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Question 106: As salaamu alaikum. How should Shi’ites who live so high up north on the planet fast in Ramadan? I mean the sun only sets for an hour and the sky stays bright the whole time, how/when to pray Isha and Fajr also?

Answer 106: The dignified religious authorities have different verdicts in this regard. There is no unanimity as to the fast in countries with long days. The issue is unconventional and based deduction.

Different jurists relying on the authoritative sources have given different answers. Some of them say that it is necessary for a person living in such places to act according to the timetable of a region that has ‘normal’ day and night hours. They are of the opinion that when it comes to abnormal subjects we must do what is normal in other places. There is no particular place which sets the standard for breaking fast.[1]

Some other jurisprudence say, “If a Muslim lives in a city where the days are abnormally long, it is still obligatory on him to fast and offer his prayers according to the horizon of his own place of residence, if he has the ability to do so. If he is not able to fast because the days are long or because fasting is unbearably difficult for him, in which case the obligation is forfeited and he should perform the qadhā later on. According to them, if you cannot fast at all due to such problems, the fast is not obligatory upon you, however, you have to make your missed fasts up later (E.g. in the winter).[2]

Sayyid Sistani (ha), says: 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).

  1. 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.
  2. 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.[3]

The late Ayatollah Fazel Lankarani (ra) said: They must fast. If they cannot fast or there is a fear of harm for health, they can break their fast and give the Qaza later.[4]

Note: please, remember that if fasting is not unbearably difficult for you, but you can’t fast all day long you are able to fast according to the timetable of a region that has ‘normal’ day and night hours.

For further information in this regards, please refer to the following answers:

Index: Things from which a person keeping fast must abstain & Kaffarah (Expiation), answer 372.

Index: Studying in the month of Ramadhan is not a valid excuse to escape fasting, answer 572.

Index: Using Asthma Inhaler does not break the Fast, answer 575.

Index: Number of things which are disapproved (Makruh) for a person observing fast, answer 566.

Index: Fasting and prayers of a traveler who travel after Zuhr, answer 384.

Index: Qada Fast for a person reverted to Islam, answer 196.

Index: Rules of prayers and fasting performed without ghusl, answer 034.

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Other Translation:

نمایه: روزه گرفتن و نماز خواندن در مناطقی که طول روز و شب زیاد است، سوال شماره 17

[1] . According to Ayatollah Makarem Shirazi (ha).

[2] . According to Ayatollah Khamenei (ha).

[3] . The official website of the office of Sayyid Sistani, rules concerning Fasting and Long days.

[4] . The official website of the office of Ayatollah Fazel Lankarani (ra), rules of Fasting.

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