Millions of Muslims prepare for start of dawn-to-dusk fasting in Ramadan

Last minute preparations are underway as Muslims around the world stocked up on groceries and dates Wednesday for evening meals to break dawn-to-dusk fasting during the month of Ramadan.

Saudi Arabia and other Muslim-majority nations, like Egypt and Indonesia, declared Ramadan would begin Thursday based on a moon-sighting methodology. Muslims follow a lunar calendar, and a moon-sighting methodology can lead to different countries declaring the start of Ramadan a day or two apart.

Some mosques in the U.S. already declared the start of fasting Wednesday while others will begin Thursday. For those fasting in North America and Europe, Ramadan falls on especially long days this year, with Muslims in some cities not breaking their fast until after 8 p.m.

The Ramadan fast, in which food and even a sip of water is prohibited, is intended to bring the faithful closer to God and remind them of those less fortunate. It is also a chance to kick addictions like caffeine and cigarettes.

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