Detailed scrutiny of information about sighting of the Shawal moon last Monday caused an inadvertent delay in announcing Eid-ul-Fitr, said State Minister for Religious Affairs Maulana Nurul Islam, reports UNB.
"Since we did not see the moon, we couldn't make any announcement abruptly without checking and cross-checking the information received from different unofficial sources on Monday night," he told UNB yesterday.
Asked for comment about the belated announcement that caused confusion and criticism, Islam said they had to take time to examine all unofficial information and opinions of the ulema as they had no official confirmation from any Deputy Commissioners from the districts about moonsighting.
The State Minister, who presided over the National Moon Sighting Committee meeting at Islamic Foundation Monday evening, however, claimed that the Eid was celebrated correctly on Tuesday, although some people in remote areas might have been left out to observe it the following day for not getting the information.
Narrating how the National Moon Sighting Committee reached a unanimous decision on Shawal moon, Maulana Islam said the Committee had contacted DCs of 59 districts, but they could not give official information about sighting of the moon.
However, they got information from people in Dhaka, Khagrachhari, Jessore, Magura and Kurigram, which required to be examined and authenticated by responsible citizens and ulema in those areas.
The Religious Affairs Minister said they first got information about sighting moon from an engineer who resides in Jurain area in Dhaka at about 8 pm. To verify his tip, the Islamic Foundation sent its two officials to the area, but locals did not confirm the news.
"Later, we got telephone call from a BDR sepoy in Khagrachhari who claimed that he and his mates could see the moon from a hilltop. Then the Moon Sighting Committee checked the information with the officer-in-charge of the BDR camp there."
Similar private phone calls came in from Jessore and Magura. In Jessore, a vice-principal of a college telephoned the Islamic Foundation that he and several other people had watched the moon.
"Even then, we did not take any hasty decision. The Moon Sighting Committee had to consider two points - first, our wrong decision might spoil one day's fasting and second, fasting on the Eid day is considered 'haram'," said the minister and maulana.
The Indonesian and the Maldives governments also telephoned the Moon Sighting Committee to know about its decision since they could not also see the moon.
Islam said renowned ulema present in the meeting gave the edict (fatwa) that it would not be correct to take decision on the basis of sighting moon by any individual, if not based on the information of a group of people.
At that time, Maulana Mufti Amini informed Maulana Aminul Islam in the meeting that one imam of Lalbagh Shahi Mosque and several other people had watched the moon. Then the Imam and other witnesses were brought to the Islamic Foundation to verify their claim.
After vetting all this information and opinions, the National Moon Sighting Committee came to a unanimous decision just a few minutes before 10 pm which was broadcast by state-owned television and radio.