Indonesian Muslims divided on the start of Ramadan

July 21, 2012
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JAKARTA, Indonesia – The world's most populous Muslim country is divided on the start of the holy month of Ramadan, with millions beginning to fast on Friday (July 20th) and others waiting until the government's official start date of Saturday, AFP reported.

Religious Affairs Minister Suryadharma Ali announced late Thursday that the start of Ramadan would fall on Saturday, July 21st, after Islamic astronomers dispatched across the country failed to sight the new moon.

But the country's second largest Islamic group Muhammadiyah, which has some 30 million adherents, had earlier announced that according to its astronomical calculations Ramadan begins on Friday.

It is not the first time that the Muhammadiyah has offered a differing opinion on the matter, although the majority of Indonesians are expected to follow the government's official date.

The month traditionally begins with the sighting of the new moon, which varies from country to country.

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