The frequent unpleasant, unfortunate and avoidable controversy of Moon Sighting

It is in the domain of  the religious scholars to decide what procedure and process is to be adopted to make sure that moon indicating the arrival of Eid-ul-Fitr is sighted or not.

I’m an ordinary Muslim and I find myself at my wit’s end when once in few years we encounter the same controversy, same confusion and same inconsistency of the decision maker. We find our Ulemas measuring swords against each other about a simple physical appearance. We fast and pray the whole month and I’m sure none of us wants to shorten the period of 30 days fast to 29 dys. We have had enough of food festivals in the holy month.

Our refrigerators were filled with Seher and Iftar essentials. We have had ensured the finest of Eid dresses that were ready on time, and we had occasionally thought of our poor relatives also arranging Iftars in mosques, social and political gatherings so that people must realize and accept our status in society. Allah has showered His bounties upon us and we are thankful to Allah Almighty for that. We think of poor sometimes in this month.

But one suspense that fails the imaginations of Ibne Safi, James Hadley Chase and Agatha Christi hangs like Domocle’s sword – Tomorrow there would be Eid or not?

For many of us the celebration of Eid al-Fitr should be tied to the sighting of the moon in each country and should not be linked with the celebration of Eid al-Fitr in Saudi Arabia. It is Moon Sightingone issue where there is emphasis upon the disunity as the time difference is vital. But there should be unity in every country until and unless is too large like a continent. Between the cities and town situated in the neighboring provinces there should be no differences.

What does the Muslim unity mean? It means that all Muslims should treat each other with brotherly sympathy and affection and should not spread disorder and dissention among them. Nor should they invent new ideas foreign to the teachings of Quran and the Sunnah which may lead to division and conflict among Muslims.

We have evolved the idea of Central Ruet-i-Hilal Committee (the official body for moon sighting and the authority which declares the official start of Islamic months) or some Moulana from Lucknow with their bloated egos but we always juggle with their ability or inability to see the moon. We blame the poor weather, the absence of evidence and some strange undecipherable politics of Moulanas and Ruet-i-Hilal Committee. It is pathetic that in modern times when the other races are conquering the journey of Moon we’re fighting about the sight of moon.

We, the Muslims, in all of our communities and sects are blessed with Scientific Scholars who can help us to reach upon a reasonable conclusion about the sighting of moon. Isn’t possible for our Ulemas to sit together with the scientific gentry and understand this moon business?? There are plenty of modern scientific tools that can help us resolve this issue.

If we shed our ego and meet with open mind and honest approach then it is not an issue at all. Science has no prejudice. It is based on proven facts. A section of Islamic scholars believe that seeing the moon with the naked eye should be the criterion for declaring the start of a new month. A smaller section advocates that we can rely solely on the calculations, and there is no need to visually see the moon. The official and unofficial moon sighting committees ask people to testify if they have seen the moon.

Today, astronomy can accurately establish the time of birth of the new moon with the accuracy of seconds, and its likelihood of being visible. So, what is the harm in using this astronomical basis to reject a claimed sighting which could not possibly be correct? Can’t we sit together – our Shia and Sunni Ulema with the Muslim’s Scientific Community before the final declaration of moon sight in evey specific region at least, and save ourselves from becoming the but of jokes before other advance people?

Naim Naqvi

Naim Naqvi

Did his graduation in Science discipline from AMU in 1972-73. He was Secretary of University Ali Society in 1970 and M.M. Hall Literary Society in early 70 's and member of Tayyabji Literary Society. Did his Diploma in Bakery Administration from HTT College Oxford Street London in 1987. Worked with National Herald - Delhi, Blitz - Bombay as Trainee Journalist and in Production Department with 'Naya Sansar Pictures' of Khwaja Ahmed Abbas at Bombay in early 70's. Traveled for study and training purposes to Germany, U.K., Switzerland, France, Dubai, Oman, AbuDhabi, Bahrain and Philepines.

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