Wide Angle

Ramadan abroad : Fasting in a country where the sun never goes down

In countries like Finland and Sweden the sun is there to stay for more than 22 hours a day. For Muslims who are living there, fasting might be a challenge knowing that they will have only a few hours to break the fast and yet adapt to the modern lifestyle of the Baltic States.

Muslims fasting in Finland, the country of the midnight sun./Ph. DR
Estimated read time: 2'

Fasting in countries where the sun goes down only to show up a few hours later might be surprising for the rest of the world. The example here is Finland, the Northern European nation where the day is longer than expected and can last for 23 hours in the summer. For Muslims and even Moroccans who live in the Nordic country such a situation equals a 23-hour fast that should go hand in hand with the multiple activities of the day.

Speaking to Mustapha Muhammed, a board member and Imam of the Muslim Association of Finland and Baltic Countries, fasting is a must that should be carried from Dawn to Dusk. Muhammed told Yabiladi that every day Muslims in the Baltic country «break the fast at 22:46 am». A timing that could be challenging especially when coupled with office work time and daily responsibilities. However, Muhammed stated that «it is normal» for him to fast for so many hours as the «weather is not very hot» and mostly cool.

Fasting for more than 20 hours

According to an article published by The Independent, Mohammed, a Bangladeshi national who lives in Northern Finland with his family shared their experience in Ramadan. «Fasting starts at 1:35 am in the early morning and will end at 12:48 am in the evening. So [fasting] will be 23 hours, 5 minutes. My friends, family and relatives who live in Bangladesh, they can’t believe we could do Ramadan or fasting for more than 20 hours», Mohammed stated.

Just like Mustapha Muhammed, the Bangladeshi national stressed on the fact they manage the fasting although the daylight exceeds 20 hours. «New converts find it a bit hard to fast in Finland because they are not as experienced as we are», Muhammed announced to Yabiladi that Muslims in Helsinki gather everyday in the association’s headquarters to pray and break the fast, including Moroccans.

Things are quite extreme when it comes to the northern region of the country namely Lapland. The sparsely populated area bordering with Sweden, Norway, Russia and the Baltic Sea experiences little to no sunrise during the day. «Muslims in Lapland follow us here in the capital because they don’t have day and night», Muhammed indicated. According to Mustapha Muhammed, 65 thousands Muslims live in Finland including a «minor group who prefer to follow Saudi Arabia» during Ramadan.

The Imam however insisted that for him and other Muslims in the capital, Islam has been clear about fasting making it a task that goes from Dawn to Dusk. «We rejected the idea of following another country during Ramadan», Muhammed concluded.

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