Ever since I have grown up, there has hardly been an occasion when moon sighting for Ramadan hasn’t been a controversy. The Federal Minister for Science and Technology Fawad Chaudhry deserves praise for having courage to stand up and challenge the monopoly that is played by so called religious clerics. Unlike Christianity or Judaism there is no role for professional clerics as an institution in Islam.

Over the years we have witnessed, opposition by clerics of three monotheist religions to adapting and accepting developments in science and technology; be it invention of printing press, the microphone, radio or even acceptance of the fact that earth is round, or that man has finally landed on moon. Similar has been the attitude of polytheistic religions like Hinduism where even today caste system exists where children of Dalit parents are inflicted with lifelong abuse and racial discrimination.

Science is not based on fantasy but merely discovery of what Almighty has created and adapting that knowledge for betterment of human beings and the environment in which life is sustained. The moon orbits in a defined manner and through knowledge of science and astronomy we can determine the exact time when moon will be sighted at different locations on the earth. Unfortunately the conflicts between Ruet-e-Hillal and others like Popalzai have denied the Muslims of Pakistan to even celebrate Eid or observe Ramadan on a single accepted date. It is failure of the State to exercise its writ and nexus of few within establishment and clergy that has been cause for disunity and sectarian divides in Pakistan, while the rest of Muslim world observe these religious days on days declared by the state.

MALIK TARIQ,

Lahore, May 7.