Middle East Begins Ramadan Today, South Asia on Tuesday

Today marks the commencement of Ramadan in various regions worldwide, as confirmed by Saudi officials who sighted the crescent moon and officially declared the start of the sacred fasting month yesterday evening. This significant observance, observed by a substantial portion of the world's 1.8 billion Muslims, involves abstaining from food and water from sunrise to sunset, fostering a deeper reflection on faith and fostering family connections.

Saudi Arabia, with its Sunni-majority, initiated the announcement after spotting the moon on Sunday night, designating Monday as the inaugural day of Ramadan, as reported by Saudi state television. Following suit, numerous Gulf Arab nations, including Iraq, Syria, and Egypt, affirmed their adherence to the same timeline for commencing fasting.

However, several Asia-Pacific countries, such as Australia, Brunei, Indonesia, Malaysia, and Singapore, opted to begin Ramadan on Tuesday, as the crescent moon was not visible. Traditionally, South Asian countries like India, Pakistan, and Bangladesh commence Ramadan a day later than Saudi Arabia, with the evening of March 11 marking the beginning and the first fast on March 12, Ramadan 1445 AH, contingent on moon sighting after maghrib prayers.

On the easternmost edge of the Arabian Peninsula, Oman announced the initiation of Ramadan on Tuesday, aligning with Jordan's decision to commence fasting on the same day. The lunar calendar governing Ramadan introduces variations in moon-sighting methodologies among countries, resulting in divergent start dates.

Saudi King Salman acknowledged the poignant timing of Ramadan amid the ongoing conflict in Gaza, urging the international community to assume responsibility for ending the brutal attacks on the Palestinian people and ensuring the provision of safe humanitarian corridors.

In Iran, a Shia-majority nation considering itself a global leader for Shia Muslims, authorities traditionally begin Ramadan a day after Sunnis. The office of Iran's Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei announced that Ramadan would commence on Tuesday, according to the state-run IRNA news agency.

Why Ramadan Starts on Different Dates Every Year:
Ramadan commences 10 to 12 days earlier each year due to the Islamic calendar being based on the lunar Hijri calendar, featuring months of either 29 or 30 days. As the lunar year is shorter than the solar year by 11 days, Ramadan will be observed twice in 2030, starting on January 5 and then on December 26. The next occurrence of Ramadan starting after March 12 will be in the year 2057, 33 years from now.

Fasting Hours Across the Globe:
The number of daylight hours varies globally. Muslims in the southernmost countries, like Chile or New Zealand, will fast for approximately 12 hours, while those in the northernmost regions, such as Iceland or Greenland, will observe fasts exceeding 17 hours.

For Muslims in the Northern Hemisphere, fasting hours will be slightly shorter this year, gradually decreasing until 2031 when Ramadan coincides with the winter solstice – the shortest day of the year. Following that, fasting hours will increase until the summer solstice – the longest day of the year in the Northern Hemisphere.

Conversely, for fasting Muslims living south of the equator, the opposite trend will occur.

In extreme northern cities like Longyearbyen in Norway, where the sun does not set from April 20 to August 22, religious rulings recommend following timings in Mecca, Saudi Arabia, or the nearest Muslim country."


The views expressed in this article are the author’s own and do not necessarily mirror Islamonweb’s editorial stance.

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