How can those who live in or close to the North Pole region and have problems in the formation of evening and dawn times set the time of fasting?
As it is known, the starting and ending times of the prayers during the day are determined based on the movements of the sun during the day.
Fasting is a worship that begins with the rising of dawn and ends with the sunset and is performed throughout the day. (1) The time of the daylight, on the other hand, gradually differ from the equator towards the poles.
From the equator to the 48th parallel circle, there is no problem in terms of fasting as the dawn occurs throughout the year and the sun sets in the evening. However, since the imsak (beginning of daily fast) is early from the 45th parallel, the fasting period in summer is relatively long.
From the 48th parallel to the 66th parallel, the time of imsak is determined by making an estimate of time, (2) since it is sometimes completely night in the summer and then the dawn does not occur. However, the end of the fast is certain, as the sun sets – albeit late sometimes – here. Although imsak is appointed by making an estimate, as the days get longer in the summer, the fasting period can reach 20 hours and even longer when the 65th parallel is reached. On the contrary, when the month of Ramadan coincides with the winter season, the fasting period can be reduced to three or four hours. In such places and times, even if it is considered as taqwa (piety) for one to try to fast for 20 hours according to normal signs, those who cannot do that can fast (for a shorter period) by making an estimate of time. This is better than late performance (making up) of the fasting at another time of the year – the fasting that is particular to the month of Ramadan.
In the region from the 66th parallel to the pole, the sun never sets and does not rise in winter for a few days in some places, a few weeks in some places, a few months in some places, and 6 months in the polar point. Here, when the month of Ramadan coincides with the days when the sun does not rise or set, the time of dawn and sunset (evening time) for every 24 hours should be determined by making an estimate of time. Fasting should be kept between these two times.
Old and new fiqh scholars have proposed different methods of solution regarding how the times will be determined by making an estimate of time. The issue that former fiqh scholars emphasized a lot in this matter is the “comparison to the nearest town” method. In other words, if there is no sign of the beginning or ending of prayer times in a place, it is determined by comparing it to a town closest to that place and where all times are formed normally.
The closest places to the poles where all prayer times normally occur throughout the year is the 45th parallel. If time does not occur in a town, it is possible to perform fasting there according to another town that is located on the 45th parallel and is on the same longitude by looking at the imsak and evening time of that town.
A believer who will fast in such a place can act accordingly if there is a calendar prepared for his place. Even though each calendar is different from each other, it is a kind of ijtihad and there may be no responsibility for the people to comply with it. (There are such calendars prepared for Muslims working in cities in the northern regions of Europe.)
If there is no calendar prepared for the town he is in, he can perform his fast by making use of a calendar prepared for a town that is around the 45th Parallel and is on the meridian of his town.
If this is not available either, he can download the time calculation program named “Accurate times” from http://www.icoproject.org/accut.html?l=en. After giving the meridian of the town he is in, he gives the 45th parallel as the parallel circle. This program gives the prayer times of that person annually or monthly (according to the method of comparison to the 45th parallel which is a close and moderate town). He can also fast according to these times.
1. “Eat and drink until the white thread of dawn becomes distinct to you from the black thread [of night]. Then complete the fast until the night [i.e., sunset].” (2/187)
2. While describing the days of the Dajjal on earth, the Prophet (asw) stated that his first day was like a year, his second day was like a month, his third day was like a week, and his fourth day was an ordinary day. When the companions (ra) asked how to perform prayers on those long days, the Prophet (asw) stated that they must make an estimate of time (and then observe prayer). (Muslim, Kitabu’l-Fitan and Ashratu’s-Saat)