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Welcoming the Month of Ramadan 1443/2022 – A Public Service Message by The BBSI

The British Board of Scholars & Imams (BBSI): Welcoming the Month of Ramadan 1443/2022

In the Name of Allah, Merciful to all, Compassionate to each!

All praise belongs to Allah, and may His peace and blessings be upon the Prophet Muhammad ﷺ.

The British Board of Scholars and Imams (BBSI) would like to extend its congratulation to the British Muslim community in the UK and the Muslim Ummah worldwide for the commencement of the special month of Ramadan 1443. Whichever day the communities begin the blessed month of Ramadan, it asks Allah almighty to help us please Him and get closer to Him.

Fasting in the Month of Ramadan (the 9th month in the Islamic lunar calendar) is the third pillar of practice of Islam. It is the direct order from Allah in the Qur’an to all Muslims who are able to fast that they must fast this month. ‘O you who believe, fasting has been prescribed upon you as it has been upon those who came before you, so that you may be God-conscious’ (Q, 2:183). Ramadan is the month of discipline and self-restraint, patience, noble character, worship and spirituality, awareness of Allah, and a heightened sense of community. These are traits that Ramadan helps us develop if Ramadan is lived the way it ought to be. As such, observing Ramadan can be a transformative act of worship, fulfilling part of the greater purpose of our creation: to come to know – and through knowing, lovingly surrender – to God. The special nature of the month of Ramadan is not simply in that Muslims fast together worldwide and fulfil one of their religious duties. It is a month in which they recharge their spiritual batteries, drawing closer to Allah spiritually; a month in which good deeds are multiplied, and a month of mercy, generosity and guidance. This is the case even if one is not able to observe one or more of the common acts of worship, such as fasting, tarawih or charity. The month has a blessedness in and of itself, which the acts of worship only enhance. Fasting begins each day at dawn, when the Fajr prayer time begins, and continues until the end of sunset, which is the commencement time of the Maghrib prayer. As such, governed by the natural cycles of the seasons, the day of fasting is longer when Ramadan occurs in the summer and shorter in the winter. During the time of fasting, food, drink, and sexual intercourse cause the fast to become invalid; if perpetrated deliberately, they are considered sinful, though not if done accidentally. If any of these acts are done in a state of forgetfulness, they do not invalidate the fast. 

The nights of Ramadan are to be spent in (optional) prayer and contemplation, particularly the tarawih, which is traditionally performed in mosques and during which the entire Quran is recited to the congregation over the course of the month. This is a unique religious practice that many Muslims look forward to, and is usually the responsibility of those few honoured members of the community who have made the tremendous effort to memorise the entire scripture. 

It is important for Muslims to hold themselves to a higher standard of moral conduct during this period, and so especially avoid acts of disobedience to Allah, vain conversation, and disputes during this month, so that the objective of Ramadan can be attained. The Prophet (peace be upon him) said: ‘He who does not leave false speech, acting upon it, and ignorant, boorish behaviour, then Allah has no need for him to leave his food and drink.’ (Bukhari) It is from the mercy of God upon us that the Qur’an explicitly decrees an exemption from fasting for those who are travelling or ill. Included in those who are ill are all those who are likely to be harmed or reasonably fear being harmed, by fasting. After making mention of these exemptions, the Qur’an says, ‘Allah wants ease for you and does not want hardship for you’ (Q, 2:185).

General Counsel on Covid-19 Restrictions:

By the Grace, benevolence and Mercy of Allah, most COVID-19 restrictions have been lifted, and the British public is coming back to some sense of pre-covid normality. Though we are getting back to normality slowly, there are still cases of COVID-19, so we should try our best to take any precautions to protect ourselves and others. 

  • We should try and wear masks in enclosed spaces, particularly for medically vulnerable ones. 
  • We should try and ensure that mosques and indoor settings are appropriately ventilated. 
  • If you show symptoms of COVID-19 or test positive, isolate as per medical recommendations. 
  • Please see our guidance on ’10 things Imams get Asked about Vaccines for vaccinations.

General Counsel on Moonsighting Issues:

For those who wish to read detailed guidance on this issue, please see our moonsighting guidance published on the website.

We would strongly counsel the general Muslim to remember and act upon the following principles in their daily practice:

1. It is a communal obligation (fard kifaya) to accurately determine the prayer times and the start and end times of the fast, as well as the commencement of Islamic months. If some members of the community have fulfilled the responsibility; it is lifted from the remainder.

2. Furthermore, such determinations are a matter of public order (min al-umur al-intizamiyya) – that is, they are not meant to be carried out

by just anyone. Instead, in the traditional Muslim world, fulfilling this particular duty would be the role of a government department or authorized working group.

For those living as minorities in non-Muslim lands, the responsibility devolves onto the community as a whole, which in turn appoints figures of authority, such as the ulama and mosque committees, to fulfil the task on their behalf.

In either case, it is imperative to act in consultation with those qualified for the task (ashab al-ahliyya) – in this case, legal and scientific experts.

3. By the Grace of Allah, this fard kifaya has already been performed by a number of scholars over the decades in the UK. Their differing results are likely a function of the sighting difficulties and differing legal positions noted earlier on.

4. Most importantly, it should be noted that senior, qualified scholars have given fatwa on the differing positions – that is, the ‘18° calendar’ and the so-called ‘observation calendar’ have both been approved by different groups of ulama.

a. In accordance with the well-known legal principle, in the absence of a judge (qadi) to rule decisively or a clear preponderance of opinion in a school, the lay Muslim may follow either of the two positions without fear of their prayers or fasts being invalid. By doing so, they have fulfilled their personal responsibility to Allah.

b. Thus, until the matter is clarified further, one may assume that the calendars generally found in local mosques can be used without fear.

c. The possible incorrectness of those calendars does not affect the validity of fasts or prayers, as the responsibility of the general Muslim is to follow qualified scholarship.

5. Finally, it is imperative that we avoid sowing doubt in people’s minds about the validity of their fasts and prayers. This is a matter of genuine scholarly debate and ongoing discussion – there is much work that still needs to be done. Therefore, we would urge everybody to remember that there should be no condemnation about matters genuinely differed upon in the religion.

May Allah provision our minds with clear understanding, our bodies with willing and joyful submission, and our hearts with a unity that comes from love and mutual respect, despite our differences.

‘Oh Allah, let us see the truth as true and follow it, and let us see falsehood as false, and avoid it.

Ramadan Karim! 

This is a public service message by The British Board of Scholars & Imams (BBSI)