MUHAMMADIYAH.OR.ID, JAKARTA – The annual debate about determining the beginning of Ramadan, Eid al-Fitr, and Eid al-Adha should not happen.
The General Secretary of Muhammadiyah Abdul Mu’ti believed that the dispute is unproductive and not a fundamental issue in the final (ushuliyah) aspect of religion as it arises from open-ended (ijtihadiyah) different interpretations of verses.
Nevertheless, Mu’ti viewed this debate as a broader problem among Muslims regarding ontology and epistemology, especially in their understanding of the correlation among science, technology, and religion.
“In fact, some individuals see religion against science and technology,” said Mu’ti at the Muhammadiyah Day at Universitas Muhammadiyah Jakarta (UMJ) on Wednesday (10/5),
Mu’ti emphasized that Muhammadiyah believes there is no contradiction (ta’arudh) between science, technology, and religion. Religious practices will be more perfect by mastering and engaging science and technology.
For instance, in determining the beginning of Ramadan, Muhammadiyah understands that the meaning of ‘syahida minkumus syahra fal yashumhu‘ in Al-Baqarah 185 and the hadith ‘shumu li rukyati….’ (fast when you sight the new moon) do not stand alone. Rather, they are related to the cause (illat) in another hadith that says, “inna ummatun ummiyyatun, la naktubu wa la nahsubu. Al-Syahru hakadza wa hakadza wa asyara biyadihi” which means “We are an illiterate nation. We do not write or calculate. The month is like this and like this (the prophet gestured with his hand)”.
The hadith is why Muhammadiyah believes that observing the crescent moon is not a sunnah to be followed but a method that can be excused as technology development.
Similarly, the debate occurred when determining the qibla direction and prayer time. Muslims determined the direction based on the shadow, but this method is no longer applicable as people have mastered science and used a compass, coordinates, astronomy, and calculations, so they now can accurately determine the direction of the qibla and prayer times far in advance.
“This is actually where Muhammadiyah believes that Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) saw directly because at that time, he and his companions had not yet mastered the science of calculation or astronomy, and they did not have telescopes or knowledge,” he emphasized.
“From this perspective, Muhammadiyah believes that Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) directly sighted the moon because at that time, he and his companions had not yet mastered the science of calculations and astronomy, so they observed the moon with the naked eye, without a telescope,” said Mu’ti.