THIS is with reference to letters by Sohail Sultan and Nafees Najmi (Sept 1) on the subject of moonsighting. This year too, as usual, Eid was celebrated on different days. The Central Ruet-i-Hilal Committee met, gazed through their telescopes and announced that the moon was not sighted.
The Peshawar divisional committee requested them to wait as they were getting witnesses, but the central committee rejected their plea by saying that there was no possibility of appearance of the moon on that day. If that was the case, one wonders what was the purpose of their meeting. What were they looking for through the telescopes?
Moonsighting is not a religious function. In fact, it was the only method available, in the absence of other means of communication, to determine whether a lunar month had started or not.
Making of a calendar is a mathematical exercise and does not fall in the domain of religious scholars. In the absence of an official Hijri calendar, scholars have assumed the responsibility of issuing fatwas on whether the moon has risen or not.
Astronomy is a precise science. Astronomical calculations are carried out up to seventh place of decimal to determine the exact position of a celestial body. The sun, the moon and all celestial bodies move along their orbits with precision. This is the law of nature as is evident from the following verses of the Holy Quran:
“It is He Who appointed the sun to give radiance, and the moon to give light, assigning it phases so you would know the number of years and the reckoning of time. Allah did not create these things except with truth. We make the signs clear for the people who know.” (10:5).
“He has made the sun and the moon subservient, each one running for a specified time.” (31:29-30).
“And We have decreed set phases for the moon.” (36:39-40).
“The sun and the moon both run with precision.”(55:5).
The most appropriate way to settle the controversy on moonsighting is to dissolve all the Ruet-i-Hilal committees and follow the Hijri calendar which specifies the exact dates of beginning and end of every lunar month.
FAQIR AHMAD PARACHA Peshawar