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Fasting in the Far North

Question: “ I live in the far north, and the day is very long. How do I fast?”

Dr. Shabir Ally: If you live too close to the Arctic circle and the day is too long to be bearable, then according to Muslim scholars you can 1) follow the timings in a city with a similar time zone, but lower in latitude or 2) you can follow the timings in Mecca or Medina.

I'm more attracted to the second idea. If you're going to choose between Mecca and Medina, Medina seems to be the obvious choice, because that is where the fasting was given as the regulation for the first time. But either one of those will do. Mecca is Um al-Qurra, the mother of the cities, and that has a certain attractiveness about it as well. If you follow Mecca’s timing, then you might think of Mecca being the original timing conceptually in the sense that when the Prophet, peace upon him, moved to Medina, he followed Medina timing, even though it is Mecca timing that is ideal. The Prophet, peace upon him, moved away from Mecca, and he was following the timing in his new city because that is what was convenient for him. And if you think about this a little further, Muslims continue to branch out and follow the local timings in various cities wherever they happen to be. But the original is still Mecca. If you think of following the timing of Mecca, it's not that you're making a compromise; rather you're going back to the original. There's a certain power of feeling that comes with going back to the basics, a sense of authenticity and originality and faithfulness to the commands of God. So follow the timing of Mecca and that will suffice. May God bless you this Ramadan and forever.

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