Muslims all over the world will observe Ramadan and fast from dawn to dusk for a month.
The first fasting day of the holy month of Ramadan is likely to be Saturday, April 2.
To establish the beginning of Ramadan, which is determined by the sighting of the new moon, Saudi Arabia and other Muslim-majority countries rely on the testimonies of moon watchers.
This year will see the return of pilgrims in large numbers for the Umrah pilgrimage to Mecca and Medina after two years of COVID-19 restrictions, as Saudi Arabia lifted most restrictions just before Ramadan.
Bahrain, Egypt, Kuwait, Oman, Qatar and the United Arab Emirates are expected to follow Saudi Arabia’s sighting of the new moon.
Other countries have separate sightings, but Indonesia, Lebanon, Morocco and Syria are also likely to start fasting from Saturday, while countries further east and west will start when the moon is sighted.
When can we see the new moon?
According to crescent moon clock, a lunar tracker run by the UK Nautical Almanac Office, the new moon of Ramadan will arrive on April 1 at 06:24 GMT. On that day, the moon could be visible in parts of North, Central, and South America. On April 2, the moon will be easily visible over most of the world.
The actual visibility of the crescent will depend on factors such as atmospheric conditions, cloud cover, and the distance between the sun and the moon on the horizon.
The phases of the moon of Ramadan
Lunar months last between 29 and 30 days, depending on the sighting of the new moon on the night of the 29th of each month. If the new moon is not visible, the month lasts 30 days.
Why is Ramadan holy?
Muslims believe that Ramadan is the month in which the first verses of the Koran were revealed to the Prophet Muhammad more than 1,400 years ago.
Throughout the month, Muslims observe the fast from just before sunrise, or Fajr, prayer until the sunset prayer, Maghreb.
Fasting involves abstinence from eating, drinking, smoking, and sexual intercourse in order to achieve greater “taqwa,” or God-consciousness.
Fasting is one of the five pillars of Islam, along with the Muslim declaration of faith, daily prayers, charity, and undertaking the Hajj pilgrimage to Mecca if physically and financially able.
In many Muslim-majority countries, working hours are reduced and many restaurants are closed during fasting hours.
The languages of various Muslim-majority nations have a personalized greeting in their native languages. “Ramadan Mubarak” and “Ramadan Kareem” are common greetings exchanged in this period, wishing the recipient a blessed and generous month respectively.
Last year, fasting around the world ranged from 10 to 20 hours a day.
At the end of Ramadan, Muslims celebrate Eid al-Fitr. In Arabic, it means “festival of breaking the fast”.
Depending on the new moon sighting, Eid al-Fitr this year is likely to fall on May 2.