The Saudi Supreme court has called on all Muslims in the Kingdom to sight the crescent moon on Saturday.
Saudi Press Agency reports that if the moon is sighted, Sunday the 12th of August, 2018 will mark the start of of the month of Dhul-Hijjah, the 12th and final month in the Islamic calendar.
It is also the month in which the Hajj pilgrimage is undertaken.
The Supreme Court asks persons who sight the new crescent moon with their own eyes or through the aid of binoculars, to inform the nearest court.
Persons making such moon sighting reports are required to record their testimony, or contact the nearest center to help them reach the nearest court.
A crescent moon describes the Moon as it appears early in its first quarter or late in its last quarter, when only a small arc-shaped section of the visible portion is illuminated by the Sun
It is also a symbol of Islam.
The current Islamic year is 1439 AH. In the Gregorian calendar, 1439 AH runs from approximately the 21st of September 2017 to the 10th of September 2018.
Dhul Hijja, the month for performig the Hajj, is one of the four Holy months in which war or any form of fighting is forbidden (Haram) for Muslims. The other Holy months are Rajab, Dhul-Qa‘dah and Muharram.
The Islamic, Muslim (at-taqwīm al-hijrī) calendar is a lunar calendar consisting of 12 months in a year of 354 or 355 days used now more regularly alongside the Gregorian calendar, to date events in many Muslim countries.
It is also used by Muslims to determine the proper days of Islamic holidays and rites, such as the annual period of fasting and the proper time for the pilgrimage to Makkah.
The Islamic calendar employs the Hijri era whose epoch was retrospectively established as the Islamic New Year of AD 622, when the Prophet Muhammad and his followers migrated from Makkah to Yathrib (now Madinah), where the first Muslim community (Ummah) was established and commemorated ever since as the Hijra.
Each month of the Islamic calendar commences on the birth of the new lunar cycle.
Traditionally, it is based on actual observation of the crescent moon or Hilal, to mark the end of the previous lunar cycle and consequently, the beginning of the new month.
Each month can have 29 or 30 days depending on the visibility of the moon, astronomical positioning of the earth and weather conditions.