The start date of Ramadan is no longer established as before, here is what has changed

When does Ramadan start? For years, the CFCM's decision was taken after a "night of doubt".

The start date of Ramadan is no longer established as before, here is what has changed

When does Ramadan start? For years, the CFCM's decision was taken after a "night of doubt". Things have changed, the dates of Ramadan are no longer fixed as before.

The month of Ramadan is the most important month of the year for Muslims, especially for those who respect fasting and prohibitions. It is therefore important for them to know when exactly Ramadan begins. And this may seem curious, but the way of establishing the start date of the month of fasting has changed considerably in France over the last three years. To understand what happened, you need to keep this in mind: the dates of Ramadan are set according to the Islamic lunar calendar, which is based on the phases of the moon. The month of Ramadan - like all other months - begins in this calendar with the appearance of the new Moon.

However, two methods coexist to establish the appearance of the new Moon. The first is based on the visual observation of the star in the sky, carried out by religious authorities or specific committees. They traditionally meet during the “night of doubt” to establish this observation. If the crescent Moon is visible in the sky with the naked eye, then Ramadan begins the next day. Otherwise, it starts the following day. The other method is called "scientific", it is based on technical and reliable astronomical calculations, to predict the phases of the moon and therefore set the dates of Ramadan in advance. These calculations can be based on modern software and were until now put forward only by fairly marginalized Muslim associations.

In France, until 2022, Muslims in France followed the directives of the French Council of Muslim Worship (CFCM), an authoritative entity. The CFCM fixed the dates of Ramadan after the observation of the sky, carried out each year at the Grand Mosque of Paris, with all the Muslim federations representing this religion in France, during "the night of doubt". But very strong internal dissensions within its representations changed everything. The CFCM and the authorities of the Great Mosques of Paris have severed ties. And the great event of sky observation is no longer at all what it used to be.

The CFCM first radically changed its position: according to the council, the correct method for setting the date of Ramadan is now the astronomical method. Moreover, a CFCM press release dated February 14 definitively indicates that Ramadan 2024 begins on Monday March 11 and that science is very clear on the subject.

The Grand Mosque of Paris, associated with other organizations representing the Muslim faith, continues to organize a night of doubt to observe the appearance of the Moon with the naked eye. But she also changed her position. From now on, this observation is no longer as fundamental as before, but is more part of a form of custom and serves as confirmation. “The Grand Mosque of Paris remains deeply attached to this tradition which illustrates the unity of Muslims in preparation for the blessed month of Ramadan,” it justifies this year in a press release, adding that in reality, is take into account the CFCM method, specifying that "the religious commission will first take into consideration the visual observation of the new moon without excluding the results of astronomical calculations". Since a consensus is sought, it is likely that the date of March 11 will be retained as the first day of Ramadan 2024 in France.

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