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May 22, 2019

Moon-sighting controversy: PHC seeks reply from Mufti Muneeb, federal govt


May 22, 2019

PESHAWAR: The Peshawar High Court (PHC) on Tuesday sought reply from Mufti Muneebur Rehman, chairman Central Ruet-e-Hilal Committee and the federal government in a writ petition seeking direction to dissolve the committee for causing 24 hours delay in announcement of sighting of the Ramazan moon.

A division bench comprising Chief Justice Waqar Ahmad Seth and Justice Abdul Shakoor issued notice to Mufti Muneebur Rehman and the federal government through Secretary, Ministry of Religious Affairs. They were directed to submit reply before May 30, 2019.

During the course of arguments, the bench observed that the respondents should first submit replies to the petition and then the court would consider issuing restraining order. However, the bench assured the petitioner that the court would pass an order before Eidul Fitr about the moon-sighting issue as sought by him.

The court issued notice in the petition filed by Shahid Orakzai, a former journalist who has been raising issues of public interest in the courts. The petitioner had questioned the official declaration of the Central Ruet-e-Hilal Committee about the start of the month of Ramazan and challenged its Quranic knowhow for regulating the Hijri calendar.

A special note was also given in the petition which noted that the petition involves a serious breach of the state religion wherein majority of the Muslim citizens did commit a lapse in relation to their duty in Ramazan, primarily due to the self-centered and ego-centric chairman of the committee.

About the facts of the case, it was submitted that the respondent chairman has once again plunged the country into religious controversy by delaying the start of the fasting month of Ramazan for 24 hours. It said that for all practical purposes the unaccounted 24 hours shall remain part of the month of Ramazan.

"These 24 hours cannot be washed away by any means or switched to another month. That is not physically possible in the lunar calendar followed by Aale-Ebrahim and Banu Esra Ell," the petitioner explained. He argued that the high court may ask the respondent chairman if he is willing to correct and re-adjust the Islamic calendar on the basis of the full moon to occur later this month.

The petition explained that by the Quran, the lunar calendar is to be regulated and corrected every month on the basis of the full moon. "The petition shall not concern the professional rivalry among the clerics and religious scorn about Ramazan between them over the past few decades. Both the Committee and its rivals in this province essentially apply the same method. The petitioner shall elaborate the basics of the lunar calendar exclusively from the Holy Quran," Shahid Orakzai argued.

The petitioner noted that Mufti Muneebur Rehman does not rely on any scientific equipment for determining the length of any lunar month nor has he anything to do with any lunar calendar being drawn by the federal government.

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