SHABAQADAR: A bifurcated Eid in the country sharpened ethnic and religious conflicts, creating a widespread debate over the two moon-sighting committees, who refused to accept the authenticity of each other’s prognosis about the simple task of observing moon crescents.
Need for harmony
Maulana Muhammad Yusuf is a leading local religious scholar. Like many others, he also believes in religious tolerance and sectarian harmony.
“I was very happy when the Central Ruet-e-Hilal Committee announced sighting the Ramazan moon in line with other Muslim countries. But I am upset over observing two Eids in Pakistan. Religious tolerance and unity is needed now more than ever.”
He said that he had hoped that Eidul Fitr would be celebrated uniformly all over the country but was disappointed when the Central Ruet-e-Hilal Committee refused to accept moon sighting testimonies from Khyber Pakhtunkhwa.
According to Maulana Yusuf, people were upset over the two Eids in Pakistan.
Eid was celebrated on Friday in most parts of the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa – between Bannu and Swabi and Bajaur and Waziristan – with the countries in the Middle East by fasting for 29 days while the day was celebrated on Saturday elsewhere in Pakistan with 30 days of fasting.
Member of Peshawar Zonal Committee and former provincial minister Hafiz Hashmat criticized the Central Ruet-e-Hilal Committee’s performance, accusing its chief Mufti Muneebur Rehman of deliberately refusing to accept moon-sighting testimonies from Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and opting to announce celebrating Eidul Fitr elsewhere in Pakistan on Saturday instead of Friday.
Prof Saifullah Khalil of the University of Peshawar told this correspondent that at least seven testimonies were received by the K-P’s Zonal Committee, which were forwarded to the central committee.
But, he maintained, the central committee did not respond, and asked why the zonal committee, assisted by khateebs from all districts in the province, celebrated Eid on Friday against the central committee’s decision.
Commenting on the moon-sighting committee set up in the Masjid Qasim Ali Khan, he said that it was a “private committee”, but the K-P’s zonal committee, which held its meeting in the Auqaf Plaza on Charsadda Road, had some of its members on the committee in the Masjid Qasim Ali Khan.
According to him, they were also tasked with monitoring the performance of the committee in the Masjid Qasim Ali Khan.
People in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa are venting their grievances over social media and micro-blogging sites such as Twitter.
Social media activists have made #TeamPopulzai a popular trend, expressing concern over two different Eids in the country, insisting that the nation needed unity and religious harmony.
Social media activists also criticized the Central Ruet-e-Hilal Committee, saying that it had created a split in Islamic calendar. Some shared an old news clipping showing that then NWFP (Now K-P) celebrated Eid a day before the other areas in the former East and West Pakistan, saying it was an old dispute that should now be resolved.
At the same time there are those who questioned the legality of a private moon-sighting committee, wondering how could a private committee exist in the country in the presence of a state-sanctioned committee?
When the same question was asked, Prof Khalil insisted that there was no concept of a ruet committee in the Islamic Shariah, adding that there was also no constitutional obligation for such a committee.
Urging the federal government to dissolve the central committee, he said that observing the moon sighting should be left at the discretion of local committees without wasting any money over this issue.
Although he said that modern technology and techniques should be used for sighting moon, he insisted that the country should observe Ramazan and Eids in conformity with Saudi Arabia.