During Ramadan, Muslims fast from dawn until the sun sets. For Muslims living in the “Land of the Midnight Sun” fasting is complicated by the fact the sun is visible for much longer than in more southerly regions. Do Muslims fast if if the sun never sets?
The sun is visible for around 23 hours a day in certain northern regions above the Arctic circle, also known as the Land of the Midnight Sun. This is difficult for Muslims fasting during Ramadan as many risk their health if they intend to participate. Thankfully, Islam has options for expats living in these regions.
Reported in onislam.net, the Azhar Fatwa committee in Egypt has issued a fatwa so that Muslims in Scandinavia and Northern countries can fast according to Mecca (Makkah) or Medina (Madinah) time. You are permitted to do this when fasting days are longer than 18 hours.
The second solution is following the hours of daylight from the closest Islamic country, which is allowed according to the issued fatwa as well.
“Kiruna is as high up as you get in Sweden, the sun never sets during this month,” Ali Melhem, 45, who has lived in Kiruna for 24 years told The Local.
“My wife and I couldn’t make that choice (to fast or not), so we’ve consulted mullahs from Iraq to Iran,” Melhem, who is a Shiite Muslim, said. “They say we can wait to fast until the autumn.”
However, Omar Mustafa, president of the Islamic League in Sweden points out that Saudi scholars say Muslims must follow the hours of daylight in their country, whether they are long or short.
“It is up to each individual to decide, but it is not meant that you should fast around the clock. Islam provides many options,” Mustafa added.
Last but not least, you could also follow the hours of daylight from a country close to where you live as long as this country has a sunrise and sunset.
Different organisations and individuals will always have their opinions, especially when it comes to such a sensitive topic. But the fact is that there is no consensus regarding Ramadan for Muslims living in very northern regions.
Whatever option you follow, by the end of Ramadan we can say to you, “Kullu am wa antum bi-khair” (May you be well throughout the year).