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Ramazan begins in Gulf, Mideast today

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by June 6, 2016 General

In Pakist­an, The centra­l Ruet-e-Hilal Commit­tee (RHC) will meet in Karach­i today (Monday) to spot the cresce­nt

PHOTO: AFP

PHOTO: AFP

RIYADH / ISLAMABAD: Millions of Muslims around the world will mark the start of Ramazan on Monday, while in Pakistan an official moon-sighting committee will meet in the evening to decide the commencement of the fasting month.

Ramazan is due to begin in Saudi Arabia, Qatar, the United Arab Emirates and Yemen, said the religious authorities in the four countries. Saudi Arabia’s state TV announced the arrival of Ramazan after the new moon was spotted Sunday evening.

Local media in Indonesia, the world’s most populous Muslim country, also said Muslims there would begin fasting on Monday.  Similarly, Muslims in Singapore, Lebanon, Turkey, Syria, Kuwait, Jordan, Egypt, Afghanistan and the Palestinian territories, as well as the United States will also observe the holy month from today.

However in Pakistan, The central Ruet-e-Hilal Committee (RHC) will meet in Karachi today (Monday) to spot the crescent. The decision was made after talks between a team of the religious affairs ministry and the chairman of an unofficial moon-sighting committee of Peshawar’s Masjid Qasim Ali Khan could not resolve the controversy over moon-sighting.

The religious ministry issued a notification declaring that RHC’s meeting would be held on Monday and zonal and district committees will meet at their respective places on the same date and time.

The conflict over the start of Ramazan and the Eid day usually crops up in Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa and especially those at the helm of affairs at Masjid Qasim Khan, whose evidence for sighting of moon for Ramazan and Shawwal is often in conflict with the findings of the RHC.

Last week, Minister for Religious Affairs Sardar Muhammad Yousaf held a meeting with Ulema of K-P and Mufti Shahabuddin Popalzai, the chief cleric of Masjid Qasim Ali Khan, to develop a consensus over the moon-sighting issue.

The talks remained inconclusive as the ministry was interested in holding a RHC meeting in Peshawar, instead of Karachi, to resolve the years-old row. However, Mufti Popalzai’s unofficial committee will also have its meeting on Monday (today). Usually, it meets a day before the meeting of the official committee.

In 2014, three Eids were celebrated in the country as the central committee and religious scholars from K-P  had failed to reach consensus on the moon-sighting issue.

Muslims follow a lunar calendar and a moon-sighting methodology that can lead to different countries declaring the start of Ramazan a day or two apart.

Published in The Express Tribune, June 6th, 2016.

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