Manama: A Kuwaiti astronomer has said that Ramadan is expected to start on May 17.
Adel Al Saadoon said the crescent announcing the start of the month of fasting would be visible with naked eye in North African countries, but telescopes would be needed in Kuwait.
“The sun will set down at 6:16 on May 16 and the crescent will be visible for around 26 minutes, and therefore May 17 will be the first day of the holy month,” he said, quoted by Kuwait News Agency (Kuna).
Ramadan is the ninth month of the 12-month lunar-based Islamic calendar followed by Muslims.
The sighting of Ramadan crescent has often been a point of debate among Muslims, resulting in countries announcing the start and end of Ramadan on different days.
The clash is mainly between conservatives who insist on seeing the moon with the naked eye, in line with a literal interpretation of Islamic principles.
Such a view is in contrast with that held by those who call for the use of astronomical calculations to predict the start of the month.
For the naked-eye sightings, varying geographical and weather conditions meant that people in different locations cannot see the appearance of the moon, resulting in Muslims around the world starting their fast on different days.
However, the strict interpretation of the visibility stipulation is increasingly becoming a source of national and social divisions, defeating the call for unity preached by Islam during the sacred month.
Throughout Ramadan, Muslims abstain from eating, drinking, smoking and engaging in sensual pleasures from sunrise to sunset and focus on their spiritual relationship with God and on charitable deeds.