PESHAWAR: The moon sighting controversy took a dramatic turn on Saturday night when the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa government announced Eidul Fitr today (Sunday) in contravention to the Central Ruet-i-Hilal Committee’s decision that the Shawaal moon has not been sighted in any part of the country.
The official Zonal Ruet-i-Hilal Committee of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and the private committee of religious scholars in Peshawar’s historic Qasim Ali Khan Mosque announced Eid today, saying they had credible evidence of moon sighting.
Later, the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa government endorsed the decision and senior provincial minister Bashir Ahmad Bilour reached the Qasim Ali Khan Mosque in Qissa Khwani Bazaar to announce the decision.
“Today, once again the Central Ruet-i-Hilal Committee showed that they do not accept our evidence. Our committees received 23 testimonies and I, on behalf of the provincial government and chief minister, announce that we will celebrate Eid on Sunday,” Bashir Ahmad Bilour said while talking to the media at the Qasim Ali Khan Mosque.
He said the ANP-led provincial government represented the masses, therefore it decided to celebrate this most important religious festival along with the people. “When they do not accept our moon-sighting evidence why should we accept their decision,” Bashir Bilour remarked while referring to the Central Ruet-i-Hilal Committee headed by Mufti Munibur Rahman.
Mufti Munibur Rahman had earlier announced in Karachi that the Shawal had not been sighted anywhere in Pakistan and thus Eidul Fitr would be celebrated on Monday.
However, in Peshawar the official Zonal Ruet-i-Hilal Committee, which is affiliated to the central committee of Mufti Munibur Rahman, complained that the Central Ruet-i-Hilal Committtee quickly ended its meeting in Karachi without waiting for evidence of moon-sighting from Peshawar and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa.
“We have received evidence and information regarding the Shawal moon-sighting from Malakand, Karak, Bannu, Mardan and the Regi area of Peshawar and were receiving more information but the central committee did not wait for us,” said the Zonal Ruet-i-Hilal Committee member, Maulana Ihsanul Haq, while talking to the media.
He said: “The zonal committee discussed the issue with KP Minister for Religious Affairs Namroz Khan and told him to request Chief Minister Ameer Haider Hoti to announce Eidul Fitr at the provincial level on Sunday”. He added: “We are satisfied with the testimonies received by Ulema at Qasim Ali Khan Mosque as it is according to Shariah.”
Other members of the zonal committee, Hafiz Abdul Ghafoor and Mufti Habibur Rahman, held similar views and felt the central committee should have waited for evidence from Peshawar before ending its meeting and making a decision about moon-sighting.
The unofficial moon-sighting committee led by Mufti Shahabuddin Popalzai operating in Peshawar for years held its meeting at the Qasim Ali Khan mosque and received evidence.
Mufti Shahabuddin Popalzai later announced that the Shawal moon had been sighted at several places in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa. He said he and his colleagues had received 23 testimonies, including one from a woman, about the Shawal moon-sighting. “Ulema in our committee heard the testimonies and examined the evidence in the light of Shariah,” he stated.
“We are satisfied that the Shawwal moon has been sighted and Eidul Fitr would be celebrated on Sunday,” he announced to a large number of waiting reporters and many other people who had converged at the mosque. To a question, Mufti Popalzai said the Central Reut Hilal Committee should review its decision.
Among those who sighted the Shawal moon was Maulana Abdul Jalil Jan, a leader of Maulana Fazlur Rahman’s JUI-F.
He said he and some male and female members of his family had sighted the moon in Peshawar and also gave evidence to the Ulema about it at Qasim Ali Khan Mosque. He said the moon had also been sighted in the southern districts such as Kohat, Karak, Bannu, etc.
Meanwhile, the local Ruet-i-Hilal committee of Mardan led by Hafiz Hussain Ahmad that convened its meeting in the Mohib Baba Mosque also announced that it had received 15 testimonies of Shawwal moon-sighting. Jamiat Ulema-i-Afghan, a body of the Ulema in Charsadda district, also announced Eid on Sunday.
Local Ulema in Bannu, Swabi and Kohat also announced Eidul Fitr on Sunday. Eid will also be observed in Khyber, Bajaur Mohmand tribal agencies today.
Interestingly, people in North Waziristan and some parts of tehsil Shabqadar in Charsadda district celebrated Eid on Saturday. Qari Muhammad Roman, a local cleric of North Waziristan, while talking to the media stated: “We received seven credible testimonies of Shawwal moon-sighting in North Waziristan and had therefore decided to celebrate Eid on Saturday”. He said people in North Waziristan again sighted the Shawwal moon on Saturday.
It merits mentioning that last year Eidul Fitr was celebrated on the same day across the country.
However, in previous years the nation remained divided on the issue as Eidul Fitr was observed on two and sometimes even three different days. This year too Eidul Fitr would be celebrated on three different days considering the fact that the faithful in North Waziristan observed Eid on Saturday.
Afghan refugees residing in camps and different parts of the province will also celebrate Eidul Fitr today.
However, the people of Hazara and Malakand divisions in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa normally follow the decision of the Central Ruet-i-Hilal Committee.
APP adds: The Shawwal moon has not been sighted and Eidul Fitr will be celebrated on Monday. This was announced by Central Ruet-i-Hilal Committee Chairman Mufti Munibur Rehman in Karachi.
He presided over a meeting of the Central Ruet-i-Hilal Committee which was held here at the Met Complex to decide about the sighting or otherwise of the Shawwal moon.
The meetings of the Zonal Ruet-i-Hilal committees were held at their respective headquarters. Mufti Munib announced that no evidence was received from anywhere in the country regarding the sighting of the Shawwal moon. “Therefore, it was unanimously decided that Eidul Fitr will be celebrated on Monday,” he added.