Majid Kapra

Waqf Board mulls setting up Hilal Committee in J&K

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Want to put end to confusion surrounding moons sightings: Darakshan Andrabi

Srinagar: Jammu and Kashmir Waqf Board Thursday said it is mulling setting up a Hilal Committee by next year so that there is no confusion with regard to the sighting of the moon, which has a bearing on the Islamic lunar calendar, and religious occasions and festivals as well.

On Wednesday night there was a lot of confusion with regard to the sighting of the moon (crescent) for the commencement of the fasting month of Ramzan. In the absence of any credible reports of sightings of the moon across India, it was decided that the fasting month of Ramzan will begin Friday.

At a meeting of the Ruyat-e-Hilal Committee, Imarat-e-Sharaiyah-Hind held at 1, Bahadur Shah Zafar Marg in New Delhi, it was announced that the moon has not been sighted in Delhi or in any other part of the country, a statement from Jamiat Ulema-e-Hind said.

The committee’s secretary Maulana Najeebullah Qasmi declared that the month of Ramzan will begin on March 24.

However, in Pakistan, Ruyat-e-Hilal Committee announced that the Ramzan moon was sighted and the month of fasting will begin on Thursday.

Following the announcement by the Ruyat-e-Hilal Committee Pakistan, around 10.30 in the night, there was complete confusion in Kashmir about the commencement of the holy month.

While announcements were made from several mosques in Srinagar and other parts of Kashmir endorsing the commencement of Ramzan from Thursday, J&K’s Grand Mufti — Mufti Nasir-ul-Islam — said that he stands by his decision as there was “no credible witness” of crescent sighting from any territory in J&K.

He told local news agencies that the office had entrusted its men across all districts of Jammu and Kashmir to see if the crescent is observable at any place. Reiterating his earlier stance, Islam said they had in the evening received a ‘witness’ from Poonch, which after being put to scrutiny turned too feeble “to enable us reach the decision” about the start of Ramzan from tomorrow (Thursday).

“I stand by my decision as ‘no credible witness’ is on record from any territory in J&K and as such the holy month of Ramzan here (Jammu and Kashmir) will begin on coming Friday”, Islam added.

However, instead of heeding the local Mufti, people in Kashmir chose to start the fasting month today (Thursday).

It is against this backdrop that the J&K Waqf Board has decided to set up its own committee for the sighting of the moon.

The Waqf Board chairperson Dr. Darakshan Andrabi said people have always been relying on Mufti Nasir-ul-Islam, the Grand Mufti of J&K when it comes to the sighting of moon in J&K, and the administration is of the opinion that Ruet-e-Hilal Committee be established in the Union Territory to put an end to the confusions.

“Waqf Board is mulling to set up the Ruet-e-Hilal Committee by next Eid-ul-Fitr in J&K. Given the confusion that was created last night, we are of the opinion that a multipronged Ruet-e-Hilal committee be set up here,” Dr Andrabi told the media here.

She said the aim of establishing the Ruet-e-Hilal Committee is to make people of J&K independent in the sense that they do not have to rely on similar committees elsewhere to decide their Islamic lunar calendar.

Andrabi said before taking the final decision, the Waqf Board will seek suggestions from all stakeholders in this direction.

“I received too many calls after confusion prevailed over the sighting of Ramzan moon last night; people want a full-fledged control room in J&K with all modern gadgetry like telescopes and whatever is required. We will seek suggestions from all stakeholders and hopefully, our own Ruet-e-Hilal committee will be ready by next Eid-ul-Fitr,” she added.

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