French Muslims look to science to determine start of Ramadan
France’s Muslim leaders have agreed to end almost 1,400 years of Islamic tradition and use modern astronomy to determine the start of the holy month of Ramadan and other Islamic holidays.
The French Muslim Council (CFCM) voted on Thursday to start using astronomical calculations to set the date rather than relying on the naked eye to sight the new crescent moon.
Ramadan traditionally begins the morning after the sighting, which has in the past been delayed by a day or even two by weather.
Council President Mohammad Moussaoui said the old method played havoc with French Muslims’ schedules for work, school and festivities. France’s five million Muslims are the largest Islamic minority in Europe.
“Now all this will be simplified,” he said, and promptly announced the Ramadan fast would begin on July 9 this year.