IRSYAD FATWA SERIES RAMADHAN EDITION 103: THE RULING OF FASTING IN COUNTRIES WHERE THE DAYLENGTH IS LONG

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Question:

Assalamu‘alaikum SS Dato’ Mufti. I am fasting in Norway where the daylength is 19 and a half hours. How long should I fast?

Answer:

Waalaikumussalam wbt,

Alhamdulillah, praise and thanks to Allah for the countless blessings He has blessed us all with. Blessings and salutations to the Prophet Muhammad PBUH, his family, companions and all those that follow his teachings to the day of judgement.

Islam is a religion of love and mercy and Allah SWT does not burden His slaves. Allah SWT states:

لَا يُكَلِّفُ ٱللَّـهُ نَفْسًا إِلَّا وُسْعَهَا ۚ

“Allah does not charge a soul except [with that within] its capacity.”

Surah al-Baqarah (286)

Syeikh Ibrahim al-Baijuri explains the definition of fasting given by Allamah Ibn Qasim al-Gazzi:

What is meant by abstaining oneself from the things that invalidate fast throughout the day starts from sun rise until sun set.” Refer Hasyiah al-Bajuri ‘ala Syarh al-Allamah Ibn Qasim al-Ghazzi(1/427)

The situation of which the questioner is in, there are two opinions regarding it:

  1. He has to fast just like normal, which is from sun rise until sun sets. Even if the daylength is long, in which the night and day can still be differentiated during the 24 hours duration. This is in accordance with the verses of the Quran and hadiths which states the specific times of prayer; during both the day and night.

Allah SWT states:

أَقِمِ ٱلصَّلَوٰةَ لِدُلُوكِ ٱلشَّمْسِ إِلَىٰ غَسَقِ ٱلَّيْلِ وَقُرْءَانَ ٱلْفَجْرِ ۖ إِنَّ قُرْءَانَ ٱلْفَجْرِ كَانَ مَشْهُودًا

“Establish prayer at the decline of the sun [from its meridian] until the darkness of the night and [also] the Qur'an of dawn. Indeed, the recitation of dawn is ever witnessed.”

Surah al-Isra’ (78)

In another verse, Allah SWT states:

إِنَّ ٱلصَّلَوٰةَ كَانَتْ عَلَى ٱلْمُؤْمِنِينَ كِتَـٰبًا مَّوْقُوتًا

“Indeed, prayer has been decreed upon the believers a decree of specified times.”

Surah al-Nisa’ (103)

Both of the above verses of the Quran is supported by a hadith from Abdullah bin Amru bin al-‘As. The Prophet PBUH said:

وَقْتُ الظُّهْرِ إِذَا زَالَتْ الشَّمْسُ وَكَانَ ظِلُّ الرَّجُلِ كَطُولِهِ مَا لَمْ يَحْضُرْ الْعَصْرُ وَوَقْتُ الْعَصْرِ مَا لَمْ تَصْفَرَّ الشَّمْسُ وَوَقْتُ صَلَاةِ الْمَغْرِبِ مَا لَمْ يَغْرُبْ الشَّفَقُ وَوَقْتُ صَلَاةِ الْعِشَاءِ إِلَى نِصْفِ اللَّيْلِ الْأَوْسَطِ وَوَقْتُ صَلَاةِ الصُّبْحِ مِنْ طُلُوعِ الْفَجْرِ مَا لَمْ تَطْلُعْ الشَّمْسُ فَإِذَا طَلَعَتْ الشَّمْسُ فَأَمْسِكْ عَنْ الصَّلَاةِ فَإِنَّهَا تَطْلُعُ بَيْنَ قَرْنَيْ شَيْطَانٍ

“The time of the noon prayer is when the sun passes the meridian and a man's shadow is the same (length) as his height, (and it lasts) as long as the time for the afternoon prayer has not come; the time for the afternoon prayer is as long as the sun has not become pale; the time of the evening prayer is as long as the twilight has not ended; the time of the night prayer is up to the middle of the average night and the time of the morning prayer is from the appearance of dawn, as long as the sun has not risen; but when the sun rises, refrain from prayer for it rises between the horns of the devil.”

Sahih Muslim (1419)

Thus, according to this opinion, although the daylength is for 19 hours long but the time for fasting will still start from sun rise until the sun sets according to the time in a particularly country someone is in. The reason is, the night and day can still be differentiated in the 24 hours duration. This is further strengthened by Allah SWT’s statement:

كُلُوا۟ وَٱشْرَبُوا۟ حَتَّىٰ يَتَبَيَّنَ لَكُمُ ٱلْخَيْطُ ٱلْأَبْيَضُ مِنَ ٱلْخَيْطِ ٱلْأَسْوَدِ مِنَ ٱلْفَجْرِ ۖ

“And eat and drink until the white thread of dawn becomes distinct to you from the black thread [of night].” 

Surah al-Baqarah (187)

  1. For situations such as these, it is known as اختلال العلامة  which means distortion of sign. The reason is, the daylength is longer than the normal length for other countries. In this situation, the time to break the fast can be analogically deduced (qiyas) to these two locations:
  • o The Holy Land of Mecca
  • o The nearest country where the length of night and day is the same

This is the opinion presented by Syeikh Muhammad Abduh, Syeikh Jad al-Haq, former Syeikhul Azhar, Syeikh Abdul Latif Hamzah, Syeikh Said Tantawi, Syeikh Ali Jumuah and Syeikh Mustafa al-Zarqa’.

From both the above stated opinions, we are inclined towards the second opinion, for it is in line with maqasid syara’ and offers facilitation for those who have to fast for more than 19 hours. This is in accordance with the statement of Allah SWT:

وَمَا جَعَلَ عَلَيْكُمْ فِى ٱلدِّينِ مِنْ حَرَجٍ ۚ

“And has not placed upon you in the religion any difficulty.”

Surah al-Haj (78)

Syeikh Mustafa al-Zarqa’ said:

The most important thing in maqasid syariat in the determination of the times for prayer and the time for fast is to make it so that it is not an impossibility for them to be performed. At the same time protecting and highlight the meaning of the syariat without depreciating it.” Refer al-‘Aql wa al-Fiqh Fi Fahm al-Hadith al-Nabawi (pg.125)

Wallahua’lam.


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