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Ramadan Starts May 27 in Europe, N. America

CAIRO — The holy fasting month of Ramadan will start in Europe on Saturday, May 27, 2017, according to astronomical calculations, the European Council for Fatwa and Research (ECFR) has announced.

“The Astronomical New Moon is on Thursday, May 25, 2017 at 19:46 Universal Time,” the Dublin-based council said in a statement obtained by AboutIslam.net.

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“On May 25 there is no place on earth where at sunset the elongation is 8 degrees and moon is 5 degrees above the sun.”

Accordingly, it would be possible to see the moon after sundown on Thursday, May 25, either with naked eye or modern sets.

“Therefore, Ramadan cannot start the next day. Hence, first day of Ramadan 1438 is on Saturday, May 27, 2017,” the statement added.

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The Fiqh Council of North America (FCNA) said that Ramadan would begin on Saturday, May 27, in North America.

In Ramadan, adult Muslims, save the sick and those traveling, abstain from food, drink, smoking and sex between dawn and sunset.

Muslims dedicate their time during the holy month to become closer to Allah through prayer, self-restraint and good deeds.

It is customary for Muslims to spend part of the days during Ramadan studying the Noble Qur’an.

Many men perform i`tikaf (spiritual retreat), spending the last 10 days of the month exclusively in the mosque.

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 sees 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 states 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.