The Islamic holy month of Ramadan begins at the sighting of the new moon in the ninth month of the lunar calendar. During Ramadan (which just started) observant Muslims around the world abstain from food and drink between sunrise and sunset. (The Economist)
But what happens in places where the sun never sets because the country is too far north?
Dr Abdul Mannan – a local Imam in Finland and president of the Islam Society of Northern Finland – says there are two schools of thought:
- “The Egyptian scholars say that if the days are long – more than 18 hours – then you can follow the Mecca time or Medina time, or the nearest Muslim country time.”
- “The other (point of view) from the Saudi scholars says whatever the day is – long or short – you have to follow the local time.” (BBC)
“We have a fatwa,” or clerical decree, Ahmed said. “We can correspond the fast to the closest Islamic country, or we can fast with Mecca,” says a Muslim from Tromsø, a city located in the heart of Norway’s northernmost region. (The Atlantic)
There is still no consensus, however, on how Muslims living in Scandinavia should observe Ramadan without jeopardizing their health, according to Omar Mustafa, president of the Islamic League in Sweden. (The Local Sweden)
“Zero, 15, 25 or 45 hours, it doesn’t matter as long as you believe in what you’re doing,” he said. “But we’re human beings; of course it’s hard sometimes,” says Idris Abdulwhab, from Eritrea, follows the European Council of Fatwa and Research (ECFR) fatwa, which means his longest period of fasting will be 20 hours. (Al Jazeera)