Holy Muslim month of Ramadan to begin on Thursday

Saudi Arabia, home of the holiest shrines in Islam in Mecca and Medina, has announced that the fasting month of Ramadan will start on Thursday.

The kingdom’s supreme court rules that the Islamic calendar month of Shaban, which precedes Ramadan, will end tomorrow, meaning Ramadan will begin the following day, the official Saudi Press Agency reports.

Authorities earlier today called on residents to try to spot the crescent moon that marks the start of Ramadan, but it was not visible, state media says.

The official Crescent Sighting Committee in neighboring Qatar also announces that Thursday “is the first day of the blessed month of Ramadan,” the official Qatar News Agency says on Twitter.

The Palestinian grand mufti makes a similar announcement.

The daytime fasting month of Ramadan is one of the five pillars of Islam. Observant Muslims refrain from eating and drinking from dawn to dusk, and traditionally gather with family and friends to break their fast in the evening.

The starting date of Ramadan, the holiest Muslim month, is set by both lunar calculations and physical sightings to determine the beginning of a new month.

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