New Ruet-i-Hilal Committee Chairman Maulana Abdul Khabir.
New Ruet-i-Hilal Committee Chairman Maulana Abdul Khabir.

ISLAMABAD: New Ruet-i-Hilal Committee Chairman Maulana Abdul Khabir on Thursday expressed his willingness to use scientific knowledge in moon sighting within the limits of Shariah in order to end repeated controversies surrounding religious festivals such as Eids.

His remarks came during a meeting with Minister of Science and Technology Fawad Chaudhry. The minister informed him that observatories were being set up in Islamabad for sighting of the moon.

The locations of the observatories have been identified and their approval has been sought from the Capital Development Authority (CDA), he added. Maulana Khabir was briefed on efforts of the ministry in this regard.

He was told that the observatories were the result of efforts made by the minister for science with the help of which the sighting of the moon would be facilitated and a unanimous decision would be possible.

Minister tells Maulana Khabir that observatories are being set up in Islamabad for sighting of moon to end controversies over Islamic events

“In this modern age, every problem has been solved with the help of scientific knowledge and only nations that use science are making progress. Islam and science are not contradictory but the importance of knowledge in Islam distinguishes it from other religions,” the minister said.

He assured Maulana Khabir of full cooperation from his ministry in sighting of the moon. He said his office would support the committee in order to reach consensus regarding the sighting of the moon with the help of science.

In the past, the Ruit-i-Hilal Committee had opposed Ministry of Science and Technology’s offers to use scientific evidence to announce events of Islamic importance. To end controversies surrounding religious events, the ministry also developed a lunar calendar which contains all the dates of Islamic events in Pakistan, including Ramazan, Eidul Fitr, Eidul Azha and Muharram for the next five years.

Minister of Science and Technology Fawad Chaudhry.
Minister of Science and Technology Fawad Chaudhry.

But the committee opposed any assistance from the ministry, cautioning Mr Chaudhry not to interfere in matters he did not understand.

Nonetheless, Maulana Khabir showed inclination to cooperate with the Ministry of Science and Technology in line with references and teachings from the Quran and Hadis.

He also asked the federal minister to make every effort to take Mufti Shahabuddin Popalzai of Peshawar’s Qasim Ali Khan Mosque on board in order to reach a consensus on moon sighting that would end controversies over important Islamic events.

Mufti Popalzai had also been opposed to recommendations to use science and latest technologies to sight moon that mark religious events.

Maulana Khabir said he would also like to bring the entire Ruet-i-Hilal Committee members on a visit to the Ministry of Science and Technology to brief them on the importance of scientific research and how it could benefit all those concerned in the future.

Officials on the occasion also demonstrated how an application developed by the ministry for moon sighting worked.

Published in Dawn, January 8th, 2021

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