PESHAWAR / ISLAMABAD: While the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa government decided to celebrate Eidul Fitr on Monday (today) following the announcement by an unofficial moon-sighting committee, the Central Ruet-i-Hilal Committee declared that the festivity would be celebrated on Tuesday (tomorrow) as the Shawwal moon was not sighted anywhere in the country.
Central Ruet-i-Hilal Committee chairman Maulana Abdul Khabeer Azad, while announcing the decision at a press conference on Sunday after a meeting of the panel comprising clerics belonging to all the four mainstream sects in the country, said: “The sky has been largely clear across the country, yet no authentic testimony of the moon being sighted was received and, therefore, it was agreed with consensus that Eidul Fitr will be on May 3.”
Maulana Azad said it was the committee’s effort to further strengthen itself as a platform for “unity” and spread that message to households. He said the announcement had been made by the ulema with the responsibility bestowed upon them and the last fast of Ramazan this year would be observed on Monday.
He said the central committee was aided by zonal Ruet-i-Hilal committees which held their meetings simultaneously in Karachi, Quetta, Peshawar and Lahore.
Soon after the announcement aired live by the state and private TV channels, the Ministry of Religious Affairs notified the central committee’s decision to celebrate Eid on Tuesday.
Meanwhile, an unofficial Ruet-i-Hilal committee headed by Mufti Shahabuddin Popalzai announced that Eidul Fitr would be celebrated in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa on Monday (today).
The announcement was made following a meeting of the local committee held at the historic Qasim Ali Khan Mosque in Peshawar after Maghrib prayers.
“We have received as many as 16 witnesses from Peshawar and its peripheries who have seen the Shawwal moon,” Mufti Popalzai announced in the jam-packed mosque.
He said the committee had received evidence about moon sighting on phone from local committees in other districts, including Bajaur, Mohmand, Dir, South and North Waziristan and other areas. “We have also received information about moon sighting from parts of Sindh and Balochistan provinces,” he claimed.
Separate announcements about moon sighting were also made from mosques in Charsadda, Bannu and other districts.
Soon after the announcement, the KP government decided to celebrate Eid on Monday (today). It said KP Chief Minister Mahmood Khan will perform Eid prayers at the Governor House along with his cabinet members and government officials.
It may be pointed out that Imran Khan-led PTI government at the centre had in an attempt to address divisiveness caused in society by the announcement of sighting of moon by ulema representing different schools of thought had stressed the need for using technology to settle the issue. Obviously, the purpose was to celebrate Eid the same day all across the country.
Media reports had in May 2020 quoted then science and technology minister Fawad Chaudhry as saying that Islam encouraged its followers to acquire knowledge, adopt technology and apply logic. He said it was the government’s intention to settle the controversy surrounding moon sighting for Eidul Fitr and for this purpose a committee of experts such as space scientists and mathematicians, officials of the Meteorology Department and ulema had been formed.
The official zonal Ruet-i-Hilal committee’s meeting was held at Auqaf Hall in Peshawar, which was chaired by Qari Abdur Rauf Madani. Talking to the media, Mr Madani said they had information about the moon sighting but no witness approached the committee in this regard.
Meanwhile, the Shawwal moon has been sighted in several countries of the Middle East, including Saudi Arabia and Oman, and Eid will be celebrated there on Monday. However, the Markazi Chand Committee of India announced that Eid would be celebrated on Tuesday as the Shawwal moon was not sighted in the country.
Eid was celebrated in Afghanistan on Sunday.
Mohammad Sadaqat in Haripur also contributed to this report
Published in Dawn, May 2nd, 2022