LAHORE: All efforts of the government for observing Eidul Fitr the same day across the country remained futile as some ulema, other than the well-known Mufti Popalzai of Peshawar’s Masjid Qasim Khan, differed with the Ruet-i-Hilal Committee’s decision on the sighting of moon.

The official committee, led by Mufti Muneebur Rehman, had announced sighting of the Shawwal moon late on Saturday night, concluding the month of Ramazan with 29 days.

The body cited having received reliable evidences and testimonies from Pasni and Islamabad about sighting of the moon. Thus, the official Eid coincided with Masjid Qasim Khan’s and Saudi Arabia’s, much to the relief of many praying for national unity and observance of Eid the same day across the country.

However, their hopes were dashed as some clerics affiliated with the Sunni Ittehad Council (SIC) and some other groups dominated by the Barelvi school of thought, objected to the committee’s decision, arguing few evidence were acceptable only when the sky was overcast.

“The decision seems to be given under some pressure, as there was a 30-day Ramazan all over the world, except Pakistan,” said Malik Bakhsh Elahi of the SIC.

A press release issued by Arshad Mustafai on behalf of the council named some of the clerics who differed with the Ruet committee’s decision, including Allama Saeed Qamar Sialvi (Faisalabad), Maulana Fazal Ahmad (Lahore), Allama Zulfiqar Rizvi, Mufti Rehmatullah, Mufti Ghulam Usman Ghani and Maulana Ghulam Qadir.

Council Chairman Sahibzada Hamid Raza had also appealed to Muslims not to follow the May 23 sighting of the moon and to complete a 30-day Ramazan to observe Eid on Monday. He alleged that Mufti Muneeb, with the help of the Ministry of Science and Technology, spoiled the last fasting day of Ramazan by announcing sighting of the moon over “doubtful” evidence “just in a bid to celebrate Eid simultaneously with Saudi Arabia”.

At least the clerics mentioned above were reported to have led Eid prayers on Monday morning after they and their followers fasted on Sunday when the rest of the country was celebrating Eid.

According to our Faisalabad correspondent, people who visited the Jamia Rizvia Masjid in Jhang Bazaar on Sunday were told that Eid prayers will be held on Monday.

Published in Dawn, May 27th, 2020