Ending controversy: Draft law seeks to end moon sighting dispute

Religious affairs minister tells Senate his ministry has sent bill to law ministry

Obaid Abbasi June 09, 2016

ISLAMABAD: The government has finalised draft legislation to end the perennial controversy over moon-sighting and the conflicting announcements for start of the fasting month of Ramazan and the eventual celebration of Eidul Fitr.

The Minister for Religious Affairs Sardar Muhammad Yousaf informed the Senate on Tuesday that after much brainstorming his ministry has finalised the draft to make legislation in order to streamline the process of moon-sighting.

Yousaf said the draft has been forwarded to the law ministry, which has raised objection that moon-sighting is a provincial matter and the federal government is required at least pass a resolution from any provincial assembly to empower the federal government over the issue.

The conflict over the onset of Ramazan and Eid day usually begins in the Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa (K-P) especially from Masjid Qasim Khan, where evidence of sighting of moon for Ramazan and Shawwal often contradicts the findings of the Central Ruet-e-Hilal Committee (RHC).

However, this year the government has succeeded in ensuring unanimous announcement of Ramazan across the country.

The minister shared these details in response to the Senate Chairman Raza Rabbani, who said in many countries the first Ramazan was observed on June 6 but in Pakistan, start of the Islamic month was announced a day later.

Yousaf said that RHC’s meeting was held on June 6 which collected evidence from across the country.

Talking to The Express Tribune, Sardar Muhammad Yousaf said the new draft will help in resolving the old controversy. He said that under the proposed draft, the RHC will not be dissolved and will continue to function but its role will be confined.

The minister said scientific methods would be used for the moon-sighting and more input will be obtained from meteorologists and astrologists. “The draft will be presented in parliament after the K-P or any other assembly passes a resolution in favour of the issue,” he added.

Published in The Express Tribune, June 9th, 2016.


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