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How do we determine when Eid should be celebrated?

Prophet Muhammad PBUH has taught us through his Sunnah about the decision-making process of determining the Islamic calendar and celebrations of Eid-Ul-Fitr and Eid-Ul-Adha. It should be immediately clarified that the process is different in determining the beginning and end of Ramadan and Eid-Ul-Adha. The Islamic Association of Raleigh follows the widely accepted scholarly opinion that Ramadan and Eid-Ul-Fitr should be determined by moonsightings throughout the world. The IAR policy requires two scientific facts to accept citing of the new crescent from any place in the world. The first condition is the moon has to be born scientifically, and the second requirement the moon has to set after sun set and not before. The IAR uses data available by the Naval Observatory to determine where throughout the world the moon may be visible and awaits confirmation of moonsightings in those regions only. For example, if the moon could possibly be visible in Australia, the IAR awaits any confirmation from Australia about any moonsightings. However, if it is not scientifically possible to view the moon in China, the IAR will not accept any moonsighting claims from China. The policy of using both science and visual sightings of the moon guarantee the most accurate decision in beginning and ending Ramadan. Since the Holy Month of Ramadan exists and is celebrated all throughout the world, it is expected and acceptable that the different continents of the world may celebrate on different days based on their own regional moonsightings.

The process is quite different however for Eid-Ul-Adha. The pillar of Hajj, which is the basis of the Eid-Ul-Adha celebration, only exists in Makkah, Saudi Arabia. The IAR again follows the universally accepted opinion that the Day of Arafat should be celebrated only in conjunction with the Hajj. The Day of Arafat exists only as performed by the Hujjaj (people performing Hajj), and therefore should be accepted by all other Muslims as such. Eid-Ul-Adha should also then be celebrated on the same day as the Hujjaj. Therefore, the IAR follows the decision in Makkah for Eid. The European Council of Fatwa and Research (ECFR), the Fiqh Council of North America, and ISNA have all accepted this opinion. The following is a passage from a statement issued by the ECFR:

The institution of Hajj is very old, coming from the time of Prophet Ibrahim (PBUH). The Hajj ceremonies were well known to the Arabs long before Prophet Muhammad (PBUH). The Prophet (PBUH) himself performed Hajj before receiving Nubuwwah (Prophethood). The Prophet (PBUH) also observed fasting during the month of Ramadan even before receiving the revelation of the Qur'an. It was during the month of Ramadan that he received the first Qura'nic revelation while at Hira. He initiated the two Eids after his migration to Madinah to denote the start and end of the Hajj season.

The months of Hajj begin with the first day of Shawwal and Hajj ends with the Wuquf of Arafah. That is perhaps the reason that the Prophet (PBUH) introduced two days of festivities to celebrate the beginning and end of the Hajj season, as Imam Ibn Taymiyyah has clearly stated. Even the month of Dhul Hijjah is named after Hajj. The Qur'an and Sunnah both glorify the first ten days of Dhul Hijjah. The first ten days of Dhul Hijjah are most sacred days because they are connected with Hajj. Therefore, the two Eids are not independent institutions; they are closely connected with some obligatory pillars of Islam, such as fasting and pilgrimage to Makkah. The Prophet (PBUH) was guided by Allah SWT to choose these two specific days as Eids because of their deep connection with two of the most significant acts of Islamic worship i.e., fasting and Hajj.

The sequence of Qur'anic verses in Surah al-Baqarah (2:183-203) may be cited as a supportive evidence for this position. The Qur'an first mentions the obligation of fasting and then gives the rulings about Hajj. The commandment of sacrifice is also primarily addressed to the Hujjaj and then to Muslims at large. (Surah Hajj: 28; 36) Even the Takbeerat of Tashreeq are originally mandated for Hujjaj. Ordinary Muslims follow Hujjaj in these commandments. Many Classical jurists have particularly noted this connection between the rituals of Eid al-Adha and the rites of Hajj. Imam Ibn Taymiyyah, for instance, makes a significant observation. He says that the animal slaughter at Mina is the original rule and all other localities are to follow Makkah in that. That is why Eid al-Adha is the greater of the two Eids. It is called the Day of al-Nahr and the Day of Great Hajj because this Eid is connected with the sacred timings and with the sacred places. The famous Hanbali Jurist Hafiz Ibn Rajab explains that Eid al-Adha prayer should be performed within the timeframe of the movement of Hujjaj from Muzdalifah to Mina. Imam Ahmad bin Hanbal maintained that Eid al-Adha prayer should be offered within the time period when the Hujjaj moved from Muzdalifah to Mina and threw pebbles. Imam Ahmad clearly stated that the ordinary Muslim's Eid prayer had to follow the Hujjaj movement and actions.

Imam al-Bhaghawi states that Ibn Abbas, Imam Malik and Imam Shafa'ee are of the opinion that Muslims all over the globe are to follow the timings of Hujjaj vis-à-vis Takbeerat of Tashreeq. Imam al-Khazin attributes this opinion also to Ibn Umar. Imam al-Sarkhasi reports that Imams Shafa'i and Abu Yusuf were of the same opinion. This indicates that many established authorities within all the four known schools of Islamic Fiqh agree that Muslims all over the globe are to follow the Hujjaj in the Takbeerat al-Tashreeq timings.

Though there are other opinions about the exact timings of the Takbeerat of Tashreeq, the above sources are presented to make the point that many jurists held the opinion that the Eid al-Adha rituals such as the Eid prayer, act of sacrificing animals and even Takbeerat al-Tashreeq are in subordination to the acts of the Hujjaj. Therefore, it is not correct to say that Eid al-Adha is an absolutely independent Islamic institution, totally detached from Hajj and fully self-regulating according to each locality. Juristic and historical evidence indicate to the contrary and show that Eid al-Adha was always attached to the institution of Hajj. It is precisely celebrated to imitate and remind oneself of some of the acts of Hajj. Eid al-Adha is as much connected with the sacred places as with the sacred timings.

During the first ten days of Dhul Hijjah, the rituals of Hajj and the acts of Hujjaj in and around the city of Makkah become paramount for Muslims all over the globe. Many Muslim jurists have said that the Day of Arafah and the Day of Eid al-Adha are to be determined by the actual stay of Hujjaj in Arafah and their slaughtering of the animals. Some jurists hold that this rule is specific to the Hujjaj; but others have argued that this rule is generic and applies to all Muslims. Some jurists even say that this rule applies even if the Hujjaj made a mistake and stood at Arafah on a wrong day, say a day ahead or later than the real 9th of Dhul Hijjah. This is the position of all the known Muslim jurists. Imam Ibn Taymiyyah narrates that there is no difference of opinion among the jurists that the month of Eid al-Adha should be observed in unity. No jurist has ever allowed that those who sighted the Moon should go by their sighting and do the Wuquf in Arafah or slaughter the animals according to their actual sighting. They must go with the Imam and with the majority of Muslims. Ibn Rajab al-Hanbali goes further than that. He, like many other Hanbali, Maliki and Shafa'i jurists, concludes that the Day of Arafah is not the exact day of the 9th of Dhul Hijjah but what was celebrated by Muslims as the Day of Arafah by staying at the place of Arafah. Likewise the Day of Eid al-Adha is not the exact day of the 10th of Dhul Hijjah but the day after Hajj to the best of their knowledge even if it was proven to be on a wrong day. They derive this rule from the authentic Hadith of the Prophet (PBUH) when he said, "Eid al-Fitr is when you celebrate breaking your fast and Eid al-Adha is when you slaughter your animals..."

Therefore, Eid al-Adha is not disconnected from Wuquf of Arafah and Hajj as some contemporary scholars contend. Hajj and Eid al-Adha are mutually well connected. The two Eids were not prescribed by the Prophet (PBUH) without context. They were intertwined with completion of the month of Ramadan and with Hajj. The Prophet (PBUH) linked start of the new month with actual moon sighting as it was the only authentic source available at that time to confirm the month. He did not depend upon news of sighting from Makkah for the first eight years of Hijrah as the Ka'abah was occupied by polytheists who were not very careful about the Hajj dates. The Shari'ah did not require Muslims to find out about the exact date of Hajj and Arafah in order to avoid causing hardship to the Ummah. However, it is clear that wherever Muslims could figure out the actual Day of Wuquf, they had preferred to fast on that day and celebrated their Eid and sacrificed the animals on the following day. The reason is that the increased reward has more to do with the global gathering of Muslims and performance of Hajj rather than the day of Eid or Eid prayer itself.

It is pertinent to note here that there is no clear cut text which requires all Muslims of the world to celebrate Eid al-Adha after the day of Hajj. There are plenty of indirect references in the Qur'an and the Sunnah that connect this day of festivity with the acts of Hajj and Wuquf. Furthermore, there is no text whatsoever, in the Qur'an, Sunnah or in any authentic classical book of Fiqh, that either the Prophet (PBUH), his Companions or any other Muslim scholar has ever required to go, knowingly, against the known day of Wuquf of Arafah as announced by the Hajj authorities. Hajj is an expression of Muslim unity in addition to being a source of many spiritual reminders. It has political as well social dimensions. This aspect can be fulfilled only if the Muslim Ummah is united in observing it especially once it has become possible to know through rapid means of communication when the Hajj is going to be performed. In our present circumstance there is no justification, under any rules of fiqh, to go against the Day of Hajj. Currently, going with Hajj is more beneficial (Maslahah) than celebrating Eid al-Adha independent of Hajj.

The IAR has consistently followed these opinions for many years and intends on continuing this process. If you have any more questions about the process, please contact Sheikh Baianonie.

Local Muslims Welcome Holy Month of Ramadan

(Raleigh, NC, 9/21/06) - Muslims from around the Triangle area will usher in the holy month of Ramadan, which is expected to begin this weekend. In accordance with Islamic tradition, the Islamic Association of Raleigh will await a sighting of the crescent, or the new moon, to determine the first day of fasting, which may be Saturday or Sunday.

The Islamic Association of Raleigh has invited guest Qur'an reciters from Egypt to lead the daily evening prayers during Ramadan. The center also has a series of educational events planned throughout the month. The center provides financial assistance to deserving families during Ramadan.

Islamic Association of Raleigh Responds to Attackers Claims

(Raleigh, NC; 9/13/2006) - The Islamic Association of Raleigh would like to issue a statement in regards to the claims made by Mr. Mohammed Taheri-Azar in recent letters to the media.

The verses that Mr. Taheri-Azar has used in defense of his actions on March 3, 2006 are all specifically addressing the laws of fighting prescribed by Islam. However, the Quran is not a book to be understood piecemeal. Rather, the Quran is a book governing an entire way of life, including faith, worship, dealing with other people, social issues, economics, and laws which apply to peace and war. The Quran is a book which must be studied comprehensively and completely to be properly understood. An individual focusing on merely a few verses, such as Mr. Taheri-Azar has done, will not understand the complete or correct picture of Islam.

In order to understand why the Quran has such verses and when they apply, the history of Islam and the revelation of the Quran must be studied. The Quran was revealed to the Prophet of Islam, Muhammad ibn Abdullah (peace and blessings be upon him) over a period of 23 years. The first 13 of these 23 years of revelation came to the Prophet during his time in Makkah (also spelled Mecca), before his migration to the city of Madinah (also spelled Medina). In these 13 years in Makkah, not a single verse was revealed to the Prophet about fighting. Instead, this period of revelation was primarily about faith, the worship of God, delivering the message of Islam to non-Muslims, and patiently persevering through the early persecution of Muslims. In chapter 45, verse 14, God reveals to the Prophet, "Say to those who believe, that they forgive those who do not fear the days of Allah that He may reward a people for what they earn."

During this period of 13 years in Makkah, the Prophet never once allowed his Muslim companions to use violence to respond to the crimes committed against them. At this point in history, the Muslims were still merely a small group and had not yet established any form of Islamic government. One incident, involving the family of a close companion of the Prophet, Ammar bin Yassir, provides such an example. The family of Ammar bin Yassir was tortured by oppressive tribal leaders in Makkah, and during their torture, the Prophet said to them, "Be patient, oh family of Yassir. I promise you paradise." In another such incident, the Prophet and his companions came upon a group of non-Muslims from oppressive tribal groups. The companions asked the Prophet for permission to attack and kill these people, only to be sternly warned by the Prophet that there had not been any such order from God through his revelations yet and therefore the people were to be left unharmed. This Makkan model should be followed by Muslims in the world today, as Muslims too live in a world that has no Islamic government. Many of the laws prescribed by the Quran are only applicable under a society governed by Islam. Although some countries today may claim to be governed by Islam, they are secular in practice. Only peaceful means may be used to establish an Islamic state, as was the case with the Prophet and the early Muslims of Makkah.

The second period of Quranic history comes from Madinah, after the Prophet's famous migration from Makkah. The residents of Madinah invited the Prophet to their city, and eventually they chose to establish an Islamic government in the city. The Prophet at no time used violence or imposed Islam on the people of Madinah. It was also at this point that the Prophet became not only a religious leader but also a statesman. The laws of Islam began to cover the issues of social governance, and the verses about fighting and war were revealed at this time.

The post-migration period can also be divided into two distinct phases. The first of these phases was the defensive fighting conducted by the Muslims in Madinah. They fought only to defend the city and freedoms of the Muslims, which were challenged by other Makkan groups. The second phase of fighting was offensive. However, this offensive fighting was by no means empirical and no innocent people were harmed or forced into Islam during this time. Rather, the Prophet and his followers were fighting to free the people of Makkah from the imposing rule of the idol-worshipping tribes and to give them freedom of religion. It was during these phases that the first verses of fighting were revealed, as guides for the Muslims. Numerous verses in the Quran remind the Muslims of the significance of peace and harmony, and the Prophet was commanded to accept any opportunity for peace with his opponents. Chapter 8, verse 61 of the Quran states, "But if the enemy inclines towards peace, do you also incline towards peace, and trust in Allah: for He is One that hears and knows [all things]." Eventually after succeeding in Madinah and Makkah, the Prophet did achieve harmony with his opponents.

In dealing with non-Muslims, the Quran has informed Muslims to do so with patience and wisdom. There must not be any compulsion in the religion, as chapter 17, verse 15 reminds us, "Whoever receives guidance, receives it for his own benefit; whoever goes astray does so to his own loss. No bearer of burdens can bear the burden of another;" Again, in chapter 16, verse 125, God commands, "Invite all to the way of your Lord with wisdom and beautiful preaching; and argue with them in ways that are best and most gracious: for your Lord knows best, who have strayed from His Path and who receive guidance."

Muslims are also reminded in numerous verses of the Quran to not take any action without proper knowledge of religious and worldly matters. In chapter 17, verse 36 states, "And pursue not of that which you have no knowledge, for every act of hearing, or of seeing or of [feeling in] the heart will be enquired into [on the Day of Judgment]." The companions of the Prophet, by far the most knowledgeable Muslims after the Prophet himself, were far superior to modern Muslims in not only their practice but also their grasp of the original Quranic Arabic, which allowed them to have a stronger understanding of the revelations. However, even these companions needed explanations about verses from the Prophet, which was one of his many duties. Chapter 16, verse 44 addresses the Prophet, "With clear proofs and writings, and We have revealed to you the reminder that you may make clear to men what has been revealed to them, and that haply may they reflect."

The laws of Islam are applicable under circumstances, just as American laws apply to American people within the borders of the United States and under conditions of peace and stability. An American citizen may not fight in the cause of the United States without proper sanctioning by the government. Similarly, there can be no violence for the sake of Muslims or Islam without proper sanctioning from an established legitimate Islamic state and under the appropriate conditions. Therefore, such acts of violence committed for the sake of Islam are unjust and not permissible in the world today. The killing of innocent civilians is not jihad in this case; rather it is the illegal murder of people, which is strictly forbidden in the Quran. During the early era of Islam, when the Prophet and his companions were trying to build a Muslim society, no acts of revenge were permitted.

Actions such as those of Mr. Taheri-Azar are not beneficial to the local or global Muslim society; rather it unnecessarily damages the image of Islam and Islamic teachings. It does not fulfill any commandments of Islam but instead becomes a sinful act. By attempting to justify his actions and quoting the Quran and the Prophet, Mr. Taheri-Azar has only hurt the Muslim community and further alienated himself from the correct path of Islam. We hope and pray that he can understand why his reasoning and actions were incorrect.

For more information about Islam or the Islamic Association of Raleigh, please visit our website at www.islam1.org.

Thank you for attending this press conference, hosted by the Islamic Association of Raleigh.

On March 10, 2006, Mohammed Taheri-Azar wrote a letter to ABC 11 stating his reasons for running his car through the Pit at UNC-Chapel Hill, injuring nine people. Taheri-Azar claimed that his actions were justified by the holy book of Islam, the Qur'an.

The Islamic Association of Raleigh, along with the Muslim-American Public Affairs Council, the Muslim American Society-Raleigh Chapter, and the Muslim Students Associations from UNC-CH, Duke, and NC State, uniformly reject any statements or actions to justify violence against innocent people in the name of Islam.

Islam, on the contrary, emphasizes the sanctity of life such as the statement in the Qur'an that "whoever kills a man unjustly...it is as if he has killed all of humanity, and whoever saves a life, it is as if he has saved all of humanity."

The Prophet Muhammad said: "He who hurts one of another faith, hurts me and He who hurts me hurts God."

It is unfortunate that some misuse religion and perpetrate violence in the name of religion as evidenced by Taheri-Azar's statements and actions, which appear to be the work of a disturbed individual. However, it is the duty of educated Muslims and people of other faiths alike to distinguish from such misuse and disregard such statements made by Mr. Taheri-Azar.

For further information about Islam and the Prophet Muhammad (PBUH), please attend the Open House, hosted by the Islamic Association of Raleigh, on Saturday, March 18th, from 2 to 5PM.

NC Muslims to Repudiate UNC-CH Attacker's Remarks

(Raleigh, NC, 3/14/06) - On Wednesday, March 15, 2006 leaders from Triangle-area Muslim organizations will hold a press conference to repudiate the remarks recently made by Mohammed Reza Taheri-azar, justifying his attacks of innocent civilians at the UNC-CH campus in the name of Islam.

Taheri-azar, who is charged with nine counts of attempted murder for driving his car through the UNC-Chapel Hill campus Pit, distributed a two-page letter to a local news station justifying his March 3 rd attacks.

WHAT: Press Conference

WHEN: 10:30 AM
WHERE: Islamic Association of Raleigh.
808 Atwater St, Raleigh NC 27607
www.islam1.org

CONTACT: Zakir Hussain 919-602-7961 hussain.zakir@gmail.com
Imran Aukhil 919-931-7106 imranaukhil@gmail.com
Hani Chohan 919-961-6132 hani.chohan@gmail.com

(RALEIGH, NC, 2/7/06) - The Islamic Association of Raleigh (IAR), along with numerous Muslim organizations across the United States, disapproves both Prophet Muhammad's caricatures published in various European media outlets and violent Muslims reaction to them.

Prophet Muhammad is highly revered in Islam and depicting him as a terrorist is a provocation akin to anti-Semitic or anti-Christian images.

In a statement, Ekram Haque, IAR Chairman, said:

"The real issue is not freedom of expression. There are laws in the West that ban certain kinds of speech, including those that incite anti-Semitism, racism and violence. There are also laws in some countries against blasphemy and defamation. To Muslims, banning blasphemy against God and Prophet Muhammad has a higher priority than proscribing anything else. However, Muslims should not forget that Prophet Muhammad promoted freedom of expression and would not approve of violence in the name of defending his honor."

Actions taken by certain European newspapers are a detriment to building bridges with the Muslim world and only harm the already weakened relations. While the IAR supports freedom of expression, it also urges European and other nations to strengthen laws to protect religious freedom and religious figures from the irresponsible use of free speech.

CONTACT:
IAR Media Group
Phone: 919.834.9572 x340

RELATED IAR NEWS BRIEFS:

(2/8/06) - Danish Ambassador Speaks To WRAL About Cartoon Controversy

(2/11/06) - Local Muslims Hope Cartoon Controversy May Educate Others

(2/11/06) - Unwanted insults to Islam

(2/13/06) - Conveying a Message

(2/13/06) - Muslims push for talk on cartoons

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