Ramadan, in a land where the sun never sets

I am sharing this news article because it discusses an unusual situation, and how the faithful adapt.

Here are a few excerpts:
During this year’s holy month of Ramadan, when consumption of food and water is prohibited between dawn and dusk, how do Muslims observing the fast manage in the far north of Scandinavia, where the sun never sets?

Since there is no central authority in Sunni Islam that could issue a definite religious ruling, or fatwa, Muslims in the north are using at least four different timetables to break the fast.

When Ramadan falls in December, however, Muslims will face the opposite of midnight sun: polar night. For two weeks, the sun does not rise above the horizon.

Muslim prayer times also follow the sun - which means that during winter, all five prayers can fall within a time span of two hours.

I think Ramadan must be a challenge under normal circumstances. But above the Arctic Circle, it would be a bit more difficult!

It’s interesting that you posted this as we are going to Iceland in a couple of weeks, and I was thinking about how Muslims there observe the fast, in the Land of the Midnight Sun.

Not trying to be a smart alec but when anything is man made (like fasting at a set time) there is no proper solution that can fit in a natural (God made) setting. :shrug:


Interesting question! I always wondered how Jews begin the Sabbath at sunset in those places!

There are people in Iceland who have 19-20 hour days. If they’re not able to fast that long, they can make up for it by feeding a poor person (i.e. charity).

Fasting is mentioned in a variety of places throughout the Qur’an; the most relevant passage to this thread would be surah 2:183-185, which says "*O ye who believe! Fasting is prescribed to you as it was prescribed to those before you, that ye may (learn) self-restraint.

(Fasting) for a fixed number of days; but if any of you is ill, or on a journey, the prescribed number (should be made up) from days later. For those who can do it (With hardship), is a ransom, the feeding of one that is indigent. But he that will give more, of his own free will, it is better for him. And it is better for you that ye fast, if ye only knew.

Ramadhan is the (month) in which was sent down the Qur’an, as a guide to mankind, also clear (Signs) for guidance and judgment (Between right and wrong). So every one of you who is present (at his home) during that month should spend it in fasting, but if any one is ill, or on a journey, the prescribed period (Should be made up) by days later. Allah intends every facility for you; He does not want to put to difficulties. (He wants you) to complete the prescribed period, and to glorify Him in that He has guided you; and perchance ye shall be grateful*".

Ok, so, multiple times, Allah acknowledges the frailty of humans and expresses concern for them. He doesn’t mention every single case under which a person is exempt from fasting-- He doesn’t have to. He just says, “for those who are unable, feed the poor” (see translations by Yusuf Ali, Sahih International, Muhsin Khan, Pickthall, Shakir and Dr. Ghali on Quran.com and how they translate surah 2:184). Allah could’ve made a list of 17 things that permit someone to forego fasting, but eventually, someone would develop another condition, making God’s list of 17 things irrelevant.

Allah doesn’t have to mention every case where exceptions are made, such as people who, for whatever reason, might be camping in Antarctica or a mother who’s nursing. Those who are unable to fast can feed the poor instead.

Yes, that is very sensible. In Christianity, we have a similar understanding. The sabbath was made for man, not man for the sabbath. Mark 2:23-27

Yeah, I’m familiar with that passage. Those hypocrites were watching-- looking for something to accuse him of.

In this case the Baha’i Faith allows for the Fast to be set via the Clock.

Thus one can Fast from 6am to 6pm.

Also the Fast is at the Vernal Equinox which means that the day in most of the countries of the world are most equal in length.

God Bless and Regards Tony

My understanding is that Muslims in situations like the extreme north have the option of going on Mecca time.

I am not sure of which faqih (jurisconsult) issued that ruling. Do you happen to know his name? Sadiq al-Shirazi, a Shi’i faqih does, however, have a fatwa regarding shortening the fast for people that live in extreme latitudes. I don’t know the details. I think Yasser al-Habib did a lecture that discusses this fatwa, though. I can get more information if anybody is interested.

I also heard one person, a Shi’a, saying that you can follow the time of Karbala if you live at an extreme latitude. However, I believe that this was some sort of personal ijtihad (reasoning) based on Qiyas (analogy) which would render it batil (invalid) according to Islamic fiqh (jurisprudence).

Slightly off-topic question, purely from curiosity. When you write words in brackets in your quotes from the Quran, is this because they are words implied by the Arabic text, because you have edited the text down, or because they are missing or unclear words in the Arabic text?

Good question. I was quoting Abdullah Yusuf Ali’s english translation of the Qur’an. The words in brackets are Abdullah Yusuf Ali’s additions (his own words). What Yusuf Ali often does is add words in brackets, which are his own, in his translation because there are some rules of grammar in the arabic language that are tough to grasp for someone who doesn’t know any arabic. There are other translations, like Saheeh International, that translate the arabic Qur’an in a more literal way, but I prefer Yusuf Ali’s translation (it’s a personal preference).

No translation is perfect-- and Abdullah Yusuf ali [may Allah have mercy on him] did not imagine his translation to be perfect. Only in arabic is the Qur’an perfect.

I apologize, I do not know the source. It was something that was being discussed on my local CBC radio station that I was listening to on the way to work. The host was interviewing a Muslim in Prince George, BC who chose to adhere to the fast as it was, but allowed that this was an option.

Oh, you mean like the man-made set time for fasting on Good Friday?

It’s not only about food when it comes to the definition about Fasting in Catholic teaching. Plus Good Friday fasting is ** encouraged** . It’s not a doctrine.

Faith in action. Not fear in action.


Unless dear friend God sets the Time Himself :wink:

The Baha’i Fast is quite similar to the Muslim Fast, it has set times - No partaking of food or drink between the hours sunrise to sunset (there are Lawful Exemptions)

“This material fast is an outer token of the spiritual fast; it is a symbol of self-restraint, the withholding of oneself from all appetites of the self, taking on the characteristics of the spirit, being carried away by the breathings of heaven and catching fire from the love of God.” - Abdu’l-Bahá

Link to Gods Laws for this day on Fasting (etc) - bahai-library.org/writings/bahaullah/aqdas/aqdas.html#K10

God Bless and Regards Tony

We had visiting sailors from Yemen on our US Navy ship and they would come to the bridge before their prayers to check direction and see if we were on a steady course. Our Muslim sailors used the same space as all other religious services, but our guests preferred to lay their prayer rugs down on the deck behind the bridge. Inevitably, one evening we were doing flights ops during high winds, which means we have to turn the ship to seek the wind direction that is safest to launch our helicopters and then turn again to receive our helos. I felt bad when I saw the gentlemen stop their prayers, get up and move their rugs, and then get down again to continue several times. However, my job as Officer of the Deck was to make sure our helo pilots were safe so I continued turning the ship as needed.

Noted your observation. Are you talking about prayer or Ramadan?


We’re taking about Islam Ramadan practices.


MJ, In the same spirit as the OP, I was describing an unusual situation, regarding Muslim prayers, where they had to adapt. I apologize if it wasn’t specifically about Ramadan. You seem to be a real stickler on that point. I don’t know if the OP minds, though.

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