In a bid to resolve the perennial disputes surrounding the sighting of the crescent moon, the National Assembly of Pakistan has recently approved the Pakistan Ruet e Hilal Bill 2022. The bill aims to reconstitute the existing body responsible for moon sightings and introduces penalties for premature announcements regarding moon sightings.
Under the new legislation, a 15-member federal committee, known as the Federal Ruet e Hilal Committee, will be established. The committee will consist of two ulemas (religious scholars) from each of the four provinces, as well as one representative each from Islamabad, Gilgit-Baltistan, and Azad Kashmir. Additionally, the committee will include representatives from the ministries of science and technology and religious affairs, as well as the Pakistan Space and Upper Atmosphere Research Commission (Suparco). Accomplished Grade 20 officers will also be part of this esteemed committee.
According to the bill, ulemas appointed to the committee must hold a master’s degree in Islamiat, possess 15 years of relevant experience, and have a Shahadatul Almiya degree approved by the Higher Education Commission (HEC).
Moreover, the bill explicitly prohibits any unofficial committees from operating, and the term of the federal committee is set at three years.
The committee chairperson will be selected on a rotational basis from the provinces and the federation, and they will bear the responsibility of making decisions regarding moon sightings.
The bill imposes strict penalties for violations. Anyone found guilty of violating the Act will be subject to a fine of Rs500,000. Additionally, individuals who fabricate evidence of moon sightings will face imprisonment for three years and a fine of Rs50,000.
Furthermore, the bill holds TV channels accountable for their actions. Any television channel that announces moon sightings before the official announcement by the federal committee will face a hefty fine of one million rupees, and in severe cases, their broadcasting license may be revoked. This violation is deemed non-bailable and non-compoundable.
In addition to the federal committee, the bill mandates the formation of provincial and district committees. The provincial Ruet e Hilal Committees will comprise 13 members, while the Islamabad-based committee will consist of seven members. The district committees will be composed of six members, representing scholars from all schools of thought.
The bill outlines the prerequisites for committee members. Members of the Islamabad and provincial committees must hold a master’s degree in Islamiat, coupled with ten years of experience in Sharia. Members of district committees are required to possess a master’s degree in Islamiat, along with at least one year of experience in Sharia.
The bill will now proceed to the Senate for approval, following its successful passage in the National Assembly.
In other news, MNA Aliya Kamran recently drew attention to the issue of food shortages in the country during a parliamentary session. Minister for National Food Security, Tariq Bashir Cheema, responded by rejecting that the country faced any significant food security concerns. He emphasized that Pakistan had achieved a record wheat production this year, eliminating the need for wheat imports in the upcoming year. Furthermore, he highlighted the surplus production of rice and cotton recorded in the previous year.
As the Pakistan Ruet e Hilal Bill 2022 progresses, it is hoped that it will effectively address the controversies surrounding moon sighting, bringing about greater unity and consensus among the populace.
The passing of the Pakistan Ruet e Hilal Bill 2022 marks a significant step towards streamlining the process of moon sighting in the country. The controversies surrounding the sighting of the crescent moon have long been a source of division and debate among different religious sects. By establishing a standardized federal committee and imposing penalties for unauthorized announcements, the bill aims to provide a clear and authoritative voice on moon sightings, ensuring uniformity and minimizing conflicts.
The inclusion of ulemas with specific qualifications and experience in the committee demonstrates a commitment to ensuring that the decision-making process is rooted in religious knowledge and expertise. By requiring a master’s degree in Islamiat and years of practical experience, the bill aims to ensure that the appointed ulemas possess the necessary understanding of Islamic principles related to moon sightings. This move is likely to enhance the credibility and reliability of the committee’s decisions, fostering greater trust and acceptance among the public.
As the bill progresses to the Senate for approval, it is expected that further discussions and amendments may be made to refine its provisions. The focus will likely be on striking a balance between religious requirements, scientific advancements, and the need for a practical and efficient system for moon sightings. The ultimate goal is to establish a transparent and reliable mechanism that unifies the nation and minimizes controversies associated with the sighting of the crescent moon, allowing for the celebration of important religious occasions with consensus and harmony.
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