RIYADH: Saudi Arabian moon observers said that there was no sight of the Ramadan crescent on Saturday, meaning millions of Muslims around the world will begin the holy month on Monday.
The Islamic world follows a lunar calendar, and the traditional moon-sighting methodology can lead to different countries declaring the start of Ramadan a day or two apart
This year, Ramadan will fall on long summer days for Muslims in the Northern Hemisphere.
Fasting during Ramadan is one of the five obligatory pillars of Islam, along with the Muslim declaration of faith, daily prayer, annual charity — known as "zakat" — and performing the Hajj pilgrimage.
Sheikh Abdullatif Al-Asheikh, Saudi minister for Islamic affairs, said more than 4,000 clerics were being employed during Ramadan and 1,100 imams were being hired to lead Taraweeh prayers. He added that more than 2,400 mosques had been renovated and 221 mosques had been opened before Ramadan.
Al-Asheikh said that 100 male preachers and 50 female preachers had been assigned to Makkah and Madinah to raise awareness among those performing Umrah. He added that 70 imams have been appointed to lead prayers in 35 countries in response to requests of Islamic centers in those countries.