Every year, Muslims in France wait in uncertainty for the official date of the start of Ramadan. This year, it has been fixed for Thursday, March 23 by the supporters of scientific calculation, which make it possible to determine in advance the start of the fast.
Traditionally, however, the date of the beginning of the month of Ramadan is solemnly announced during the “Night of Doubt”, which corresponds to the 29th day of the previous month, the month of Chaabane. This year, the Grand Mosque of Paris will bring together for this occasion, Tuesday, March 21 from 6 p.m., officials and imams of the Theological Commission set up by the Grand Mosque of Paris and the federations FFAIACA, Faith and Practice, Muslims of France and Rally of Muslims of France.
Other Muslim bodies, such as the Muslim Theological Council of France (CTMF) and the French Council for Muslim Worship (CFCM), did not wait for the Night of Doubt to announce the start of the month of fasting.
Heritage of an old Muslim tradition
The Night of Doubt, or more exactly the Nights of Doubt since there are two of them, are events during which the observation of the crescent moon makes it possible to officially announce the beginning and the end of the month of Ramadan, the ninth month of the Muslim calendar. “If we see a crescent moon, it signals the start of the fast the next day,” says Ghaleb Bencheikh, president of the Fondation de l’islam de France (FIF).
If, however, during the Night of Doubt, the lunar crescent is not visible because of weather conditions, a hadith – word attributed to the prophet of Islam – recommends completing the month: “Fast as soon as you see the crescent and break the fast as soon as you see him again. But if he hides from your eyes, let Chaaban be 30 days. In this case, the beginning of Ramadan will begin two days after the Night of Doubt.
This name evokes a past during which man did not master the scientific and astronomical tools to accurately define the lunar cycles. With a duration ranging from 28 to 30 days, these punctuate the Hijri calendar. “Centuries ago, we did not see the lunar crescent, so for the Ancients, the name of “doubt” was essential”, explains Ghaleb Bencheikh.
Nowadays, scientific calculations make it possible to define the start date of this month of fasting several years in advance. Based on these calculations, the Grand Mosque of Paris announces the birth of the new moon this year on Tuesday, March 21 at 6:23 p.m. Paris time.
The Muslim Theological Council of France (CTMF), a supporter of scientific calculations, also announced the end of the month of Ramadan on Thursday April 20. Eid-El-Fitr will be celebrated the next day, the first day of the month of Chawaal, Friday, April 21.