Eid Controversy: Why We ‘Disagree’ With Sultan By Habibu Bawa

AREWA AGENDA – Initially, I had attempted not to comment on the  controversy sorrounding the citing of the New Crescent which was supposed to mark the end of Ramadan, usher in the month of Shawwal followed by the traditional Eid festivities for two reasons; one, I thought such contention should attract debate only from religious scholars for the purpose of enlightened commentary and secondly I felt my position may be misconstrued as rebellious and sacrilegious to the coveted throne of the Sultanate Council.

However, after due consideration following some articles I read in support of the moon detection app and astronomical predictions that are in the center of this controversy, I felt obliged to highlight some contending issues.

Personally, I do not believe in moon sighting apps or astronomical predictions, not because they were not used during the time of the Prophet (SAW) or his successors, but because they’ve proven at several points in time to be obviously unreliable and clearly imperfect.

Yes, life gets busier and better everyday and we need to change our ways by embracing technology to catch up. Our mobile phones have changed from mere communication tools to diverse operational devices because of Mobile Apps Development which do not only have new amazing features, but have become an integral part of our lives. Moreso, we use them in almost all our daily activities but we all know, they can be manipulated and are subject to human verification.
Obviously, his Eminence, our Sultan and the Moon sighting Committee may have forgotten our existence — The  Technically Conservative Muslims. There are some of us who have different views on this technology and we have our reasons.

In 360° Leadership, no stakeholder is neglected. Infact, Islamic leadership is an all-inclusive and all embracing system. By implication, If moon detection apps or astronomical predictions are okay to the Modernists, the side of ‘the conservatives’ should have also been considered and our contention are as follows:

One, these moon sighting Technologies themselves are not parfect, for they are not only produced by humans, but their operations are always subject to human verification. We have witnessed several instances where ‘predictions’ by these Technologies have failed to yield expected results after predicting rainfalls, clouds or temperature thus, putting it’s reliability to question.

Secondly, these applications used for predicting prayer times and lunar calendar are of different varieties as a result, there were times they disagreed with each other. This Ramadan alone, four Mosques close to me prayed at different times with intervals of not less than 3 – 10 minutes for Isha’i prayer alone this is because all of them rely on a timing source other than physical human observation. That a particular app predicted sun to set in Gummi by 6:58 pm shouldn’t have been used to disrefute human seeing by 6:56pm. Sunset is not magic which happened within a twinkle of an eye nor a rocket science too difficult to understand.

For us the conservatives, we simply cannot understand why past Sultans of blessed memories like Late Maccido will wait till midnight or even daybreak despite presence of broadcast media, traditional and modern astronomers before announcing whether the moon have been sighted not not, contrary to what is obtainable these days.

We all know that, weather prediction is scientifically unscientific, as scientific facts even if they are not always constant, maintain their repeatability and accuracy. Weather predictions and expectations change when accidental or unpredicticted factor happened or expected conditions change by nature or human action.

These problems are not beyond us to resolve but as long as we remain humans, we must have different views on many things but should we as higher animals allow this problems to remain so long with us?

There’s need for all parties to come to terms and share ideas with sincerity and clear vision devoid of sectional sentiment. We cannot continue to be in the stone age when the rest of the world is into nuclear technology.

Likewise, we cannot abandon the ways of our forefathers, since we all use sound amplifiers and wall clocks in our Mosques, we need to accept this Technology and subject it to experience and human observation always.

Technology in traditions is the best for modern world. May Allah continue to guard and guide the Successors of Shehu Usmanu Danfodiyo.

Bawa is a Kebbi-based public affairs commentator and can be reached at [email protected]

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