Muslims prepare for start of fasting during month of Ramadan
DUBAI, United Arab Emirates — Muslims around the world stocked up on groceries and dates Wednesday for evening meals to break dawn-to-dusk fasting during the month of Ramadan.
Saudi Arabia and other Muslim-majority nations, like Egypt and Indonesia, declared Ramadan would begin Thursday based on a moon-sighting methodology. Muslims follow a lunar calendar, and a moon-sighting methodology can lead to different countries declaring the start of Ramadan a day or two apart.
Some mosques in the U.S. had already declared the start of fasting Wednesday while others will begin Thursday.
The Ramadan fast, in which food and even a sip of water are prohibited, is intended to bring the faithful closer to God and remind them of those less fortunate.
While fasting, Muslims must also abstain from sex, gossip and cursing. Muslims are encouraged to spend time in contemplation, prayer, reading the Quran and charity during the day.
Just as the sun begins to set, Muslims traditionally break their fast as the Prophet Muhammad did 1,400 years ago, by eating dates and drinking water, followed by a sunset prayer. At night, many fill mosques for evening prayers, known as taraweeh.
Before dawn to prepare for the next day of fasting, families often wake in the night for a light meal known as suhoor, eating fruits and vegetables, or a small dish with beans, lentils, bread or rice.
Muslims celebrate the end of Ramadan with a three-day holiday called Eid al-Fitr.