Ramazan is over and ‘Sweet Eid’ has arrived. Pakistanis instead of defeating controversy of celebrating Eid on two different days continued with the practice and thus putting all efforts by government to ensure Eid across the country on the same day in vain.

It was reported in social media and later by international media that Eid was celebrated in Peshawar and different areas of Khyber Pakhtun Khawa. The mainstream media, however, kept silent over the issue and just broadcast the news that the moon sighting on Sunday evening would decide the issue.

One federal and four provincial Ruet-e-Hilal Committees (official authority designated to announce start of an Islamic month). As it is not just religious and political connection that matters but there is strong evident dimension concerning world of science and technology.

In most countries of the world follow Saudi Arabia and celebrate Eid on the same day as it is celebrated there. However, Pakistan is one of the few countries in region that in some of the years of its history used to celebrates Eid the next day after Saudi Arabia. Mufti Shahabuddin Popalzai who has strong following in province of Khyber Pakhtun Khuwa was in Dubai. Mosque Qasim in Peshawar and followers of Mufti Popalzai reportedly announced the sighting to moon and Eidul Fitr was celebrated in Peshawar and parts of the KPK.

The debate started with possibility of birth of moon and sighting of moon but at the same time debate is over when no concerned party is ready for ijhtihad which is as per Islamic law about independent reasoning. Number of solutions is being given by science to end the issue of moon sightseeing.

Even Popalzai was not on screen but his followers in Qasim Ali Khan managed to receive 47 witnesses who sighted moon. The nation divided again on the most jubilated event of the year. 

Every year Popalzai announces that the moon has been sighted led the country into a state where everyone is not happy but a monopoly of religio-politco community who always divides the nation on such events where more unity is needed than before.

For the declaration of advent of new Islamic month at least 10 credible witnesses are needed for sighting of moon.

Religious scholar Allama Raghib Naeemi told The Nation that elsewhere in the world including Morocco and Tunisia there is precedent to celebrate the Eidul Fitr with Saudi Arabia. “Even European countries celebrate Eid with Saudi Arabia but that is not the case as according to the Islamic traditions every person has to celebrate Eid according to his geographical locations.

“As far moon birth debate is concerned one thing is for sure Saudi Arabia relay on birth of moon and they predict it few months earlier and they have completely shifted the whole system. They follow the birth of moon and we in Pakistan follow sightseeing of moon,” he said.  “After 20 hours of birth of moon we can see the moon,” Naeemi said.

“Our religion said one should see the moon with his own naked eye and that is the reason in Pakistan we rely on the moon sighting,” he said.

He ruled out that all the private institutions and independent institutions which announce about the arrival of new Islamic month should be banned and Reut-i-Hilal Committee Pakistan should only be allowed to announce the start of new month.

He appealed to public not to follow the other institutions announcing anything about starting of new Islamic month. “Those who differ from the central Reut-i-Hilal Committee Pakistan are creating chaos like religious clerics in KPK used to do,” he said.

Government is also introducing a bill in the house, which will diminish the role of people announcing the moon sighting in personal capacity and punishment will be awarded to them.

Umiar Asim of Lahore Astronomical Society said that science is very much helpful in the contributing and giving solution to the debate of moon sighting. “All we need is government support and even government astronomy setup is enough for help in predicting the birth of moon. I think will of government is required in this matter,” he said.

Dr Munawar Sajid of Punjab University expert on geography said that the reason we are unable to celebrate one Eid is political and regions monopoly. “From East to West all countries including Kazakhstan, Japan, Malaysia, Indonesia and even Russia and Europe celebrate Eid the same day.

“The problem lies in the will of government who do not want to challenge the religious monopoly over the moon sighting and birth of moon issue. Even in Ottoman Empire which stretched over 6000 km and in British India, Afghanistan and Central Asia states every country used to celebrate Eid on same day,” he explained.

He also objected over the media hype and unnecessary media coverage to this issue.

Dr Munawar said moon birth has been predicted and exact information easily shared by Met office on 24th of June and 28th Ramazan moon born on 7:31 am and it can be sighted within 36 hours. These predictions can ease your working operations and also provide relief to public,” he said.

He said seeing moon in cities can be difficult but it can be easily seen in coastal areas of country including Gawdar, Pasni and Jiwani.

“It is time for ijhtihad (independent reasoning for consensus). So from Morocco to Pakistan all Islamic world should celebrate Eid at same time,” Munawar said.n

Faizan Ali Warraich