I'm not going to beat about the bush. The maulvis are idiots of the highest order and we are even bigger idiots for letting them endlessly get away with their rubbish.
My ire is, of course, rekindled every time the charade of moon-sighting occurs, mostly every month, but particularly publicly at times such as the beginning of Ramzan (or Ramadan to you Arabophile slaves to the neo-Taliban herd) and Eid. In this day and age, where the Hubble telescope and its successors in space are seeing into the farthest corners of the universe and time, we have idiots with beards cloistered into a self-serving Ruet-e-Hilal (moon-sighting) committee on top of Habib Bank Plaza and the like, insisting that the moon must be sighted by the naked eye to confirm it is actually there.
The moon's iterations can be predicted, like that of other celestial bodies, thousands of years into the future. You can easily make a precise lunar calendar which would tell you exactly when the 'new moon' begins, when a full moon will occur (that is why we can predict eclipses by the way), and when it would be impossible to view. But no amount of scientific evidence is enough to convince these nincompoops. And why is that? Basically, because like the Taliban in Afghanistan argued about the wrongfulness of television, they argue this is how people in pre-medieval Arabia looked at the moon. Of course, nobody questions phones, or cell phones, or cars (Toyota Hilux Jeeps for the Taliban only), or guns or the internet or the millions of things these literalist cretins use every day which did not also exist in Arabia fifteen hundred years ago. Oh, but the moon... the moon MUST be seen by the naked eye.
But wait, that's not even the entirety of the cretinism on display. Recently, the Ruet-e-Hilal committee (I think it was a few years ago) allowed
binoculars theodolites to be used. Here's cretin-in-chief Mufti Munibur Rahman pretending that he's not actually completely blind:
Which of course begs the question: if you can use
binoculars theodolites, why the *@#$#%* can't you use telescopes? At the very least! I mean, it's the same principle of optics isn't it? But wait, there's more. Every once in a while, when the Ruet-e-Hilal committee cant find the moon in their navel, such as today, they will allow the month to finish up 30 days before the new month begins. But no month ever goes on for more than 30 days EVER since they accept the fact that the lunar cycle cannot extend beyond that and bang after 30 days at the max, they will begin the new month. Now, that means that they have, in fact, accepted a "theoretical" scientific principle derived from previous observation without recourse to necessarily seeing the moon. Why the *@#$#%* can't they apply the same principle to deciding the dates of the lunar calendar?!
Here's what the Met Office guy - who apparently just tags along for the sheer fun of being in the company of bearded monkeys - had to say on Geo about today's attempts by the Ruet-e-Hilal committee to view the Ramzan moon... According to him, the four factors influencing the visibility of the new moon are, 1) whether the new moon is present 2) the length of time it is visible after sunset 3) how high it is over the horizon and 4) how cloudy it is. With reference to the four factors today, he said, although the new moon was present (scientifically speaking obviously), the other three factors militated against its sighting today, i.e. it was there for a very short time, very low on the horizon and it was overcast. What he didn't say in so many words, fearing obviously the wrath of the spiritual keepers of the moon (read religious nutcases), is that while the new moon was technically there, the Ruet Rednecks could not see it.
Now, some of you may think I'm just getting het up for a silly little thing of no consequence. But actually, in my opinion, this whole charade is an indicator of the depths of irrationality and illogic we have sunk to. And it's not a small inconvenience. Every year we're never sure when certain holidays are going to fall, when offices will be shut, and like many a year, often we don't even know until late into the night whether the next day is a roza or Eid. On top of it all, we have to see and listen to the painfully slow Mufti Munibur Rehman and others of his ilk tell us self-evident truths in half-hour self-righteous drawls.
There is also a much larger issue here: that of the supposedly united Muslim Ummah and the lunar calendar. Every so often we'll hear someone or the other call for the adoption of the Muslim calendar. You know, as a calendar it's as good or as bad as any other calendar. But how the *@#$#%* is the Muslim Ummah supposed to follow a calendar when half of it is on a different day or two altogether? I mean, we've all seen the bizarre ritual whereby we can see Haj happening on television but according to "our" timeline, we won't have Eidul Azha until 2 effing days later. Forget between countries, we don't even have the same lunar calendar dates in all of Pakistan. The guys in Mardan seem always to be ahead of the rest by a day or two in terms of Islam. Can you imagine, following the Islamic calendar, setting up an office meeting for, say 13 Shaban, with some people turning up 2 days after the rest came and left? Or a wedding, scheduled to take place on 15 Rabiul Awwal, where the groom didn't turn up until a day after because, according to him, it was 14 Rabiul Awwal when the bride's family thought it was the 15th!
It's just patently absurd.
The Ruet-e-Hilal committee simply takes up a lot of money (they are funded by our money, remember), time and peace of mind. In these recessionary times, isn't it time somebody told them their services are no longer required?