BEIRUT — The Grand Mufti of Lebanon, Abdel Latif Derian, the highest Sunni dignitary in the country, announced that the Ramadan fast will begin on Thursday, March 23, in a statement relayed Tuesday by the state-run National News Agency.
"We have not yet seen the crescent [during the observation of the sky on Tuesday night]. We, therefore, consider Wednesday, March 22 as the last day of the month of Sha'ban and Thursday, March 23 as the first day of the month of Ramadan in the year 1444 AH," stated the Mufti.
In early March, the office of Shiite cleric Mohammad Hussein Fadlallah announced that Thursday, March 23, would also mark the first day of the month of Ramadan for his community.
The month of Ramadan is the ninth lunar month of the Muslim year and celebrates the revelation of the Qur'an to the Prophet Muhammad by the Archangel Gabriel. Fasting during this holy month is one of the five pillars of Islam, along with the profession of faith, prayer, almsgiving and pilgrimage. During Ramadan, Muslims must abstain from eating, drinking, smoking and sexual relations from sunrise to sunset. The fast is broken each day with iftar.