Saudi to Look for Ramadan Moon Thursday

RIYADH – The Supreme Court has called on all Muslims in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia to sight the crescent of the holy month of Ramadan on Thursday evening, 29 Sha’ban, corresponding to May 25.

Making its annual announcement, the Supreme Court urged citizens to look for the new crescent of the fasting month by the naked eyes or binoculars, Saudi Press Agency statement was cited by Emirates 24/7.

Those who see it were urged to report to the nearest court and register his testimony, or report to the nearest center to facilitate his reaching to the court.

The Supreme Court also urged all Muslims to sight the crescent for the cooperation of all in righteousness and piety.

The first day of the holy month is expected to begin on Saturday.

While American and European Muslim bodies have already announced the beginning of Ramadan according to calculations next May 27, others are awaiting the moon sighting.

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.