How to Fast for Ramadan in the Arctic, Where the Sun Doesn’t Set

Epigraph:

It is made lawful for you to go in unto your wives on the night of the fast. … And eat and drink until the white thread becomes distinct to you from the black thread of the dawn. Then complete the fast till nightfall and do not go in unto them while you remain in the mosques for devotion. These are the limits fixed by Allah, so approach them not.  (Al Quran 2:187/188)

midnight-sun-in-lofoten-norway

Midnight sun in Lofoten, Norway

Source: The Atlantic

By Marya Hannun

One Norwegian Muslim community’s clever solution to an unusual geographic problem.

The sun shines low in the sky just after midnight over a frozen coastline near the Norwegian Arctic town of Longyearbyen on April 26, 2007. (Francois Lenoir/Reuters)
This week, with the start of Ramadan, Muslims from Indonesia to Michigan began fasting from sunrise to sunset in observance of one of the religions’ primary holidays. But what happens in places where the sun never sets because the country is too far north? For many, this particular dilemma is a relatively new one, only apparent over the last two years. Since the month of Ramadan is pegged to the lunar calendar, it rotates on a yearly basis. The last time the holiday fell this deep into the summer months was nearly three decades ago in the mid 1980s, a time when few Muslim communities could be found above the Arctic Circle. But with Muslims from Somalia, Iraq, and Pakistan — to name a few places — increasingly immigrating to countries like Sweden, Norway, and Finland, the ethical dilemma posed for them by the endless summer days has become very real.

For an answer to this question, I caught up with Muslim residents of Tromsø, a city located in the heart of Norway’s northernmost region — approximately 350 km (215 miles) north of the Arctic Circle. Between late May and the end of July, the island city, which is surrounded by dramatic snow-covered mountains and fjords, experiences the phenomenon of “midnight sun.” This year, for the first time in the growing Muslim community’s history, the sun will not cease shining for the majority of the Ramadan month.

In 1986, the last time Ramadan and the midnight sun overlapped so closely, the city of Tromsø barely had a Muslim population to speak of. The establishment of a refugee center that same year encouraged the first Muslims to begin arriving, primarily from Iran. Today, Tromsø’s Muslim population numbers roughly 1,000 and consists largely of refugees from Somalia, but it also includes immigrants from elsewhere around the globe and a handful of local converts.

Read further

Suggested Reading

Fasting and Prayers above the Arctic Circle, in Alaska, Russia, Norway and Sweden

Arctic Ramadan: fasting in land of midnight sun comes with a challenge

How Muslims Observe Ramadan in Areas Where the Sun Never Sets

Ramadan Fasting in Sweden, 23 hours a day

Cataloging 750 verses of the Holy Quran inspiring believers to study nature

Norway: Ramadhan in the Land of the Midnight Sun

Religious History of Fasting: How it Establishes the Truth of the Holy Quran

9 replies

  1. Allah, subhanahu wata’aala, is the creator of mankind and therefore knows his nature more intricately than mankind himself. Allah, subhanahu wata’aala, has therefore chosen for us a religion best suited to the nature of mankind and the nature of human environment. So, God chose a religion that goes neither to the extremes of hardship nor of laxity, but instead provides a middle path; in other words, a religion of ease. Allah, subhanahu wata’aala, said;

    “Allah intends for you ease, and does not want to make things difficult for you” [2:185]; and “Allah does not want to place you in difficulty” [5:6].

    The Quran was revealed in Mecca and Medina. So, all the instructions were suitable for Muslims living in that geographical location. Realiistically within reason and based on the verse above, hours of Fasting for Muslims is to be equal to the number of hours of fasting as in Mecca and Medina. Today in Mecca the sunrise is at 5:38 AM and Sunset is at 6:58 PM. The total hours of fasting is 11 hours and 20 minutes. So, where ever Muslim may be he must fast 11 hours and 20 minutes during the waking hours. This makes sense to me.

    • I agree with you 100 percent, very smart thought May Allah almighy bless you for the professional reason and makes sense. Islam is a religion of logical not dogma.

      Many Muslim around the world still implement the ancient Islamic teaching (law). and they say that the rule of Allah almighty can be changed forever and anywhere in this world.They follow extremist Clerics saying, Muslim have to fast from sunrise to sunset every where. as well praying time.

      READ MORE; Some other issue in Islam
      1. How to follow Islamic laws rightly in 21 st century.
      http://ilovemodrenislam.blogspot.com/2016/04/how-to-follow-islam-rightly-in-21st.html
      2 Tarweeh prayer is not Syariah, those who does it will fall into sinful Syirik
      3. Kissing Black stsote ” Kaaba and Asward is sinful Syirik.

      Give us your opinion,OK

  2. Peoplewho live in Arctic do not follow the rule of ancient time, from the sun rise to the sun down according ti Al Quran, if you follow that you will fast 23 hours or more.

    You can fast for 12 hours, from 6am to 6 pm.
    Allah sent His law according to condition of place and people.
    Unfortunately the extremist clerics reject that idea, the rule of God cannot be changed for ever.
    The extremist Clerics are wrong absolutely.

    Ahmadiyyah also follow the ancient laws, they reject to reform the ancient Islamic laws.
    With❤️

  3. Hi Somi
    Ahmadi Muslims obviously follow the teachings of Islam. Islam is a universal religion and it does not matter where you live on the earth, there are always ways you can fulfil your obligation. We also follow this same teaching that you can fast from 6am to 6pm because The Holy Prophet, may peace and blessings of Allah be upon him, made a prophecy. “A time would come when Islam would spread to a place where the sun never sets. Asked 1400 years ago what Muslims should do to fulfill their obligation for prayers and fasting, the Prophet said that they should reckon a day by twelve hours duration (so that a Muslim may fast from 6.00 a.m. to 6.00 p.m. in such areas” (Muslim: Ch. Ashrat al-Saah). Alislam.org

    Have a good day.

    • Are there any non-Ahmadi references to the Hadith your are stating. I couldn’t find any. If this Hadith did exist that would end the discussion across islam regarding fasting in the Arctic.

  4. A PROOF THAT ISLAMIC LAWS CAN BE CHANGED!
    HOW TO FAST FOR RAMADAN IN THE ARCTIC?
    Conclusion;
    The time for fasting from the sun-rise until the sun-set Q.2:187. Saudi Arabia has a day time and a day night is about 12 hours. Allah send down His rule according to local condition. Allah is All Wise.

    If Muslims around the world still follow the ancient Islamic Law, so Muslims who live in the Arctic will fast 22-24 hours, but Muslims who live in Saudi Arabia fast more and less 11-12 hours. It is not logic at all, Muslims who live in Arctic fast 22 hours or 24 hours, it is impossible. It will be made sense if Muslims who live in the Arctic should follow the timetable of Saudi Arabia, about 12 hours.
    It means that the rule of Islam should be changed otherwise people who live in Arctic cannot fast for 22-24 hours.
    Read detail here!
    http://ilovemodrenislam.blogspot.com/2017/05/how-to-fast-for-ramadan-in-arctic.html?m=1

    • Somi,

      The Islamic Law is not changing. There are just accommodations, one cannot fast if their are no sunsets, which means that there needs to be accommodations needed in order to fast. If you focus on what the Prophet had prophesized, he says that there will be a time when Islam spreads where the sun never sets. So in this case, the fast would not be so long since it does not make sense. So the law is not changed, rather there are accommodations made.

      We cannot change the rules of Islam, but in certain situations certain aspects can acquire differences.

  5. What is all the fuss about? How many Muslim readers of The Muslim Times are there in the Arctic? If any please let us know and we continue the discussion.

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