Eid and Eids and their Implications
Col. Riaz Jafri (Retd)
I do not remember celebrating such an insipid and bland Eid ul Fitr as of this year at my home town Peshawar ever since I gathered my senses. The Eid was always a festive occasion full of joy for all. Men offered Eid prayers dressed in their best in throngs and multitudes. People called upon relatives and friends throughout the day embracing and back thumping each other. The children thrilled at the local fairs and the merry-go-rounds and spent their Eidees on candies, eatables and toys to their heartsï¿½ content. Nothing of the sorts was seen this year. Partly due to the lurking fear of the suicide bombers, but mostly because of the handiwork of our mullahs and politicians. No one seemed to be sure if it was the real day of Eid or still the last day of Ramadan and fasting! A young man known for his piety in the neighbourhood was asked by the Pesh Imam of the mosque to quit Eitekaf as the Shawwal moon had been sighted. The man was shocked to find that everyone at home was observing fast and he was the only one ï¿½celebratingï¿½ Eid. There must have been many more cases like that. Half the family observing fast and the other half celebrating Eid. Why did it all happen and how to put an end to it all needs some serious introspection.
It was an accepted fact even before the partition days that a few districts/cities of the NWFP such as Mardan, Shabqadar, Charsada, Swabi etc. used to commence fasting and also celebrate Eid ul Fitr a day or two earlier than the rest of the province and country. The general raison dï¿½etre for it was that the villagers around bigger cities wished to have the Eid at their homes and with their near and dear ones and then take off for the towns the next day to beat it up there well and proper. Movies, rides, roulette/betting at the fairs in the cities were the main attractions for them. However, with the passage of time and overall general development in the villages/towns, particularly after the creation of Pakistan, the nearby cities lost their charm and the villagers though now not thronging the cities yet, retained their tradition of starting the fast a day or two earlier and consequently celebrating the Eid also the same way. So far so good and no body seemed to have objection to it. However, soon this practice acquired a political tinge and colour. These areas were and at times even now are the stronghold of the followers of Bacha Khan (Abdul Ghaffar Khan ï¿½ also called Sarhadi Gandhi) a notable leader of great eminence of All India National Congress party, who after the partition launched the Red Shirts movement in Pakistan which gave birth to the NAP (National Awami Party) and now the ANP. Late Bacha Khan had no love lost for Pakistan and made no secret of it either, to the extent that he willed to be buried in Afghanistan (Jalalabad) after his death which was according to him a free country and Pakistan a slave country. He and his followers have played and are playing abundantly the Pushtoon card. First they demanded Pukhtoonistan ï¿½ an independent state on both sides of Durand Line and extending up to River Jhelum in Pakistan. They have still not given up the idea though have changed the strategy ï¿½ a subtle strategy of indirect approach. In that first the name of the NWF province is to be changed to Pukhtoonkhwa resembling Pukhtoonistan and reminding people all the time of its roots and reason of its origin. Simultaneously, by alienating itself on such national, cultural and religious days a message is to be sent to the rest of Pakistan and the world in general that the Pukhtoonkhwa is ideologically and ethnically different and not part of Pakistan. It is not incumbent upon it or its provincial government to follow the common practices and announcements of Pakistan. In matters of religion and common tradition it aligns itself either with Afghanistan or the Saudi Arabia. In times to come the Durand Line is to be undone gradually so that the Pukhtoons on both sides could move freely without travel documents. Naturally, the ANP leaders and followers would like to pay homage to the Mizar of Bacha Khan frequently and as and when someone desires. Why visas and pass ports, what for?
Eid ul Fitr provides them with the psycho-religio opportunity of subtly influencing the mind of the naï¿½ve, as the people are highly religious. Since the first-day-moon is usually very thin and up on the horizon for a short period its sighting can be difficult and hence disputed. It is for this very reason that the innocent masses can be misled who do not accept the modern technological means and the computing methods invented by the Kuffars and Mushrik ï¿½ the Westerners. To them the word of the mullah is final which is a God sent opportunity abundantly exploited by the old Congressites like Bilour brothers who are not even remotely Pukhtoon by any count.
Mufti Shahbuddin Popalzai, chairman of Peshawar-based unofficial Ruet-e-Hilal Committee, on the strength of the evidence of about 40 eye witnesses announced Eid to be celebrated on Sunday the 20th of September 2009 after only 28 days of fasting during the month of Ramadan. The rest of the country celebrated Eid on Monday 21st September as per the verdict of Mufti Muneeb ur Rehman ï¿½ Chairman official Ruet e Hilal Committee Pakistan. Mufti Popal Zai asked his followers to fast for one day (Qaza e Roza) for the day that they did not fast in the beginning of the month of Ramadan. Who is right and who is right should not be difficult in this modern era to determine. Even a child knows that the moon is needed to determine the number of the day and the sun the season. Just by looking at the moon on any night one can say how old it is. Then we have Puran Mashi the full moon ï¿½ complete circle - on the 14th night and exact semi circles ï¿½ half moons - on the 7th and 21st of the lunar month, which one can judge very accurately with the naked eye. According to Mullah Popalzai the full moon should fall on Friday 2nd October and according to Mufti Muneeb it should fall on Saturday 3rd October 2009. We can also find out who is right and who is wrong on the 7th Shawwal falling on the 25th of September for Mullah Popalzai and on or 26th September for Mufti Muneeb. Similarly we can do the exercise on 21st Shawwal falling either on the 9th or 10th of October correspondingly for Popalzai or Muneeb ur Rehman. As simple as that!
To my mind, Mufti Shahbuddin Popalzai has committed a big blunder by waiting till the 28th of Ramazan in announcing that a Roza had been missed in the beginning of the month. He could have very easily found it out by determining the life of the Ramadan moon on ANY given night after a few days, when the moon had taken a reasonably recognisable shape, particularly on the 7th or 14th of the month when the moon was either exact half circle or full circle, and warned the people of the Roza they had missed. This would have corrected the date and the day then and there. By his not doing so, the Akhri Ashra which is the most important Ashra has gone hay wired. Those sitting in Eitekaaf could not start it on the exact evening. All taaq (odds) nights have become Juft (even) nights. Important Taaq nights to search Laila tul Qadr, Sataeesween ï¿½ the night of Nazool e Quran - and the duration of the Eitekaf have all been disturbed. Who is to be blamed for it?
As we have still a few days and nights left for the full moon and the half moons to appear, I suggest the entire nation should watch for these and determine once for all whom to follow ï¿½ the Popalzais or the official Ruet e Hilal Committee. It is time we decided for ourselves and not be exploited anymore politically or religiously.