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PESHAWAR: There is a tradition in some parts of Pakistan to begin fasting along with their co-religionists in Saudi Arabia — irrespective of whether the moon is sighted in their region or not.

This tradition is particularly prevalent in Pakistan’s northwestern Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province, which also includes the newly-merged tribal districts.

In those areas, Monday was the first day of Ramadan while the rest of the country will begin the fast on Tuesday. 

Mufti Muhammad Arif, chief of Jamiat-e-Ulama-e-Islam-Fazl (JUI-F) in Mohmand district, noted that residents of his area had traditionally followed Saudi Arabia in both fasting and celebrating Eid.

“Monday is the first day of fasting for us,” he told Arab News.

In Datta Khel, a remote town in North Waziristan, several people bought food items that are mostly used during Ramadan.

“Saudi Arabia is the citadel of Islam,” said Sabil Khan, who owns a general store on the outskirts of Miran Shah in North Waziristan. “We will continue to follow the Kingdom and started our fasting month from Monday, just like in Saudi Arabia.”

The Islamic world follows a lunar calendar, and the traditional moon-sighting methodology can lead to different countries declaring the start of Ramadan a day or two apart.

Fawad Ahmad, a businessman from Haider Khel, another town in North Waziristan, recalled that people in his village had been following the Kingdom for decades and that they considered doing so a religious obligation.

Shamsuddin Khan, a tribal elder of Nawi Kali in Bajaur district, said that about 90 percent of people in his region started fasting at the same time as Saudi Arabia.

Wahidullah Afghan, a refugee in Kohat district, told Arab News that Afghans who lived in Peshawar followed Pakistan’s Ruet-e-Hilal Committee; however, those who lived in refugee camps, he continued, began fasting with Saudi Arabia on Monday.

“We follow Saudi Arabia to avoid any controversy in this holy month about moon-sighting,” he added.

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