On the first day of the Holy Month of Ramadan, UAE residents will fast a little over 13 hours according to the prayer timings published on the General Authority of Islamic Affairs and Endowment website.
As per astronomical calculations, Ramadan is set to begin on March 23, and on that day, Fajr (morning) prayers which mark the start of the fast, at 5:02am and Maghrib prayers (sunset) at 6:35 pm, making the total fasting time 13 hours, 33 minutes. By the end of the month, which is expected to be on April 20, the fasting hours will slightly increase to 14 hours 16 minutes as Fajr prayers will be at 4:31 am and Maghreb at 6:47 pm.
Last year, the fast on the first day of Ramadan lasted for 13 hours and 48 minutes; the last day was 14 hours 33 minutes. The Holy Month lasts either for 29 or 30 days, and a moon-sighting committee determines its start and end.
Not only will the fasting hours be shorter this year, but the temperatures are also expected to be much cooler as the holy month will be at the beginning of spring. Ibrahim told Emarat Al Youm that temperatures this year during Ramadan will range from 17 to 35 degrees at the beginning of the holy month and will range from 17 to 36 degrees towards the end of the month. He said that the “Al Sarayat” spring weather disturbances might also occur during Ramadan, causing heavy rains.
There are two main meals during Ramadan, Suhoor, taken before sunrise and Iftar, taken after sunset. Restaurants are open during Ramadan, but it is not allowed to eat or drink in public. By law, working hours and school days are also reduced during the month.
Ramadan is usually either 29 or 30 days, and a moon-sighting committee determines the start and end of the month. Astronomically, Ibrahim Al Jarwan, the Chairman of the Board of Directors of the Emirates Astronomy Society, told Arabic Daily Emarat Al Youm recently that the new crescent for Ramadan would be born at 21:23pm on Tuesday, March 21 – which is after sunset – and that the next day it would be 10 degrees above the western horizon and set after 50 minutes. He explained that this is the reason the first day of the month of Ramadan for the Hijri Year 1444 will likely start on Thursday, March 23, 2023.
Speaking to Khaleej Times last week, Hassan Hariri commented on why the lunar months are sometimes 29 days and sometimes 30 days long. “The moon’s orbit is tilted over the earth’s equator; it’s not exactly on the same level as the earth’s equator. That’s why sometimes they are seen clearly and sometimes not because it depends on the earth, moon and sun geometry. The orbit is also elliptical and not a circle. That’s why the geometry allows us to see the moon early or late,” he said.
He also spoke about the importance of the moon sighting, which is held in addition to the astronomical calculations. He said that they do not contradict one another but are used in tandem and that it is an Islamic obligation to ‘sight’ it. He quoted a saying (hadith) by Prophet Muhammad (PBUH), which says, ‘Fast when you see the moon and breakfast when you see the moon.’ “Islam supports using knowledge and science, so it is in harmony,” he said.
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