PESHAWAR: With Ramazan just around the corner, a lawyer has moved the court to ban ‘private moon-sighting committees’ in a bid to end the confusion on the sighting of the moon for when the month would start and end.
Senior lawyer Muhammad Khurshid filed on Friday a writ petition in the Peshawar High Court (PHC) arguing that these committees had divided the people of the province and have put them in great distress since they can no longer decide which cleric is right and who is wrong.
“In any Islamic state, the right of announcement for moon sighting for Eid and Ramazan is the authority of the state,” the petitioner stated.
“Here, there are dozens of local committees and each is headed by a religious cleric who openly violates the state’s order and has divided the naive masses,” Khurshid stated in his petition.
He listed the central Ruet-e-Hilal committee, the federal government, Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa government, the Jamia Dar al-Ulum Haqqania in Nowshera, Madrasa Khadija-Tul-Kubra in Mardan as the respondents in the case.
The court was told that almost entire country is following the announcement of the central Ruet-e- Hilal Committee, however, Khurshid said, some clerics based in Peshawar, Charssada and Mardan had always opposed the central committee and made their own announcements.
He added that this continues despite the fact that such clerics do not use modern tools for moon sighting, nor are they moon sighting experts.
“Due to their mutual opposition to each other, every year, Eid and Ramazan are observed on different days in the same province and even such auspicious Islamic tradition has been made controversial,” Khurshid contended.
He went on to add that there has been tremendous progress in science and technology but clerics still believe in sighting the moon through centuries-old methods which no one in the world would be ready to accept except for the poor public of the province.
The petitioner further argued that when the state has constituted a committee for this purpose, there was no need for any other committee and that it was the responsibility of the state to ensure the implementation of its rules and laws.
“They have divided Muslims of the same area in different groups, which the country cannot afford in the conditions through its passing,” the petitioner argued. Due to wrong policies and lack of power to impose its authority, it is only the poor of the country are facing the consequences.”
The petitioner urged the court to intervene and impose a permanent ban on private moon sighting committees.
Published in The Express Tribune, May 12th, 2018.