioned, ‘Did you personally witness it?’ To which I affirmed, yes, and so did the other people, and they commenced their fasts, as did Hazrat Muawiyara. Hazrat Abdullah Ibn Abbasra responded, ‘But we observed the crescent moon on the night of Saturday and we will either complete thirty days or will witness the crescent again.’ I then raised the point, ‘Is not the sighting of Hazrat Muawiyara and his commencement of fasting sufficient?’ Hazrat Ibn Abbasra stated, ‘No! The Holy Prophetsa instructed us to act in this particular manner.’’ (Sahih Muslim, Kitab as-siyam, Bab anna li kulli baladin ru’yatahum wa annahum idha ra’aw al-hilala bi baladin la yathbutu hukmuhu lima ba‘uda ‘anhum)
“In light of these directives of the Holy Prophetsa our position is that when the crescent moon appears in a particular locality, the people of that locality should determine the commencement and conclusion of the lunar month based on that sighting. They should celebrate Islamic festivals according to the lunar months, which are based on the appearance of the crescent moon in their own locality.”