Get the latest updates as we post them — right on your browser

. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Moslem World Set to Observe Ramadan Fast

DUBAI -- The world's Moslem community of a billion people in more than 50 countries prepared Thursday to observe the start of the sacred fasting month Ramadan.

In most Islamic countries, the month during which the faithful fast during daylight hours traditionally starts one day after the sighting of the new moon there. As a result, Ramadan usually starts on two or three different days in different countries.

Saudi Arabia, birthplace of Islam in the seventh century and home to the religion's two holiest shrines, and many other Islamic countries have announced Ramadan would begin Friday.

People are warned not to eat, drink or smoke in public even if they are not Moslems or not fasting themselves. All sensual pleasures, including sex and listening to music, are forbidden during the day. Nonpracticing Moslems tend to avoid alcohol, gambling and other un-Islamic activities.

Saudi Arabia's Interior Ministry warned non-Moslems to respect the holy month and said foreigners eating, drinking or smoking in public during daylight hours would risk deportation and an end to their work contracts.

In Kabul, Afghanistan's purist Sunni Moslem Taleban government issued guidelines confining most women to their homes and banning public eating and entertainment.

Ramadan in Iran, the biggest Shi'ite Moslem country, starts on Saturday according to the official calendar, though that is subject to confirmation of the sighting of the new moon.

Every Ramadan Iranian newspapers report dozens of people arrested for flouting the ban on eating and smoking in public, some of whom are lashed on orders of Islamic courts.