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Astronomers and scholars debate start of Ramadan
A Jordanian man looks at decorations for Ramadan in Amman, Jordan, Thursday, July 19. Religious authorities in Jordan declared that Friday will be the start of the holy month of Ramadan, a period devoted to dawn-to-dusk fasting, prayers and spiritual introspection. Ramadan begins around 11 days earlier each year. Its start is calculated based on the sighting of the new moon, which marks the beginning of the Muslim lunar month that varies between 29 or 30 days.Mohammad Hannon / AP
By Jonathan Sanger
On the eve of Ramadan, astronomers and scholars consult the sky to determine the precise starting date. Since the Muslim holy month starts at the sighting of the new moon, the exact date is not known far in advance. This has caused issues for some European Muslims. Jordanians begin Ramadan on Friday, while Muslims in the West Bank began Thursday.