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Ramadan Will Begin Monday in Many States

October 26, 2003|From Reuters

DUBAI, United Arab Emirates — Saudi Arabia, the birthplace of Islam, and many other Arab states in the Persian Gulf will start the Muslim fasting month of Ramadan on Monday, regional state media reported Saturday.

Senior religious councils in Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, Kuwait, Oman, Qatar and the United Arab Emirates said the moon's crescent had not been sighted after nightfall Saturday, and so today would be the last day of the month preceding Ramadan.

In Egypt, Ali Gomaa, the nation's official mufti responsible for issuing religious opinions, said on state television that Ramadan would begin today, after the new moon was sighted there. Yemen, located at the tip of the Arabian Peninsula, also said it would mark the start of Ramadan today.

Ramadan is calculated according to the lunar calendar and begins on the first day after the sighting of the new moon in the ninth month.

For the world's 1.2 billion Muslims, Ramadan is a time to renew one's commitment to God through prayer, charitable deeds and abstinence. For 30 days, fasting begins at sunrise and continues until sunset.

Business tends to slow down during the day in Ramadan, but shops and restaurants remain open until after midnight.

Egypt is known for its extensive celebrations during Ramadan. Television dramas do well in the intense competition among Arab stations for the captive audiences offered by families gathering to break their fast.

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