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Ruling On Offering Congratulations At The Beginning Of The Hijri Year: How Do We Know When ‘Aashooraa' Is This Year?

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What is the ruling on offering congratulations on the occasion of the Hijri new year and saying "Kull ‘aam wa antum bi khayr" or praying for blessing, or sending a card with best wishes for blessings in the new year?

Praise be to Allaah.

Shaykh Muhammad ibn Saalih al-‘Uthaymeen (may Allaah have mercy on him) was asked: What is the ruling on congratulating people on the occasion of the Hijri new year, and how should one reply to a person who offers congratulations?

He replied:

If someone offers you congratulations, then respond to him, but do not initiate such greetings. This is the correct view concerning this matter. So if a person says to you, for example, "Happy New Year", then you can say, "May Allaah make it a good and blessed year for you." But you should not initiate such a greeting, because I do not know of any report that the salaf [early generations of Islam] congratulated one another on the occasion of the new year, rather the salaf did not regard the first of Muharram as the first day of the new year until the caliphate of ‘Umar ibn al-Khattaab (may Allaah be pleased with him.

Shaykh ‘Abd al-Kareem al-Khudayr said concerning offering congratulations on the occasion of the hijri new year:

Praying for another Muslim in general terms, in phrases that are not meant as a kind of ritual on special occasions such as Eid, is acceptable, especially if what is meant by this greeting is friendship and to show a friendly face to one's fellow Muslim. Imaam Ahmad (may Allaah have mercy on him) said: "I do not initiate the greeting but if someone greets me I return the greeting, because responding to the greeting is obligatory. But being the first to offer congratulations is neither Sunnah nor forbidden.

How Do We Know When ‘Aashooraa' Is This Year?

How should we fast ‘Aa'shooraa' this year? Until now, we do not know when the month begins or whether Dhu'l-Hijjah has twenty-nine or thirty days. How can we define when ‘Aa'shooraa' is and fast it?

Praise be to Allaah.

If we do not know whether the month of Dhu'l-Hijjah is complete (30 days) or imcomplete (29 days), and no one tells us when the new moon of Muharram was sighted, then we should follow the basic principle, which is that the month should be completed as thirty days. So Dhu'l-Hijjah is counted as being 30 days long, then we calculate the date of ‘Aashooraa' on that basis.

If a Muslim wants to be sure that he has fasted on the right day, he should fast two consecutive days at ‘Aashooraa'. So he should calculate when ‘Aa'shooraa' will be if Dhu'l-Hijjah is twenty-nine days and if it is thirty days, and fast these two days. Thus he will be definite that he has fasted ‘Aashooraa', and in this case he will have fasted either the ninth and tenth, or the tenth and eleventh, both of which are good. If he wants to be sure of fasting Taasoo'ah (the ninth of Muharram) as well, then he should fast the two days we have spoken of above and the day immediately before them as well. Then he will have fasted the ninth, tenth and eleventh, or the eighth, ninth and tenth. In either case he will have fasted the ninth and tenth for sure.

If someone were to say "My work and other circumstances only allow me to fast one day, so which is the best day for me to fast?" we say to him:

Count Dhu'l-Hijjah as being thirty days and work out the tenth day (of Muharram), then fast on that day.

This is a summary of what I heard our shaykh, ‘Abd al-‘Azeez ibn Baaz (may Allaah have mercy on him), say when I asked him about this matter.

If we receive news from a trustworthy Muslim that he has seen the new moon of Muharram, we should act in accordance with that. Fasting at any time in Muharram is Sunnah, because the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) said: "The best fasting after the month of Ramadaan is fasting in the month of Muharram." (Narrated by Muslim, 1163)

And Allaah knows best.

Sheikh Muhammed Salih Al-Munajj

 

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