Muslims in Iceland, Finland fasting for 22 hours during Ramadan

Short nights closer to the North Pole means that some Muslims in Iceland’s capital Reykjavik are fasting for nearly 22 hours during Ramadan, according to a local imam and another Muslim Icelander.

The north Atlantic island has around 1,500 Muslim residents in the capital city of 212,000 inhabitants, and those observing Ramadan begin fasting at around 2 a.m. local time and do not sit down to their evening iftar meal until around midnight.

Mohammed of Bangladesh origin has explained how Muslims in Arctic Circle countries adapt to little or no sunset during Ramadan

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“Although the hours are long, the Muslims here do not feel it because they come together here,” Abdul-Aziz Ulvani, the imam at the Islamic Foundation of Iceland, said Friday.

“We are like family. They come in at early hours. We recite the Quran, have iftar and observe Tarawih prayers together.

“The first three days are most difficult. Then everything turns back to normal.”

In countries such as Iceland, Finland and Sweden, the sun sets for as little as 55 minutes a day at this time of year.

Mohammed, a Bangladesh-origin Finlander, told AJ+: “Fasting starts at 1:35 in the early morning and will end at 12:48 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.

“So when they heard from us we do Ramadan here for 23 hours or 22 and a half hours, they just say ‘That’s unbelievable, how could you manage this.’ But somehow [thank God] we manage it, and we’re doing very well.”

He said other Muslims in nearby countries with similar sunlight conditions had found other ways of adapting, adding: “Some other Muslims who live in Lapland, most of them follow the Middle East time table, as they follow the nearest Islamic country, Turkey.”

Depending on a person’s location, Ramadan for people living in the UK can last between 16 and 19 hours a day.

Around 22 per cent of the world’s population, or 1.6 billion people, are undertaking the month-long holy observance of fasting around the globe.

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