No new moon: Ramadan to start July 21

MANILA, Philippines - The holy month of Ramadan in the Philippines will officially begin on Saturday, July 21.

The Ramadan was supposed to start on Friday, July 20, if the new moon -- which marks the beginning of fasting among Muslims -- was sighted at around 6 p.m. Thursday, July 19.

"But there was no sighting of the crescent moon as clouds blocked the view [of moon-sighting committees]," according to Dennison Abidin, director of National Commission of Muslim Filipinos (NCMF) in Region 9.

Ramadan, the 9th month of the Islamic lunar calendar, Hijrah, starts with the sighting of the crescent moon, the symbol of Islam. Based on the Koran, Hijrah has 12 months that follow the phases and stages of the moon.

Moon-sighting committees in Cotabato, Davao, Sulu, Tawi-Tawi and Zamboanga watched the night skies closely in an attempt to synchronize the start of Ramadan throughout the country for the first time.

On Thursday night, the moon-sighting groups in Manila, Mindanao and other regions, as well as the mufti or the guardian of the Islamic House of Opinion, did not see the new moon, according to NCMF secretary Mehol Sadain.

The mufti also coordinated with his counterparts in Muslim-dominated Indonesia and Malaysia, Sadain added.

The mufti is the authority on religious matters including the start and end of Ramadan, the time of fasting, cleansing and renewal among Muslims.

Sadain confirmed to Rappler that the mufti announced that July 21 will be the first day of fasting.

The fasting among Muslims ends on the first day of Shawwal, the 10th month of the lunar calendar, then Eid ul Fitr is celebrated. -- Rappler.com