World Bulletin / News Desk
Muslims in Turkey, the Balkans and the European Union welcomed Ramadan on Friday while Saudi Arabia, along with most other Gulf states will start the holiest month of the year on Saturday, depending on the time of local sightings of the moon worldwide.
The Islamic Society of North America has also declared that they will observe on Saturday, August 22.
During the month, Every physically and mentally able adult Muslim is obliged to observe a fast from sunrise to sunset. The month marks the time when the Muslim holy book, the Quran, was sent down as guidance for the people.
Muslims in Balkans, Europe
"Friday, August 21, will be the first day of Ramadan in Turkey," the Presidency of Religion Affairs, Turkey's highest religious institution, said in a statement.
Muslims in the Balkans also follow Turkey.
"Ramadan will start in Romania on Friday, August 21," Youssef Murad, the head of Romania's Fatwa House, said.
"Romanians of Turkish and Tatari origin follow Turkey in observing Ramadan, while the Arab community follows the moon-sighting in their Arab countries," said Karim Angi, head of the Romanian Muslim Society.
There are some 70,000 Muslims in Romanian, mostly hailing from Turkey and Albania. They make up two percent of the country's 22 million population.
Ramadan also starts in Bulgaria, Kosovo on Friday, August 21.
"Bulgarian Muslims usually start fasting with Turkey," said Asen Menkov, head of the Muslim Union for Development and Culture.
"In coordination with Turkey's Fatwa House, we, in the Balkans, have agreed on the start of Ramadan to maintain our unity," Naeem Trafana, the head of the Islamic Sheikhdom in Kosovo, said.
Bosnian Muslims will also start fasting on Friday, August 21.
Muslims in Bosnia, Croatia and Slovenia, Serbia and Montenegro, Macedonia and Albania also marked the start of Ramadan on August 21.
Exempted from fasting are persons suffering from serious illnesses, women in their menstrual period, the elderly and children below 13, and travellers at least 40 miles away from home.
Muslims follows the lunar calendar so the month-long Ramadan observance moves throughout the year over a period of time.
Arab, Gulf states on Saturday
Saudi Arabia will start Ramadan on Saturday along with most other Gulf states, regional state media reported on Thursday.
Senior religious councils in Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Qatar, Bahrain and the United Arab Emirates said no new moon had been sighted on Thursday night and so Friday would be the last day of the month preceding Ramadan.
For the first time, residents in Saudi Arabia will be able to use telescopes, not just the naked eye, to sight the crescent moon.
In a statement issued Monday, the Supreme Court called upon the public to sight the new moon on Thursday evening.
"The Supreme Court urges those who see it with the naked eye or the telescope to register the sightings with the nearest court," said the statement.
Previously, the Supreme Court did not include telescope sightings in its statements.
On Monday, Lebanon's Grand Ayatollah Mohammed Hussein Fadlallah, said Ramadan will begin on Friday based "on accurate astronomical calculations."
Ramadan will begin on Saturday in Egypt, where authorities are turning the clocks back a month early in a bid to reduce daylight hours for those fasting.
"The day after tomorrow, Saturday, is the first day of the holy month of Ramadan," the country's mufti, Ali Gomaa, said in a statement carried by the official MENA news agency.
From midnight (2100 GMT) on Thursday, Egypt will turn back the clocks by one hour, cutting short its summer time by a whole month.
Last Mod: 21 Ağustos 2009, 13:27
The end of Ramadan is marked by the feast to break the fast, Eid al-Fitr. It is this time when Muslims express thanks for their many blessings, including food and family.