Saudi Arabia, UAE call on Muslims to sight Eid crescent moon on Thursday

Saudi Arabia’s Supreme Court on Tuesday called on Muslims across the Kingdom to sight the crescent moon on Thursday, April 20.

“The Supreme Court called on whoever sights the crescent moon by naked eyes or through binoculars to report to the nearest court and register their testimony,” the Saudi Press Agency reported.

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“The Supreme Court expressed hope that those who are capable of sighting the crescent moon will join committees formed for that purpose in different regions and participate in such efforts that benefit Muslims,” the report added.

A similar call to sight the moon was made by authorities in the UAE on Tuesday.

“The moon-sighting committee has invited all Muslims in the UAE to sight the crescent of the month of Shawwal on Thursday evening, 29th Ramadan, 1444 H, which corresponds to 20th April, 2023,” the Emirates News Agency (WAM) reported.

The UAE committee requested those who spot the crescent moon to contact the authorities on +97126921166 and be directed to the nearest court to record a testimony, WAM reported.

Meanwhile, astronomers in Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates said that Eid al-Fitr could begin on Saturday as the Shawwal moon is expected to be visible by the naked eye on Friday evening and not Thursday, Al Arabiya English previously reported.

Technically, the moon will appear in the sky on Thursday evening, but it will not be illuminated by the sun’s rays and will be difficult to see without specialist equipment, Majid Abu Zahra from the Jeddah Astronomical Society was quoted as saying in the report.

Eid al-Fitr marks the end of the holy month of Ramadan which began on March 23.


Mosques and Muslims Around the World Promote Sustainability and ‘Green’ Ramadan

JAKARTA, Indonesia — In the heart of Jakarta, the grand Istiqlal Mosque was built with a vision for it to stand for a thousand years.

The mosque was conceived by Soekarno, Indonesia’s founding father, and was designed as an impressive symbol for the country’s independence. Its seven gates — representing the seven heavens in Islam — welcome visitors from across the archipelago and the world into the mosque’s lofty interior.

But they don’t just see the light here. It fuels them.

A major renovation in 2019 installed upwards of 500 solar panels on the mosque’s expansive roof, now a major and clean source of Istiqlal’s electricity. And this Ramadan, the mosque has encouraged an energy waqf — a type of donation in Islam that continues to bear fruit over time — to grow its capacity to make renewable power.

Her Pramtama, deputy head of the Ri’ayah — or building management — division of Istiqlal Mosque, hopes that Islam’s holiest month, when the faithful flock to mosques in greater numbers, can provide momentum to Istiqlal’s solar project through donations.

The mosque’s climate push is just one example of different “Green Ramadan” initiatives in Indonesia and around the world that promote an array of changes during the Muslim holy month, which has fasting and, in many cases, feasting elements as people gather to break their fasts.

Read More: Why More Non-Muslims Are Fasting This Ramadan

In a month where restraint and charity are emphasized, recommendations can include using less water while performing the ritual washing before prayers, replacing plastic bottles and cutlery during community iftars with reusable ones and reducing food waste. Other suggestions include carpooling to mosques, using local produce, emphasizing recycling and using donations to fund clean energy projects.


Christian man in Gaza brings dates and water to Muslims stuck in Ramadan rush hour

GAZA, April 13 (Reuters) – In the hour before sunset during Ramadan, Gaza’s roads become choked with cars as people dash home in time to break their fast with their families.

Frustrated drivers beep their horns or try to cut through the gridlock, and there are more accidents than usual as a whole day without food or water dulls concentration and shortens tempers.

For those unlucky enough to miss breaking the fast altogether as they stand in solid traffic, Ehab Ayyad is a welcome sight.

The Christian man from Gaza offers dates and water to Muslims held up in traffic or late home to break their fast, in keeping with the Prophet’s tradition.

Five years ago, Ayyad began by offering neighbours dates and water, the first thing Muslims normally eat when they end their fast at sunset, and decided to make the offer general.

“As a Christian, I offer my Muslim brothers dates and water as a kind of sharing because we’re living in the same homeland, and we have the same blood,” Ayyad, 23, told Reuters, at his house, decorated with lanterns and small statues of the Virgin Mary. “They first wondered how a Christian is doing that, but as days went by, they got happy to see me every year,” he said.

“Reactions are positive and I am happy and proud.”

Gaza, the coastal strip under an Israeli-led blockade since 2007 and run by the Islamist Hamas group, has only around 1,000 Christians, most of them Greek Orthodox, in a population of 2.3 million.

“It isn’t their month and they don’t fast but they feel for us and this is something good,” said coffee shop owner Louay Al-Zaharna, after receiving one of Ayyad’s gifts.


When The Moon Unites Muslims, Jews And Christians — Lessons For Abraham’s Children

BUENOS AIRES – These days you may find some of your neighbors savoring an Easter egg or a Matzah flatbread, or others eating nothing at all until past sunset. Customs you may have heard of, but where did they come from?

Yes, three important festivities are coinciding right now for the first time in recent memory, and they involve the major monotheistic faiths that account for half of humanity.

For the Catholics and Protestants it is Easter, which will culminate on Easter Sunday on April 9. The same date will be April 16 for the Orthodox who follow the Julian calendar. This is the most important feast of Christianity. For Jews like myself, Wednesday was the beginning of Passover, commemorating our liberation from slavery in Egypt and the birth of the Jewish nation that gave form to monotheism. It is the oldest festivity of the Western world.

According to tradition, as there was no time to make leavened bread on leaving Egypt, the events are commemorated by eating unleavened bread and food without yeast.

The Muslims are two weeks into Ramadan, the sacred month in which the Qur’an was revealed to the Prophet Muhammad. It is a month of prayers, of rectification of conduct, reflection and self-analysis, all complemented with a full fast during daylight hours.

Though it is the second year in a row, it is generally very rare for the three faiths to see their holy dates coincide this way. As the Muslim calendar is lunar (having 10 or 11 days less than the solar calendar), Ramadan advances every year by several days, falling in March this year, a little earlier next year and so on. We will have to wait some three decades for this coincidence to recur.

\u200bAn image of a colorful mosque in Duba\u00ef during prayer.

A mosque in Dubaï during prayer.Rumman Amin

Older brothers in faith

We should recall that for centuries until the Vatican II Council of the Roman Church, Easter was used to incite the faithful against the Jews as “Christ killers,” or for a crime of lèse divinité if I may use such a term. Thankfully the Church has banished this discourse and the popes now refer to us as their “older brothers in faith.”


Ramadan, Passover and Easter overlap, highlighting challenges, common ground

On March 29, the kitchen and dining room at Quinsigamond United Methodist Church filled with warmth of friendship, laughter, and Brazilian-style cooking, including canjiquinha, a national dish including grits, pork, and seasonings.

Members of the local Berean Baptist Church, a Portuguese-language church hosting the meal, urged visitors to eat. 

The occasion was the fifth and last night of a weekly interfaith supper and prayer service, “Living Our Discipleship,” organized by the Quinsigamond Village/South Worcester church collaborative. 

Children perform a song after the opening prayer at Quinsigamond United Methodist Church during the 2023 Mid-Week Lenten Series "Living Our Discipleship" on Wednesday March 29, 2023.

Berean Baptist Church members Pamela Lima and Gil Aguiar said their congregation rents space in the Methodist church.“We like to unite the whole community in the name of Jesus Christ,” Aguiar said. “We’ve got the same God, who founded the same faith.”

After supper, the gathering moved to the sanctuary for a Portuguese-language service led by the Berean Baptist Church Pastor Antoniel Neri, with music and English-language translations by church youth. 


How Ramadan makes me a better Christian

Rev. Johnnie Moore

03 April 2023

Muslims gather for a collective Iftar meal that is organized by Al-Azhar mosque for foreign students, during the holy month of Ramadan, at the rate of 4,000 meals per day, with a total of 120,000 meals in the month, at Al-Azhar mosque in the old Islamic area of Cairo, Egypt March 31, 2023. REUTERS/Mohamed Abd El Ghany

I have always been fascinated by Islam. I began my career as a professor and chaplain at the world’s largest Christian university. During every academic break, I would take a group of students on an excursion overseas. Once, I had 20 students in Tunisia with me over spring break, and I made a point of booking all of us at a hotel in Tunis that was as close as possible to a mosque.


I wanted my devout Christian students, most of whom had never met a Muslim, to be awakened early in the morning by the call to prayer. Aside from helping them learn more about Islam, I always felt it would challenge them, as Christians, to pray more.

I have carried various versions of this habit with me for my entire adult life. In fact, my home is filled with memorabilia from the Arab world. The library that separates our main house from my home office is filled with perfumes brought from Saudi Arabia. Every day, when I walk through that corridor of our home, it reminds me of a part of the Middle East. The stack of books in our living room open to wonders of Hegra or Islamic art.

During this time of the year, it all brings a different set of memories to my mind: memories of interfaith iftar dinners with my Muslim friends in the US.

Here is a secret: Ramadan makes me a better Christian. I do not mean, by the way, that I am trying to blend Christianity and Islam. On the contrary, I believe in coexistence of religions, but not in syncretism.

Christians and Muslims should feel free to live their lives and embrace their respective views, but all people, whatever their religion, should feel free to let their curiosity about each other guide them to learn about the beliefs of others. This is not something to be feared. On the contrary, it is a blessing to be shared.


Calls for a ‘green’ Ramadan revive Islam’s long tradition of sustainability and care for the planet

Communal meals to break fast can mean lots of single-use plastics. A switch to environmentally friendly principles is in line with Islamic principles through the ages.

(The Conversation) — For many Muslims breaking fast in mosques around the world this Ramadan, something will be missing: plastics.

The communal experience of iftars – the after-sunset meal that brings people of the faith together during the holy month starting on March 22, 2023 – often necessitates the use of utensils designed for mass events, such as plastic knives and forks, along with bottles of water.

But to encourage Muslims to be more mindful of the impact of Ramadan on the environment, mosques are increasingly dispensing of single-use items, with some banning the use of plastics altogether.

As a historian of Islam, I see this “greening” of Ramadan as entirely in keeping with the traditions of the faith, and in particular the observance of Ramadan.

The month – during which observant Muslims must abstain from even a sip of water or food from sun up to sun down – is a time for members of the faith to focus on purifying themselves as individuals against excess and materialism.

But in recent years, Muslim communities around the world have used the period to rally around themes of social awareness. And this includes understanding the perils of wastefulness and embracing the link between Ramadan and environmental consciousness.

The ban on plastics – a move encouraged by the Muslim Council of Britain as a way for Muslims “to be mindful of [God’s] creation and care for the environment” – is just one example.


‘I don’t trust myself.’ For Muslims with eating disorders, fasting in Ramadan brings another set of challenges

CNN — 

As the Islamic holy month of Ramadan begins, Habiba says she is “terrified” by the thought of fasting this year.

After her disordered eating patterns spiraled into bulimia and binge eating disorder during her mid-teens, she says the ritual of abstaining from food and drink from sunrise to sunset can exacerbate the need to restrict her eating further and risk slipping into a toxic cycle.

But making the decision to refrain from the practice feels like she is neglecting a key part of her faith, she says.

“I don’t trust myself with keeping a fast because I know … I’ll start to enjoy the feelings of hunger and I’m terrified (of) what that will do to me,” said the 30-year-old UK-based Muslim editor, who asked CNN to use only her first name for privacy reasons. “I do feel sad. I feel like I’m missing out on a really spiritual experience.”

Habiba was nine years old when she first had the urge to make herself sick, she says. By the age of about 16 she says she was skipping meals, tracking calories, blacking out as a result of hunger, overexercising and vomiting at least 15 times a day.

Female person against plate with a slice of apple. Weight loss diet concept

Here are the signs of an eating disorder — the ones you know and the ones you don’t

“I would never wish something like bulimia, especially, on anyone, because it’s like an addiction.”

Habiba is not alone in her experience. A growing number of Muslim doctors and psychologists are trying to bridge the gap between faith leaders and worshippers like Habiba, who say they face marginalization when trying to access support within their own communities, as well as in the public health system.

“Minorities are underrepresented. It’s not that they don’t have eating disorders or suffer, but there is all this stigma around who comes to get help,” Dr. Omara Naseem, a UK-based counseling psychologist who specializes in treating eating disorders, said. These are “invisible and indiscriminate” illnesses that transcend age, religion, gender and sexuality, she added.

“It’s an act of worship to take care of your body and health. Therefore, go and get the right help that you need,” she said.


A Ramadan etiquette guide for non-Muslims

There are about 8 billion people in the world. And about a quarter of them are fasting from sunup to sundown. Every day. For an entire month.

It’s Ramadanthe holiest month of the Muslim calendar. In 2023, it runs from March 22 to April 21.

But what if you’re not a Muslim – just a caring, considerate person. Is there anything you should do so you don’t come across as insensitive to your fasting friends in the US during Ramadan?

Short answer: No. Long answer: No.

But you can earn some cool points if you follow these 10 tips:

1. You can totally eat in front of us …

For the 30 days of Ramadan, Muslims around the world will abstain from eating and drinking during daylight hours. That doesn’t mean you shouldn’t carry on business as usual. (Just turn a deaf ear to our growling stomachs.)

2. … but try not to schedule a work lunch

If you have to host a brown-bag, you should. But don’t feel bad if we sit there, like a vegetarian friend at a churrascaria. Ditto for a happy-hour mixer. If your Muslim co-worker takes a pass, understand.

A boy attends the early morning prayer at  Al Noor Mosque  in Sharjah, UAE.

A boy attends the early morning prayer at Al Noor Mosque in Sharjah, UAE.Francois Nel/Getty Images

3. You don’t have to fast with us …

You can if you want to see what it feels like. But it’s not going to hurt our feelings – even if we’re best friends.

4. … but you can join us for Iftar

Iftar is the breaking of the fast after sundown. We like to make it a big communal meal. You should come.

A Muslim woman walks on "sea of sands" as she prepares for prayer at Parangkusumo Beach in Yogyakarta, Indonesia.

A Muslim woman walks on “sea of sands” as she prepares for prayer at Parangkusumo Beach in Yogyakarta, Indonesia.Ulet Ifansasti/Getty Images

5. You don’t have to know when it begins …

Ramadan isn’t like Christmas or Thanksgiving, as in everyone knows exactly when it’ll fall. It bounces around, because the Islamic calendar is lunar. When it begins depends on when the new moon is seen. That’s why the precise dates change from year to year.