Ramadan to start on 23 March in Egypt: Astronomy Institute

Ahram Online , Sunday 12 Mar 2023

The Islamic holy month of fasting, Ramadan, will begin on 23 March this year in Egypt and most Arab countries, according to astronomical calculations by the Cairo-based National Research Institute of Astronomy and Geophysics (NRIAG).

Ramadan lanterns
People shop from a stall selling Ramadan lanterns along a main street in the Shubra district of Egypt s capital Cairo on 12 April, 2021, at the start of the Muslim holy fasting month of Ramadan. AFP

However, the final word on the beginning of Ramadan in Egypt is ultimately determined by Dar El-Iftaa, the main authority responsible for issuing religious edicts, following observations of the crescent moon. 

According to NRIAG, the crescent moon of Ramadan will not be spotted in Cairo or most Islamic and Arab capitals and cities at sunset on 29 Sha’ban, which corresponds with 21 March in the Gregorian calendar. Therefore, 23 March will be the beginning of Ramadan, according to the organisation, and 22 March will be the end of Sha'ban.

Last week, the Abu Dhabi-based International Astronomical Centre predicted 23 March to be the first day of the holy month in some Arab countries.

In recent years, many Muslim-majority countries, including Egypt, have begun relying on astronomical calculations to define the start of Islamic lunar months. Traditionally, the crescent moon sighting has been they way Ramadan has been determined. This was a religious ceremony that has been observed in the Muslim world for centuries. 

If the crescent is spotted after sunset in any place, it indicates the start of Ramadan, the ninth month of the Islamic calendar. 

Eid Al-Fitr, or "the feast of breaking the fast," is a three-day religious holiday following Ramadan, and is set to be celebrated by Muslims around the world on 21 April, according to NRIAG. Eid Al-Fitr prayers in Cairo have been scheduled for 5:47am that day. This Ramadan, Egyptian Muslims will be permitted to perform all religious rituals inside mosques amid relaxed coronavirus restrictions.

Late in 2022, the Ministry of Religious Endowments announced allowing seclusion inside major mosques for specific prayers for the first time since it was halted during the pandemic restrictions of 2020.

Tarawih prayers, where long portions of the Quran are read, will also be allowed inside mosques without time constraints. 

Tarawih prayers were resumed in 2021 after they had been canceled in the first year of the pandemic but they were restricted to 30 minutes.

Late-night prayers (Tahajjud) which typically take place after midnight during the last ten days of Ramadan, will also be allowed for the first time since 2020.

As the global economic crisis persists, Egyptians have been struggling with high commodity prices ahead of Ramadan, which usually sees an uptick in food consumption.

To address this issue, authorities have launched Welcome Ramadan (Ahlan Ramadan) outlets across Egypt that offer discounts ranging from 25 to 30 percent on food and consumer goods.

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