Why Muslims in Anchorage will fast 9 hours more than Muslims in Cape Town

Source: Religion News Service

By | June 16, 2015 | 3 Comments

When the Islamic fasting month of Ramadan begins later this week, some Muslims around the world will face bigger challenges than others. The Quran is clear that the fast should last from before dawn to after dusk, but says nothing about how many hours that might be.

Since Islam has spread from its Arabian heartland to the far corners of the earth, Muslims who live in further north must fast several hours longer than those in Mecca. On the year’s longest day, June 21, some could end up fasting for as long as 20 hours per day.


Usama Hasan, a British Islamic scholar, thinks this makes Ramadan fasting unbearable for many Muslims living in northern Europe and Canada, especially the old and children just beginning to observe the practice. It also prompts many Muslims to give up fasting altogether during the summer, he said, or sneak a secret snack to help them get through the long days.


Anchorage skyline

The former imam thinks this should change and has issued a fatwa, or religious ruling, calling for “moderate timings” to be accepted for those who need them.

“In mid-summer, the fasts are too long,” Hasan said on BBC television on Sunday, just days before Ramadan is expected to start there on Thursday (June 18).

“We are closer to the North Pole than to the Equator,” he added. “Muslim jurists for centuries have argued that you can reduce the fasting hours to something like you have in Mecca, 12 to 14, 15 to 16 hours maybe, but no longer. I think that’s very sensible, it’s a balanced approach which British Muslims should adopt.”


Additional Reading

How long a Muslim should fast?

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