Millions of Muslims around the world marked the start of the holy month of Ramadan on June 6, a time marked by intense prayer, dawn-to-dusk fasting and nightly feasts.
As reported by The Associated Press (AP), Saudi Arabia’s state TV announced the new moon of Ramadan was spotted on June 5 evening. Local media in Indonesia, the world’s most populous Muslim country, also said Muslims there would begin fasting on June 6, as will Muslims in Singapore, Yemen, Lebanon, Syria, Qatar, Kuwait, Jordan, Egypt, the United Arab Emirates, Afghanistan and the Palestinian territories, among others.
Muslims follow a lunar calendar and a moon-sighting methodology that can lead to different countries declaring the start of Ramadan a day or two apart. By the evening of June 5, Pakistan and Iran had yet to officially announce June 6 as the first day of Ramadan. Traditionally, countries announce if their moon-sighting council spots the Ramadan crescent the evening before fasting begins.
The faithful spend the month of Ramadan in mosques for evening prayers known as “taraweeh,” while free time during the day is often spent reading the Quran and listening to religious lectures.
Each day for the month of Ramadan, Muslims abstain from eating and drinking from sunrise to sunset. Even a sip of water, coffee or a cigarette can invalidate one’s fast. There are exceptions to fasting for children, the elderly, the sick, women who are pregnant, nursing or menstruating, and people travelling.
The fast is intended to bring the faithful closer to God and to remind them of the suffering of those less fortunate.
Muslims celebrate the end of Ramadan with a three-day holiday called Eid al-Fitr.