Saudi Arabia, the birthplace of Islam, has empathically announced that the Muslim fasting month of Ramadan will begin on Saturday, state media said on Thursday.
This is contrary to the directive to Nigerian muslims by the Sultan of Sokoto, Sa’ad Abubakar, that they should look out for the moon today and commence fasting if sighted.
Ramadan is the ninth month of the Islamic calendar and is observed by Muslims worldwide as a month of fasting (Sawm) to commemorate the first revelation of the Quran to Prophet Mohammed according to Islamic belief.
This annual observance is regarded as one of the Five Pillars of Islam.
According to numerous biographical accounts compiled in the hadiths, Ramadan lasts 29 to 30 days based on the visual sightings of the crescent moon.
The beginning and end of Islamic months are determined by the sighting of the new moon.
Lebanon’s top Islamic authority, the mufti, said Ramadan would also begin in the country on Saturday.
A similar statement was made by officials in Iraq’s Muslim Sunni minority.
The President of the Supreme Council for Islamic Affairs, Sultan Saad Abubakar, has asked Muslims in Nigeria to look out for the new moon from Friday, May 26.
During Ramadan, Muslims have to abstain from eating, drinking and smoking from dawn to sunset.
Devout Muslims also mark the month by intense worship, performing special nightly prayers and reading Islam’s holy book, the Koran.
Fasting is one of Islam’s five pillars, alongside declaration of monotheism, prayer five times a day, alms-giving, and the pilgrimage to Mecca in Saudi Arabia.