Fatwa from Darul Iftaa, Kermali

(Short Translation)
The Birmingham Testimony is Valid & Qadha of Missed Fast is Wajib 

In Shariah, starting and finishing of Fasting has been linked to establishing of Hilal, and establishing of Hilal is linked to Sighting. So if the crescent is seen on 29th of Shaban, Tarawih will be commenced from that night, and it will be the night of 1st Ramadhan. And if the crescent could not be sighted on the evening of 29th, Shaban will have 30 days. In a Hadith, Abdullah bin Umar r. quoted, the Prophet s. said – The month can be of 29 days, so you don't fast till you see the crescent. If the sky is cloudy, complete 30 days of Shaban. (Bukhari). In another Hadith of Bukhari, the Prophet s. said – Start Fasting after seeing the crescent, and stop Fasting after seeing the Crescent.

How can the Sighting be established? The Sky will either be clear, or covered by clouds. If the sky is not clear then testimony by only one, mature, religious, and sane Muslim will suffice. In a Hadith, Abdullah ibn Abbas r. said that once nobody could see the crescent in Madina on 29th Shaban. A villager came from outside and said, 'Oh Rasulullah s. I saw the crescent of Ramadhan'. Prophet s. asked him – Do you bear witness that there is no Deity besides Allah? He replied – yes. Then he asked – Do you bear witness that Muhammad s. is Messenger of Allah? He replied – yes. After hearing this, Prophet s. called Hadhrat Bilal r. and told him to announce to people – Everybody should Fast tomorrow. (Abu Dawood).
It is learnt from this Hadith that if the horizon is not clear, the crescent of Ramadhan is established by one person's testimony. This is the rule established by many Jurists. (Arabic quotes from Fataawa Hindiya, Fiqhul Islami wal Adillah, and Tatar Khaniya).
If the sky is clear, sighting by multitude of people is necessary: it is compulsory that the crescent is sighted by a large group of Muslims. Jurists have left it to the best judgement of the Imam of Muslims and the Judge to decide as to how many people should be in this group so that the crescent sighting is established beyond doubt. (Quotes from Durre Mukhtar, Fataawa Hindiya, and Fiqhul Islami).

If the Testimony mentioned in your question is compared with these quotes it will be apparent that:

  1. The Testimony recorded by the members of Britain's Central Moon Sighting Committee from the three witnesses of Birmingham is a valid Sharai Testimony. To reject a Sharai Testimony only on the basis of the fact that the Testimony is against Astronomical Calculations is EXTREMELY WRONG, because, in Shariah, the establishment of the crescent is based upon Sighting and not on calculations. On the contrary, Jurists have, in light of divine sources, declared the use of calculations for establishing Crescent to be unacceptable. Look at the following quotes of great Jurists: (Fataawa Shami, Fataawa Aalamgiri, and Fiqhul Islami)

             2.  On the above mentioned basis for Testimony, it is waajib (obligatory) on people to make Qadha if they missed a Fast (Quotes from Raddul Muhtar, Fat'hul Qadir).

3.  And not to make Qadha of the missed Fast thinking that its burden is upon those
Who prevented them is WRONG, and this excuse is unacceptable in the court of Allah (because the Shariah has compelled us to accept and follow this Testimony). Qur'an also points to this effect:
1. 'And when it is said to them, "Follow what Allah has revealed," they say, "Rather, we will follow that which we found our fathers doing." Even though their fathers understood nothing, nor were they guided? (Al Baqarah: 170). The last phrase, according to Ibn Kathir, means 'they have no hidayat, and no understanding'. Mufti Shafi saheb writes in his Ma'ariful Qur'an, 'Hidayat refers to orders that Allah has revealed, and sanity refers to orders that are deduced from the interpretation of divine sources.
2. 'And they will say Oh Lord, we followed sayings of our leaders and elders, and they misguided us from correct path'. According to Ibn Kathir, this verse means that there will be grief in next life for those who avoid Shariah orders by such excuses.
It has been shown by the Al Baqarah v 170 – it is necessary to follow the rules derived by Jurists on the basis of Divine sources.

Signed by:
(Mufti)Saadullah Hannan (Hafizahullah)
15 Safar 1432 / 20th January 2011
Seal of Darul Ifta - Karmali