MAKKAH– Millions of Muslims worldwide will celebrate the beginning of the holy fasting month of Ramadan on Thursday, May 17, following the announcement that the new moon of the Hijri year was not sighted on Tuesday, 29th of Shaaban.
“Therefore, Thursday, May 17, will be the first day of Ramadan,” the Saudi Arabia Supreme Court reportedly said, Al-Hayat newspaper reported.
Egypt’s fatwa house also announced that Thursday will be the first day of Ramadan after failing to see the new moon on Tuesday.
Various media have also announced that the Muslim holy month of Ramadan will begin on Thursday, May 17, in the UAE, Australia, and Japan, The News reported.
In Malaysia, Muslims will begin observing the month of Ramadan from Thursday, May 17, 2018, according to government-owned RTM, New Straits Times reported.
In Pakistan, Central Ruet-e-Hilal Committee will meet on Wednesday evening to sight the moon for the fasting month. According to Met office, the crescent is likely to be sighted in the country on Wednesday, making Thursday the first day of fasting.
In a statement, Japan ‘s Ruet-e-Hilal Committee said that the crescent was not sighted anywhere in the country.
“The fasting month of Ramadan will begin on Thursday in Japan,” it announced.
Qatar, Oman, Indonesia, Jordan, and Iraq also announced that Thursday will be the first day of Ramadan.
The UK, Belgium, and Algeria also start fasting on Thursday.
In Nigeria, the Sultan of Sokoto and President General of the Nigerian Supreme Council for Islamic Affairs (NSCIA) Alhaji Muhammadu Sa’ad Abubakar urged Muslims across the country to look for the new moon of Ramadan Wednesday, Daily Trust reported.
The Fiqh Council of North America recognizes astronomical calculation as an acceptable method for determining the beginning of Lunar months including the months of Ramadan and Shawwal.
In Germany, Dr. Khaled Hanafy, the head of the Fatwa authority, wrote on his Facebook page on Tuesday night that the first day of Ramadan will be Wednesday.
In Turkey, which follows astronomical calculations, Ramadan will also start on Wednesday. Same applies to Romania, Kosovo, Angola, and Bosnia, also starting Ramadan on Wednesday.
According to the European Council for Fatwa and Research (ECFR), Muslims in Europe will start Ramadan on Wednesday, May 16, according to astronomical calculations.
Last year, fasting hours across the world ranged between 11 and 22 hours. This year, fasting hours will range between 10 hours in Chile and 21 hours in Greenland.
The first day of Ramadan and moon sighting have always been a controversial issue among Muslim countries, and even scholars seem at odds over the issue.
While one group of scholars maintains that Muslims in other regions and countries are to follow the same moon-sighting as long as these countries share one part of the night, another group of scholars says that Muslims everywhere should abide by the lunar calendar of Saudi Arabia.
A third, however, disputes both views, arguing that the authority in charge of ascertaining the sighting of the moon in a given country announces the sighting of the new moon, then Muslims in the country should all abide by this.
This usually causes confusion among Muslims, particularly in the West, on observing the dawn-to-dusk fasting and celebrating the `Eid Al-Fitr, which marks the end of fasting.