This year, there’s been more divergence than usual about the beginning of Ramadan, since the visibility of the moon has been very poor (especially in the Western Hemisphere). You can get a sense of the problem from calculated visibility maps which suggest that the moon would not be visible by naked eye for most of the world until Wednesday August 11 at the earliest; the website CrescentWatch reports that no reliable moon sightings have yet been received and advise Ramadan begin on Thursday August 12 (since any later than that would extend the previous month of Shaban to more than 30 days). Those of us who adhere to the lunar calendar approach have been fasting since Tuesday. Meanwhile, the majority of Arab states are beginning Ramadan today on Wednesday. Intriguingly, Egypt is experimenting this year with turning the clock back an hour, akin to Daylight Savings Time. That adds a whole new layer to the wrangling over Ramadan timekeeping!
As a result, Eid al-Fitr will probably be celebrated by muslims over a span of three days from September 9th to September 11th. I have a feeling that given the rise of Islamophobia in America of late, we are going to be seeing email forwards about “muslims celebrating on 9-11″ as a result.
An interesting note – a new NGO known as Green Ramadan is going to promote the connection of Ramadan and environmentalism. You can find more information about Green Ramadan on Facebook (their website is still in development).
Related – my primer on the perennial moonsighting vs calendrical debate for determining the start (and end) of Ramadan. Also at Beliefnet there’s a gallery of Ten Prayers for Ramadan and Ten Tips for Fasting Healthfully and Spiritually.