CAIRO - The majority of Muslims worldwide will welcome `Eid Al-Fitr, which crowns the end of the holy fasting month of Ramadan, on Thursday, August 8, while some Muslims will celebrate the occasion a day later.
Religious authorities in Saudi Arabia announced that the new moon of Shawwal, the 10th month of Islamic calendar, was sighted on Wednesday, August 7.
Therefore, Thursday, August 8, will be the first day of Shawwal.
Egypt's Dar Al-Ifta (House of Fatwa) also announced that Thursday, August 8, will be the start of `Eid Al-Fitr.
`Eid Al-Fitr will also start Thursday, August 8, in Qatar, Kuwait, the United Arab Emirates, Oman and Bahrain.
Jordan, Yemen, Sudan, Libya and Palestine will also celebrate the start of the Muslim feast on Thursday, August 8.
Muslim minorities in the West will also celebrate `Eid Al-Fitr on Thursday, August 8.
Muslims in North America will celebrate the feast on Thursday, according to a statement by the Fiqh Council of North America (FCNA) and Islamic Society of North America (ISNA).
The European Council on Fatwa and Research has also announced that `Eid Al-Fitr will start on Thursday, August 8.
Muslims in Turkey, France, China will also celebrate the festival on Thursday.
Muslims in Kosovo, Macedonia, Romania, Bosnia, Serbia, Bulgaria, Montenegro, Albania and Slovenia will also celebrate `Eid Al-Fitr on Thursday, August 8.
`Eid Al-Fitr is one the two main Islamic religious festivals along with `Eid Al-Adha.
After special prayers to mark the day, festivities and merriment start with visits to the homes of friends and relatives.
And while traditionally everyone wears new clothes for `Eid, children look forward to gifts and traditional `ediya (cash).
During `Eid days, families and friends exchange visits to express well wishes and children, wearing new clothes bought especially for `Eid, enjoy going out in parks and open fields.
In Asia, Pakistan and India Muslims announced the first day of `Eid Al Fitr on Friday, August 9.
Muslims in Bangladesh will celebrate the `Eid-Al-Fitr on Friday as the Shawal moon was sighted only on Thursday.
Malawi Muslims too will celebrate `Eid-Al-Fitr on Friday.
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.