ISLAMABAD: In a bid to avoid another controversy about sighting of Shawwal’s moon and conflicting announcements of Eid, the Ministry of Religious Affairs has decided to organise meeting of central moon-sighting committee in Peshawar.
According to a notification issued by the ministry, a meeting of central Ruet-e-Hilal committee is scheduled to be held on Sunday, June 25, in the office of the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa’s (K-P) Administrator (Auqaf) at Eidgah area of Peshawar’s Charsadda Road. The meetings of zonal and district Ruet committees will be held at their respective headquarters simultaneously.
On Tuesday, Federal Minister for Religious Affairs Sardar Muhammad Yousaf also told the Senate Standing Committee on Religious Affairs that efforts were under way to invite to the central committee meeting one of the members of the unofficial Ruet panel run by Mufti Shahabuddin Popalzai of Peshawar’s Masjid Qasim Khan.
“The move aims at putting an end to the moon sighting controversy in the country and celebration of Eidul Fitr on different dates,” he said.
Yousaf said one of the muftis had proposed that the ministry should consider Makkah as centre for moon-sighting to end this controversy for good. However, all members of the senate panel opposed the proposal and showed displeasure over the suggestion, which they said, was against Sharia.
Some members of the parliamentary panel also suggested taking up the moon-sighting issue with the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) to pave way for simultaneous beginning of Islamic months, which depend on lunar calendar, across the world.
However, the committee’s chairman Senator Hafiz Hamdullah said it was not possible.
“Several times this issue has been discussed with high-profile religious scholars but still we are unable to resolve it due to lack of consensus among scholars,” he added.
Hamdullah also said the central Ruet committee had no legal or constitutional status.
“Therefore, the Ministry of Religious Affairs should soon resolve this issue and finalise names of the committee members to be approved by the Prime Minister of Pakistan,” he added.
Senator Raja Zafarul Haq also confirmed that the proposal to have a universal moon-sighting mechanism was once discussed at the OIC but could not be resolved. “If Makkah is made centre for moon-sighting then there are chances that Iran and Qatar would refuse to agree on this,” he added.
Minister of State for Religious Affair Pir Muhammad Amin Ul Hasnat Shah also disagreed with the suggestion. “We start our holy month and celebrate our religious festival, Eidul Fitr, based on the sighting of new moon. Therefore it is impossible to do this,” he said.
Haj Policy 2017
Briefing the parliamentary panel on the Hajj Policy 2017, Yousaf said this year around 197 people of over 90 years of age will perform Hajj. “27 of these 197 people are over 100-year-old,” he added.
Commenting on this, the committee’s chairman said the panel suggests that people above the age of 85 should not be allowed to perform Hajj.