ISLAMABAD: Fawad Chaudhry, Minister for Science and Technology, has invited the ire of religious segments by announcing that Eidul Fitr in the country will be held on Sunday (today), scientifically and logically.
The minister announced all coordinates of the new moon well ahead of a meeting of the Ruet-i-Hilal committee at the Met office in Karachi.
His announcement invited reactions from almost all circles, including federal Minister for Religious Affairs Pir Noorul Haq Qadri. Some even said that the Ruet-i-Hilal Committee was an organ of the state and ministers should be responsible in giving statements on this matter.
The religious affairs minister said that the final decision of Shawwal moon sighting and announcement of Eidul Fitr would be made by the ulema.
Minister announces all coordinates of moon before Ruet-i-Hilal committee’s meeting
However, he tried to downplay the statement of Mr Chaudhry, sayings that “he was a good friend who relies on evidence and science but these days he was too much involved in the matter of moon”.
“But, as per the Islamic Sharia the decision of Eid will only be taken by the Central Ruet-i-Hilal Committee, and the people as well as the government of Pakistan will celebrate Eid according to the decision of the Committee,” the minister for religious affairs said.
“Science and modern tools can be used for evidence and vision, as a representative of the Ministry of Science and Technology was also included in the Central Ruet-i-Hilal Committee this year.”
A strong reaction was given by the Jamiat Ulema-i-Islam (JUI-F) against Fawad Chaudhry’s statement, describing his talks as hallucinations with the delusion to conquer the moon and occupy it.
Maulana Rashid Mahmood Soomro, JUI- F’s secretary general, said in a statement that the Ruet-i-Hilal Committee was an official body which included scholars of all mainstream sects in the country.
“The whole nation will consider this announcement by Fawad Chaudhry as an undue government interference in the religious subject,” he said, adding, “but this will only spread anarchy and restless among the masses,” he added.
Maulana Soomro said Mr Chaudhry was habitual of making false claims just like he had said that Pakistan was set to make a world class ventilator which would be sold to the world.
Many hardliner clerics, including Maulana Abdul Aziz of Islamabad’s Lal Masjid, criticised the announcement by the federal minister and termed it interference in the Sharia.
Council of Islamic Ideology (CII) member and Shia Ulema Council secretary general Allama Arif Wahidi said: “It was responsibility of the prime minister to manage his cabinet members and teach them decency.”
He said that when there was a system in the country it should be allowed to operate, adding that such statements only created confusion in an already controversy-stirred subject.
“The serious issue in the country is that people do not concentrate at their own work — the Met office is under the Cabinet Division, Suparco is under the National Command Authority that is headed by the prime minister and the official responsibility of announcing the sighting of the moon is with the Ruet-i-Hilal Committee,” Allama Wahidi said, questioning, “where does the minister or the Ministry of Science and Technology fits in this scenario?”
He suggested that Mr Chaudhry should move a summary in the cabinet to shift the mandate from the Committee to his ministry.
Published in Dawn, May 24th, 2020