Divided we celebrate

Published: June 5, 2019

As almost always, we remain divided in celebrating Eid this year too. Like previous years, Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa celebrated the biggest Muslim festival a day ahead of the whole country. So while there were Eid-ul-Fitr celebrations in K-P, the rest of the country was fasting — nothing unusual though. In a sort of first, however, this year, Eid was celebrated in K-P at official level, following the Prime Minister’s nod. The provincial information minister made a formal announcement on behalf of the government that Eid would be celebrated across the province on Tuesday, and the chief minister of the province as well as the governor announced attending Eid prayers in the provincial capital the same day.

At the heart of the moon-sighting controversy lies the enduring disagreement between the Central Ruet-e-Hilal Committee, led by Mufti Muneeb-ur-Rehman, and the unofficial moon-sighting committee at Peshawar’s Masjid Qasim Ali Khan, led by Mufti Shahabuddin Popalzai. While the two sides have never ceased to follow divergent paths on the moon-sighting issue, this year the Federal Minister for Science and Technology, Fawad Chaudhry, took a commendable initiative to end the long-persisting controversy amicably. The minister took the tech route to crack the puzzle, coming up with a lunar calendar to predict the Eid date for the coming five years according to which the festival this year is to fall on Wednesday, June 5, ‘without any doubt’.

However, the third option floated by the science and technology minister to sight the Shawwal moon failed to gain traction among the general public. The controversy, thus, refuses to go. For years and years now, the riddle has remained insoluble and looks more like a matter of egos, given the technological solution that is readily available in this high-tech magic age. That technology has long been in use in many countries of the world — in this region too — for devising the lunar calendar for the next very many years only speaks of the lack of focus as well as will on the part of our government to get rid of the crescent controversy.

Published in The Express Tribune, June 5th, 2019.

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