Delivering the fourth chancellor’s lecture of the University of The Gambia on the topic ‘Jihad and Terrorism: An Islamic Perspective’ at the inauguration of the new law faculty building, Saturday, the Mumbai-born cleric said: “This is an issue that is happening even in India where I come from where people observe [eid] prayers on different days. As far as the authentic hadith is concerned, you should see the moon with the naked eyes, but the issue or difference is that if one city or country could not see the moon can that country celebrate on the same day with another country or city that has seen it? Scholars are divided into two groups. There are those who believe in local sighting while others prefer global sighting. The argument that if any part of the Muslim world says it has sighted the moon then other parts of the world can also celebrate is what is now called global sighting. Some of the authentic scholars that I know of including Sheikh Ibn Abass believe in global sighting; that whenever the moon is seen in one part of the world, then other parts of the world can celebrate. However, the majority of scholars including Ibn Taymiyyah prefer local sighting. But the important point to be noted is that both groups say if there is a fitna [disagreement] then we should follow local sighting.
“All the authentic scholars are unanimous and agree that ijma [unity] is more important and the practice of togetherness should override. That is to say if the majority of the people in your area believe in local sighting, those people who prefer global sighting cannot just come and say let us follow global sighting. This will bring disunity and the scholars say you cannot break away from the majority. Likewise, if the majority say global sighting or sighting the moon in Mecca is fine, then the rest has to follow. Unity is most important. I was happy when I met the president and he asked me about the issue and I told him there are two groups just like I mentioned to you. And I told him that I would prefer for all the countries to follow global sighting. This is because if The Gambia is following Mecca on the issue of sighting the moon and vice versa, it makes way for unity. The important thing is if the leader of the state makes a decision as long as he is a Muslim, offers salah [prayers] and doesn’t enter into kufr [disobedience], it is the duty of the people to follow him. I also met the president of the Supreme Islamic Council of this country and they all endorse global sighting and I think the people should follow that.”]]>