This year, Ramadan started on 2 April, the Muslim Executive in Belgium (MEB) announced on Friday. The decision to start the traditional fasting month on that day, one day later than expected, came after a meeting of the Council of Theologians, which is affiliated with the Muslim Executive in Belgium.
The exact dates of Ramadan differ each year and can sometimes remain uncertain until the last minute, as they depend on the new moon.
To traditionally determine the period of fasting, the new moon needs to be visible to the naked eye, which is why the exact dates of Ramadan depend on weather conditions and can start on different days in different countries. Therefore, Ramadan began a day later than planned this year.
Out of the almost 800,000 Muslims in Belgium, those who follow Islam are starting four weeks of fasting, during which they refrain from eating, drinking, smoking, and having sex from dawn to sunset, although there can be exceptions – sick people, pregnant women or children are not required to follow the fast.
They also observe additional prayers, strive to be more charitable, and reconnect with their faith. The break of fasting at the end of the month is traditionally celebrated with the religious holiday Eid.
"The EMB congratulates the entire Muslim population of Belgium and hopes that this blessed month will be dominated by wisdom, patience and solidarity after two years marked by the coronavirus pandemic, which required vigilance," a Muslim Executive spokesperson said.