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Ramadan Begins Across Most Of Muslim World

Iraqi Muslims shop in Baghdad yesterday in preparation for Ramadan 4 October 2005 -- The holy month of Ramadan begins today across most of the Middle East.

Senior religious councils in Bahrain, Egypt, Jordan, Kuwait, Lebanon, Libya, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Syria, the United Arab Emirates, and Yemen said the crescent moon was sighted yesterday after nightfall, signaling the start of the ninth month of the Muslim calendar.

During the month, every observant Muslim is supposed to abstain from eating, drinking, smoking, and sexual relations from dawn until dusk.

Oman will mark the start of Ramadan today, as will members of Iraq's Shi'a community.

Observance of Ramadan is the fourth of the five pillars of Islam. The other four are the acknowledgment of God, the observance of daily prayers, the payment of alms, and the performance of a pilgrimage, or hajj.

(news agencies)

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