CAIRO – Millions of Muslims worldwide will celebrate the beginning of the holy fasting month of Ramadan on Saturday, May 27, following announcement that the new moon was not sighted on Thursday, 29th of Shaaban.
“Therefore, Saturday, May 27, will be the first day of Ramadan,” the Saudi Arabia Supreme Court reportedly said.
Various media reports also announced that the Muslim holy month of Ramadan will begin on Saturday, May 27, in Qatar, Kuwait, the UAE, Lebanon and Ghana.
In the Philippines, Darul Iftah announced on Thursday that the holy month of Ramadan among Muslims will start on Saturday, May 27, ABS CBN news reported on Thursday.
Grand Mufti Abu Hureira Udasan made the announcement around 8:15 pm in the Cotabato City Hall after the new crescent moon was not sighted tonight.
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.
FCNA uses Makkah as a conventional point and takes the position that the conjunction must take place before sunset in Makkah and moon must set after sunset in Makkah.
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.
As many countries announced that Saturday will be the first of Ramadan, others said they will look for the new moon on Friday.
These countries include Egypt, Palestine, Nigeria, India, Pakistan and many South Eastern countries.
In Egypt, Iftaa House said the committee for moonsighting will meet on Friday, May 26, to determine the start of Ramadan.
In Nigeria, the President General of the Nigerian Supreme Council for Islamic Affairs (NSCIA) Alhaji Muhammadu Sa’ad Abubakar also asked Muslims across the Nigeria to look for the new moon of Ramadan Friday, Naija news reported.
If the crescent is sighted by Muslims of impeccable characters on Friday night and communicated to the appropriate quarters, the Sultan would declare Saturday, 27th May as the first day of Ramadan, and that if, however, the crescent is not sighted on that day, then, Sunday 28th May, 2017 automatically becomes the first of Ramadan, 1438 AH.
A meeting of the Bangladeshi National Moon Sighting Committee will be held on Friday at the Islamic Foundation conference room at Baitul Mukarram Mosque in the capital Dhaka.
A similar announcement was made by the Pakistan Meteorological Department which forecast that there is a high chance for Ramadan to begin on Sunday.
Committee chairman Mufti Munibur Rehman will preside over the meeting of the body that decides the sighting of moon after collecting evidence from across the country on Friday.
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.