MAKKAH – As the majority of Muslims observe the first day of Ramadan, many countries are set to fast with shorter hours than previous years, as Ramadan falls just before summer months this year.
Annually, Hijri years arrive 11 days earlier in respect to the solar Gregorian Calendar. This yearly shift forces the holy 9th Hijri month of Ramadan to move through the seasons in a 33-year cycle.
Similar to last year and since 2016, the majority of the Muslim World, located in the Northern Hemisphere, will fast Ramadan during spring.
This means that the fasting hours in the North Hemisphere this year will be a few minutes shorter than 2017.
Muslims in some regions of the world, such as Iceland and the Muslims in Sibir will refrain from food and drink for as long as 20+ hours.
Yet, as mentioned in the Qudsi hadith: on the authority of Abu Hurayrah (may Allah be pleased with him) from Prophet Muhammad (PBUH), who said: “Allah (mighty and sublime be He) says: “Fasting is Mine and it is I Who give reward for it. [A man] gives up his sexual passion, his food and his drink for My sake.”
For the few Muslim nations lying in the Southern Hemisphere, such as Indonesia and Tanzania, and for Muslims living in countries like New Zealand and Argentina, currently experiencing autumn, fasting hours will be as short as nine to ten hours.
The slight difference of daylight hours and minutes, which occurred in the slippage of 11 days between the Hijri lunar year and the Gregorian solar year, didn’t result in a drastic change to the average fasting hours recorded for the delineations of latitude of 2017.
References to daylight and night hours are in accordance to the geographical measurement of latitudes which merely represent physical locations on Earth.
A latitude is defined as “the angular distance north or south from the earth’s equator, measured through 90 degrees.”
Together with longitudes, imaginary vertical grid lines circling the earth, they allow pinpoint precision of geographical locations.
The length of daytime on any date, and therefore the length of fasting hours, is the result of visible sunlight, as may be apparent at any given coordinates on Earth.
Unlike gaseous celestial bodies, the Earth is a rocky planet; thus, time passes similarly with the same pace in all its locations, depending on the latitude.
But, it’s the angle of the sun in relation to the Earth’s horizon at any given location which determines the length of daylight hours.
Praying at the extreme north and south latitudes, as covered by Islamic ruling, has some leniency allowed due to the apparent number of sunlight hours.