Fasting in Countries Where The Day is Very Long or Very Short: A Study of Muslims in the Netherlands

Ahmad Najib Burhani
The Indonesian Institute of Sciences (LIPI), Jakarta, Indonesia



Ramadan falls both during winter and autumn months, when the days are cool and short, and spring and summer months, when the days are long and hot. Fasting in areas where the climate is extremely hot and the day is more than twenty hours is a double hardship that can be a dangerous assault on physical condition. In contrast to that, fasting in areas where the day is very short is, to some extent, like an interval between breakfast and lunch or between lunch and dinner. This article, therefore, intends to discover how Muslims in the countries where the day is either very long or very short deal with the problem of the fasting time. This research is based on the practices of some Muslims in the Netherlands with a variety of countries of origin. This article attempts to answer the following questions: How did they manage their fasting time in the summer or when the day is very long? How did they manage their fasting time in the winter or when the day is very short? What kind of fiqh book or fatwā did they use as reference? Did they think that fasting obligation was dangerous for their health when the day was very long?

[Bulan Ramadan bisa tiba pada musim dingin dan musim gugur, ketika siang hari pendek dan sejuk, tetapi Ramadan juga bisa tiba pada musim semi dan musim panas, ketika siang hari sangat panjang dan panas. Puasa di tempat yang sangat panas dan dengan panjang siang hari lebih dari dua puluh jam adalah beban yang berat dan bisa berbahaya bagi kondisi fisik pelakunya. Sebaliknya, puasa di tempat yang siang harinya sangat pendek terasa tak seperti puasa karena ia hanya seperti interval antara makan pagi dan makan siang atau antara makan siang dan makan malam. Tulisan ini didasarkan pada penelitian terhadap praktik berpuasa orang-orang Islam di Belanda dari berbagai negara asal. Pertanyaan yang ingin dijawab dalam tulisan ini adalah: Bagaimana umat Islam Belanda melaksanakan puasa pada musim panas atau ketika siang hari teramat panjang? Bagaimana pula mereka menjalankan puasa pada musim gugur atau ketika siang hari sangat pendek? Buku fikih apa atau fatwa dari siapa yang mereka pakai sebagai dasar praktik ibadah puasa itu? Apakah mereka berpikir bahwa praktik puasa di musim yang siang harinya sangat panjang akan berbahaya bagi kesehatan mereka?

Full Text:



Abou Sheishaa, Mohamed Ali Mohamed. “Muslims’ Celebration of the Month of Ramadan in the Netherlands,” Unpublished paper submitted to the Seminar “The Empirical Study of Islam in Contemporary Western Europe,” Leiden University, 2001.

Ali, Abdullah Yusuf, The Holy Qur’an, Hertfordshire: Wordsworth Classic of World Literature, 2000.

Badawi, Jamal A., “The Obligatory Fasting in Ramadan,” in The Muslim World League Journal, vol. 27, no. 9, 1420/1999.

Berg, C.C. (ed.), “Ṣawm,” in The Encyclopaedia of Islam, WebCDedition, Brill Academic Publishers, 2003.

Bowie, Fiona, The Anthropology of Religion, Oxford: Blackwell, 2001.

Chaillu, Paul B. Du, The Land of Midnight Sun, vol. 1, London, 1981.

Dijkstra, Stephanie, The Holland Handbook: The Indispensable Reference Book for the Expatriate, edition 2002-2003. The Hague: Xpat Media, 2002.

Hashem, Muḥammad, “Religious Problems of Muslim Minorities within the Western Context: A Case Study of Jādd al-Ḥaqq ‘Alī Jādd al-Ḥaq’s Printed Fatwas to Muslims in the West,” unpublished MA Thesis submitted to Leiden University, 1997

Humphreys, R. Stephen, Islamic History: A Framework for Inquiry, London: I.B. Tauris, 1991.

Ilyas, Mohammad, Astronomy of Islamic Times for the Twenty-first Century, Mansell Publishing Limited, 1989.

----, Astronomy of Islamic Calendar, Kuala Lumpur: A.S. NNoordeen, 1997.

al-Jazāirī, Abd al-Rahman, al-Fiqh ‘alā al-Madhāhib al-’Arba‘a, Cairo: Dār al-Kitāb al-‘Arabī, n.d.

Khalifa, Mohsen Abd al-Aty Haredy, “Ramadan Fasting in Northern Europe: A Study of the Fatwa of Sheikh Ḥasanayn Makhlūf and Other Relevant Fatwas and Issues,” unpublished paper submitted to the Seminar “Islam and the West: Their Mutual Relations as Reflected in Fatwa Literature,” Leiden University, 2000.

Murata, S. And Chittick, C. W., The Vision of Islam, New York: Paragon House, 1994.

Nielsen, Jorgen S., Muslims in Western Europe, Edinburg: Ediburg University Press, 1995.

----, Towards a European Islam, London: Macmillan Press, 1999.

Nonneman, Gerd, et al., Muslim Communities in the New Europe, Ithaca: Ithaca Press, 1996.

Pingree, D. “al-Kamar,” in The Encyclopaedia of Islam webCDedition, Brill Academic Publishers, 2003.

Plessner, M. “Ramadan,” in The Encyclopaedia of Islam webCDedition, Brill Academic Publishers, 2003.

Qinawī, ‘Abd al-Razzāq Muḥammad, Fatāwa al-Ṣawm, Cairo: Dar al-Amīn, 1998.

Sābiq, Al-Sayyid, Fiqh al-Sunnah, Juz I. Cairo: Dār al-Fath li al-a‘lām al-‘Arabī, 1997.

Wagtendonk, K., Fasting in The Koran, Leiden: E.J. Brill, 1968.

Wüstenfeld, H.F., and E. Mahler, Vergleichungs-Tabellen zur Muslimischen und Iranischen Zeitrechnung Mit Tafeln zur Umrechnung Orient-Christlicher Ären, Wiesbaden: Franz Steiner Verslag GMBH, 1961.

al-Zuhailī, Wahbah, al-Fiqh al-Islāmī wa Adillatuhū, Juz II, Damascus: Dār al-Fikr, 1996.

Other Sources

Ali, Syed Akbar, “Observations of Fasting in Nature,” in

“Faq on Ramadhan and Islamic Fasting,” in Council on American-Islamic Relations Washington, D.C. Ramadan Publicity Resource Kit. Accessed 15 June 2003.

“Fasting: History and Objectives” in Accessed 15 June 2003.

“Fast during Ramadan” in Accessed 15 June 2003.

Islam online site on the internet:

Jalali, Mir Javid, “Ramadan is a time of fasting and spirituality,” in Accessed 15 June 2003.

Jehl, Douglas, “In Egypt This Winter, Fasting for Faith Is a Long Banquet,” broadcasted on BICNews 24 January 1998. See in Accessed 15 June 2003.

Muslims in Scandinavian countries website on the internet:

Moon Sighting website on the internet: http://www.

Najeeb, Noor, “Ramadan fasting nourishes spirit,” in Accessed 15 June 2003.

Praying time for The Hague in 2003. See Accessed in 12 November 2003.

Tas, Ron, “Nearly as Many Muslims as Calvinists in the Netherlands,” in Accessed on 10 November 2003.

“The Star and Crescent,” compiled by Al-Islaah Publications from Sources: islamicvoice; islam.about ; ameen/crescent, courtesy: See in Accessed 15 June 2003.

“Seyaam Ramadan (The Fasting of Ramadan),” in Accessed 15 June 2003.

“Ramadan,” in Accessed 15 June 2003.

“Your Manhaj In Ramadhan,” The Muslim Creed October 2001 Vol. 9 No. 10.

Publisher: The Daar of Islamic Heritage. In Accessed 15 June 2003.

Copyright (c) 2013 Ahmad Najib Burhani

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International License.