The Shawwal crescent moon was expected to be sighted in Saudi Arabia on Friday, May 22 night. The Muslim holiday of Eid al-Fitr, that marks the end of the 30-day fasting month of Ramadan, will begin on Sunday, May 24 in Saudi Arabia, meaning that Ramadan will last 30 days this year.
Religious authorities based in Jerusalem, the UAE, Egypt, Jordan, Syria, Qatar, Kuwait, Libya and Lebanon also said that Eid al-Fitr would begin on Sunday. The date and timing of Eid is determined by the position of the moon, according to the Islamic lunar calendar.
The International Astronomical Center in UAE said last week that Eid al-Fitr was estimated on Sunday, May 24 across most Islamic countries in the world.
“Friday, May 22, will mark the 29th day of Ramadan in most Islamic countries that started Ramadan on Friday, April 24. For these countries, sighting the crescent on that day is impossible from all countries of the Islamic world, because of the moon will set before the sun and due to the pairing (of the crescent’s birth) after sunset,” said IAC chairman Mohammed Odeh in a statement, according to a report by AlArabiya.net
The lunar calendar consists of 12 months in a year of 354 or 355 days. Sighting of the crescent moon marks the beginning of Ramadan, the ninth month of the Islamic calendar, and Eid al-Fitr marks the end of the holy month. The holiday is usually celebrated by families and friends gathering together to pray, exchange gifts and sweets and enjoy a feast.
As one of the five pillars of Islam, zakat or charity is offered to the needy throughout Ramadan and also on Eid so that we get an opportunity to share our joys and blessings with others. Ramadan is a time for self-introspection and gives us a spiritual opportunity to be closer to Allah.
During the fasting period, Muslims abstain from eating, drinking, gossip, cursing, fighting and are encouraged to focus on meditative acts like prayers, reading the Quran and engaging in noble acts such as charity.
Due to the coronavirus pandemic, most Muslim majority countries around the world have urged their citizens to limit their movement and face-to-face contact during this year’s celebrations.
According to AFP, “Saudi Arabia, home to the world’s most holy Muslim sites, has put in place a full curfew for the holiday period, after easing some of its restrictive measures during Ramadan. The kingdom is the most affected country in the Gulf, according to declared data, with more than 67,000 confirmed coronavirus infections and 364 deaths from the Covid-19 respiratory disease.”