Ramadan is the ninth month of the Muslim lunar calendar. Every year, Muslims around the world fast from dawn until dusk during this holy month. This includes abstaining from drinking, eating, immoral acts and anger. Other acts of worship such as prayer, reading the Quran and charity are also encouraged during Ramadan.
Since Ramadan is part of a lunar calendar, it’s date changes each year on the Gregorian calendar. Muslims tend to wait for the new month’s moon to appear before they announce the first day of Ramadan. However, they can still estimate the day beforehand by scientific calculations.
Lunar months last between 29 to 30 days depending on when the new moon is sighted. If the moon is not seen on the night of the 29th, then Ramadan lasts for 30 days. The Eid al-Fitr celebration marks the end of the month.
Despite modern knowledge of astronomy, science and moon calculations, many scholars maintain that seeing the moon with the naked eye should be the criterion for declaring the start of a new month. This, many religious authorities say, has been the tradition since the times of the Prophet Muhammad. For those who opt for the most literal interpretations of sayings attributed to the prophet, mere cloud cover can prolong the fast by another day.
Although astronomy tells us that Ramadan will end on June 24 and Eid will be celebrated on June 25 this year, we will still have to wait for the final testimonies of local moon sighters.