Karachi: The holy month of Ramazan begins across Pakistan today (Tuesday) as the Central Ruet-i-Hilal Committee announced Monday evening that the crescent moon has been sighted, although Muslims began fasting elsewhere in the world on Monday.
It is the first time in many years that Pakistanis from Karachi to Khyber will start fasting on the same day. In the past, a Peshawar-based unofficial moon-sighting committee announced the commencement of Ramazan a day or two earlier.
“The [Ramazan] moon has been sighted in different parts of the country because of clear sky across Pakistan,” Mufti Munibur Rehman, the chairman of the Central Ruet-i-Hilal Committee, said at a news conference after a meeting of the official moon-sighting committee at the Met Office in Karachi.
He said the committee has received dozens of testimonies of sighting of the crescent moon from Islamabad, Lahore, Badin, Tando Allahyar and many other cities. “Due to the clear sky, the crescent moon can be sighted for an hour and 10 minutes, while its life is 35 hours and 40 minutes,” the mufti said while quoting the Met Office.
He appreciated the efforts of the government and zonal moon-sighting committees for ensuring that people across the country observed Ramazan the same day. “Mufti Shahabuddin Popalzai agreed to observe the start of Ramazan on the same day. We appreciate his decision,” he said.
The unofficial moon-sighting body of Mufti Popalzai, the chief cleric of Peshawar’s historic Masjid Qasim Ali Khan, always defied the Central Ruet-i-Hilal Committee and announced the sighting of Ramazan and Shawal moons a day or two earlier.
Monday’s announcement was made after a 45-minute meeting with the chief meteorologist and heads of the zonal moon-sighting committees, Mufti Munib said. “We cannot fix a day and ask everyone to follow. We should take such decisions with mutual consensus.”
Meanwhile, Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif on Monday directed the Ministry of Water and Power to ensure no power outage at the timings of Sehar and Iftar.
The directive for uninterrupted power supply will be uniformly implemented for urban and rural areas. Premier Nawaz asked his office to strictly monitor the timings of load-shedding, his office said.
Meanwhile in most parts of the world, including the Arabian Gulf, the Middle East, Far East, Southeast Asia, the United States and Europe, Muslims observed the start of Ramazan on Monday, while Shias in Iraq, Iran, Lebanon and elsewhere will begin observing the holy month on Tuesday.
In Indonesia, faithful spent the days leading up to Ramazan taking part in rituals, including visits to relatives’ tombs and swims in springs infused with flowers.
London’s newly-elected Muslim mayor Sadiq Khan underlined this in an article published on the Guardian’s website saying Ramazan “provides an opportunity to break bread and build bridges between communities”.
US President Barack Obama also celebrated the start of Ramazan in a message paying tribute to Muslims in America and around the world.