[Q&A] How long should Muslims fast

A Sameer emailed in asking us:

For how long should Muslims fast in the countries where days are 22 hours long?

Click on read more for the answer.

This question is 1500 years old and it was asked at the time of the Holy Prophet Muhammad (s). The question was about prayers and not fasting. This is in footnote 233 of the English edition of the Holy Quran. People asked the Holy Prophet what they should do in countries where the day is a month or a year long. He replied that they should set a period in accordance with their days and pray according. Now prayer is higher in importance in Islam than fasting. It follows that if we can set prayer times we can do it for fasting. So if the fasting day is too long then you can as a community agree a length of time and fast for that time. Hazrat Maulana has also said we can postpone fasting to a time when the fast will not be so lengthy.

Khawaja Kamal ud Din was asked this question when he was in the UK. I believe that he asked Maulana Nur ud din who also said that Muslims should agree on the length of the fast. Interestingly, although Khawaja sahib allowed others to do this, he himself fasted from dawn to dusk!

I also asked the Centre this question many years ago. Hazrat Dr Saeed Ahmad Khan on Maulana Misri’s advice said that a time cannot be fixed. I then referred them to Maulana Muhammad Ali’s note I mentioned above and asked which juristic opinion are we to follow. At that point Dr sahib wrote and said that Hazrat Maulana Muhammad Ali’s view shall prevail.

Please note that there are places in the UK where the conditions as to the amount of darkness etc when one should break the fast etc can never be met and it would mean going without food for the whole month! All Muslims in those areas ignore the strict conditions of light disappearing etc and although it is light they break their fast when the sun sets.

These are my comments and should not be regarded as a juristic opinion.

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