Ramadan Start Date: Why Even Muslims Are Confused


Every year Muslims are confused about when Ramadan starts. 

The reason is more astrological than anything else. The Islamic calendar is lunar, and Ramadan — Islam's ninth month — begins when the first crescent of the new moon reveals itself. Therefore Ramadan varies depending on country, region, or clerics' opinion.

Even Google is doing its best to guesstimate. 

Monday, July 8 and Wednesday August 7, are a general framework, but as Google pointed out, "dates may vary." And they do.

This year in Lebanon, due to religious leaders varying opinions on the new moon, Ramadan will begin on Tuesday for Shiite Muslims and Wednesday for Sunnis. 

In France, where Islam is the second largest religion, Ramadan begins on Tuesday ... maybe. France's top Islamic authority and Muslim clerics of the leading Mosque in Paris could not agree on the date. 

France 24 reported that at least one Parisian family was thrown into chaos. Nadia, a young girl, told the news outlet, "I’ve never known such a period of utter confusion. It’s ridiculous. There are members of my own family starting Ramadan at different times. My parents and most of my brothers and sisters are starting Wednesday, but I had decided to follow what the [French Council of the Muslim Faith] told me, so I’ve already started fasting." 

Like the Lebanese clerics, the French Council of the Muslim Faith announced Ramadan's start day some time in advance. In fact all countries with Muslim populations have a body of people who predict Ramadan's dates. But their predictions can be amended at anytime, and must be if the new moon doesn't show. 

I remember being in Morocco a few years ago, when my professor, an aging  brilliant man, told me about Ramadan during his childhood. This was before television and internet. So  every year his town waited for the sign to begin fasting. Which in that time, was the sound of horn blared from a messenger. He went from door to door with his music. And no one could mistake that the full moon had arrived. 

But whether it is Monday, Tuesday, or Wednesday for you, Ramadan Kareem. Ramadan Kareem to all!

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