Would the Islamic month of Ramadan start Saturday or Sunday?

That was the buzz Friday in the multi-cultural diverse business district on Lisbon Street in downtown Lewiston.

“It’s 50/50,” said Bachir Ahmed while having breakfast at the Somali restaurant, Heritage. “If it is not Saturday, it will be Sunday for sure,” he said.

Ramadan is the ninth month of the Islamic calendar. But the first day is determined once the new crescent moon has been seen. The sighting can happen anywhere in the world, said Yahya Hussein, who was eating breakfast with Ahmed. Once it’s seen, Ramadan begins the next day.

As of Friday morning, the moon had not been seen in Wellington, New Zealand, so a group of men inside a small shop in Lewiston were convinced that Ramadan would not begin until Sunday. Wellington is 17 hours ahead of Maine time, so if the moon had not been seen by 4:30 a.m. Saturday in New Zealand, the holiday would arrive in two days, not one.

Shukri Abasheikh was convinced Ramadan would start Saturday. The owner of the Mogadishu Store said business has been very good leading up to Ramadan. Muslims fast between the call for morning prayer and evening prayer, but they can eat when the sun goes down.


“They eat special foods at special times,” Abasheikh said.

“The Muslims are all waiting,” said Hussein, who drove from Portland to eat for the last time before Ramadan at his favorite Somali restaurant before Heritage closed for the month of Ramadan.

“My last breakfast maybe,” he said.

“We are waiting for the sighting of the moon to determine if we fast tomorrow,” said Abdi Abdi shortly before attending an afternoon prayer service at the Masjidu Salaam mosque.

“Ramadan is the most important month of the year,” Abdi said. “It’s when people learn to love and when they learn to cry.”

Abdi said food and water are not the only things Muslims fast from during Ramadan.


“We fast our eyes as we don’t look at things that we are not supposed to. We fast our legs as we don’t walk places that we are not supposed to go,” he said.

“No cursing, no fights,” Ahmed said.

“Fasting promotes good health,” Hussein said. “You have to focus more on your body and what you are putting into it.”

Abasheikh, the owner of The Mogadishu Store, was correct. The moon was sighted over Saudi Arabia Friday so the holy month begins Saturday.

Like the start of Ramadan, there is no set date for the end. Ramadan lasts between 29 and 30 days, until the sighting of the next crescent moon marks the end of the holy month of fasting.

Muslims will celebrate the end of Ramadan during Eid, a worldwide celebration when local Muslims will gather in downtown Lewiston.

Eid will be filled with customary nice outfits and prayer, followed by lots of food.

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