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Ramadan/fasting in Europe


As Salaam o Alaikum,

I have a question regarding Ramadan/Fasting hours in Europe. Depending on the country in Europe, it’s mostly between 18-21 hours and in some part, i have heard that people fast for 23 hours as well I.e Iceland.

So, a friend of mine mentioned a fatwa about shortening the hours of Fast in Europe. I am not sure as I discussed with some friends of mine and they had a different opinion regarding this Fatwa. I would like to know what is the best answer to this topic? Is that fatwa actually applicable or could be followed?
Below you could find the text of Fatwa that I mentioned.

For the Hanafis: Translation from Arabic to English An extract from a Fatwa no. 575/2010-11-21 by Al-Azhar Al-Sharif _________________ ___ In the name of Allah, Most Gracious, Most Merciful We believe that Muslims living near to the North and South poles and what is close to them; in which the days are long and nights short; have two choices when it comes to fasting Ramadan: – Either to abide by the timings of the countries in which the Islamic legislation appeared and in which day and night hours are in moderation (Mecca and Medina). That is, to fast the same number of hours as these two cities. -Or to calculate the hours of fasting in the closest country, in which day and night hours are in moderation; and in which the wisdom of Allah Almighty’s decree of Prayers and Fasting is maintained without resulting in too much exhaustion or fatigue. As it might not be easy to calculate the closest country to Sweden that maintains this status, we are more inclined towards proposing that Muslims who live in Sweden and other countries with the same situation, to fast the exact number of hours that Muslims fast in Mecca and Medina. Taking into factor, that their fasting starts at the time of Fadjr in their location [Sweden, etc.], without taking into account their day and night hours, nor having to wait for sunset or nightfall to stop fasting. We reached this conclusion in accordance with what scholars pursue when it comes to estimating the timings of Prayers and Fasting and following the orders of Allah and His guidance in the Holy Quran, as Allah in His mercy says: {Allah intends for you ease and does not intend for you hardship and [wants] for you to complete the period and to glorify Allah for that [to] which He has guided you; and perhaps you will be grateful.} (Surat Albaqarah 2: 185). Allah Almighty also says: {Allah does not charge a soul except [with that within] its capacity.} (Surat Albaqarah 2: 286). Allah Almighty knows best. Members of the Fatwa committee 1- Sheikh / Ashour Al-Wakil (Signature) 2- Sheikh /Mohammad Mohammad Awis (Signature) 3- Sheikh / Gamal Abd Al-Samih (Signature) 4- Sheikh / Al-Sayed Al-Kasas (Signature) Secretary of the committee Said Amer (Signature) Seal:* Al-Azhar Al-Sharif Islamic research complex The Fatwa committee


Wa Alaykumussalam

Thank you for your query.

Amongst the Shias, according to Ayatullah al-Udhma Sayyid Ali Sistany:

The Grand Ayatollah Sistani answered a question about fasting in long days in countries like Denmark.

Question: I live in Denmark, day is 20-21 hours and I am working, and I am not able to fast in these long days, what is the ruling about my fasting?

Answer: It is Wajib to fast during the religious times of that town even if the day is long but, if fasting is very difficult and cannot be tolerated, it is allowed at the time of being thirsty and hungry based on Wajib precaution to drink and eat only to the necessary amount and fast for the rest of the day and after Ramadhan, fast for those missed days and there is no Kaffarah for it.

And you can also travel for religious distance (22 kilometres) from the last houses of the town between Dawn’s Azan and before Noon’s Azan and break your fast there and return to your town and in this condition fasting is not Wajeb and must fast for it later on and it has no Kaffarah.

And if fasting prevents working where earnings can be stopped, for example, in a situation where working is not possible or being thirsty to a limit that is not tolerable, then if it is possible to change the job or leave it in the holy month of Ramadhan and can manage to live on with other money even if to borrow, do these and fast.

And if these are not possible, must fast but at the time of severe weakness according to Wajib precaution, can drink or eat only to the needed amount to remove the weakness and eating more than that (needed) amount, is not right, and must fast the rest of the day, and according to Wajib precaution must fast for that day after the holy month of Ramadhan and there is no Kaffarah.

Question: You are requested to let us know the rules of fasting in the month of Ramadhan for those who are living in northern hemisphere keeping in view the following scenarios:
1. Where there is either night or day during 24 hours throughout the month of Ramadhan. There is no sunset or sunrise in the entire month.
2. Where there is day or night during 24 hours but there is no dawn which precedes sunrise and is the starting time for fasting. In fact, when then sun disappears behind the horizon, the brightness is still there and it continues until the sun rises once again.
3. Where there is day and night during 24 hours and there is dawn also but the days are very long i.e. it is for twenty hours which make fasting very difficult.
Answer: 1. As for the first case, it is obligatory for a duty-bound [mukallaf] to move during the month of Ramadhan to a place with ‘normal’ day and night so that he can start fasting, if not, he should move after that month to fast as qadha (making up the missed fast).
2. When it comes to the second scenario, in case the darkness recedes (decreases) little by little after sunset and then it starts increasing once again – be it after two or three hours –, when it starts increasing, it is then the starting time for fasting. And if the darkness or brightness presumably remains the same from the time of sunset until sunrise, the precaution is to take the middle point as the starting time for fasting and abstention from eating and drinking. The duty-bound can get rid of this precaution by moving to another city or place where regular dawn precedes sunrise. He should observe fast there or else he must go on a journey and observe the qadha of missed fast later.
3. As for the third case, it is still obligatory on the duty-bound [mukallaf] to fast from dawn to dusk, if he has the ability to do so and if it does not put him to difficulty which is normally unbearable. He can also go on a journey so that he may not have to observe fast during the month but he will have to observe the qadha later. If fasting is not possible for him, he should either travel or should make niyyah of fasting at dawn and should abstain from eating and drinking until it becomes extremely difficult to fast in which case it is permissible to eat or drink at the time of extreme hunger and thirst, respectively, and the precaution is that he should suffice to the necessary amount (of food or water). He should continue fasting for the rest of the day, and he should also observe the qadha of that day after the month of Ramadhan and he will not be liable to any kaffara. God knows best.

May Allah(swt) grant you success


Syed Haider