There is confusion over the actual date of commencement of the yearly Muslim fast, widely called the Ramadan.
The confusion stemmed from different pronouncements by authorities on the 30-day fast.
While some said the fast would commence on Saturday, others said it would begin on Sunday.
However, the President of the Nigeria Supreme Council for Islamic Affairs and the Sultan of Sokoto, Alhaji Sa’ad Abubakar, announced late on Friday that the fast would commence on Saturday (today).
Abubakar, who by virtue of his position is the head of the Muslim community in Nigeria, said this development followed the sighting of the moon, which signifies the beginning of the fast, in Sokoto and Kebbi States late on Friday.
The Sultan, in a late news broadcast on the Nigeria Television Authority, therefore, declared the date for the commencement of the fast as Saturday (today).
The statement by the NSCIA was signed by Prof. Sambo Wali Junaidu.
But owing to earlier statements by the NSCIA and the authorities in Saudi Arabia, the holy city of the Muslims, confusion set in over the actual date for the commencement of the fast in Nigeria.
In a statement on Thursday, the NSCIA had said Ramadan would commence on Sunday because the moon had not yet been sighted.
The statement was signed by the Secretary-General of the NSCIA, Prof. Ishaq Oloyede.
Oloyede had said in the statement: “However, if the crescent is not sighted on Friday, the Tarawih prayer should be observed on Saturday the 28th of June for the commencement of Ramadan on the 29th of June whether or not it is sighted on that Saturday.”
On Friday, Saudi Arabia had announced that the first day of the Muslim holy fasting month of Ramadan will be on Sunday.
This followed the failure to sight the new crescent moon.
According to Saudi tradition, it is the sighting with the naked eye of the new moon that signals the start of Ramadan.
Other Arab and Islamic countries also announced that Ramadan will start on Sunday.
These include Tunisia, Algeria and Libya, Bahrain, United Arab Emirates, Kuwait, Qatar, Oman, Egypt, Jordan, Sudan, Palestine, Indonesia and Malaysia.
Yemen is the only country in the region that declared Saturday as the first day of Ramadan.
Khaled al-Zaaq, member of the Arab Union for Space Sciences and Astronomy, had said: “It will simply not be possible to sight the crescent on Friday because on that day the moon will completely disappear from the skies before sunset.”
Zaaq, who is also a member of the Islamic project to sight the moon, said in most regions of the Kingdom, the moon will disappear on Friday before sunset.
Ramadan is sacred to Muslims because it is during that month that that Quran was revealed to the Prophet Mohammad.
During Ramadan, Muslims fast from food from dawn to dusk and strive to be more pious and charitable. They are also required to abstain from drinking liquids, smoking and having sex.
The fast is one of the five main religious obligations under Islam.