The first day of Ramadan this year will be on Thursday, June 18, according to the Abu Dhabi-based International Centre for Astronomy, emirates247.com reports.
The date is arrived according to astronomical calculations. However, the actual start of Ramadan will depend on the sighting of the moon.
Muslims in some countries such as
Ramadan, the ninth month of the Islamic calendar, is expected to begin this year the night of Thursday, June 18, and end the evening of Friday, July 17. Even though astronomy can generally predict the lunar cycle, Muslims continue to depend on the tradition of looking at the sky to confirm the start of the holy month, in part because sightings can vary depending on where they live around the world.
The day after a new, waxing crescent moon -- a sliver known as a "hilal" -- appears in the night sky is the first day of Ramadan. Similarly, Ramadan ends with the appearance of cresent of a new moon.
What is Ramadan?
The holiday honors the time when Allah, via the angel Gabriel, revealed the first verses of the Qur'an, the holy book of Islam, to a caravan trader named Muhammad.
Muslims believe that fasting cleanses the body, and the practice reminds them of the suffering of the poor.
Beginning at age 12, all Muslims take part in the monthlong dawn-to-sunset fast that is the hallmark of Ramadan. Eating and drinking (including water) is prohibited during daylight hours, and the day's abstinence is offset by a nightly meal known as iftar. Food is often shared with a poor family during Ramadan, almanac.com reports.
At the end of the 30-day fast is Eid al-Fitr (Festival of Breaking the Fast), when there is much feasting and celebration.