The Islamic holy month of Ramadan will start in Egypt on Friday, the Islamic Dar Al-Iftaa has announced.
Dar Al-Iftaa observed the crescent moon of the holy month on Wednesday. Typically, the religious authority would announce the result in a celebration; however, this year’s celebration was cancelled over the coronavirus.
During Ramadan, the ninth month on the Islamic calendar, Muslims abstain from drinking and eating from dawn until dusk, a practice that constitutes one of their religion's five pillars.
This year, Muslims around the world are welcoming the holy month amid unprecedented restrictions and preventative measures due to the coronavirus pandemic.
Saudi Arabia announced on Monday that the Grand Mosque and the Prophet's Mosque, the holiest places in Islam, will have Ramadan prayers but without worshippers during the holy month to curb the spread of the virus.
Also, several Islamic countries have announced similar preventative measures.
In Egypt, authorities have said that all congregational religious activities, including regular communal prayers in mosques, as well as the Tarawih prayers, which are special evening prayers performed during Ramadan, will be suspended this year.
Other traditional public activities that used to take place in Ramadan, such as charity iftar tables for the poor to break their fast, have also been suspended.
Dar Al-Iftaa warned on Sunday against calls to hold Tarawih prayers on rooftops amid the coronavirus pandemic.
Endowments minister Mohamed Mokhtar Gomaa has received a letter from Health Minister Hala Zayed saying that there is no harm in fasting during Ramadan for healthy people.
According to the letter, no studies have proven that fasting would reduce immunity and increase chances of contracting the coronavirus.
The Ministry of Endowments stressed in a statement on Wednesday that fasting is obligatory for healthy Muslims.
The Egyptian government's coronavirus crisis management committee is set to convene by the end of the week to determine curfew measures during Ramadan, a cabinet media advisor said on Monday.
The country's nighttime curfew, first imposed on 25 March, was initially set to end on 23 April, but cabinet spokesman Nader Saad has said that the curfew is likely to be extended into Ramadan.
Ramadan is expected to last for 30 days, which means that it will end on 23 May. Then it will be followed by Eid Al-Fitr, or "the feast of breaking the fast," which is a three-day religious holiday marking the end of Ramadan, and is celebrated by Muslims worldwide.