New Ruet-i-Hilal Committee Chairman Maulana Abdul Khabir on Thursday expressed his willingness to use scientific knowledge in moon sighting within the limits of Shariah in order to end repeated controversies surrounding religious festivals such as Eids.
His remarks came during a meeting with the Minister of Science and Technology Fawad Chaudhry. The minister informed him that observatories were being set up in Islamabad for the sighting of the moon.
The locations of the observatories have been identified and their approval has been sought from the Capital Development Authority (CDA), he added. Maulana Khabir was briefed on efforts of the ministry in this regard.
He was told that the observatories were the result of efforts made by the minister for science with the help of which the sighting of the moon would be facilitated and a unanimous decision would be possible.
“In this modern age, every problem has been solved with the help of scientific knowledge and only nations that use science are making progress. Islam and science are not contradictory but the importance of knowledge in Islam distinguishes it from other religions,” the minister said.
In the past, the Ruit-i-Hilal Committee had opposed Ministry of Science and Technology’s offers to use scientific evidence to announce events of Islamic importance. To end controversies surrounding religious events, the ministry also developed a lunar calendar which contains all the dates of Islamic events in Pakistan, including Ramazan, Eidul Fitr, Eidul Azha and Muharram for the next five years.
Pakistan has a Ruet-e-Hilal (moon-sighting) committee comprising various religious scholars. The body formed in 1974 was tasked with announcing religious holidays based on witnesses across the country who had sighted the moon.
However, over the years a cleric based in Peshawar, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, began opposing the committee by announcing the start of Ramadan and Eid a day earlier.
In 2019, the Qasim Ali Khan Mosque committee, a Peshawar-based group of clerics, announced the start of Ramadan on May 6, while the rest of the country observed it on May 7.
Fawad Ch is nobody, says Mufti Muneeb
Former Chairman of the committee Mufti Muneeb-ur-Rehman earlier slammed Fawad for interfering in others’ matters. Talking to the media after announcing the sighting of the Shawwal, he said that “Fawad Hussain Chaudhry is just nobody”. Mufti Muneeb said that Prime Minister Imran Khan should take notice of Fawad Chaudhry’s interference in affairs of the Ruet Committee.
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He said that Fawad Chaudhry has his own deprivations and frustrations. Mufti also condemned Fawad Chaudhry’s interference in Sharia-related matters. He asked Fawad Chaudhry to tell the nation on oath how many prayers he offered and how many times he had been on fasting in the holy month of Ramazan. He also demanded that there should be a ban on Fawad Chaudhry and he should not be allowed to interfere in the affairs of other departments. There was an outrage on social media after he made these comments – condemning him for speculating on another person’s religious practices. d he should not interfere in affairs of the Ruet Committee”.