Perennial problem: Will Pakistan witness a unanimous start to Ramazan this year?

Published June 14, 2015
Federal Religious Minister requests KP clerics to cooperate with govt over announcement of moon sighting. —Reuters
Federal Religious Minister requests KP clerics to cooperate with govt over announcement of moon sighting. —Reuters

ISLAMABAD: In an attempt to tackle the age-old issue of conflicting dates of the start of Ramazan and celebration of Eid, the government is proactively striving to synchronise the start of fasting and later, the celebration of Eidul Fitr across the country.

The conflict over the onset of Ramazan and Eid celebration usually begins in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (KP) where evidence of the Shawal moon sighting of local Ulema (clerics) often contradicts the findings of the Central Ruet-e-Hilal Committee under Mufti Muneeb-ur-Rehman.

To prevent the disunity from marring the religious occasion, the government is striving to bring religious clerics across all provinces on the same page.

In this regard, Federal Minister for Religious Affairs Sardar Mohammad Yousaf contacted the KP Provincial Minister for Zakat, Auqaf and Religious Affairs Haji Habibur Rahman and other local scholars and requested their "cooperation in the commencement of Ramazan across the country on the same date".

Yousaf pressed on the clerics to collaborate with the government in the announcement of dates for Ramazan's start and Eid celebration.

The federal religious minister said that he would also convene a meeting of clerics belonging to all sects in the country to discuss the issue, if need be.

Yousaf said they would take steps in order to make a uniform moon sighting announcement.

He also assured the ulema that the federal government possesses the "latest and fully reliable" equipment to sight the moon, and the chances of which erring are near impossible.

Last year, the Central Ruet-i-Hilal committee announced that Ramazan would being in the country on June 30 after it claimed the moon was not sighted anywhere in the country on June 28.

Examine: Ramazan begins tomorrow barring in parts of KP

But in what has now become almost an unavoidable ritual in the build-up to Ramazan as well as Eidul Fitr, Mufti Shahabuddin Populzai, the self-styled chairman of an unofficial Ruet body, came up with a claim close to midnight of June 28, that he had received “enough eyewitness accounts” to establish the sighting of the crescent. “The first day of Ramazan will, therefore, fall on Sunday (June 29)," he said at the time.

The last-minute decision created great confusion and large groups of people were divided in their decision to follow Populzai and the Central Ruet-e-Hilal Committee.

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