The Ruet-i-Hilal Committee announced on Tuesday evening that the Ramazan moon has been sighted and the first of the holy month will fall on Wednesday (tomorrow).
Addressing a press conference after a meeting of the committee in Peshawar, Central Ruet-i-Hilal Committee chairman Maulana Abdul Khabir Azad said the crescent was sighted in Karachi, Lahore, Malakand and other areas.
"The first day of fasting in Ramazan will be tomorrow, April 14, Wednesday," he said, adding that crowds in various areas of the country had spotted the moon.
The unprecedented meeting of the Ruet-i-Hilal Committee was held in Peshawar after a gap of 17 years in order to develop consensus about the start of Ramazan across the country the same day and ensure that no complaints about the sighting of the crescent were received.
Maulana Azad had told a presser last week that Mufti Shahabuddin Popalzai, who heads the local unofficial moon-sighting committee at the historic Qasim Ali Khan Mosque in Peshawar, would extend full cooperation to the central Ruet body.
Although Popalzai still headed a separate meeting of his unofficial committee today, he too announced that the first Ramazan will be on Wednesday.
Popalzai said his mosque had received 18 moon-sighting testimonies from Nowshera, 70 from Bannu and 15 from Mardan.
In his remarks today, Maulana Azad said the moon-sighting announcement made from Peshawar had sent a "message of unity" for the country, adding that the committee had held meetings with ulemas from across Pakistan to create consensus for three months.
"It is a moment of blessing that the entire nation will fast together," the Ruet committee chairman said.
In other countries, Muslims began marking Ramazan on Tuesday with communal prayers in a socially distanced contrast to the empty mosques of a year ago when the holy month coincided with the start of the coronavirus pandemic.
Covid-19 cases are spiking in Indonesia, the world’s most populous Muslim nation, but vaccines are being administered and the government is loosening restrictions. Mosques were allowed to open for Ramazan prayers with strict health protocols in place, and with malls and cafes open, passers-by could again see curtains shielding the sight of food from people fasting.
Neighbouring Muslim-majority Malaysia also eased its restrictions, including last year’s ban on Taraweeh and allowing popular open-air bazaars selling food, drinks and clothes.