To the respected believers in North America,
May the peace, blessings and mercy of Allah be upon you.
Various reports about the crescent of the month of Ramadan being sighted in Southern California late on Monday night have spread. Thus, many believers have inquired whether there was a subsequent change in the statement of the Crescent Committee, which announced the completion of the month of Sha`ban on Tuesday April 13, 2021 and Wednesday April 14 as the start of the holy month.
The Crescent Committee, which has diligently reported the crescent sighting on a monthly basis for many years in collaboration with its team and sincere individuals in many different regions throughout North America, was in direct contact through various means with believers striving to determine the appearance of the crescent along the entire West Coast of California to establish the blessed month of Ramadan at sunset on Monday April 12. The committee did not issue a statement until after sunset, allowing enough time for any potential sighting to occur based on data from astronomical sites, which stated that there was only a low probability of sighting the crescent.
Thereafter, a number of other trustworthy believers provided the committee with various reports of sighting the crescent, some of them claimed sighting it with the naked eye and others only with an optical aid, while others in the same area stated that they could not sight it with the naked eye, nor even with an optical aid. Some other individuals claimed that there were clouds, and as a result, sighting the crescent was not possible. Hence, there were conflicting testimonies which resulted in confusion and lack of clarity.
The Crescent Committee of the Council of Shia Muslim Scholars of North America, relies in its main message regarding the crescent of the lunar months on the jurisprudential principles of the supreme religious authority, and today, represents His Eminence al-Sayyid al-Sistani (may Allah prolong his life). As such, the committee could not rely on the testimonies available based on Ruling 1043 of Minhaj al-Salihin (English version) which clearly states that the first of the month cannot be established when there are conflicting statements, even if the testimonies were made by trusted believers. Otherwise, [upon resolving such a conflict] the Crescent Committee would have issued a follow-up statement as it has done in the past. It is worth mentioning here that there are different implications due the different criteria used by other respected jurists, both past and present.
Thus, we would like to draw the attention of the believers to some important points so they can have all the pertinent information and become knowledgeable:
NOTE: Personal conviction/contentment based on rational means can only be applied for the individual and cannot be the basis for an announcement for the whole community.
In any case, we hope that the respected believers understand that jurists have different views that result from the process of ijtihad during the occultation of Imam Mahdi (p). It is necessary to respect and appreciate the believers who go out to sight the crescent to serve the community and not to allow anyone to exploit the various jurisprudential views to spread chaos and create disunity among believers. Moreover, we must respect the sanctity of the holy month, the virtue of fasting, and the importance of solidarity, mutual support and cooperation. Almighty says: “Co-operate with each other in righteousness and piety, not in sin and hostility. Have fear of God; He is stern in His retribution.”
May Almighty God accept your fasts and good deeds, and as always, we ask God, the Most High, for success in performing good deeds and to hasten the return of our master Imam Mahdi (p).
On behalf of the Crescent Committee,
Sayyid M. Rizvi, Secretary-General