The Muslim fasting month of Ramadan will start on Friday in Saudi Arabia, the birthplace of Islam, and most Arab countries.
Saudi Arabia’s Supreme Court said the new moon was sighted on Thursday, confirming that Ramadan will start on Friday, the official SPA news agency reported.
The beginning and end of Islamic months are determined by the sighting of the new moon.
Most Arab countries have also announced that the holy month will start on Friday, including Kuwait, Qatar, Tunisia, Lebanon, Egypt, the United Arab Emirates and Iraq’s Sunni Muslim minority.
The Gulf sultanate of Oman announced the crescent was not spotted, thus Ramadan will begin on Saturday.
During Ramadan, Muslims have to abstain from eating, drinking and smoking from dawn to sunset.
Devout Muslims also mark the month by performing the special evening prayers, known as the taraweeh.
This year, mosques in most countries have been shut to protect public health amid the novel coronavirus pandemic and religious authorities called on the faithful to pray in their homes.
“I am pained that we start this great month amid circumstances that prevent us from performing congregational prayers, the taraweeh and the night prayers at mosques due to the precautionary measures to protect people’s lives in the face of the novel coronavirus pandemic,” Saudi King Salman said in a statement marking the month, according to SPA.
Salman also praised health workers, security personnel, soldiers at the borders and all those working amid the pandemic and thanked them for their great work.