I have an opinion about the time of fasting in areas where sun is seen almost all day long - Like Norway, Sweden, Greenland, Alaska, New Zealand.
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Now as regards your question:
How can people living in the extreme north or south of the world know when to start or end their fasting?
My suggestions about fasting is to make it a standard hours rather than variable hours according to time at saudi arabia.
Like if these days fasting starts at 6 am in Saudi arab then all countries Muslim should be able to fast from 6 am and then to the time of Maghrib as Sun sets. say for example in Saudi Arab if it sets in at 530 then Muslims should fast between 6 am to 5.30 pm
That makes lot of sense to the unity of Muslims.
This is one thought which will not be acceptable to most ignorant mullahs of Islam but learned Muslims of modern days should consider this.
Same in my opinion can be done for Namaz and there should be one day for Eid ul Fitar and Eid ur Zaha
I hope that you will give me your comments on the subject.
Signed by one of our dear brothers in Islam
My dear brother in Islam, I do thank you for asking the question which has truly sparked my interest and caused me to do some serious research and information gathering for the answers to your questions. This is actually one of the biggest overall subjects we can deal with in these days.
You see in your question there are many facets and points which must be elaborated on and understood in the light of the Holy Quran and the Sunnah of the Prophet, peace be upon him. Through your very nice question I was able to find a way to bring into words something that has been bothering me about us as Muslims today for a very long time. For that reason, I will apologize if this seems like a far to lengthy reply to a rather ordinary question.
I realize too that your question is concerning only the fasting times. Whereas I would like to address an even greater issue concerning us all and even concerning the future of Islam for our children.
I am talking about "FAST TIMES." That is the time period that we live in which is passing by so quickly.
Allah has said in His Holy Quran:
This day have I perfected your religion for you, conferred my favor upon you and have chosen for you the submission to me (Islam)." [5:3]
"Certainly the only acceptable religion with Allah is Islam." [3:19]
"Whoever would desire a religion other than Islam, it will never be accepted of him and on the Day of Judgment he will be with the losers." [3:85]
"Whoever desires a religion (way of life) other than Islam (submission to God), never will it be accepted (by Allah) and on the Day of Judgment he will be among the loosers." [3:85]
"And obey Allah and the Messenger of Allah that you may obtain mercy." [3:132]
"O you who believe! Obey Allah and obey the Messenger and those of you who are in authority. And if you differ in anything among yourselves, refer it to Allah and His Messenger, if you believe in Allah and in the Last Day. That is better and more suitable for final determination. [4:59]
"We sent no Messenger, but to be obeyed by Allah's Leave." [4:64]
"But no, by your Lord, they can have no Faith, until they make you (Muhammad) judge in all disputes between them, and then find in themselves no resistance against your decisions, and accept with full submission." [4:65]
"He who obeys the Messenger, has indeed obeyed Allah, but he who turns away, then we have not sent you (Muhammad) as a watcher over them." [4:80]
"It is not proper for the believing man nor for the believing woman that whenever Allah and His messenger have decided in a matter, that they should have any option in their decision. And whoever disobeys Allah and His Messenger, he has indeed strayed into a plain error." [33:36]
From the Saheeh Hadeeth we find our beloved prophet, peace be upon him, saying with regard to these matters of obedience to Allah:
Bukhari Vol. 9 #384
Actually, your question brings forward a number of other issues in Islam today. I would like to refer to several very serious considerations with regard to what you have said here. It should be noted that in today's world, people do not simply ask their question. But rather, they insert their own understandings and opinions within the question so that the question prejudices the answer.
An example would be to ask someone to give you a 'yes' or 'no' answer to a question. After he agrees you ask him: "Is your mother still in prison?" Whether he answers with 'yes' or 'no' either way he has assented to a supposed fact that his mother is or was in prison. So, for this reason, I frequently take the questions apart before I begin to try to bring an answer, inshallah.
1.) In your question you bring up the subject of people in Sweden needing to be on a proper time table for fasting. As presented your question presupposes that the Muslims, particularly the scholars there have no idea how to deal with such a problem and are fasting almost 24 hours in the summer months and hardly fasting at all in the winter months.
I have visited Sweden just a few months ago and can assure you that their scholars there are some of the best in knowledge of Shari'ah and FIQH without doubt. They are in all likelihood, quite aware of the FIQH issue with regard to timings for fasting and salat according to the hadeeths of the Rasool, peace be upon him, telling the early Muslims that there would come a day when they would have to deal with the subject of the sun being out for most of the day and for being gone for most of the day. When they asked him what to do, he told them to calculate from the closest place which had more normal hours to their day. So that particular problem is not really a problem.
2.) Additionally, you used your question to make such a statement which is not necessarily true. And you may find yourself like me, thinking that we are really in a sad condition as regards knowledge in Islam and our treatment of the scholars. Let me explain by reminding us of what our beloved Prophet, peace be upon him, said:
"Never envy anyone except in two things, wealth that Allah has provided and he spends it all in the cause of Allah and knowledge which he uses in the way of Allah."
"Whenever Allah wants to bestow a favor on someone He grants him FIQH of Deen (knowledge in finding the way to the Islamic Rulings or 'Shari'ah')."
"Whenever a scholar of Islam researches as much as he can and comes to a conclusion and he is right, Allah will grant him two rewards. But if he comes to the wrong conclusion then Allah will still give him one full reward."
"Allah has cursed all of the Dunyah and whatever it contains except for two things: The Zikr of Allah and whatever reminds us of Allah; An 'Alim [scholar] of Islam and one who is seeking knowledge (of Islam)."
"Allah will never take back knowledge after He has given it to us, except by taking the lives of the scholars. (I'm writing this two days after the death of Sheik Ibn Uthaymeen, Raheem Allah) And then those who are left will give answers according to their opinions and ideas and they will lead many astray and misguide those who follow them."
"I am the last of all prophets to mankind. No prophet will come after me and after me there will be no new religion."
It was the cousin of our beloved prophet, peace be upon him, Ali, radiallaho anho, who said:
"If Islam were based on your logic, then we would wipe the bottoms of our khufayn (socks) rather than the tops."
And we find in so many of the questions these days, people trying to make the answers according to their "understandings." In your letter you used the terms: "suggestions" and "makes a lot of sense" "learned Muslims of modern days" and "in my opinion". I do respect you my brother and certainly if you had thought about it, you would have tried to chose other words. But like so many of us today, you said it in a way which would lead the next generation to believe that we could just use our own logic and modern day thinking to know what is Islam. They would eventually fulfill the hadeeth of the prophet, peace be upon him, mentioning that in the very end times Allah will lift up the Quran from the hearts and minds of men and remove the Book of Allah from the earth (when the sun rises from the West). Where would they be without the Guidance of the Book of Allah?
3.) Next in your question the way you refer to some of the old the scholars of Islam implies that they are ignorant, stupid and out of touch with the real world today. While I will agree that some of the 'mullahs' in Pakistan and other places do need a better education even on some of the basics, it is not permissible for us to attack them, insult them or even make them to look average or below average in other peoples eyes. These people have sacrificed and worked for the deen of Islam, many times without any pay or very little.
As regards the so-called modern day scholars or thinkers in Islam, they have truly made a lot of head way in many areas. At the same time though there are those who are not as knowledgeable as you might think who are making many problems for the Muslims that will be very evident in the not so distant future. Some of the rulings which are not based on the true meanings of the Holy Quran or else on weak, fabricated or misinterpreted hadeeth are already causing conflicts amongst Muslims and even scholars. We have many enemies out there and not all of them have confined themselves to remaining on the outside. There are those amongst us who hate Islam and will do anything to destroy it from within.
I caution us to consider anyone who rules against what has been clearly decided 1,400 years ago, regardless of what our so-called logic tells us.
Recently a supposed Muslim was criticizing saheeh hadeeth mentioning that we should sit down while eating or drinking as though this was something stupid.
He proved two things to me:
1. He doesn't know much about Islam (we never oppose Allah or His messenger)
2. He doesn't know medical sceince (modern health authorities insist on people sitting down while they eat or drink - see: below)
My little daughter and I were returning from a speech which I gave out of town last month and I was falling asleep at the wheel of our van. My daughter turned on the radio real loud to help keep me awake. Naturally, it was turned to a talk show because I like to listen to this type of thing sometimes on long trips. I put my head down on the steering wheel while we waited for a traffic light to turn green. Suddenly to my great surprise, I heard these exact words as a direct command:
"Do not stand up to eat!" "Do not stand up to drink!" "Sit down when you are eating or drinking!" "We now know the human body is not designed to stand up while eating or drinking."
The doctor on the radio show was saying that they have discovered beyond any doubt that standing up while you eat or drink causes a series of different health and mental problems which could all be avoided by sitting down while you eat or drink.
And then of course is the case of the time period known to the Europeans as the 'Dark Ages.' This was a time of plague and disease all over Europe (also called 'The Middle Ages'). People were dying faster than they could bury them. Every city was plagued by these diseases and death. Yet at the same time, Muslim Spain was in "Enlightened Ages' so to speak. That is because they were the champions in all that they attempted. Science was their specialty. Education was at an all time high. Europe was sending their sons & daughters (yes, women were being educated just as men were) to Spain to be educated. Spanish Muslims were living in good luxury without dread of disease or plague. Why?
Why at the time when Europe was in her worst of all points in history and diseases without cures were spreading everywhere and killing so many and so quickly, why was this not spreading through Muslim Spain?
Certainly Europeans were coming to Spain for education, technology and trade. Why were the Muslims there not effected by these different diseases?
Ask yourself this question: "What is that Muslims do five times a day that non-Muslims do not do?"
They wash their face, arms and head just like the modern day surgeons before an operation to PREVENT SPREADING DISEASE.
Ask yourself another question: "How do Muslims handle their eating habits and toilet habits?"
They only eat with the RIGHT hand. It is the only hand which ever touches the food or drink.
They only clean their privates after using the toilet with their LEFT hand.
What about other acts of hygiene from the Sunnah? Such as:
Removing the hair from the private area and under the arms
Cleaning and cutting the fingernails regularly
Bathing after sexual intercourse
Bathing on a regular basis
Removing the socks every day to wash the feet and put on clean socks
Washing the clothes from urine whether from children or animals
Keeping animals outside the home
Cleaning dishes numerous times if an animal happened to eat from it
Cleaning the mouth and teeth with miswak - tooth stick of prophet
(today dentists are calling this a miracle of modern research!)
So by following these and other acts of the Sunnah of the Prophet, peace be upon him, Allah blessed them and granted them safety against these horrible and deathly diseases.
Our beloved prophet, peace be upon him, was sent to all people, for all places, and all times. We should take our deen (way of life) from him. That is why Allah sent him, to help us make it through this test called the 'hayatul dunyah' (life of this world). And certainly he, peace be upon him, is the Rahmah to the Alameen (Mercy to the Worlds).
Allah does not need us to say what the deen of Islam is or how to practice it. Nor will He accept us being rude or crude towards any of the scholars of Islam. May Allah save us from all of these problems, ameen.
Now back to your subject of the timings of prayer and fasting in areas where they cannot see the sun or where the problem is that it is not setting all the way:
a.) Scholars in their areas have already dealt with these problems and have provided good answers based on the Quran and the Sunnah.
b.) While it is most correct to try and unite the Muslims the way which you have suggested is actually against the Sunnah of the prophet, peace be upon him. What I mean to say is, that at the time of the prophet, peace be upon him, there were people from different areas who began fasting on different dates and ending on different dates and he approved of it. Because the idea is for the Muslims to go out in their own areas and try to site the moon when it is starting up again. This is the Sunnah. And when a man came to the prophet, peace be upon him, from another area it was discovered that he couldn't end his fast with them as he had started later. The only thing he was instructed to do was to break his fast so that he could join in the Eid and then finish the next day as a day of Fasting.
If the man had returned back home before the Eid he would of course continue his fasting as usual and then celebrate the Eid with them as this what is expected.
The idea of all fasting together is based on each community and the Muslim leadership sets the rules according to their knowledge and the condition of the people.
Advise to me and to all of us: We should take care of our own situations and that of our families. There are so many brothers and sisters who are so much in need of the understanding of the true Islam. Our families are also in need to come to pray and fast and do Hajj with the rest of the Muslims. So, before we try to tackle the jobs of the scholars, I suggest that we all work together to learn and teach more of the correct Islam, inshallah.
We must focus on the youth of today for the Islam of Tomorrow! Let us spend time with them and share Islam in the good way, with them and pray to Allah that He will guide them to what is best for them in this life and for what is best for them in the next Life.
Remember - Our youth today are the ISLAM TOMORROW (hint: this is one of our websites www.IslamTomorrow.com)
Lastly I recommend that we all get up in the night and pray to Allah Subhannah wa Ta'ala and ask Him for His guidance in all of these matters and ask Him not to misguide us in these matters. Truly it is only Allah who Guides.
Again, it is only Allah who has All Knowledge. May He forgive me my mistakes and guide us all to the right way, ameen.
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