SRINAGAR, Aug 18: Kashmir will have to wait for another day to celebrate Eid as Islamic scholars in Pakistan have said the crescent, signifying the end of the fasting month of Ramadhan, was not sighted anywhere in that country.
Kashmir valley has always followed Pakistan’s announcements of sighting the crescent which establishes the first day of Ramadhan – the ninth month of the Islamic calendar – when the fasts start and also the first day of Shawaal – the tenth month – when the fasts end and the Eid festival is celebrated.
Certain areas of the Jammu and Kashmir state like Kargil in Ladakh region will be celebrating the festival tommorow (Sunday).
“The sky was clear at places and cloudy at others, but reliable evidence of the sighting of the crescent were not obtained from any part of Pakistan. So Muslims of Pakistan will be celebrating Eid on Monday, the first Shawaal, Monday the 20th August,” said Mufti Muneeb-ur-Rehman, the Chief Cleric of Pakistan and head of the central crescent-sighting committee.
There have been many instances in the past when Kashmiris and Muslims in the rest of the country began fasting and celebrated Eid as well on separate days, and chose to follow announcements by the neighbouring country.
Analysts say the option could have evolved in view of the sentiment that has prevailed ever since the controversial instrument of accession to India was signed in 1947. Since then, they say, Kashmiris could never identify themselves with the Muslims in rest of the country.
“Although there had been many instances when there was agitation in Kashmir over issues of Muslims in rest of India. But what further distanced the two was in early nineties when Kashmir got too busy in its own problems,” says a senior journalist Altaf Hussain.
“Kashmiris then argued that Hundreds of children had been killed, women raped and houses burnt, but never did the Muslims in the rest of the country express any anguish.”
So much so was the alienation, Hussain says, that there were no protests in Kashmir over the demolition of Babri Masjid in 1992 by right-wing Hindu activists after a riot turned violent and subsequently 2000 people were killed.
This could perhaps be the reason as to why effective crescent-sighting committees could never flourish in this Muslim-majority region with lofty snow-capped mountains. Kashmir’s chief cleric Mufti Basheeruddin, however, denies anything political about the issue.
“Our Matlaa or what you can call latitude and azimuth of the moon is very close to Pakistan than to New Delhi. So that is the reason why we follow Pakistan. It’s not only us, even they follow us. I remember that once they quoted me that the Mufti Azam of Kashmir has established the sighting of the crescent hence they celebrated Eid in Pakistan,” the Mufti says.
“It has got nothing to do with the political situation in the valley.”
During Ramadhan, Muslims across the world abstain from food, water and sexual activity everyday from dawn to dusk as prescribed in Islam and celebrate Eid to mark the end of the fasting period.