Last minute preparations are underway as 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.
An official moon-sighting committee met in Abu Dhabi on Tuesday evening after Maghreb prayers, The National reports, and determined that the Holy Month would begin two days later. For Muslims who live in regions where Islam is not the dominant religion, challenging fasts are believed to come with greater blessings.
The goal of the fast is to bring the faithful devotees closer to God and to remind them of the sufferings of those who are less fortunate.
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They also advise cutting back on caffeinated drinks, drinking plenty of plain water and eating unrefined carbohydrates and proteins, during non-fasting hours, to maintain energy levels.
"In addition to performing the Terawih prayers at night, we are also encouraged to recite and understand the contents of the Quran in an effort towards becoming a Muslim who practises the Islamic way of life", he said. Children, the elderly, those who are sick, women who are menstruating, pregnant or nursing, and travelers are excluded from fasting.
Saudi Arabia's Supreme Court made a similar announcement saying Wednesday would be the 30th day of Sha'ban and Thursday would mark the start of Ramadan, according to Saudi Press Agency.
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Pan-Arab television news channel Al Arabiya stated bad weather and dust had made the observation hard.
Fasting during month of Ramadhan is mandated among physically and mentally sane Muslims in fulfillment of one of the five pillars of Islam. Many donate their annual charity, known as "zakat", during Ramadan. Following sunset prayers, Muslims will celebrate with friends and family with a nightly feast called iftar.
On Tuesday, President Duterte greeted Muslims in the advent of Ramadan, expressing hope they would intensify "resolve to achieve spiritual cleansing and growth". Often, restaurants shutter their doors during the day.
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