Tuesday, 24 October 2006

State-level Moon Panel To Clear Crescent Sighting Controversy

October 25, 2006
By Syed Akbar
Hyderabad, Oct 24: With Muslim religious scholars divided once again on the
‘sighting’ of the Id moon, the Jamiat Ulema-e-Hind, an umbrella body of Imams of
mosques, has decided to set up a State-level moon-sighting panel to ensure that the
major Muslim festival is celebrated uniformly all over the country.
While Muslims in the entire country on Tuesday celebrated the Id-ul-Fitr (the
festival of alms-giving which marks the end of the month-long fasting during
Ramazan), those in Maharashtra and Andhra Pradesh will celebrate it on Wednesday.
Even within Andhra Pradesh, Muslims in Nalgonda, Guntur and other districts
celebrated the Id on Tuesday.
‘The problem is mainly because of lack of coordination among our moon-sighting
panels in different States. In Andhra Pradesh there is only one moon-sighting or
Ruhiyat Hilal committee and its operations are limited to twin cities of Hyderabad
and Secunderabad. We do not have a panel at the State level to coordinate with
Muslims scholars in various districts of Andhra Pradesh on one hand and with Hilal
committees of other States on the other,” Jamiat Ulema State president Hafiz Peer
Shabbir Ahmad told this correspondent.
The Hyderabad Hilal committee on Monday evening wound up its sitting quite early
without waiting for reports from other States. It simply announced that the Id would
be celebrated on Wednesday but as reports of moon sighting poured in from other
States including national Capital Delhi, the Hyderabad panel met once again late in
the night. The meeting which lasted till 12.20 am on Tuesday decided against
following observations of Hilal committees of other States. “Several Muslim families
all over the State had to remain awake till late in the night to know the fate of
the new moon. This is something not good. We have modern technology and gadgets. The
Hyderabad panel should have utilized them to take the decision fast without having
to wait for that long. By 9.00 pm the Shahi Imams of Delhi and Fatehpuri mosques
have announced their decisions,” senior religious scholar Hafiz Syed Shujath Hussain
Muslim scholars blame the Hyderabad Hilal committee for the “paux pas”. The city
panel is controlled by a group of Muslim scholars following a particular school of
Islamic jurisprudence. There is no representation to Muslim scholars of other sects
or religious schools of thought. The decision on Id for Wednesday was taken
reportedly on the insistence of 135-year-old Islamic institution Jamia Nizamia’s
chief Mufti Khaleel Ahmad. Sources said the decision on Id for Wednesday was taken
to avoid confusion in the community at the eleventh hour.
“Our new State-level Hilal committee will have representation to all sects including
Shias. We will have the committee with Muslim scholars of different schools of
Islamic jurisprudence. Henceforth, the new panel will ensure that the Id is
celebrated uniformly throughout the country or at least in the State,” Jamiat State
secretary Sabir Ahmad pointed out.

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