Wednesday, August 6, 2008


SARAJEVO, Bosnia (August 6,2008) — In a show of unity, Muslim religious authorities in Bosnia,Macedonia,Montenegro,Kosovo,Sandzak,Croatia and Slovenia have agreed to observe the start of the holy fasting month of Ramadan on September 1.

"We follow astronomical calculations to determine the beginning of the lunar months," Subhi Wassim, an official with the Islamic Community of Bosnia, said.

"Therefore, the first day of Ramadan will be observed in Bosnia on September 1," he added.

Muslims make up 44 percent of Bosnia's 3.8 million population.

During Ramadan, adult Muslims, save the sick and those traveling, abstain from food, drink, smoking and sex between dawn and sunset.

Neighboring Sandzak's nearly half a million Muslims will start the dawn-to-dusk fast on the same day as Bosnia.

"We consider ourselves part of the Islamic Community of Bosnia and coordinate with them in all things," said Hajrudin Balic, a media officer of the Islamic Community in Sandzak.

The Islamic Community in Croatia will also follow neighboring Bosnia in observing the beginning of Ramadan, said sources in the Islamic Community of Bosnia.

Moon sighting has always been a controversial issue among Muslim countries, and even scholars seem at odds over the issue.

While one group of scholars sees that Muslims in other regions and countries are to follow the same moon sighting as long as these countries share one part of the night, another states that Muslims everywhere should abide by the lunar calendar of Saudi Arabia.

A third, however, disputes both views, arguing that the authority in charge of ascertaining the sighting of the moon in a given country announces the sighting of the new moon, then Muslims in the country should all abide by this.

Muslims who make up 33 percent of Macedonia’s two million population will follow Turkey in determining the start of Ramadan.

"The Islamic Community of Macedonia and Dar al-Ifta in Turkey have an agreement to unify all Islamic occasions according to astronomic calculations," Afrim Alija, a teacher in a school affiliated to the sheikdom, said.

Turkey’s Presidency of Religion Affairs, the country’s highest religious institution, has announced on its website that Ramadan will fall on September 1.

The Islamic Community of Slovenia, where Muslims make up 2.4 percent of two million population, agrees with Turkey and Bosnia on the start of the fasting month.

Montenegro Mufti Jusuf Gjoken said the country's 140,000 Muslims, who constitute up to 20 percent of the population, will coordinate with both Bosnia and Turkey on Ramadan start.

"We are living in neighboring countries and it would be wrong to disagree on the beginning of the fast," he said.

"The unity of Muslims in the southeastern Europe is a top priority to all Islamic Communities in the region," Montenegro Mufti Jusuf Gjoken said.

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