When Fasting for Ramadan, Location Is Everything

When Fasting for Ramadan, Location Is Everything

Every year during one month of summer, practicing Muslims observe Ramadan by fasting from sunrise to sunset. For the majority of the world, the fasting time lasts roughly 15 hours, give or take a few. But if you live very far north or south, your fast can look quite different. At the southernmost tip of South America in Punta Arenas, Chile, Muslims fast for less than 10 hours before evening prayers. Far in the Northern Hemisphere, residents of Reykjavik, Iceland see 22 hours of daylight, and in some years, many polar countries don't see the sunset for weeks. Luckily, Muslims in these countries have a few options. Anyone who breaks the fast, whether due to illness or a 20+ hour day, can make it up at a later date. What's more, a fatwah (religious decree) states that people in areas that experience 24 hours of daylight can time their fast to either the closest Islamic country, or to Mecca.


Key Facts In This Video

  • 1

    Muslims in Sweden must fast for roughly 20 hours, while those in Argentina fast for less than 10 hours. (0:10)

  • 2

    Because the Islamic calendar is lunar, the duration of Ramadan changes each year. The new moon must be visible by the naked eye for the holiday to begin. (0:38)

  • 3

    Oman's labor laws state that it's illegal for Muslims to work more than six hours a day during Ramadan. (0:52)

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