KAMPALA: Muslims in Uganda are being urged to help sight the new moon of Ramadan to determine the start of the holy fasting month.
"All Muslims need to watch out for the moon on Friday," Haji Nsereko Mutumba, the spokesperson of the Uganda Muslim Supreme Council, told Anadolu Agency.
"Whoever sights the moon on Friday should call the Supreme Council," he said.
Sighting the new crescent moon is essential for the start of any month in the Islamic lunar calendar, but the start of the fasting month draws a special interest from hundreds of millions of Muslims around the globe.
Many of the Islamic countries currently rely on sighting the Ramadan moon by the naked eye, while others resort to astronomical calculations to set the date for the start of the fasting month.
"If the moon is sighted on that very day, it means fasting shall start on Saturday," Mutumba added. "If we failed to sight it, it would automatically start Sunday."
He went on to say that foreign assistance is sometimes sought if the moon has been covered by cloud.
"In that case, some consultations are made by the Director of Sharia with the Saudi officials in Mecca, and we depend very much on Saudi Arabia and the Gulf States," he added.
"Other times we keep watch of the media houses in Saudi Arabia. We see if they have started taraweeh [special nightly Ramadan prayers] because they are ahead of us on time, so we announce as soon as we see that," Mutumba explained.
In Ramadan, Muslims must abstain from food, drink and sex from dawn until sunset, but scholars say that this is not all.
"We advise Muslims to avoid bad habits or deeds like slander, fornication, drug abuse, stealing and many others as stipulated in the Holy Quran," Director of Sharia at the Uganda Muslim Supreme Council Sheikh Hussein Rajab Kakooza told AA.
He also urged his coreligionists to concentrate on fasting, intensify the Quran recitation, pray taraweeh, and give to charity to benefit from the month's abundant blessings.
"We must follow this teaching to the letter", he said. "We have to use the Quran as a clear guide and judgment between right and wrong."