Fasting in 24 hours of Sunlight: Ramadan in the Arctic Circle

During Ramadan, Muslims living in the Arctic Circle are left pondering when they should begin and end each day of fasting. During summer months, this northern region sees days when the sun is up for nearly 24-hours.

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New guidelines are being put into place to regulate the hours of fasting for Muslims living in areas of the Arctic Circle where the sun only sets for a few hours each day, leaving Muslims to fast for 19 or even 20 hours per day.

The European Council for Fatwa and Research is drafting new guidelines for Muslims living in this Nordic area to accommodate realistic fasting hours. The council is set to release guidelines ahead of Ramadan to ease the Ramadan requirements for Muslims in the northern-most cities in countries like Norway, Sweden, Iceland, Russia and Canada.

Muslims planning to fast in this area may have a difficult time determining the exact moment of sunrise and sunset in northern countries where daylight remains ubiquitous.

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Since there is no definitive sunrise or sunset, Mohammed Kharraki, a spokesman for Sweden’s Islamic Association advised Muslims to “go by the last time the sun clearly set and rose,” according to a statement to AFP.

Muslims living in other parts of the world, where fasting is usually around 14 to 16 hours per day, may wonder how they would manage fasting during Ramadan in the Arctic Circle.

Written by Liz Yaslik

Liz Yaslik

Liz Yaslik is living in the heart of the ancient Fes medina. She currently works as a Middle East and North African researcher with Thomson Reuters and Morocco World News.

  • I thought that by definition, the Arctic Circle is a latitude north of which the sun never goes below the horizon on the day of the summer solstice. Maybe, accounting for differences in the shape of the earth and the elevation of the land, there might be one or two hours of dusk, but 4 or 5? I’m a little skeptical. Where’s the science on this coming from? The imams writing the fatwa?

  • Marghoob Sye

    they cant issue the fatwa as suggested in this article , its clear when to keep fast !!

  • SoFlo-Border Wall Concrete Co.

    This is a sign from Allah that they need to go back to their countries in the Middle East.

  • Jokuvaan

    Well that does not make any sense. How can they go by the last time the sun has set when its clearly has not set?
    Either every muslim has to fast until the sun has set or all muslims can feast when they feel like it.