The Muslim fasting month of Ramadan will begin Thursday, March 23, Saudi Arabia, a Sunni-majority country that is home to the holiest Muslim sites in Mecca and Medina, announced on Tuesday.
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The Saudi Supreme Court has decreed that the month of Shabane will end on Wednesday March 22, meaning that Ramadan will begin on Thursday, according to the official Saudi press agency Spa.
Authorities called on residents on Tuesday to make out the moon in the sky, but it was not visible.
A lunar calendar
The beginning of Ramadan, a month dedicated to prayers and charity, is determined by the appearance of the first crescent moon, the Muslim calendar being lunar.
Traditionally, many Muslim countries follow the date given by Saudi religious authorities.
Among the Arab countries, Qatar and the United Arab Emirates have also announced the start of Ramadan for Thursday, as well as Egypt.
The Islamic Republic of Iran, a country with a Shiite majority, has also indicated that Ramadan will begin on Thursday.
During Ramadan, one of the five pillars of Islam, believers are asked to abstain from drinking, eating, smoking and having sex, from dawn until sunset.
Muslims are invited to pay alms for the poor, the zakat el-Fitr.
Ramadan will end with Eid al-Fitr, the “
feast of breaking the fast