Is it correct to describe Saudi Arabia as the only Islamic country in the world?

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Date: Thursday , July 07, 2011


Islamic Politics


1. Is it correct to describe Saudi Arabia as the only Islamic country in the world?


1. Is it correct to describe Saudi Arabia as the only Islamic country in the world, despite being aware that there is no Khalifa their, nor a system of Khilafat?

2. Due to the fact that their seems to be a nizam of Qadhaa there and a Qadhi  who is appointed by the monarchy, is it necessary for the Muslims of the world to follow the announcement of that appointed Qadhi, who we all know cannot overrule the government? (Some Ulama here in the U.K. are of this opinion, hence can you please clarify this matter in detail.)

3. Is it correct to claim  that we follow the Qur’aan and Sunnah, then claim as far as moon sighting is concerned that  our criteria is not dependent upon actual sighting (Ru’yah), rather it is based on the ruling of the Qadhi. (Majlis Qadhaa, Saudi Arabia). Is not actual sighting necessary to commence or end the month?

4. A person claims that Shirk could be acceptable, but Tafriqah can never be acceptable, (as there are two opinions in U.K. for moonsighting, one blindly follows Saudi, the other group of Ulama encourage local sighting) then to prove his point he brings the Qur’aanic verse of Surah Taha as a daleel for this claim: He (Haroon) said “O son of my mother! Seize not my beard, nor by my head! Verily, I feared lest you should say: you caused division among the children of Israel, and you have not waited for my word” verse 94. Is this statement correct? I thought that Shirk is the worst of sins.

5. We are aware that Saudi government did 31 days for Zil Hijjah; this was done by having two 19th of Zil Hijjah! (28th and 29th December). Although it is claimed that there two calendars in Saudi working alongside each other, is this Islamically correct? In the Haram of Makkah there seems to be two dates one government date and the other Majlis e Qadhaa date, again is this Islamically correct?

6. Taking all this into consideration, what is the honoured Mufti Sahebs opinion as regards to people of U.K. following such a dodgy Nizaam?


(1,2,3,4,  are points mentioned by the Ulama of Jamiat UK in a recent moon sighting conference)


Muhtaram / Muhtaramah

In the Name of Allāh, the Most Gracious, the Most Merciful.

As-salāmu ‘alaykum wa-rahmatullāh wa-barakātuh.


1. There is a fundamental difference between an Islamic country (Darul Islam) and the establishment of Islamic rule (Khilafat). Many of us have regarded both to be the same, which has been the cause to much confusion. Therefore, it is important that the difference be clarified.

Islamic country (Darul Islam)Any country where all the laws of Islam could be implemented is an Islamic country, regardless of whether these laws are not put into practice or not.


(Ahsanul Fatawa Vol.6 Pg.21 – H.M. Sa’eed Company)

Islamic rule (Khilafat) – The major requirement for the establishment of an Islamic regime is the existence a Khalifa. A Khalifa can only be appointed in one of the following methods:

i. Ba’yah (pledge) of the general public as well the elite. Abu Bakr (Radhiyallahu Anhu) became Khalifa through this method.

ii. Nomination. The Khalifa of the time makes mashoora with some persons from the public and elite and makes wassiyat that a certain person should be appointed as the Khalifa after his demise. Abu Bakr (Radhiyallahu Anhu) made mashoora with Uthman (Radhiyallahu Anhu), Abdur Rahman bin ‘Auf (Radhiyallahu Anhu), Sa’eed bi Zaid (Radhiyallahu Anhu), Usaid bin Hudhair (Radhiyallahu Anhu) and other Sahaba amongst the muhajireen and ansar when he appointed Umar (Radhiyallahu Anhu) as the Khalifa after him.

iii. Shoora (committee). The Khalifa of the time appoints a commitee and makes wassiyat that they should appoint one of them as the Khalifah through mutual consent. Umar (Radhiyallahu Anhu) appointed Ali (Radhiyallahu Anhu), Uthman (Radhiyallahu Anhu), Zubair (Radhiyallahu Anhu), Talha (Radhiyallahu Anhu), Sa’ad (Radhiyallahu Anhu) and Abdur Rahman bin ‘Auf (Radhiyallahu Anhu) as the shoorah, and Uthman (Radhiyallahu Anhu) was appointed the Khalifa through this shoora.

A Khalifa cannot be appointed in any other way besides the abovementioned. However, there is a fourth method of establishing Khilafat:

iv. After the demise of the present Khalifa, any person appoints himself as the Khalifa. The Khilafat will be established in this manner, and it will be incumbent upon all Muslims to follow this Khalifa. This is further categorised into two types:

a) This person (who has appointed himself as the Khalifa) incorporates in himself all the conditions that are necessary for being a Khalifa, addresses issues with sound policy and reconciliation and does not take unjust steps in overcoming  the opposition from the public. This method of Khilafat will be permissible. Mu’awiyah (Radhiyallahu Anhu) became Khalifa in this manner.

b) This person does not possess the conditions that are necessary for being a Khalifa, wages war against whosoever opposes him and uses other unjust mechanisms in overcoming his opposition. This method will not be permissible, and such a person will be regarded as a fasiq (highly involved in sin). However, it will still be incumbent upon the Muslims to follow this Khalifa as long as he does not command any action that is impermissible in Shari’a.


(Ahsanul Fatawa Vol.6 Pgs.145-148 – H.M. Sa’eed Company)


Moreover, besides being appointed in the correct manner, the Khalifa should also incorporate in himself all the conditions that are necessary for being a Khalifa, listed hereunder:

  • He should have total control over his own affairs; i.e. he should be a free male Muslim, who is sane and of age.
  • He should have authority and control over his area.
  • He should have the power to pass any law (within the confinements of Shari’a), protect the borders of the state and provide justice to the oppressed over the oppressor.
  • Those under his rule should be able to reach him; i.e. he should not be in hiding due to the fear of the enemy.


(Sharhu al-‘Aqaid al-Nasafiyya Pgs.154-158 – Kutub Khana Imdadiyyah)


We understand from the abovementioned that a Khalifa is a condition for Islamic rule (Khilafat) and not for a Muslim country (Darul Islam). Therefore, we could say that there are many countries in the world that could be regarded as Muslim countries, but we will not be able to comment whether Islamic rule (Khilafat) is established in any of these countries. If any of the countries meet the requirements mentioned above, we could say that Islamic rule is established in that country. This matter should be addressed to the leading scholars of the world, and a ruling should be made at a collective level. We learn from the teachings of Nabi (Sallallahu Alaihi Wasallam) below that such matters should not be decided on a personal level.

عن علي قال : قلت : يا رسول الله ، إن نزل بنا أمر ليس فيه بيان : أمر ولا نهي ، فما تأمرنا ؟ قال :  تشاورون الفقهاء والعابدين ، ولا تمضوا فيه رأي خاصة. (المعجم الأوسط للطبراني)

It has been narrated by Ali (Radhiyallahu Anhu) that he asked the Holy Prophet (Sallallahu Alaihi Wasallam), “What would you advice us if we are faced with a situation where there is no explicit ruling of Shari’a?” Upon this Nabi (Sallallahu Alaihi Wasallam) replied, “Discuss the matter with the jurists and the pious. Do not make a ruling on a personal level”.

(Al-Mu’jam al-Awsat li al-Tabrani Vol.1 Pg.441 – Darul Kutub al-Ilmiyya)

2. Muslims of the world would be obliged to adhere to the laws passed by the Qadhi if he was appointed by a Khalifa. The monarchy of Saudi Arabia cannot be regarded an Islamic rule, as it does not meet with the requirements of khilafat, as mentioned above. Therefore, the Muslims of the world will not be obliged to follow the rules passed by the Qadhi.

3. It is true that sighting of the crescent is necessary to determine the starting or ending of a month. It has been mentioned in the Ahadith of Nabi (Sallallahu Alaihi Wasallam):


عن عبد الله بن عمر رضى الله عنهما أن رسول الله صلى الله عليه وسلم ذكر رمضان فقال « لا تصوموا حتى تروا الهلال ، ولا تفطروا حتى تروه ، فإن غم عليكم فاقدروا له » . (رواه البخارى)

It has been narrated on the authority of Abdullah ibn Umar (Radhiyallahu Anhuma) that Nabi (Sallallahu Alaihi Wasallam) said, “Do not fast until you have seen the crescent (of Ramadhan) and do not stop observing fasts until you have seen the crescent (of Shawwal); and if the skies are overcast, then complete the month”.

(Sahih al-Bukhari Vol.2 Pg.281 – Darul Fikr)


However, it is difficult for each an every Muslim to sight the crescent in order to fast or cease his fasting. This could also lead to a clash amongst the people of one country or community, as the person who has sighted the crescent will fast and the other will not. Therefore, certain rules and procedures have been laid down by the scholars of the Hanafi mazhab, in the light of Quran and Hadith, in order to solve this problem.


Ruling for the people of one Community or Country


If the skies are clear and there is nothing preventing the sighting of the crescent, then a large number of people will have to witness the crescent, whether it is for the commencing of Ramadhan or for Eidul Fitr.


If the skies are overcast, then the information (khabr) of one Muslim that he has sighted the crescent will suffice for the crescent of Ramadhan. The crescent of Eid has to be proven through Shari’ shahadat; i.e. two males, or one male and two females have to bear testimony that they have sighted the crescent using the words أشهد, or the equivalent in the local language, as is done in the courts of Shari’a. This procedure is known as Shahadat ‘alar Ru’yah (شهادة على الرؤية).

When the sighting of the crescent is thus validated and an official declaration is made by the muqtada (i.e. the leading scholars) of the community or country, then it will suffice for the people of the country; and it will be incumbent upon them to accept the decision as long as an i’lan (إعلان) is made by the leading scholars.

Ruling for the people of other Communities or Countries

If the crescent cannot be sighted in a community or country due to overcast skies, then it is not compulsory upon the people of that community or country to acquire information from the other communities or countries. However, if the crescent has been determined in the manner mentioned above in a community or country, and the information reaches another community or country through a Shari’ medium (as explained below), then it will be incumbent upon the muqtada of that community or country to accept it and determine the commencing or ending of Ramadhan through it, as long as it does not result in the month having 28 or 31 days. Once an official declaration is made by the muqtada in this manner, it will be compulsory upon the people of that country to accept their decision.


The Zahiru-ur-Riwayah and Mufta Bihi Qawl of the Hanafi mazhab is that the ikhtilaf-e-matali’ (different horizons) will not be taken into consideration. This means that the crescent sighted in one country of the world is acceptable in any other, however far away they are from each other. However, the sighting of the crescent in another community or country will be accepted only if the information is passed on in one of the following four methods:


i. Shahadat ‘alar Ru’yah (شهادة على الرؤية) – two males, or one male and two females bear testimony that they have sighted the moon in their community or country, using the words أشهد, or the equivalent in their local language.

ii. Shahadat ‘alas Shahadat (شهادة على الشهادة) – two sane, mature Muslims bear witness that two sane, mature Muslims bore witness in front of them that they have sighted the crescent.

iii. Shahadat ‘alal Qaza القضاء)على الشهادة) – two sane, mature Muslims from another community or country bear witness that an official declaration was made by the muqtada that the crescent has been sighted.

iv. Tawatur wa Istifadhah (تواتر و استفاضة) – many people from another community or country inform that the crescent has been sighted in their community or country; and the muqtada of the community or country are convinced that the crescent has been sighted in that community or country based on tawatur and istifadhah

If the information of the sighting of the crescent is not passed on in one of the four methods, the crescent will not be regarded as valid. Mere knowledge or i’lan (إعلان) of the sighting of the crescent in another community or country will not suffice to determine the starting or ending of the month of Ramadhan.

( قوله : ولا عبرة باختلاف المطالع ) فإذا رآه أهل بلدة ، ولم يره أهل بلدة أخرى وجب عليهم أن يصوموا برؤية أولئك إذا ثبت عندهم بطريق موجب ، ويلزم أهل المشرق برؤية أهل المغرب

(Al Bahr Al Raiq Vol.2 Pg.270 – Maktabah Rasheediyah)

( قوله : ولا عبرة باختلاف المطالع ) فإذا رآه أهل بلدة ، ولم يره أهل بلدة أخرى وجب عليهم أن يصوموا برؤية أولئك إذا ثبت عندهم بطريق موجب ، ويلزم أهل المشرق برؤية أهل المغرب

(Fatawa Hindiyyah Vol.1 Pg.198/9 – Maktabah Rasheediyah)

وإذا ثبت في مصر لزم سائر الناس فيلزم أهل المشرق برؤية أهل المغرب في ظاهر المذهب

(Fathul Qadeer Vol.2 Pg.243 – Maktabah Rasheediyah)

( واختلاف المطالع ) ورؤيته نهارا قبل الزوال وبعده ( غير معتبر على ) ظاهر ( المذهب ) وعليه أكثر المشايخ وعليه الفتوى بحر عن الخلاصة ( فيلزم أهل المشرق برؤية أهل المغرب ) إذا ثبت عندهم رؤية أولئك بطريق موجب كما مر ، وقال الزيلعي : الأشبه أنه يعتبر لكن قال الكمال : الأخذ بظاهر الرواية أحوط .

وإنما الخلاف في اعتبار اختلاف المطالع بمعنى أنه هل يجب على كل قوم اعتبار مطلعهم ، ولا يلزم أحد العمل بمطلع غيره أم لا يعتبر اختلافها بل يجب العمل بالأسبق رؤية حتى لو رئي في المشرق ليلة الجمعة ، وفي المغرب ليلة السبت وجب على أهل المغرب العمل بما رآه أهل المشرق ، فقيل بالأول واعتمده الزيلعي وصاحب الفيض ، وهو الصحيح عند الشافعية ؛ لأن كل قوم مخاطبون بما عندهم كما في أوقات الصلاة ، وأيده في الدرر بما مر من عدم وجوب العشاء والوتر على فاقد وقتهما وظاهر الرواية الثاني وهو المعتمد عندنا وعند المالكية والحنابلة لتعلق الخطاب عملا بمطلق الرؤية في حديث { صوموا لرؤيته } بخلاف أوقات الصلوات ، وتمام تقريره في رسالتنا المذكورة .

(Raddul Muhtar Vol.2 Pg.393 – H.M. Sa’eed Company)

(Fatawa Rasheediyah Pg.437 – Muhammed Ali Kar Khana)

(Imdadul Fatawa Vol.2 Pg.99 – Maktabah Darul Uloom Karachi)

(Fatawa Raheemiyah Vol.7 Pg.228 – Darul Isha’at)

(Jawahirul Fiqh V0l.1 Pg.401 – Darul Uloom Karachi)

(Aapke Masail aur Unka Hal Vol.3 Pg.259 – Maktabah Bayyinat)

Following the sighting of the crescent in Saudi Arabia

One may come to a conclusion from the above mentioned that it is permissible to follow the sighting of the crescent in Saudi Arabia, as the difference of horizon is not taken into consideration. This indeed would be very true, if the criterion of the sighting of the crescent in Saudi Arabia was acceptable. However, we are forced to declare that criterion of the sighting of the crescent in Saudi Arabia is unacceptable due to the undeniable facts mentioned hereunder:

· The starting of the month in Saudi Arabia is not determined through shahadat bir ru’yah or shahadat alas shahadat, but is determined through astronomical calculations. This can certainly not be accepted, as the Shari’a orders us to determine the starting of the month through sighting of the crescent, not mere calculations. Even those contemporary scholars that have permitted the use of these calculations are of the view that these calculations can be persuasive and not conclusive. This means that these calculations cannot be used in the actual determining of the starting or ending of the month, as Shari’a emphasizes on the sighting of the crescent; but can be used to judge the news received of the sighting of the crescent. For example, if someone claims that he sighted the crescent at a time that the calculations show that it is not possible, then the news received could be rejected.

· The starting of the month in Saudi Arabia is declared at the birth of the moon. This too is incorrect, as Shari’a orders us to sight the Hilal (crescent); and the crescent can only be sighted approximately 18 hours after the birth of the moon. This proves that the commencing of the month is declared in Saudi Arabia more than 18 hours before it is even possible to sight the crescent, then how can their sighting be acceptable in other countries?

· Having 31 days of Zil Hijjah further proves the unacceptability of the information of the sighting of the crescent in Saudi Arabia.

· The information is not passed to the other countries in one of the four ways mentioned above, but a mere announcement on television or radio is relied upon in most of the cases.

4. Shirk is ranked as the highest form of transgression. Allah Ta’ala mentions in the holy Quran:

وإذ قال لقمان لابنه وهو يعظه يا بني لا تشرك بالله إن الشرك لظلم عظيم

(Remember) when Luqmān said to his son, while he was advising him, “My dear son, do not ascribe partners to Allah. Indeed, ascribing partners to Allah (shirk) is a grave transgression”. (Verse: 31:13)

إن الله لا يغفر أن يشرك به ويغفر ما دون ذلك لمن يشاء ومن يشرك بالله فقد افترى إثما عظيما

Surely, Allah does not forgive that a partner is ascribed to Him, and He forgives anything short of that for whomsoever He wills. Whoever ascribes a partner to Allah commits a terrible sin. (Verse: 4:48)

It is clearly understood from the verses of the Quran mentioned above that there could be no transgression that could be equivalent to or worse than ascribing partners to Allah Ta’ala. Therefore, it will not be correct to say that shirk could be accepted in any situation, whether it be to avoid tafriqah (strife) or any other circumstance. Anyone making such false verdicts should repent sincerely to Allah Ta’ala.

Moreover, it is true that Shari’a has permitted us (and sometimes made it even obligatory upon us) to leave out certain permissible acts in order to avoid fitnah (discord) or tafriqah (strife) caused by those acts. However, this ruling only applies to those permissible acts that are not obligatory and are not from the essentials of Deen. As far as the obligatory acts and the essentials of Deen are concerned, it will not be permissible to leave them out or ease upon them for such reasons.

(Tuhfatul ‘Ulama (Moulana Ashraf Ali Thanwi) Vol.2 Pg.97 – Idara Taleefat Ashrafiyya)

In the light of the abovementioned, it will not be permissible to follow the incorrect sighting of the crescent due to the fear of tafriqah, as saum (fasting) is from the essentials of Deen and validity of saum depends, to a great extent, on the correct sighting of the crescent. Rather, the people should be educated with the correct procedure of determining the starting and ending of a month. Any scholars opposing the correct view should prove their opinion with academic proofs and not base their view purely on emotions.

Verse 94 of Surah Taha cannot be used as a proof for permissibility of transgression to avoid friction amongst the Muslim for the following reasons:

· Haroon (‘Alaihissalam) did not approve of the shirk, but he objected against them but to no avail. This caused the Bani Israel to split into three different groups. The reason why Moosa (‘Alaihissalam) rebuked Haroon (‘Alaihissalam) was because he did not fight them or abandon their company as Moosa (‘Alaihissalam) would have done in his situation. Therefore, it is incorrect to say that Haroon (‘Alaihissalam) allowed shirk to take place in order to avoid discord and strife.

· Moosa’s (‘Alaihissalam) parting advice to Haroon (‘Alaihissalam) were:

اخلفني في قومي وأصلح

Take my place among my people and keep things right. (Verse: 7:142)

Haroon (‘Alaihissalam) understood these words to mean that he should maintain harmony amongst the people and prevent differences at all costs. Therefore, he was only following orders given by the Prophet of Allah, not transgressing the commandments of Allah Ta’ala to avoid discord and strife. Besides, he had hoped that when Moosa (‘Alaihissalam) would return he would handle the situation satisfactorily.

· Besides fear of discord and strife another excuse was offered by Haroon (‘Alaihissalam) mentioned in Surah al-‘Araf:

إن القوم استضعفوني وكادوا يقتلونني

The people took me as weak and were about to kill me. (Verse: 7:150)

Therefore, we cannot regard fear of discord and strife as the only basis for Haroon’s (‘Alaihissalam) actions.

· Quran does not indicate whether Moosa (‘Alaihissalam) accepted the excuses offered by Haroon (‘Alaihissalam) or dropped the matter considering the mistake as one of ijtihad (assessment). Therefore, it will be incorrect to say that the excuse of fear of discord was even regarded to be a valid excuse.

Ref: Taken from Ma’ariful Quran (English Translation) Vol.6 Pg.149/150 – Maktabah Darul Uloom Karachi

5. Whilst mentioning the errors and misdeeds of the disbelievers, Allah Ta’ala also mentions the following verses:

إن عدة الشهور عند الله اثنا عشر شهرا في كتاب الله يوم خلق السماوات والأرض منها أربعة حرم ذلك الدين القيم فلا تظلموا فيهن أنفسكم وقاتلوا المشركين كافة كما يقاتلونكم كافة واعلموا أن الله مع المتقين. إنما النسيء زيادة في الكفر يضل به الذين كفروا يحلونه عاما ويحرمونه عاما ليواطئوا عدة ما حرم الله فيحلوا ما حرم الله زين لهم سوء أعمالهم والله لا يهدي القوم الكافرين.

Surely, the number of months according to Allah is twelve (as written) in the Book of Allah on the day He created the heavens and the Earth, of which there are Four Sacred Months. That is the right faith. So, do not wrong yourself therein. And fight the Mushriks all together, as they fight you all together, and be sure that Allah is with the God-fearing. Nasī‘ (i.e. postponement of months) is nothing but a further excess in infidelity, whereby the disbelievers are misguided. They allow it one year and disallow it another year, so that they may conform (only) to the number of what Allah has sanctified, and allow what Allah has disallowed. The evil of their deeds has been beautified for them (by Satan). And Allah does not lead the disbelieving people to the right path. (Verse: 9:36/37)


Herein, Allah Ta’ala condemns the people of the Arab age of ignorance for moving the months around to satisfy their self-serving motives. The outcome of this practice was that it was difficult to determine which was the month of Hajj or the month of Ramadhan, etc. making it inconvenient for those who wanted to fast, go for Hajj, etc.


The same ruling could be applied to the Arabs of today. They do not exert their efforts in determining the starting and ending of the month, resulting in having two dates in the same place or having 31 days in a month, etc. Such an action is certainly not permissible in Shari’a; and as the muqtada (leaders) of the country, they will be held responsible for any discrepancies in the good deeds of the Muslims of that country, brought about due to this deficiency.


6. Bearing in mind the abovementioned, it will certainly not be permissible for the people of U.K to follow Saudi Arabia in determining the staring and ending of a month.


Also find attached the ruling passed by the Hilaal Committee of the Jamiatul Ulama of Britain, under the supervision of Mufti Sayyid Abul Raheem Lachpori (Rahimahullah), on the 16th of July 1978 at the Islamic Cultural Centre of London. The ruling passed in this conference was approved by the members of the committee and many other senior Ulama of England present in the conference, whose signatures could be viewed on the attachment. The rulings mentioned above, on moonsighting, coincide with the rulings mentioned in the attachment.



And Allah knows best
Darul Iftaa

Madrasah Inaa’miyyah



· The Sharée ruling herein given is specifically based on the question posed and should be read in conjunction with the question.

· The Darul Ifta bears no responsibility to any party who may or may not act on this answer. The Darul Ifta being hereby exempted from loss or damage howsoever caused.

· This answer may not be used as evidence in any Court of Law without prior written consent of the Darul Ifta.