Iraq’s Sunnis to start observing Ramadan on Tuesday

Religious leaders of Iraq’s majority Shiites have called on followers to observe the moon on Monday

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Sunnis in Iraq will start Ramadan on Tuesday, the Sunni Endowment said on Sunday.

The moon was not visible in Iraq on Sunday, so Monday will be the last day of the month of Shaaban, it said.

Meanwhile, the religious leaders of the country’s majority Shiites called on followers to observe the moon on Monday.

Ramadan is highly likely to start on Wednesday for Shiites, according to religious authorities’ expectations.

Many Shiites prefer to see the crescent with their own eyes, while Sunnis often use telescopes or follow Saudi Arabia’s lead.

Ramadan is the ninth and holiest month of the Islamic – or Hijri – calendar. Muslims believe God sent the Angel Gabriel to the Prophet Mohammed to reveal the first verses of the Quran.

Muslims abstain from eating and drinking from dawn to dusk during the entire month, a ritual that is intended to bring the faithful closer to God and to remind them of the suffering of the poor.

Muslims are also encouraged to avoid gossip and arguments, and physical intimacy is forbidden during the daytime fast.

Ramadan is also a time when Muslims strengthen their faith through prayer and increased recitation of the Quran.

Iraqis will observe Ramadan this year amid a new wave of Covid-19 and an economic crisis that together pushed the nation’s poverty rate last year to 31.7 per cent, up from 20 per cent in 2018.

The Health Ministry reported 8,331 cases on Wednesday, the highest number of daily infections since the outbreak began.