This is an article written by Imam Mustafa Umar for IIOC's website. ICOI adopted the decision of the Fiqh Council of North America. For more info on their position and what it is based on see www.fiqhcouncil.org
Different masjids [mosques] in my area are using different methods to calculate when Ramadan will begin and end? Which one should I follow? What if my family is following a different one?
There are certain things in Islam that have been left open to interpretation. The exact method used to determine the month of Ramadan is a matter of disagreement among scholars. There are two variables involved. First, whether the moon must be sighted in your locality or whether it may be sighted anywhere else where Muslims are present. Second, whether or not the moon must actually be observed or whether astronomical calculations can serve as a substitute for an actual sighting. It is our opinion that these methods all have some sound level of scholarship and therefore should not cause any unnecessary arguing in any Muslim community.
There may be two or more Islamic organizations which are using different criteria in your area. In that case, you would have to pick one to follow and stick to it. You may choose which one to follow by either:
- following the most local Islamic organization
- following the one you trust the most and believe that the scholarship at their center is more sound
- follow the one your family is going with since you are living with them [hence, eating with them as well]
Whichever one you choose to go with, reflect on the ramifications it will have on both yourself and the people closest to you.
In closing, keep in mind that Allah will reward you for your intention and it is hoped that everyones fasting will be accepted, regardles of the scholarly differences of opinion that exist in this regard.