Ramadan to Start Thursday in Saudi Arabia and Qatar


Several Muslim-majority countries, including Saudi Arabia and Qatar, have announced that Thursday will mark the beginning of the holy month of Ramadan. The announcement was made based on the expected sighting of the crescent moon. The supreme court in Saudi Arabia declared that Wednesday would be the last day of the Islamic calendar month of Shaban, which precedes Ramadan. Ramadan is determined by the Islamic lunar calendar, which begins at the first sight of the moon. Officials in Palestine and Egypt also announced that Ramadan would begin on Thursday. However, authorities in Jordan, Algeria, and Morocco said they will wait until Wednesday to decide whether Ramadan would start on Thursday or Friday.

Muslims believe that Ramadan is the month in which the first verses of the Quran were revealed to Prophet Muhammad over 1,400 years ago. Throughout the month, observing Muslims fast from just before the sunrise prayer, Fajr, to the sunset prayer, Maghrib. The fast entails abstinence from eating, drinking, smoking, and sexual relations to achieve greater “taqwa”, or consciousness of God. Fasting is one of the five pillars of Islam, along with the Muslim declaration of faith, daily prayers, charity, and performing the Hajj pilgrimage to Mecca – the site of Islam’s holiest shrine, the Kaaba – if physically and financially capable.

In many Muslim-majority countries, working hours are reduced, and most restaurants are closed during fasting hours. Various Muslim-majority nations have a personalized greeting in their native languages. “Ramadan Mubarak” and “Ramadan Kareem” are common greetings exchanged in this period, wishing the recipient a blessed and generous month, respectively.

Last year, fasting across the world ranged from 10 to 20 hours a day. At the end of Ramadan, Muslims celebrate Eid al-Fitr. In Arabic, it means “festival of breaking the fast”. Depending on the new moon sighting, Eid al-Fitr this year is likely to fall on April 21.

Ramadan is a time for Muslims to reflect on their faith and engage in acts of charity and kindness towards others. It is also a time for families to come together and break their fasts with special meals called iftars. Many mosques also hold nightly prayers called taraweeh.

However, this year’s Ramadan will be different due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. Many countries have implemented restrictions on gatherings and travel to prevent the spread of the virus. Mosques in some countries have been closed or have limited capacity to ensure social distancing measures are followed during prayers.

Despite these challenges, Muslims around the world are still finding ways to observe Ramadan and connect with their faith. Virtual iftars and taraweeh prayers have become more common, allowing people to come together online and share in the spirit of Ramadan.

Ramadan is a time for spiritual renewal and growth for Muslims around the world. As they begin this holy month, they will be praying for peace and healing for all those affected by the pandemic and other global challenges.