Moon sighting
Clerics of Pakistan's Moon Sighting Committee use a telescope for the new moon that signals the start of Islamic month Ramadan, in Karachi on May 5. Image Credit: AP

Dubai: Pakistan’s first lunar calendar based on the scientific evidence for the next five year will be ready until Ramadan 15 (May21).

Chaudhry Fawad Hussain, Pakistan’s Minister for Science and Technology, has announced that the new lunar calendar showing main Islamic dates and months for the next year years will be released within two weeks. He said the calendar would first be presented before the cabinet for approval.

Hussain had created quite a stir early this week when he criticised the traditional moon sighting methods still being followed by Moon Sighting Committee comprising of Islamic scholars in Pakistan. Then, he also announced to make a five members scientific committee to prepare Islamic calendar in the country despite heavy criticism from religious scholars who support the physical moon sighting every month to determine the start of Islamic Hajri month.

We cannot understand the stubbornness of the ulema who insist on sighting the moon alone. Moon sighting is a scientific process. Science can precisely tell the birth of the moon and that is why Imam Shafai described moon-sighting as an arithmetic process,”

- Chaudhry Fawad Hussain, Minister of Science and Technology

“We have tremendous respect for ulema (religious scholars) and they may be good at their jobs but these elderly people can barely see people in front of them clearly let alone spot a fine crescent,” the minister said at a press conference in Islamabad.

“We cannot understand the stubbornness of the ulema who insist on sighting the moon alone. Moon-sighting is a scientific process. Science can precisely tell the birth of the moon and that is why Imam Shafai described moon-sighting as an arithmetic process,” he said.

Anticipating it may be opposed, Hussian said that his ministry does not intend to impose its findings but provide an alternative opinion.

Hussain said that a process has been developed on confirmed crescent sightings based on indisputable astronomical information, which nobody should object to.

The objective of the new initiative is to end the controversy over moon sighting and the confusion amongst people especially on the occasions of announcing the big events such as starting of Ramadan and Eid-Al-Fitr. Moon-sighting committee normally meets every month to decide the beginning of the lunar Islamic month but they came into limelight only on big occasions.

According to a notification tweeted by the Minister, the committee would determine the exact dates of Ramadan, Eid-ul Fitr, Eid-ul-Adha and Muharram for the next five years with 100 percent accuracy through technology..

Pakistan and many other Islamic countries face problem over moon sighting issue as Islamic scholar often disagree and clash over the official version. The new committee has been formed to predict key dates and months of the Islamic Calendar, with an aim to put an end to moon sighting controversies in the country.