Multiple Eids: The More the Merrier

Posted on October 24, 2006
Filed Under >Adil Najam, Economy & Development, History, Religion, Society
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Adil Najam

After all the trouble we went through to time our Eid posts (here, here, here, here, here, here) so they could be enjoyed by people in different time zones around the world, it turns out that ‘official’ Eid in Pakistan will be on Wednesday. Of course, the ‘unofficial’ Eid’s have already been celebrated on Monday and Tuesday.

Ridiculous, but true.

Some of our readers suggest this is yet another sign of a society divided and forever seeking new ways to become even more divided. Another way to look at it is that we so love having Eid that we want to enjoy it thrice; or that some so like fasting that they want to fast even more. Of course, the idea of a corporate conspiracy about Eid stall vendors paying off the roat-i-hilal-kamaity to rake in a few more nights of Eid customers has not yet surfaced; but I am sure it will.

The funniest and the most thought-provoking posts on this drama comes from the blog ‘Windmills of my Mind’ by Zaheer Kidvai. His blog – amongst the very best written and funniest Pakistani blogs – is a must-read for me and I have been waiting to do a post on Kidvai Sahib himself (he is the force behind the Faiz multimedia project as well as so much more; see here). As much as anything else I love the site for its credo quote – “They laugh at me because I am different; I laugh at them because they are all the same” – if only the rest of us could also appreciate this insight!

That post, like most of the projects I cherish the most, will have to wait. But I did want to share today excerpts from his two recent posts on this multiple Eid business. Note how he spells ‘Eed’ what I write as ‘Eid’ and others spell as ‘Id’; I am sure there are other spellings too, but it matters not because as they say in Lahore ‘gall samjh aani chaiaye‘; after all, if we have multiple celebrations why not have multiple spellings too!

The first post (A Tale of Two Eeds) is historical and worth reading in the full – if only for the wonderful humorous poetry of Syed Mohammed Jafri – but here is an excerpt:

In Pakistan, Eed has almost always been plagued by controversies on the matter of when to celebrate it. But that’s really a pessimistic view. Think of the joys connected with Moonsightings that would put UFO sightings to shame, Official and Unofficial Eeds, Ramzans that overstay their welcomes, enforced Eeds and enforced non-Eeds. I can think back to some examples from the days of that arch-Dictator, Ayub Khan, and cite references to them by misraas/shayrs from my favourite humourous poet of the time, Syed Mohammad Jafri (SMJ).

If memory serves me well, the President ordered Eed to be held all over the country after some of his province-mates claimed that the moon had been sighted, while the mullas of the province that detested him the most ruled that the method of sighting was unIslamic, insisting that the Ruet-e-Halal Committee (SMJ: Ae ruet-haraam committee tujhay salaam) had to get evidence of a ‘natural sighting’ and the method of going up in helicopters to see the moon behind the clouds was unacceptable. Karachiites, for the most part, and many others scattered over the country, therefore fasted the next day (SMJ: Hua rukhsat nah jo maahé ramazaañ eed kay din) – with Ayubi mullas roared statements about the kufr of fasting on Eed.

(As an aside, some laughingly claim that this was the occasion when Maulana Ehteshamul Haque opposed Ayub and was locked up in a thaana, from which he emerged with the Thaanvi bit added to his name.)

Ayub forcibly decided to have the country observe Eed in accordance with the NWFP decision (SMJ: Khaalis pathaan chaand hua arzé paak par) that emanated from the committee’s Peshawar office (SMJ: ‘Peshah var’ mullaaoñ nay ramzaañ ko dhakka day diya). Most mullas in Karachi refused to lead Eed prayers and the major (official) congregation had to have the Imam of the Karachi Jail forced into leading the Namaazé Eed (SMJ: Jail say maulvi bulvaaya pa∂haanay ko namaaz / Nah koee bandah rahaa aur nah koee bandah navaaz).

Worse was to come the next day, when the ‘faithful’ gathered with their imaams to offer prayers only to find that some mosque gates had been padlocked by the government supporters, forcing the crowd to say the prayers on the road. (SMJ: Talvaar kay zareeyay say manvaaya eed ko / Sharmindah kar kay rakh diya roohé Yazeed ko!)

The second post (We live in Amazing Times) relates to the current situation, and is worth thinking about. Again, do read it in full, but here is an extended excerpt:

Work – such as it is during Ramzan – came to a grinding halt just before Noon on Friday the 20th, in Lahore (which I happened to be visiting), as people started getting ready for the Jum’ah Prayers (it was the Al Vida’ Jum’ah … the last Friday of Ramzan). Many of them were trying to reach the Badshaahi Masjid to join the large congregation before traffic got heavy. Then there was a weekend, followed by the ill-timed Monday-Wednesday holiday. Eed was expected to be on Tuesday, but the traditional Eed+2 days have now been replaced by the 3-day vacation starting a day earlier, giving out-of-station people time to reach home before Eed.

Of course, as luck and stupidity would have it, Eed has now fallen on Wednesday for most of us. So Thursday is a holiday, too. On Friday the 27th, as often happens in such circs, many people will phone in sick – a few will actually be suffering from the after-effects of over-eating and having their mealtimes disrupted again after Ramzan. Admittedly, the more decent (and the gutless) will dodder in, slightly late, and spend the better part of the morning holding a hugathon, calling up a few friends and then getting up around noon to prepare for prayers. Back for a couple of hours, after a leisurely post-prayer lunch, and they too are away for the weekend again!

But the decent are in a minority, anyway. For the majority, after their departure on the 20th, their first day in office will be on the 30th and their first day at work will be the 31st . You really can’t expect people back in unfamiliar work surroundings to get in the groove on Day 1, can you? Thank Almighty Allah that we are a rich country and can afford such 11-day breaks

A serious question is How (or even Why) does the owner of a small-to-medium business pay a workforce that’s been on half-speed for 15 days, on holiday for the rest of the month, and has obviously fallen short of its deadlines and has caused financial losses connected with this idiotic behaviour? Why should the burden of an individual’s beliefs fall on anyone but him (or on the State, if it officially subscribes to the philosophy)? Do Muslims in the USA or UK get half-days off? Or do they not fast? Are there any Hadeeses that support this half-day tradition? The principal of Fasting – I imagine – is to try and get through a normal day, with the additional hardship of shunning all temptations. Where are the temptations if you spend your time sleeping all morning at your desk – The Sehri Süstee Syndrome – and all afternoon at home? Reminds me of Mirza sahab:

Saamané khor-o-khaab kahaañ say laaooñ?
Aaraam kay asbaab khaañ say laaooñ?
Rozah mera eemaan hae, Ghalib, laykin …
Khaskhaana-o-barfaab kahaañ say laaoñ?

35 responses to “Multiple Eids: The More the Merrier”

  1. Watan Aziz says:

    Those who are confused about moon phases, are so because:

    1. Do not understand the computations (And the sun and moon computed).
    2. Do not understand the relationship of Qur’an and Hadees.
    3. Do not understand the science of Hadees.

    And until they get to grips of these, no matter what is presented, their circular argument, that attempts to combine the fact with the history, will fail their frail minds.

    But, certainly, by the way the raise the question, shows their ignorance on all these subjects. Witness the ignorance of the resident but ignorant mullah.

  2. To all thosw who prefer scientific approach for moon sighting, can any of you enlighten me which scientific theory claims that birth of new moon appears is same in different regions? The way people argue about this, it sounds that birth of moon is same in the whole world which is actually not true.

  3. Owais Mughal says:

    This is from today’s dawn where a person has filed a petition on Supreme court on the issue of 3 eids :)
    ISLAMABAD, Oct 30: A lawyer has approached the Supreme Court for resolution of the issue of frequent disputes among the central and provincial Ruit-i-Hilal committees over the sighting of moon.

    Through a petition filed under the original jurisdiction of the Supreme Court on fundamental rights, Advocate Dr Aslam Khaki pleaded that differences and disputes had resulted in three Eids and divided the Muslims of the country, especially the NWFP, encouraging parochial differences and prejudices.

    The federal government through the religious affairs secretary, the Markazi Ruit-i-Hilal Committee, the NWFP government, the provincial Ruet-i-Hilal Committee, Leader of the Opposition in the National Assembly Maulana Fazlur Rehman and the meteorology department are respondents in the petition.

  4. Yahya says:

    Of course it gave us the opportunity to do special prayers for ‘itehad’ of the Muslim umma on day 1, then on day 2 and yes also on day 3.

  5. Adil Najam says:

    Following on an earlier comment, I wanted to share this news item from The Daily Times (29 Oct). Let’s see what comes of this:

    JEDDAH: The head of the Organisation of Islamic Conference on Saturday deplored the way Islamic countries mark Eidul Fitr on different days, AFP reported. OIC Secretary General Ekmeleddin Ihsanoglu said in a statement that Eid on different days illustrated the disunity of Muslims and suggested that scientific methods should be used the synchronise the Islamic calendar. “The disparity of dates for celebrating Eidul Fitr in Islamic countries … is deplorable, when science, and especially astronomy, has reached high levels of development and precision,â€

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