Pakistan has angered its costly moon-sighting Ramadan committee

Pakistan has angered its costly moon-sighting Ramadan committee May 6, 2019

A SUGGESTION that scientists should be brought in to determine precisely when the Muslim month-long period of fasting – Ramadan – should begin has upset religious groups in Pakistan.

Image via YouTube

According to this report, Imran Khan’s government faces a clash with Islamic faith bodies because his Science and Technology Minister Fawad Chaudhry, above, said Pakistan would use scientists to predict when the Muslim fasting month of Ramadan starts, rather rely on clerics with telescopes.

Chaudhry said the new committee of astronomers and meteorologists would devise a 10-year calendar for the start of religious occasions that rely on a new moon.

He said the new committee would end annual disputes on whether the moon has been sighted.

Pakistan has this year again found itself split on whether or not a new moon had been sighted today (Monday) ushering in a month of dawn-to-dusk fasting.

The state-run moon-sighting committee declared the first day of the month should begin on Tuesday, while a notoriously dissenting cleric declared it was Monday.

The new five-person committee would include scientists from Pakistan’s space agency and its meteorological department, Chaudhry said.

This will end uncertainty about moon-sighting..

Islamic scholars disagree on whether the moon must be physically seen for Ramadan to begin.

Chaudhry’s plan provoked anger from the head of the moon-sighting committee, who said he already drew on scientific advice to make his annual declaration.

Image via YouTube

Mufti Munib-ur-Rehman, above,the chief of the central Ruet-e-Hilal Committee, accused Mr Chaudhry of being:

Unaware of religious matters. I have previously appealed to the premier to let speak only concerned minister on religious issues.

Chaudhry admitted the plan was likely to face opposition.

The calendar drawn up by the scientific committee would first have to be agreed by the federal government and he said no one would be forced to abide by it.

There’s also an important financial aspect to the row. Mullahs with telescopes don’t come cheap. Up to around  Rs4 million (£21,500)  are spent on the moon-sighting nonsense every year, and Chaudhry believes that the Ruet-e-Hilal committee should carry out the sighting voluntarily.

Where is the wisdom in spending Rs4 million on moon-sighting for Ramzan and Eid? At least the [Ruet-e-Hilal] committee should do it voluntarily. All around the world [the sighting] is done without remuneration.

The Minister said the national exchequer was incurring hefty expenses on the moon sighting, and that it was time to utilise science and technology for the practice.

He said “educated scholars are supporting my suggestion,” inferring that that clerics were greedy fools.

Muslims in Southeast Asian countries including Indonesia and Malaysia, and much of the Middle East, including Egypt, Iraq and Saudi Arabia, began their fast on Monday.

Millions more, however, in India, Pakistan and Iran, were due to mark the start of the lunar month on Tuesday based on moon sightings there.

Traditionally, countries announce if their moon-sighting council spots the Ramadan crescent the evening before fasting begins.

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  • Jim Jones

    Religion is science’s bitch.

  • CoastalMaineBird

    Moon-siting? As in where to put the moon ?

    Maybe that should be moon-sighting, as in spotting the moon.

    You’d think that if AllahJehovahGod thought it was soooo damn important to start on the exact right day, he/she/it would have made it a bit clearer.

    But no……. not that trickster.

  • Barry Duke

    Aaargh! Corrected now!

  • Michael Neville

    It’s obvious that if the religious “scholars” weren’t being paid for determining when the new moon is sighted, then their reluctance to have astronomers involved would be much less.

  • Jack the Sandwichmaker

    Gotta get this right! Wouldn’t want to accidentally anger Allah by starting your fasting one day late, or ending it one day early!

  • Glandu

    clerics (…/…) greedy fools

    need to say more?

  • Kit Hadley-Day

    wow, looks like religious grifters come from all over.

  • CoastalMaineBird

    Anybody else think that the picture of the ginger mufti looks like Woody Allen in a leprechaun suit?

  • Cozmo the Magician

    inferring that that clerics were greedy fools.” No? Really? Whodathunkit.

  • Brian Davis

    Chaudhry admitted the plan was likely to face opposition.

    He should know better than to challenge Big Moon.

  • Raymond Metcalfe

    he looks pissed to me

  • Raymond Metcalfe

    So this most important festival of Ramadan is so important for the believers they get upset if someone insults it or takes the micky out of it they make allsorts of claims about the fasting claim it healthy and makes you a better Muslim yet they cant agree on the start time wonderful isn’t it. And no doubt they ones who are looking for the kick off will be claiming to be scholars.

  • TheBookOfDavid

    It seems overly petty and demanding to deny the choice of start time to the individual believer. I mean, if Muhammad split the moon, the obvious thing would be to give Muslims a little wiggle room, and move the pieces into different orbits.

  • Vanity Unfair

    Does that mean that if there is 10/10 cloud and the moon is totally obscured them Ramadan cannot begin in that region?

    If so, then astronomers can only say when Ramadan should begin and the clergy are left to determine when it does begin.
    I was taught that a new Moon is not visible from Earth, anyway, it being aligned with the Sun, hence solar eclipses.What can be seen is the Moon’s beginning to wax just after the new. So, if the Moon cannot be seen because it is new and it cannot be seen because of 10/10 cloud how do the priests know that if there had been no cloud then it could not have been seen?