Ramadan 2023: probable start and end dates announced


Ramadan 2023: probable start and end dates announced

RAMADAN 2023. After the Theological Commission of the Paris Mosque and the CFCM, the CTMF announced the start date of Ramadan based on scientific data. The start date of the Muslim fast will be formalized during a "night of doubt".

[Updated Mar 13, 2023 5:35 PM] When does the Muslim fasting month of Ramadan 2023 / 1444 (current year in the Islamic calendar) begin in France? Millions of Muslims across the planet are waiting to find out, with their eyes glued to the Islamic lunar calendar. A "night of doubt" is to be organized on Tuesday March 21 at the Grand Mosque of Paris, after which the official date will be announced. In the meantime, the main authorities have already communicated on the probable start date of Ramadan 1444/2023, setting it all for Thursday, March 23, 2023:

However, it will be necessary to wait for the "Night of doubt / announcement", organized at the Grand Mosque of Paris on Tuesday March 21, 2023, to know the official date of the start of Ramadan in a formal way and not in the conditional. The Theological Commission of the Great Mosque of Paris also recalled, ahead of this Night of Doubt, that it will take into consideration both "the results of the work on the adoption of scientific calculation and universal astronomical data [observation traditional lunar, editor's note] for the determination of the beginning and the end of the blessed month of Ramadan." And to emphasize that these are "two complementary methods". Although not mentioned in the press release, the estimated date of the end of Ramadan 2023, on the basis of astronomical calculations, is already known: it is Thursday, April 20, 2023. It will also have to be confirmed, at the end of another "Night of Doubt".

The fourth pillar of Islam is respected by many practicing Muslims in France: according to INSEE, 5 million believers practice Ramadan each year in France. Worldwide, more than 1.5 billion people are affected. During the month of Ramadan, devout Muslims observe fasting between dawn and sunset. And as the year continues to move towards summer, the days get longer and longer, making the deprivation of food and drink more and more difficult.

In France, as in several other countries, the start date of Ramadan is announced by the French Council for Muslim Worship (CFCM) several months in advance based on astronomical calculations, then confirmed by a theological commission at the end from the lunar observation of the "Night of Doubt", at the end of the day, a few days before the start of Ramadan. If a crescent is visible during this evening, also called "Night of Announcement", then Ramadan begins the next day, otherwise it begins the following day.

Each year, the Muslim fasting month of Ramadan begins about 10 days earlier than the year before. From Thursday, March 23 for the start date, to Thursday, April 20, 2023 for the end date. This is the period already indicated by astronomical calculations of the dates of Ramadan 2023, as confirmed by a press release from the Theological Commission of the Great Mosque of Paris on February 26. Associated with the Coordination made up of the five Muslim Federations (FFAIACA, Faith and Practice, GMP, MF and RMF), the Great Mosque of Paris will remove doubt on this point during the "night of doubt" of lunar observation, organized on the 29th day of the month preceding the month of Ramadan, i.e. Tuesday, March 21. The CTMF (Muslim Theological Council of France) and the CFCM (French Council for Muslim Worship) gave the same provisional dates, by means of a press release in mid-March.

For confirmation of the precise date of the end of Ramadan, it will be necessary to wait for the "Night of doubt / announcement" of the end of the month of Ramadan, which takes place on the 29th of the month of Ramadan (Thursday, April 20). This second "Night of Doubt" also makes it possible to know the date of the Eid al-Fitr holiday. The celebration of the breaking of the fast takes place on the first day of the month following that of Ramadan, in the Islamic lunar calendar.

Two methods coexist in France to determine the beginning of the month of Ramadan: traditional lunar observation and astronomical calculations. In a statement of March 15, 2022, the Coordination of National Muslim Federations (FFAICA, GMP, MF and RMF) meeting at the Great Mosque of Paris, specifies that these two methods are "complementary". She adds on this point that during the "Night of Doubt", the "Theological Commission of Coordination (...) takes into consideration the results of the work on the adoption of scientific calculation and universal astronomical data for the determination of the beginning and end of the blessed month of Ramadan".

The CFCM (French Council for Muslim Worship, the main representative body of Islam in France), relies exclusively on astronomical calculations for determining the dates of Ramadan, and generally indicates the date of the beginning of the month of fasting and the date of the Eid-ul Fitr festivities several weeks or even months in advance.

Regarding the representation of Muslims in France, an important change took place in March 2021, with the split between the French Council of Muslim Worship, the representative institution of the Muslim faith in France and four of its former Muslim federations (the famous FFAIACA, GMP, MF and RMF). Since this thunderclap in the sky of Islam in France, the CFCM is once again relying on scientific data to formalize the dates of Ramadan, several weeks in advance. This is also the modus operandi followed by the Muslim Theological Council of France (CTMF, a body of imams particularly close to the Muslim Brotherhood, but who do not replace representative bodies).

The traditional "Night of Doubt" method, based on lunar observation, takes place at the Grand Mosque of Paris. The decision taken at its outcome depends not only on the observation of the sky, but also on the decisions made by other Muslim countries which are based on this same lunar observation. The mosque of Paris recalls on its site "that a shift of one day is possible. This shift day is due to the observation or not of the crescent moon which marks the beginning of each of the twelve months which make up the lunar calendar. on which Islam is based.

We thus only know the date of the beginning of the month of Ramadan on the 29th day of the month preceding the month of Ramadan, in this case on the 29th day of the month of Chaabane (eighth month of the Muslim religious calendar). If the crescent moon (hilal) is seen by Muslims in the sky, the month of Ramadan begins the next day, otherwise it begins the day after tomorrow.

The determination of the exact dates of Ramadan is still the subject of debate, in reality centering on the adoption or not of the fixed lunar calendar, based on scientific calculation. There is indeed a conflict of opinion between those who consider that it is absolutely necessary to see the star in the sky and those who trust astronomical science. Proponents of the scientific method believe that setting the start and end dates of Ramadan in advance allows believers to plan their abstinence and Ramadan festivities in advance. This would also unify the dates of Ramadan around the world.

Eid al-Fitr is one of the most important holidays for observant Muslims. The month of Shawwal (tenth month of the Muslim calendar) begins precisely with the feast of the end of the fast of Eid El Fitr. Every year, the breaking of the fast is celebrated on this occasion by Muslims, among friends, families and relatives and marked by an important prayer in the morning. During the Eids of recent years, it has been recommended by the Paris Mosque that the Zakat, i.e. alms for breaking the fast, be 7 euros.

Umrah is a form of pilgrimage to the holy city of Mecca (Saudi Arabia). Unlike the hajj, the great pilgrimage, which is one of the five pillars of Islam, the umrah is not compulsory. It should also be noted that if the hajj can only be done during the last month of the Muslim year, the umrah is achievable throughout the year. However, it is recommended to practice it during the month of Ramadan.

While receiving members of the Forum de l'islam de France (Forif), a new forum for discussion, on Thursday February 16, Emmanuel Macron declared that he had "decided to put an end to the French Council of the Muslim Worship" (CFCM). Since 2003, this body has been responsible for dialogue between the State and the Muslim faith. "The previous instances had limits that I have already had the opportunity to name. There was a dialogue that existed, there were real advances. I do not want to underestimate what had been done, for example, with the CFCM", specified the Head of State. "But the State very often also discussed with other States, within the framework of a form of remanence, not simply diplomatic but which also embarked on a whole story from which it was necessary to gradually get out", he continued, concluding : "That's why we decided to end the CFCM. In a very clear way. And its activity".

Composed of federations attached to the different countries of origin (Algeria, Turkey, Morocco, etc.), the CFCM has been shaken by powerful internal disputes. In December 2021, the executive made the choice to prefer Forif - a body bringing together actors in the field designated by the prefects - as interlocutor. It is this same Forif which met on Thursday, after a year of existence, in order to present its first work.

Several federations of mosques had split from the CFCM in March 2021. At the beginning of January 2023, the French Council for Muslim Worship had decided to continue its existence. It must hold a general meeting on Sunday, February 19, with on the agenda a potential modification of its statutes: the key, a reinforced representation of the departments and a lesser weight of the federations constituting it.

The acting co-president of the CFCM, Ibrahim Alci, reacted in the press to the words of the Head of State: "a CFCM does not dissolve like that". The board "is going to meet" and "if it wants to dissolve, it will dissolve", he added, specifying that it would then be a "democratic" process. Could the CFCM change its name? To this question, the co-president of the CFCM replied vaguely: "We could, with the board of directors, record the end, yes". He expressed the possibility of a "rebirth of the CFCM, differently", via "another association, another organization", without giving additional details. According to him, "Forif is not a replacement for CFCM". The other co-president of the CFCM, Mohammed Moussaoui, contacted by Agence France-Presse, could not be reached.