Some of the Muslims who prayed eid in Lunzu on Saturday (Photo: Kadhaf Ahmed Pilo)
An official organisation responsible for the announcement of eid celebrations National Ruyat Hilaal (NHRC) has clarified its position on how it determine the sighting of the moon in Malawi.
Last year, Muslims in Malawi prayed Eid Adhuha on diferrent date after Ulama failed to agree on whether fasting on the day of Arafat should be dependent on Makkah calendar or local sighting.
This forced organisations such as Muslim Association of Malawi, Limbe Muslim Jamaat, Supreme Council of Ulama, Majilis Ulama, National Ruyat Hilaal among others to meet at Hotel Victoria where they ironed out their differences.
At the end of meeting, they all agreed one thing – to follow local calendar and NHRC was officially endorsed to be responsible in announcing the dates.
Unfortunately, this year, some sheikhs who were part of the endorsement have been advising Muslims to follow Saudi Arabia calendar. This again led to Muslims in other parts of Lilongwe, Mangochi and Blantyre districts to pray on Saturday because day of arafah in Saudi Arabia was on Friday.
However, official statement from NHRC said that eid is on Sunday.
After being asked, some of the sheikhs said NHRC had crossed a red line.
They claimed NHRC has been ignoring reports of sighting of the moon by locals, instead waited for the confirmation from their counterparts in South Africa.
However, in an email response to the Malawi Muslims Official Website, National Coordinator for NHRC Iqbar Omar has refuted the claims.
“Firstly the issue with regards to the sighting of the moon (hilaal) is a command from the Shariah, so the guidelines followed will be according to Shariah.
“We do not wait for South Africa. We do confirm with all countries in the SADC region. They have been incidents where other countries haven’t sighted and we have and they have announced eid based on our sighting. The opposite has also happened. They would have a case if we were following India or Pakistan etc,” said Omar.
When asked to explain how the issue of ignoring local sighting of the moon is coming in, the Coordinator said:
“This issue arouse from one incident which occurred 2 years ago. This issue was also discussed at the last meeting held at Hotel Victoria where a satisfactory response was given by Maulana Shiraaz to the Sheikhs who brought up the issue.
“The NRHC committe recieved a call at Madinah masjid from a area in Machinga that they had sighted the moon. We then contacted Maulana Shiraaz in Zomba to contact the said person and go there to verify. He asked him if he had sighted the moon and he replied that he personally didn’t seen it but others had,” he said.
Omar further said after Maulana Shiraz asked the informr who the others were, give the names and numbers, the person couldn’t provide any details.
“He said they have left and I am also somewhere else now. Basically he didn’t get any confirmation regarding moon sighting as the informer himself could not confirm the sighting.
“So now according to the above on what grounds could we accept the Shahahdah? Even in Saudi Arabia they wouldn’t accept Shahahdah in such a situation!!!”
The Coordinator also laughed off the claims that NHRC is comprised by only Indians.
“NRHC is a body consisting of Muslims regardless of race etc. It’s stakeholders are from muslim organisations mixed with representitives from both Malawian and Asian oraginsations/Jamaats,” he said.