CALGARY -- Ramadan, the holiest month for Muslims around the world, will look a little different this year because of the restrictions put on the population by COVID-19.

"As all the Muslims, a very high number of people, are locked up in the world, they are not able to reach out to their mosques, which is the main core of Ramadan," said Atthar Mahmood, vice president of the Islamic Supreme Council of Canada.

"This Ramadan is very different in everyone’s lives."

The sighting of the crescent moon marks the start of Ramadan. with fasting beginning the following day.

Tens of thousands of Calgarians will also take part in worship during the period.

The moon is expected to be visible by 10:15 p.m. Thursday.

Because of the pandemic, worshippers will not be able to gather en masse at any Calgary mosques. Strict guidelines from Alberta Health have put limitations on events – no more than 15 people are allowed in one place.

"First come, first serve. (When) 15 people come, I will lock the doors," says Mahmood.

Ramadan is part of the Islamic faith and is marked by fasting from sunrise to sunset, teaching discipline and raising awareness and money for those less fortunate.

"We don’t eat anything during the day. It's to learn to feel the hunger of those who don’t have food on their tables," said Riyaz Khawaja, spokesperson for the Hussaini Association of Calgary (HAC).

Typically during Ramadan, HAC sees about 150 to 300 people in its mosque for daily prayers. Now, it's limited to 10 per cent of that figure.

"We have closed up the facility for public gatherings," said Khawaja. "We have all online streaming live."

Khawaja expects this years's Ramadan will teach many Muslims even more about their faith and spirituality during unprecedented times.

"Islam is the religion of wisdom," he said.

Ramadan, which is the ninth month of the Islamic calendar, will finish in the evening of May 23.