Top religious scholars of Kashmir on Tuesday held a marathon meeting in Srinagar to end the controversy over moon sighting this year that split locals into two groups, with one group starting the first day of Ramzan, a month of fasting for Muslims, from March 23 and another on March 24.
The scholars, who met at the residence of grand ‘mufti’ Nasir-ul-Islam in Srinagar, have decided to set the date of the first of Ramzan as March 23 so that all significant Islamic religious occasions, including Eid, in the month of Ramzan are observed jointly and not separately.
“The important occasion of Shab-e-Qadr, night long prayers held in Ramzan, will be observed by all on April 17. It will be followed by moon sightings on April 20 for Eid. If the moon is sighted, people (who started Ramzan from March 24) will have to offer one day Qaza (extra day of fasting) after Eid,” Mr. Islam said, while suggesting Id will be celebrated together.
The meeting — attended by Moulana Rahmatullah Qasmi, Ghulam Rasool Hami, Prof. Muhammad Tayib Kamili, Moulana Aga Syed Al Hassan Mousivi, Ghulam Muhammad Bhat, Moulana Fayaz Ahmed Rizivi, and Masroor Abbas Ansari — was a bid to put an end to the controversy that resulted in division and anger in Kashmir.
The controversy was sparked when the grand ‘mufti’, on the night of March 22, announced that the moon was not sighted anywhere in Kashmir and set the date for the first of Ramzan for March 24. However, the Anjuman-e-Sharian Shian, a religious body and the Central Ruet-e-Hilal Committee, Pakistan, set the date for the first of Ramzan as March 23. This was followed by locals thronging to mosques in defiance of the grand ‘mufti’ and organising special Ramzan prayers in the night to start fasting from March 23, a day ahead.
The grand ‘mufti’ was trolled badly on social media platforms and was accused of taking directions from the authorities.
“I am among the richest Islamic scholars of Kashmir. I will neither beg before anyone nor betray my people. It was unfortunate that I was accused of being an agent on social media. The truth is what I did was based on laid down religious rules. I will not go into whether it was a right or a wrong decision. I am with the sentiments of my people and will never betray them,” the grand ‘mufti’ said, during the marathon meeting.
Mr. Islam said the institution of grand mufti always worked for unity among people and “never promoted any confusion or division in the society”. “In the future, all such decisions will be taken after proper consultations with other groups,” he added.
Meanwhile, there were a few voices for constituting a separate Ruet-e-Hilal committee in Kashmir to gather witnesses on moon sighting in the future. Several scholars also stressed that going with the moon sighting in Pakistan “should not be looked at through a political prism but through geographical proximity”.
The religious scholars unanimously urged the Lieutenant Governor’s (L-G) administration in J&K to release all detained religious scholars and priests in the Kashmir valley, including chief cleric Mirwaiz Umar Farooq, who remains under house arrest since August 5, 2019. The Mirwaiz also heads the separatist Hurriyat.