Ruyat-e-Hilal, each year Ramadhan comes or leaves, gives us unsleeping time. The anxiety over sighting, or not sighting, the moon can last till even midnight. And there have been occasions when people dozed off believing it was another day of fasting, but waking up they found Eid on the bedside. That makes the whole affair not just sensational and stressed, but comical and disgraceful.
Howsoever we defend it in the name of faith, even the faithful find difficult to hide the ludicrous in it. No matter how hard some of the sections in the Muslim clergy defend this way of deciding on the lunar timing, it is finally going to yield to the scientific way of determining the phases of moon. Till then, we would only earn layers of laughter form within and outside. Our fate!
For the moment, it is not the crescent on the horizon that matters. It is the Committee on the ground that decides if there was a crescent on the horizon or not. And when it announces, it doesn’t say it was there or wasn’t. It makes you hold your breathe for an epoch.
Whether the moon appeared or not comes only afterwards, first are the ones who appeared on the Committee. That is the most tortuous, and embarrassing part of it. The whole affair sounds not only retrogressive, but a display of a tyrannical grip of the clergy over the laity.
This year, another notoriety was added to it. The government in J&K announced to have its own Ruyat e Hilal committee. As if one was not enough. A Line of Actual Control being carved out on the moon.
It took science centuries to reach there, but it takes politics just an announcement to create fissures on the moon. Celestial borders! Wonder, how the crescent watches this jarring from above.
How this radiant celestial piece that adorns our poetic landscape of beauty and love, gapes at our layered darkness – of the unwise application of our faith, and oppressive thrust of politics from without.
If given a choice our Khanjar Hilal Ka, and their Chanda Mama would choose to change the orbit, and leave this shame for us and them to live with. Has the human mind been so poor and pitiable ever in the history of mankind! Only moon knows.
Anyways, another crescent is in the offing. Just days later we will again be glued to Radio, TV and Internet. Dravaa – sighted! Again Ruyat e Hilal Committee will gather, again the drama will unfold, again the same list will be read out to us before giving this small snippet of information that the moon is sighted. For how long do we extend our captivity to an expired mindset.
If human knowledge has come to a stage where lunar calendar can be prepared well in advance, with a precision of some seconds, what stops us from disbanding these committees and giving the task to those who know this science. It is our insistence on such things that tells the whole world that Muslim mind is a case of total decay.
It is our defence of such things that makes us an entertaining stuff for others. Without any disregard towards our religious scholars – ulema - why can’t we dialogue over such matters and open up to new knowledge.
Without any slight disrespect towards the religious scholars, why can’t we remind them of their manifest duty to shed light on such issues. It is not a matter of violating any principles of faith. Science is never in a clash with our faith. Just the fact that ulema have a control on such matters doesn’t mean that questions can’t be raised.
Given the things, we have only two options. One, we gracefully open up, welcome the new knowledge, and save ourselves, and our faith, from becoming a locale of ridicule.
Two, after some years we disgracefully retreat from our current position and capitulate before the new knowledge. Another thing, once that happens all our seminaries and faith based organisations would compete in publishing the new lunar calendar.
God bless the man called Ghamidi who is relentlessly fighting this battle on behalf of Muslims and Islam. Look how he simplifies it, standing faithful to tradition. When asked about this practice of Ruyat e Hilal, he hardly leaves anything unexplained. To him, the job must be assigned to the experts of the subject, who know astronomy and can determine, with precision, the lunar calendar.
Then how do we explain that Hadith of our beloved Prophet ( PBUH) that is the basis for this practice of Ruyat e Hilal – moon sighting. Ghamidi’s keen insight into this specialised knowledge of Prophetic traditions leaves one disarmed.
For those interested in an unbiased search for answers, one can only request to listen this man on Youtube. He doesn’t rant. He is no rabble rouser. He doesn’t sensationalise. He is a teacher who throws light on the subject, and eyes can see.
Tailpiece: Remember Iqbal who said: Khanjar Hilal Ka Hai Qoumi Nishan Hamara. The descent of Muslim mind into this bottomless pit of darkness happened after the loss of Muslim political power.
Had that political power been intact, our jurisprudence would have resolved such matters long back. In the comity of nations, our plight has lessons for all other nations. If our moon has to glow on the firmament again, the only way is to open up our minds and welcome knowledge. From where-ever it comes.
Author is Opinion Editor, Greater Kashmir
Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed in this article are the personal opinions of the author.
The facts, analysis, assumptions and perspective appearing in the article do not reflect the views of GK.