LAHORE   -  In a bid to end the controversy over moon-sighting, Federal Minister for Science and Technology Ch Fawad Hussain Sunday launched country’s first official moon-sighting website and lunar calendar.

“The calendar would end the moon-sighting controversies once and for all. The online portal, comprising both website and mobile application, could help people check the position of moon,” he said while addressing a press conference at Pakistan Council of Scientific and Industrial Research (PCSIR) here.

He said as per lunar calendar, Eidul Fitr would fall on June 5, 2019, and Eidul Azha on August 12 this year.

Fawad insisted the new calendar would not diminish the role of religious scholars, adding the latest technology should be used to address important issues like moon-sighting.

He said the proposal had been sent to the Council of Islamic Ideology and it would also be presented before the federal cabinet on Tuesday. He also announced to declare the month of August as the month of Science and Technology.  Giving details, he told reporters that lunar calendar had been prepared with the help of experts and included important dates from 2019 till 2024.

According to the five-year lunar calendar, he said this year’s Eid will be on June 5 while the next four Eids would be on May 24, 2020, May 3, 2021, April 22, 2022 and April 10, 2023 respectively.

He said mobile application had been prepared after getting feedback from experts of the meteorological department and Space and Upper Atmosphere Research Commission (Suparco). This application, he said, would be available from Monday on the Google play store. “Through this application, moon’s existence over eight strategic locations would be mapped,” he said.  Various religious leaders have rejected the announcement made by Fawad Hussain that Eidul Fitr will be celebrated on June 5 in the light of the lunar calendar launched by him.

In reaction to his statement, they said moon-sighting by naked eye was necessary despite the modern scientific gadgets available. Even in countries like Saudi Arabia no announcement about the moon-sighting was made on the basis of prepared calendars unless witnessed by human eye, they said.

The ulema who did not agree with the minister’s announcement included Qibla Ayyaz, chairman, Council of Islamic Ideology; Haji Hanif Tayyab, former federal minister and patron, Nizam-i-Islam Party; Mufti Ragheb Hussain Naeemi, patron, Jamia Naeemia, Lahore; and Mufti Muneebur Rehman, chairman Ruet-i-Hilal committee.

Meanwhile, a meeting of Central Ruet-e-Hilal Committee would be held in Karachi on Tuesday (June 4) (29 Ramazanul Mubarak, 1440 Hijri) for sighting the crescent of Shawwalul Mukarram 1440 AH, said an official of the Ministry of Religious Affairs and Interfaith Harmony.

Talking to APP, he said Chairman Central Ruet-e-Hilal Committee Mufti Muneebur Rehman will chair the meeting of Zonal Ruet-e-Hilal Committee, Sindh at Pakistan Meteorological Department building, Main University Road, Gulistan-e-Jauhar, Karachi.

The other members of committee will attend Zonal and District Ruet-e-Hilal Committees at their respective places.

The meeting of Islamabad Capital Territory (ICT) committee would be held at Ministry of Religious Affairs, near General Post Office (GPO) Islamabad. Mufti Muneebur Rehman will announce the decision of crescent sighting or otherwise subsequently on the basis of information received.

According to weather department the crescent of Eidul Fitr is most likely to be sighted in the evening of Tuesday June 4, thus Eid would be observed on Wednesday June 5.