Ramadan to begin Monday in Saudi Arabia, other Muslim countries
The Muslim fasting month of Ramadan will begin on Monday in Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Kuwait, Qatar, Yemen and the United Arab Emirates, it was officially announced in all six countries.
Saudi state television Al Ekhbariya said Ramadan will begin on Monday in the kingdom, home to Islam’s holiest shrines, Mecca and Medina, because the sighting of the new moon could not be confirmed by the authorities.
The exact dates of the start and the end of Ramadan depend on the sighting of the new moon as many Muslim countries reject using astronomical calculation for the Muslim lunar calendar.
If the new moon had been sighted Saturday, the start of Ramadan would have been Sunday.
Ramadan will also begin on Monday in Egypt, Kuwait, Qatar, Yemen and the United Arab Emirates.
Muslims observe the ninth month of the lunar Islamic calendar when Archangel Gabriel revealed the Koran -- Islam’s holy book -- to the Prophet Mohammed.
Throughout the month devout Muslims must abstain from food, drink and sex from dawn until sunset when they break the fast with the Iftar meal.
The fast is one of the five pillars of Islam, along with the annual pilgrimage to Mecca which able Muslims should do once in a lifetime.
Sweltering temperatures in the Gulf Arab countries and the length of time between dawn and sunset will make Ramadan in August a trying ritual for Muslims this year.