Also please read this reply of Dr. Asghar Ali Engineer to Janab Iftikhar Husain of Hydrabad:-
Please forward my reply to Iftekhar Husain saheb and write my e-mail address
to him also.
Dear Iftikhar saheb,
You have asked question about sighting the moon. What is the position in Qur'an and hadith. Qur'an no where says that moon should be sighted with ones own eyes. Qur'an says various stages of moon's size is for knowing time and performance of hajj. Thus verse 189 of second chapter (al-Baqaraah) says, "They ask thee of new moons (ahillah). say: They are times appointed for people and (for) pilgrimage." There is no mention here that moon be sighted with naked eye. It only says new moons are meant for calculating time. Now moons position can be ascertained through calculations or if science of astronomy is not known it could be sighted by eye which creates uncertainty. What is thus necessary is fixing time, not its method.
During Holy Prophet's time since astronomy was not known to Arabs, Prophet used to see new moon with his own eyes and this was followed by Muslims of later generations.
But by the time Islam spread to various other countries where knowledge of astronomy and heavenly bodies was known calculations were made and calendar prepared. This calendar was enforced by Fatemi imams and hence it came to be known as Misri Calendar. I feel all Muslims should follow this calendar to avoid confusion every year especially for celebrating Eid. It is no where written in Qur'an that fasting should be 29 or 30 days. Duration mentioned is one month.
If the Prophet sighted moon Prophet also rode camels. Do we ride camels today? Do we not ride cars, buses, trains and aircrafts? These are means, not goals. Goal is time, to fast, to perform Hajj whether we do it by sighting moon or by calculating position of moon.
As for reciting khutba in those days khutba was recited in the name of ruler (Caliph, Sultan or Imam) and since according to Bohras Imam is in seclusion and his identity is not known in whose name khutba should be recited?
But today we all live under secular democracy and there is no question of reciting khutba in the name of any ruler. Rulers are now democratically elected, not religiously appointed. Sunni Muslims also recite khutba these days without mentioning name of any ruler. So Bohras also could do it but since tradition is more important than reason, tradition goes on.
Dr. Asghar Ali Engineer
Centre for Study of Society and Secularism
602 & 603, Silver Star, Behind BEST Bus Depot,
Santacruz (E), Mumbai:- 400 055.
Tel. 91-22-26149668, 26102089
Fax: 91-22- 26100712