UAE Moon-Sighting Committee to meet on Tuesday to determine start of Ramadan
The United Arab Emirates’ Moon-Sighting Committee will meet on Tuesday evening to determine the start of the holy month of Ramadan.
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The committee will look for the new crescent moon, and if spotted, fasting will begin at dawn on Wednesday.
In case the spotters cannot see the new crescent moon due to clouds, they will convene the following evening, and fasting will not begin until Thursday at the earliest. The meeting will take place after the maghreb prayer at the Abu Dhabi Judicial Department and will be attended by several high-ranking officials led by Abdullah al-Nuaimi, Minister of Justice.
According to the state-run Emirates News Agency (WAM), Sharia courts throughout the country will monitor and report any sightings to the Moon-Sighting Committee, while the Lunar Calendar Committee will present its findings.
Ramadan is observed by more than 1.8 billion Muslims worldwide and is considered a month of fasting and spirituality. It is believed to be the month when the Quran was revealed to the Prophet Mohammed.
During the holy month, millions of Muslims around the world fast from dawn until sunset as an act of devotion and spiritual reflection.
Fasting during Ramadan is one of the five pillars of Islam and is mandatory for all healthy Muslims. However, young children, sick individuals, travelers, and women who are pregnant, nursing, or menstruating are exempt.
Iftar is followed by Taraweeh prayers. These are then sometimes followed by social gatherings that could last through suhoor, the meal Muslims consume before starting their fast for the day.
The start and the end of the holy month is marked with the sighting of the moon.
Muslims have followed the tradition of looking for the crescent moon for thousands of years to determine the start of Ramadan as well as the two major holidays in Islam, Eid al-Fitr and Eid al-Adha.
Earlier this week, the Supreme Court in Saudi Arabia called on the public to look for the crescent moon from Tuesday, March 21.
The Kingdom’s moon sighting committee usually observes the moon leading up to the expected start of Ramadan, but they have encouraged other Muslims to sight the moon as well.
Reduced hours for UAE schools, employees
The UAE government has announced reduced school timings and working hours for federal employees during the holy month of Ramadan in 2023.
During Ramadan, private school timings will be reduced to five hours, according to the Knowledge and Human Development Authority (KHDA).
Schools have been given two options: those starting at 7:45 AM will end at 12:45 PM from Monday to Thursday and 7:45 AM to 11:45 AM on Friday, while institutions starting at 8:00 AM will end at 1:00 PM from Monday to Thursday and at 11:45 AM on Fridays.
The KHDA emphasized that schools must provide a maximum of five hours of instruction time and end instruction by 12:00 PM on Fridays to accommodate Friday prayers.
Fasting students are also exempt from participating in PE classes.
The Federal Authority for Government Human Resources (FAHR) has issued a circular setting the official working hours based on a related UAE Cabinet
The official working hours for ministries and federal authorities during Ramadan will be from 9:00 AM to 2:30 PM from Monday to Thursday, and from 9:00 AM to 12:00 PM on Fridays.
This schedule will allow employees to observe their religious practices during the holy month. FAHR has also emphasized that ministries and federal authorities could implement flexible working or remote work schedules during Ramadan in line with their specific requirements.
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