Fasting and observing the Salat in northern areas when

the sun hardly sets in some summer days?


How does one pray and fast in countries where the day or night is continuous like in some Scandinavian countries where regions nearest to one pole experience continuous day for many days. How can the believers rely on the sun’s movement in the sky as the decider for the times for the Salat and fasting when the sun is not in the sky or never leaves the sky?


First, we must always remember that, all praise to God, the Quran provides guidance to all matters:

We brought
the Book down to you providing explanations for all things, guidance, mercy, and good news for the Submitters. 16:89

The clue to answer this good question is given in the following two verses:

Strive in the cause of God with the striving that is due to Him.
He has chosen you and has placed no hardship on you in the religion - the creed of your father Abraham. He has named you Submitters previously, and in this, so that the messenger may serve as a witness over you, and you to serve as witnesses over the people. So observe the Salat and give the Zakat, and hold fast to God. He is your Master, the best Master and the best Supporter. 22:78

We have seen your face turning about the sky, and so We will direct you towards a Qiblah that you are content with. So turn your face towards the Masjid Al-Haram.

In situations where hardship is caused, like fasting for very long hours in northern areas of the globe, God allows us to use the merciful concession in 22:78 to observe our rituals in accordance to an alternate timing so that no hardship is caused.
Since we are told in 2:144 that God appointed the Masjid Al-Haram in Mecca to be the new Qibla (focal point of the religion), thus it is advisable for people living in extreme areas to observe their fasting and their Salat according to the times at the Masjid Al-Haram (Mecca).

If the times of
Mecca are to be followed then they must be followed at all times of the year and not only when it suits. In other words, in the deep winter days when the sun hardly rises above the horizon for more than minutes, and thus fasting would be for only few minutes, the believers should also follow the times of Mecca.

Using the time of Mecca in places where the sun does not set for parts of the year is advised on account of the following:
1- God decreed that the Masjid Al-Haram would become the Qibla, which is the focal point of the religion. Besides being the direction of the Salat, the Qibla provides the destination for Hajj. It also is the destination for various payments and offerings (5:95, 22:33).
2- Following the time of Mecca (when it is impossible to follow local times), provides unity between the believers during fasting and Salat. In contrast, if each group is left to select the timing that pleases them, or select the timing of one country that is near them, they are bound to have different times which each thinks is best.
The result would be that people in the same community would not be fasting at the same times, nor offering their salat together! Needless to say that would create a new set of problems. For example, w
hat would be the case when they have to offer the congregational Friday prayer but they have different times among themselves? Would unity through referring to the times at the Masjid Al-Haram, which God decreed to be the focal point of the religion, not be a good advice?