RAMADAN BEGINS IN Ireland tomorrow, as well as in the UK, but there has been some confusion over the date in France.
The Islamic Cultural Centre of Ireland announced that the first day of Ramadan in Ireland is tomorrow, with the taraweeh prayer for the first night of Ramadan to begin immediately after maghrib at 10pm.
The holy month, during which Muslims fast from dawn to dusk, is based on the sighting of the new (crescent) moon, which varies from country to country.
It began in the USA yesterday, and President Barack Obama will host an iftar dinner at the White House, as he has for the past four years. Meanwhile, in France, Muslims were thrown into some confusion over the date. While the French Council of the Muslim Faith (CFCM) initially insisted Ramadan began today, the theological council at the Great Mosque of Paris argued it would not start until Wednesday.
The later date is the day many Arab countries are due to begin the observance. However, the CFCM later reversed its decision.
It said in a statement that “in order to preserve the unity of French Muslims,” it had joined the mosque in declaring Wednesday the start of Ramadan.
Fasting is one of the five main religious obligations under Islam. During Ramadan, Muslims are also required to abstain from dawn until dusk from drinking liquids, smoking and having sex.
The fasting (which is not obligatory for people who are ill, travelling, pregnant, diabetic or menstruating) begins before dawn with a meal called suhoor. It is broken after dusk with a meal known as iftar. Traditionally, the fast is broken by eating dates, which is how Muhammad broke his fast.
As well as fasting, Muslims are encouraged to read the entire Quran and also recite special prayers called taraweeh. The end of Ramadan is marked with the Muslim holiday Eid ul-Fitr.
- Additional reporting AFP