Moon Observation Before Ramadan

For it to be Ramadan, the new moon must be observed and seen in the sky immediately after sunset on the twenty-ninth of Sha'ban or, if it cannot be seen, the thirtieth day of Sha'ban must be completed. It is fasted until the time of the noon prayer on the thirtieth day of Sha'ban, and then the fast is broken if the day is not announced to be Ramadan. It is makruh tahrimi [1] not to break it and to go on fasting. If one begins fasting without observing the new moon indicating the beginning of Ramadan and then if the new moon is observed (immediately after sunset) on the twenty-ninth day, which will mean (that the following day is the beginning of the following month, Shawwal, the first day of which is at the same time the first day of) 'Iyd, qada for one day is performed, (that is, one fasts one day again), after the 'Iyd, if the month of Sha'ban is known to have begun upon the observation of the new moon (immediately after sunset on the last day of Rajab, the Arabic month previous to Sha'ban). On the other hand, it is written in (the celebrated books) Hindiyya and Qadihan that, if the month of Sha'ban is not known to have begun upon the observation of the new moon, one makes qada [2] for two days, (that is, one fasts for two days with the intention of qada as if one missed two days of fasting during the past month of Ramadan). In cloudy weather when a just Muslim woman or man says she or he has seen the new moon, and in clear weather when a lot of people say that they have seen it, the Qadi, that is, the judge who executes the law, announces that it is Ramadan. At places without a Qadi, Ramadan begins when a just person says he has seen the new moon. It is determined to be the 'Iyd when two just persons say they have seen (the new moon). Just means (one) who does not commit grave sins and who has not made it a habit to commit venial sins. [It is a grave sin to give up salat. See chapter 23 in the fourth fascicle.] The word of a person of doubtful justice is also acceptable. It is written in Fatawa-yi-Hindiyya as well that it is not permissible to begin (fasting in) Ramadan or (to stop fasting in order to celebrate the) 'Iyd by (taking the) calendar or calculation (as a guide). [It is written in the hundred and thirty-ninth page of Hadiqa, "Holders of bid'at [3], that is, all the seventy-two groups who have deviated from the Ahl-as-sunna [4], are not just, even though they are Ahl-i-qibla and do all kinds of worship. For they have either become mulhids [5] and lost their iman (faith), or they are holders of bid'at and they vituperate the (true Muslims who are called) the Ahl as-sunna(t), which is a grave sin, too." The book Durrulmukhtar, in advising us on how to be a witness and how to give our testimony, says, "To speak ill of any Muslim is a sin. It destroys the justice. Such a testimony is not to be accepted." Therefore, when determining the times for Ramadan, 'Iyd, hajj (pilgrimage), iftar, and salat, or when seeking any religious knowledge one should not accept the testimony of the la-madhhabis.]

[1] makruh-tahrima: The omission of a wâjib (obligatory performance), and it is close to harâm (prohibited). It is a venial sin to do an act which has been declared to be makrûh tahrîmî.
[2] qada': i) decree of a qadi (Muslim judge); ii) performance of an 'ibada after its due time.
[3] bid'at: (pl. bida') heresy; false, disliked belief or practice that did not exist in the four sources of Islam but which has been introduced later as an Islamic belief or 'ibada in expectation of thawab (blessings) ; heresy.
[4] Ahl as-Sunna (wa'l-Jama'a): the true pious Muslims who follow as-Sahabat al-kiram. These are called Sunni Muslims. A Sunni Muslim adapts himself to one of the four Madhhabs. These madhhabs are Hanafi, Maliki, Shafi'i and Hanbali.
[5] mulhid: he who goes out of the Din by misunderstanding one or more parts of Islam.