FOR THE RECORD (December 31, 1997): Ramadan: Muslins will be fasting from dawn to dusk during Ramadan, which begins today. An story on Page A5 of Tuesday’s Spokesman-Review was in error.
Clerics around the Islamic world spotted a new moon Monday, signaling that Ramadan - the holy month of dusk-to-dawn fasting - will begin today.
Egypt’s grand mufti, Sheik Nasr Farid, the government’s ranking cleric, made the announcement in Cairo. Similar announcements came from clerics in countries across the Middle East, including Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Lebanon, Iraq, Yemen, Bahrain and Qatar.
Egyptian phone lines were clogged with families calling to inform each other and relay Ramadan greetings, making it hard to get a dial tone.
Ramadan’s starting date changes each year and is determined by the sighting of the new moon. It marks God’s revelation of the Koran, Islam’s holy book, to the Prophet Mohammed some 1,400 years ago.
The world’s 1 billion Muslims mark the holy month by abstaining from food, drink, smoking and sex during daylight hours as an act of sacrifice and purification.
During Ramadan, extended families gather at sunset, awaiting the blast of a canon or the start of the evening prayer that allows them to break their fast.
Ramadan will last 29 or 30 days, depending on the next lunar crescent sighting. The fast will end with the three-day feast of Eid al-Fitr.