Man of science included in moon-sighting body

Science and Technology Minister Fawad Chaudhry calls the move a step in the right direction

Waqas Ahmed April 22, 2020
Science and Technology Minister Fawad Chaudhry calls the move a step in the right direction. PHOTO: EXPRESS/FILE

ISLAMABAD: The national body tasked with the moon-sighting mission on Wednesday appointed a member from the science and technology ministry in its committee for the ‘first time in history’.

The Central Ruet-e-Hilal Committee, dominated by religious experts, takes decisions on moon sighting owing to which Ramazan and Eid in Pakistan are celebrated across the country. It is pertinent to mention that the committee insists on sighting the moon by telescope.

In recent times, the committee and the science ministry has been debating over the methods of the moon-sighting while the former insisting on “Shahdats” and the latter demanding of the authority to adopt scientific methods.

“Dr Tariq Masood, Joint Secretary M/O Science & Technology is appointed as member (technical expert) in the Central Ruet-e-Hilal Committee with immediate effect until further orders,” according to a notification issued by the Ministry of Religious Affairs and Interfaith Harmony.

Reacting to the development, Federal Minister for Science and Technology Fawad Chaudhry said it is a step in the right direction.

“For the first time in the history of Pakistan, the Ministry of Science and Technology has been included in the Ruet-e-Hilal Committee,” he said in a tweet while sharing the official notification.

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Chaudhry said: “This is a step in the right direction. Religious events are based on unity and blessings and we want to move forward with the same sentiments.”

The development comes a day before the committee is set to be convened to sight the moon for the holy month of Ramazan.

Earlier this month, the science minister had said the Ramazan moon will be sighted on April 24 as per the lunar calendar, marking the first fast of the holy month on April 25. Chaudhry said there had been a plan to gather people for the moon sighting. However, it has been called off owing to the novel coronavirus pandemic.

The Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf government has been making efforts to bring all stakeholders on the same page for the moon-sighting. Chaudhry and scholar Tahir Ashrafi in March invited ulema for an interactive briefing on scientific means of sighting the moon.

“This is nothing personal but a national issue. We appreciate ulema, who have approved the scientific method. We urge members rejecting modern methods of moon-sighting to give us a chance to explain how the scientific approach works,” Chaudhry had said at a press briefing.

He said: “Stubbornness will create divisions. Science is advancing with leaps and bounds. It is the duty of the Council of Islamic Ideology to resolve this dispute representing futuristic thinking.”

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