ISLAMABAD – The sudden disappearance of Mufti Shahabuddin Popalzai of Masjid Qasim Peshawar — the man responsible for the nation usually celebrating two Eids — a few days before Eidul Fitr has surprised many and some even thought he had been abducted but it appears that he is safe and sound in Dubai.
With the Central Ruet-e-Hilal Committee all set to hold its Eid moon-sighting meeting in Peshawar on Sunday, Popalzai’s disappearance had created curiosity among many and certain religious parties were even worried about his safety.
Popalzai is known for stirring up a controversy when it is time for the sighting of the Ramazan and Shawwal moon, resulting in Khyber-Pakthunkhwa (K-P) and Federally-Administered Tribal Areas (Fata) usually celebrating Eid earlier than the rest of the country.
As the controversy emerged on Saturday, some thought that Popalzai had been abducted while others believed that he had been placed under house arrest by the government or arrested by police. There was also the theory that he had been sent abroad on a trip in a move by the government to celebrate Eid in the country on the same day.
However, images of the cleric on board an airplane and his ticket, which shows that he left for Dubai on June 22 and will return on August 2, were soon shared on social media, putting an end to the mystery of Popalzai’s sudden disappearance.
K-P government spokesperson Shah Farman said Popalzai had not been arrested by the provincial government in contrast to the rumours spread on social media and the cleric was “sitting in Dubai”.
Popalzai and his self-formed committee used to declare the advent of Ramazan and Eid a day ahead of Central Reut-i-Hilal committee each year.