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Saudi Arabia announces Tuesday start of Eid al-Fitr holiday

Saudi Arabia ends global confusion over sighting of new moon, announcing that Ramadan has ended and the three-day Eid al-Fitr holiday will begin Tuesday.

Eid ul fitr shopping 08 29 2011Enlarge
Kashmiri Muslims shop at the central market ahead of Eid-ul-Fitr in Srinagar on August 28, 2011. Markets across the Muslim world witnessed a huge shopping rush during Eid-ul-Fitr which marks the end of Ramadan.The celebrations depend on the appearance of the crescent moon as the Muslim calender is lunar. (ROUF BHAT/AFP/Getty Images)

Eid al-Fitr begins Tuesday for millions of Muslims who are celebrating the end to the holy month of Ramadan and dawn-to-dusk fasting.

There had been confusion about whether Eid al-Fitr would begin Tuesday or Wednesday, due to differences around the world in the sighting of the moon. Muslims base the Eid day at the end of Ramadan on the sighting of the new moon.

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But in Saudi Arabia and the UAE, a sliver of the new moon was sighted after dusk on Monday, the Associated Press says.

Saudi Arabia announced that Ramadan has ended, and the three-day Eid al-Fitr holiday will begin Tuesday. Many countries follow Saudi Arabia's lead as the country is home to the holy city of Mecca, the Washington Post explains.

Sighting the new moon to determine the first day of Eid al-Fitr is always a tough task, an astronomer who is a member of the United Arab Emirates' Moon Sighting Committee told the Gulf News.

"During the last two days of the month, the moon will be beyond the horizon after sunset, so it is difficult to observe it," Sakher Abdullah Al Saif says.

Festivities are to begin soon after the early morning prayers on Tuesday. The first day of Eid is traditionally spent visiting relatives, especially elders in the family, and eating specially prepared food, the Gulf News says.

The Wall Street Journal writes that while in the past the geographical differences in sighting the new moon wouldn't have mattered much, today with increasing global connectivity, more Islamic leaders are keen to have 1.2 billion Muslims celebrating together around the world.

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http://www.globalpost.com/dispatch/news/culture-lifestyle/world-religion/110829/eid-al-fitr-2011-uae-dubai-mubarak-egypt-ramadan-ends