CAIRO - Millions of Muslims around the globe will celebrate the beginning of the holy fasting month of Ramadan on Friday, July 20, while some countries will welcome the dawn-to-dusk month a day later.
Egypt's Darul Iftaa (Iftaa House) announced that the new moon of Ramadan was sighted on Thursday, July 19.
Therefore, today is the last day of Shaaban and Friday, July 20, will be the first day of Ramadan.
Religious authorities in Saudi Arabia, the birth place of Islam, also announced that the first day of Ramadan will be on Friday, July 20.
The dawn-to-dusk fasting month will also start Friday in Qatar, the United Arab Emirates and Kuwait.
Ramadan will also start Friday, July 20 in Jordan, Sudan, Yemen, Tunisia and Algeria.
The fasting month of Ramadan will also start Friday in Palestine, Sheikh Mohamed Ahmed, the Mufti of Jerusalem, announced.
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 be closer to Allah through prayers, 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.
A Day Later
Muslim minorities in the West will also celebrate the first day of Ramadan on Friday, July 20.
The Fiqh Council of North America (FCNA) and the umbrella Islamic Society of North America (ISNA) announced that Ramadan will begin on Friday, July 20, in North America.
The European Council on Fatwa and Research also announced that Ramadan will start on Friday, July 20.
Muslims in Turkey will also welcome Ramadan on Friday, July 20.
Muslims in Kosovo, Macedonia, Romania, Bosnia, Serbia, Bulgaria, Montenegro, Albania and Slovenia will also celebrate the first day of Ramadan on Friday.
However, some countries will observe the first day of Ramadan on Saturday, July 21.
Authorities in Oman announced that the first day of Ramadan will be celebrated on Saturday, July 21.
The Syrian government also announced that Ramadan will start on Saturday.
Muslims-majority Malaysia also announced that Ramadan will start on Saturday, July 21.
Muslims in the Philippines will also start Ramadan on Saturday.
The Indonesian government also announced that the holy fasting month will start on Saturday, July 21.
The announcement comes in opposition to a declaration by Muhammadiyah, Indonesia's second largest Muslim organization, which had told followers that the fasting month will start on Friday.
Muslims in Bangladesh will begin fasting from Saturday as the National Committee reported sighting of the Ramadan moon in the country.
Muslims in Thailand and India will start Ramadan on Saturday, July 21.
Moon sighting has always been a controversial issue among Muslim countries, and even scholars seem at odds over the issue.
One group says that Muslims everywhere should abide by the lunar calendar of Saudi Arabia.
A second, however, believes that the authority in charge of ascertaining the sighting of the moon in a given country (such as Egypt's Dar al-Iftaa [House of Fatwa]) announces the sighting of the new moon, then Muslims in the country should all abide by this.