The Office of the Supreme Leader

Practical Laws of Islam

  • Rules of Taqlīd
  • Rules on Purity
  • Prayer
  • Fasting
    • Pregnant and Nursing Women
    • Illness and Restriction by a Physician
    • Fast Invalidators
    • Remaining Junub
    • Masturbation
    • Rules of Breaking Fasting
    • Kaffārah of the Fast and Its Amount
    • Making up Missed Fasts
    • Miscellaneous Issues on Fasting
    • Sighting the New Moon
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      Sighting the New Moon
      Q 830: As you know, one of the following three things occurs at the beginning or end of the each month: The crescent sets before the sunset; or the crescent sets along with unset; or the crescent sets after the sunset. Please let us know if any of above-mentioned case is enough to rule that the new month has been started?
      A: In all three cases, sighting the crescent is enough to consider the night after the sighting as the start of new lunar month.
      Q 831: Is the sighting of the new crescent through binoculars, telescope, or the like sufficient?
      A: The sighting of the new crescent with these instruments is also reliable and its ruling does not differ from that of the naked eye since the standard is to say it has been seen by eyes. However, computerized photographing of the crescent moon or the like which cannot be clearly categorized as sighting is problematic.
      Q 832: If the crescent marking the beginning of Shawwāl is not observed in a city by the local people but the radio or television announces the beginning of Shawwāl, should the local people act upon the radio announcement, or should they ascertain by investigating whether Shawwāl has commenced?
      A: If the radio or television announcement makes them sure or confident that Shawwāl has commenced, or there is a decree by the Jurist Leader announcing the beginning of Shawwāl, there is no need for further investigation.
      Q 833: If it is difficult to ascertain the beginning of the month of Ramadan, or ‘Īd of Fiṭr, because of inability to observe the crescent at the beginning of the month due to clouds or for some other reason, and if the count of the month of Sha‘bān or the month of Ramadan did not add up to 30 days, is it permissible for us in Japan to go by the horizon in Iran or should we rely on the regular calendar? What is the rule?
      A: If the first of Ramadan is not evidenced, fasting is not obligatory. However, if it is evidenced later that this day was the first of Ramadan, one should make up for this fast in qaḍā’. While if the new crescent of Shawwāl has not been ascertained even by being sighted in an adjacent city which is united in horizon with one's city, on the evidence of two just witnesses, or on the basis of a decree by the ḥākim of shar', it is obligatory to fast on that day.
      Q 834: Is the sameness of horizon considered to be a condition in regards to observing the crescent?
      A: Yes, it is a condition.
      Q 835: What is meant by sameness of horizon?
      A: It means to be equal as far as possibility/impossibility of sighting the moon crescent is concerned.
      Q 836: If the twenty-ninth day of the month is ‘Īd of Fiṭr in Tehran and Khorasan, is it permissible for the residents of areas like Bushehr to break their fast too, though the horizon of Tehran and Khorasan differs from the horizon of Bushehr?
      A: In general, if the horizons of two cities are so different that the new moon cannot be seen in one of them when sighted in the other, its sighting in that city is not sufficient for the residents of the cities in which it is not possible to see the moon.
      Q 837: If the Islamic scholars of a city differ regarding the new crescent and one considers all of them to be just and precise in their investigations, what is his duty?
      A: If the difference between the two testimonies leads to contradiction, in the sense that one of them claims the new crescent has been substantiated and the other claims the opposite, one’s duty is to neglect both of them and act according to aṣl. However, if the first group testifies to the sighting of the new crescent, but the second group does not claim to have seen it, others should accept the view of the first group — if they are just — and break their fasts. The same rule applies when the authorized religious authority issues a decree announcing substantiation of the new crescent.
      Q 838: A person sees the new crescent and knows that the city’s religious authority is not able to see the crescent for some reason. Is it his duty to inform the religious authority that he has observed the crescent?
      A: It is not his duty to do so unless it leads to a vile consequence.
      Q 839: As you know, most Islamic scholars have written in their books on practical laws that the beginning of Shawwāl can be proved through five methods. However, that the end of Ramadan is ascertained by ḥākim of shar‘ is not among those methods. Thereby, how can most people break their fasts when the beginning of Shawwāl is ascertained by marji‘s?
      A: Until a mujtahid issues a decree announcing the sighting of the new crescent, the mere ascertaining of it by him is not sufficient for others to follow him, unless they are convinced thereby of the end of Ramadan.
      Q 840: If the Leader of Muslims issues a decree announcing the next day as Īd of Fiṭr and the media report that the crescent has been cited in certain cities, does it determine the Īd for all the cities or only those cities and those of the same longitudes?
      A: If the decree issued by the religious authority includes a country as a whole, it is valid for all cities in that country.
      Q 841: If on the evening of ‘Īd of Fiṭr, the moon appears as a very fine crescent having the same characteristic of the new crescent, does it mean that the next day is the first of Shawwāl and that the ‘Īd was declared by mistake? Is one required to perform qaḍā’ for the last day of Ramadan?
      A: The thinness or thickness of the moon and also its size and position in the sky are not shar‘ī evidence in deciding the first or second of a month. But if it brings conviction to the mukallaf, he is obliged to act in accordance with his knowledge in this case.
      Q 842: Can the night of the full moon, which is the fourteenth night of the month, be taken as a reliable basis for calculating the first day of the month so as to determine whether the Day of Doubt was the thirtieth of Ramadan and to apply its rule, for example, so that all who did not fast on that day may have evidence concerning the necessity to perform qaḍā’ for the thirtieth day of Ramadan and whoever fasted that day, considering Ramadan to continue, may know that he is free of obligation?
      A: That which has been mentioned does not constitute shar‘ī evidence for anything mentioned. However, if it brings knowledge to the mukallaf his obligation is to act in accordance with his knowledge.
      Q 843: Is watching out for the new moon a kifā’ī obligation or something to be done as an obligatory caution?
      A: It is not a shar‘ī duty in itself.
      Q 844: Are the beginning and end of Ramadan determined through sighting the crescent or by means of the calendar, even if Sha‘bān was not thirty days?
      A: Deciding the beginning and end of the month of Ramadan is possible through: sighting the new moon by the mukallaf himself; the testimony of two `ādil (just) witnesses to that effect when its sighting is not denied by so many people so that there is strong probability that the two just persons are wrong; when moon sighting becomes so public that it brings knowledge or confidence; completion of thirty days since the month’s beginning; or the decree of a qualified mujtahid (ḥākim of shar') about the start of the month.
      Q 845: If it is permissible to follow a government announcement regarding sighting the crescent and it constitutes a scientific criterion for the new month in other regions, is it limited to an Islamic government or does it include a tyrannical government?
      A: The criterion in this regard is acquiring knowledge or confidence that the crescent is sighted in a place where it is sufficient in relation to the mukallaf.
      Q 846: Would you please tell us what your opinion is regarding i‘tikāf in masjids other than the four masjids, whether it is a jāmi‘ masjid or not?
      A: There is no objection to doing it hoping that it is desired in shar‘. Performing i‘tikāf is permissible in all jāmi‘ masjids. As for non- jāmi‘ masjids, there is no objection to i‘tikāf in those masjids, in which congregational prayer is hold and an `ādil imam leads prayer, hoping it is desired in shar‘.


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