Sweden: Long summer days a challenge to Ramadan fasting

Sweden: Long summer days a challenge to Ramadan fasting

Via the Local:

Sweden’s long summer days are presenting a challenge to Muslims fasting for Ramadan, which starts on Wednesday. Religious leaders say the long hours of daylight are not a good excuse to skip the fast.

Things are set to get even more challenging in 2015, when the fast will fall in June.

During the month-long fast, Muslims refrain from eating, drinking and sex between daybreak and sunset. While this is a challenge for people everywhere, in Sweden it presents particular challenges.

In northern Sweden, where dawn on Wednesday broke at 2:46 am, Muslims are expected to fast for over 18 hours, compared to only 13 hours in Mecca, for instance.

Mikael Sundin, a board member of the Association of Muslims in Umeå, said living so far north presented certain challenges:

“It’s even more extreme here that it is in Stockholm. But most Muslims up here are following the official times. I’m going to follow the times and see how it goes,” he told The Local.


Indeed, in 2005, the month of fasting stretched from October to November, when daylight hours are short. But in coming years the fast will be even longer than this year - in 2015, it begins on 18th June, when many parts of Sweden don’t get dark at all.

In those circumstances, says Mahmoud Khalfi, Muslims are allowed to follow the patterns of the nearest city in which it gets dark.

“There are also those who say you should follow the patterns of Mecca," he said, and pointed out that there were different schools of thought within Islam on exactly how the fast should be observed.