Ramadan: The most spiritual month in Islam and how its start date is decided

Taken from islamonline.net

Taken from islamonline.net

Ramadan started on March 22 and is came to a close on Thursday. As Ramadan makes its yearly appearance, many Muslim people have wondered how it is decided what day Ramadan starts and what day it ends. When the official decision is made on the day Ramadan begins, it is usually only a day or two before the date of the official start.

Ramadan is a month for Muslims to fast, said to increase your spirituality with God. Fasting is one of the five fundamental principles of Islam, and Ramadan is celebrated as the month when prophet Muhammad received the initial revelations of the Quran.

Ramadan is an annual experience that all people devoted to the Islamic religion typically go through. For typically one month, Muslims fast from sunrise to sunset and are not allowed to eat or drink anything while the sun is up.

The start of Ramadan is different every year because of the lunar Islamic calendar. A moon sighting committee in Saudi Arabia is typically the group that decides the specific day to start and end this momentous month. Ramadan is the first day of the ninth month of this calendar, which is determined by the sighting of the crescent moon. It begins the day after the committee spots the new crescent moon, which can be tricky, since it can be seen for only about 20 minutes. If the moon isn’t visible to the naked eye because of obstruction, lunar calculations are used to predict whether it’s in the sky.

In some countries, there is a divide between those who follow the traditional method and those who use astronomical calculations. For example, in Saudi Arabia, the government relies on the sighting of the crescent moon, while in the neighboring United Arab Emirates, the government uses astronomical calculations. This can create confusion for Muslims who may live in one country but follow the method of another.

The fasting dates for 2023 Ramadan. (Courtesy of the Islamic Society of Greater Houston)

Many people get confused every year when trying to decipher what day Ramadan starts, and most people turn to social media or the local mosque for an answer. Many Muslim families have used a Ramadan calendar from the local mosque’s website.

In recent years, efforts have been made to bring more unity to the Muslim community when it comes to determining the start of Ramadan. Islamic organizations and scholars have encouraged Muslims to follow a unified calendar, based on either the visual sighting or astronomical calculations, to ensure consistency and avoid division.