The caesarian moon

Why can’t we avoid such fiascos?

And so here we go again, yet another moon sighting fiasco, while a fatigued populace waited for a group of men to decide if the new moon had been seen or not.

The Ruet e Hilal Committee (RHC) took its time, its members no doubt milking their moment of power for all it was worth; it was almost midnight before they ended their ‘deliberations’ and declared the moon had been sighted and it would be Eid the following day.  Sehri was hastily exchanged for sheer khurma, and in many homes people woke up to fast only to find that it was Eid that day.

It’s time we stopped making a mockery of religion. That has to be the real blasphemy, when religion and its prominent figures are made into a laughing stock by its own people. When will we learn to respect Islam and allow it to be what it is, a manual for life and a set of beliefs that allows us to grow as persons and progress as nations? Islam is a religion that lays stress on education and rational thought, research and enquiry. That is something we fail to recognize

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One of the many memes on the subject said the new moon was not a normal delivery. They’re right, it wasn’t. Leave it to the clergy to make a laughing stock of religion.

One of the biggest factors this exposes is that if the authorities are unable to handle even such a trivial thing as moon-sighting, no wonder the country is in the state it is. Mr. Fawad Chaudhry obviously prefers  if technology were to take over, as would most rational persons, yet the fact that technology and science cannot seem to do so thanks to the country’s right wing battalion  also shows how utterly helpless the authorities are in the face of right wingers. You can see why it is that groups such as the TLP, the TTP and the ASWJ and others are so out of control.

The Head of the Ruet e Hilal Committee Maulana Azad said  “We are engaged with clerics of all schools of thought and various groups, involving them in the process.” This newspaper reported that earlier, in an attempt to ensure that Eidul Fitr is celebrated the same day across the country this year, RHC members had approached and tried to persuade the clerics who have publicly opposed the announcement related to Shawwal moon-sighting by the national body (RHC) in the past. While separately, in Peshawar, the Qasim Ali Khan mosque’s Mufti Popalzai heads the local unofficial moon-sighting committee.

That is good of course, but why do we even need the RHC? Why can dates for Eid not be fixed years in advance?

Is it really un-Islamic to use technology and a fixed calendar in lieu of physically sighting the moon? Is science really incompatible with Islam?

Islamic history shows evidence of a productive relationship between faith and science. Muslim scientists took an early interest in astronomy, since keeping time accurately was important for the performance of the five daily prayers. They constructed astronomical tables specifically to determine the exact times of prayer for specific locations around the continent, serving effectively as an early system of time zones.

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In other words they did not try to check the position of the sun five times a day to determine the time for each prayer.

The world of science is full of names of Muslim scientists, Jabir ibn e Hayyan, Al Khwarizmi, Ibn e Sina, Ibn e Rushd and scores of others. So no, there is no dichotomy between science and Islam. The only rift is that which has been created by a clergy that seeks to ‘keep power unto itself.’

In the time of the Prophet Mohammad (PBUH) there was no other way of telling when a new month began except by sighting the new moon. It has now been more than a thousand years since and we have other ways of determining such things. Despite that, if one must stick to the way it was done in the Prophet’s (pbuh) time, why then are we trying to collect sighting information from all kinds of remote areas before declaring the month of Shawwal. How come we try to follow Saudi Arabor any other place? They could not do all this then. They had no phones in the Prophet’s (pbuh) time to relay messages to a central authority. If we must stay in the past, let’s do exactly what was done then and sight the moon in individual villages, separate sightings in Mozang, the different phases of DHA, Gulberg, etc etc and everyone celebrate Eid according to whether or not the new moon was seen in their neighbourhood. That is how it used to be.

It’s time we stopped making a mockery of religion. That has to be the real blasphemy, when religion and its prominent figures are made into a laughing stock by its own people. When will we learn to respect Islam and allow it to be what it is, a manual for life and a set of beliefs that allows us to grow as persons and progress as nations? Islam is a religion that lays stress on education and rational thought, research and enquiry. That is something we fail to recognize.

 

Rabia Ahmed
The writer is a freelance columnist. Read more by her at http://rabia-ahmed.blogspot.com/

2 COMMENTS

  1. There are no clerics in Islam.
    No clergy whatsover.
    Sheer ignorance by Muslims has broght us to the state where what is prohibited is now widely permitted.
    Small wonder that Islam stressed the need to educate one’s self and acquire knowledge at any cost. But a slavish mind will repulse common sense and abhors self acquired knowledge, and will remain pitifully reliant on the ignorant charlatans who lead them every which way but the straight path.
    There is no cure for wilful ignorance, or stupidity, that is why the graden path is littered with the bones of idiots.

  2. You’re perfectly right about the clergy. It has a nasty track record and it lived up to its name. That’s why it was frowned upon. But humans will always try to seize any opportunity to gain a one up

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