I am a young man who lives in a non-Muslim country. The people of this country do not depend on sighting the moon in determining the beginning of Ramadan as the government commits them to determine a certain day at the beginning of the calendar year. Last year, it so happened that we observed fast two days after Saudi Arabia. My question is: Should I fast with the Muslims of this country or with Saudi Arabia?
All perfect praise be to Allah, The Lord of the Worlds. I testify that there is none worthy of worship except Allah, and that Muhammad is His slave and Messenger.
The majority of jurists adopted the view that differences in sighting the moon are not to be considered. Whenever the moon is sighted in a country, all Muslims should observe fast. The Prophet said: “Fast upon seeing the crescent (of Ramadan) and give up fast upon seeing the crescent (of Shawwal). If the sky is overcast (and you cannot see it), then complete thirty days of Sha’baan.” [Al-Bukhari and Muslim]
According to this opinion, you should observe fast in compliance with whichever (country) the month had started for, whether Saudi Arabia or any other country.
Shaafi’i and some Hanafi scholars adopted the view that every country has its own sighting and is not committed to the sighting of other countries. According to this opinion, those who live in non-Islamic countries should sight the moon and fast according to their sighting. If they could not do so, then they should follow the opinion of the majority of scholars by fasting with those who sighted the moon. They may not follow the decision of the government because it is not based on evidence approved by the Sharee’ah (Islamic legislation), which is sighting the moon of Ramadan or proving its presence with other Sharee’ah-approved means.
Allah Knows best.