CAIRO – Fasting during long summer hours could be a challenge across the world, the case much be more difficult in Sweden’s northernmost cities like Kiruna where the sun never sets during summer.
“There are many questions about this every day,” Islamic Association spokesperson Mahmoud Khalfi told The Local on Tuesday, June 7.
“Today I’ve already had at least eight calls about it. Muslims from all over Sweden are calling us, and we can help them with it.”
Ramadan, the holiest month in Islamic calendar, starts on Thursday, June 18.
In Ramadan, adult Muslims abstain from food, drink, smoking and sex between dawn and sunset.
The sick and those traveling are exempt from fasting especially if it poses health risks.
In some parts in northern Sweden, such as Kiruna, the sun never sets for much of June and July.
The never-ending days have prompted confusion amongst Muslims living in Sweden, as they hope to strictly observe the custom of fasting without any unbearable hurdles.
The association points to guidance advice from the European Council for Fatwa and Research, which details adjustments for fasting Muslims in the northernmost parts of the world.
“Experts have looked at the issue and settled on a way to work it out. The fast is adjusted to the time that there was last properly dusk and dawn in the area,” Khalfi said.
“So in Kiruna for example, the fast is adjusted to late March. Around the 20th of that month.”
In 2014, the council issued fresh guidelines, allowing Muslims to follow the sun in Stockholm or in Malmö.
According to these rules, Muslims in Kiruna would fast for a time that is the equivalent of those in Stockholm.
“Muslims in Kiruna can fast as if they lived in mid-Sweden, around Stockholm or Örebro,” Khalfi explained.
“It’s quite a long day in any case: the fast still lasts for around 18 hours. But one can cope.”
Muslims make up some 200,000 of Sweden’s nine million people, according to semi-official estimates.
But according to the Islamic Center in Malmö, there are around 350,000 Muslims living in Sweden.
In Ramadan, fasting is meant to teach Muslims patience, self-control and spirituality, and time during the holy month is dedicated for getting closer to Allah though prayers, reading the Noble Qur’an and good deeds.
Muslims also dedicate their time during the holy month to be closer to Allah through prayers, self-restraint and good deeds.
The majority of Muslims prefer to pay Zakah for the poor and needy during the month.