Federal Minister for Science and Technology Fawad Chaudhry on Monday hit out at the country’s clerics for trying to detach science from religion, saying that they must employ “common sense” when it comes to sighting the moon.
“It is sad to see how our religious scholars have come out deeming science to have nothing to do with moon sighting,” he said in a press briefing in Islamabad.
He said Muslims were pioneers in scientific research in various fields, adding that “the Islamic faith compels us to seek knowledge and apply it where ever possible”.
The federal minister said the moon for Eidul Fitr had been sighted at 3:02pm, adding that the altitude of today’s moon was one per cent with its luminosity recorded at 0.1 per cent.
“You see the sun and moon are both moving in their own cycles and it is imperative to documents their movements,” he said.
“What about countries where the sun and moon don’t come out for days… should we just say that there’s no Eid or Ramazan in these situations,” Chaudhry added.
The minister said Islam was for the entire world not just Pakistan or a certain region.
“We are recording all of this but does that mean we can see the moon, because the time the sun and moon set happens to coincide, so the moon can’t clearly be seen,” he said.
Chaudhry said that the moon will be visible to all on Tuesday with those at the coastal regions of Karachi and Gwadar being even able to see it with the naked eye.
The federal minister shared that the meteorological department had opened all of its observatories for the general public so they could catch a glimpse of the moon.
The details, he added, had been shared on social media with addresses of closest observatories given.
Chaudhry had earlier said that in his opinion Pakistan could do away with the traditional moon sighting methods used by the Ruet-e-Hilal Committee to end the moon sighting controversy on all important Islamic festivals.
The National Assembly was informed that an amount of Rs3.06 million was spent on the sighting of the moon for Muharram, Ramazan, Eidul Fitr and Eidul Azha in 2018.
On May 31, the federal minister rolled out the country’s first moonsighting website as well as a mobile application to help understand the different cycles of the moon.
However, the ministry’s efforts to modernise the moon-sighting process have not been well received by all clerics and a last-minute change in the date for Eidul Fitr cannot be ruled out.