Astronomers, religious leaders clash about start of Ramadan

August 10, 2010
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Bahrain’s astronomers and religious leaders have once more clashed about the start of Ramadan, Muslim’s sacred month during which they abstain from food, drink and intimate contacts.

Astronomers, led by Waheeb Al Nasser, from the University of Bahrain, said that Wednesday would mark the beginning of the month, based on the lunar calendar.

“The crescent will be visible on Tuesday and there is no doubt that Wednesday would be the first day of the holy month,” Al Nasser, a physics professor, said.

However, religious figures, mainly Shiite scholars, said that Muslims should start observing the month on Thursday, arguing that it would not be possible to see the crescent on Tuesday.

“The divergence over the start and end of the holy month is the result of the misuse of calculations and obstinate attitudes,” Mohsin Al Asfoor, a religious leader, said. “Based on our astronomical calculations, the first day of Ramadan will be on Thursday,” he said.

The justice and Islamic ministry said that its ad-hoc panel would start receiving testimonies about the beginning of the month on Tuesday evening, a fact that could make Wednesday the first day of Ramadan.

In Kuwait, Shiite leaders said that Muslims should start fasting on Thursday, the first day of the month.

However, in Lebanon, the office of Sayyed Mohammad Husain Fadlallah, Lebanon’s most respected Shiite leader who died last month, announced that Ramadan would start on Wednesday.

In Libya, the Libyan Centre of Remote Sensing and Space Sciences said that Ramadan would begin this year on August 11.

Bahrain’s government on Tuesday said that it was slashing official working hours to six during the sacred month and asked public sector employees to report to work from 8 am to 2 pm from Sunday to Thursday.

         

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About the author

Born August 3, 1960 in Monastir, Tunisia
Career
Media career:
  • ABC News (Tunisia)
  • Bahrain Tribune
  • Gulf News
  • Bahrain Television News
Teaching career:
  • Monastir (Tunisia)
  • University of Bahrain
Education
  • MA  Mass Communications, University of Leicester
  • BA  in English & US literature and studies, University of Tunis

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