Taraweeh prayers will begin on April 23, before the first full day of fasting, in the US and Canada.
By Safaa Kasraoui, Morgan Hekking, and Harrison Daley
April 24 will mark the first day of the holy month of Ramadan for Muslims in the US and Canada, according to astronomical calculations by the Fiqh Council of North America.
Ramadan, one of the holiest and sacred months in Islam, is marked by fasting from dawn to sunset and the extra prayers that Muslims perform in the evening after salat al ishae (evening prayers). It is the ninth month of the Islamic calendar.
The prayers called “taraweeh” start a day earlier prior to Ramadan. If Ramadan falls on April 24 in the US and Canada, taraweeh prayers will begin on April 23.
Ramadan prayers are usually practiced in groups at mosques, but due to the spread of COVID-19, Muslims will be forced to pray at home.
To determine the dates of Ramadan, the Fiqh Council of North America used the criteria of the European Council of Fatwa and Research (ECFR). According to the ECFR criteria, particular astronomical calculations and the locations of the sun and moon influence the starting date of the holy month.
In the US and Canada, Ramadan will end on May 24 with Eid al-Fitr celebrations.
Ramadan around the world
Astronomer Abdelaziz Kharboudh Al Ifrani shared astronomical calculations with Morocco World News on April 15, forecasting the first day of Ramadan in Morocco to land on April 25.
Kharbouch said that observing the crescent moon on the evening of April 23 should be impossible.
Ramadan is one of the most widely-anticipated holidays for Muslims. During Ramadan, Muslims find themselves close to God, family, and friends—and some of the most delicious foods.
During iftar (breaking fast) in Morocco, some families prefer to serve several dishes, such as a traditional soup called harira. The hearty soup is rich in vitamins and minerals thanks to lentils, chickpeas, and other ingredients.
Families also serve chebakia, one of the most common pastries in Morocco, in addition to eggs, milk, and dates.
At the end of the month, during Eid al-Fitr, mothers and daughters prepare sweets and desserts served during breakfast with Moroccan mint tea.
After Eid al-Fitr prayers, families gather together for a regular breakfast in the morning after four weeks of fasting.
During lunch, some families usually like to serve the most traditional dishes, including couscous with caramelized onions (tefaya) or chicken cooked in the oven with green olives on the top and a sauce called “daghmira” made of onions, cooking oil, olive oil, and saffron.
Hicham El Issaoui, an astronomer, said Moroccans will fast for 29 days this year and celebrate Eid al-Fitr on May 24.