#RamadanProblems: How to fast where the sun never sets

Two Muslim women exchange food in Syria where the sun sets at a reasonable hour. © Omar Sanadiki
While most of the world’s 1.6 billion Muslims live close to the equator, their growing global reach, particularly for those who have settled inside the Arctic Circle, has made this the most challenging year to observe Ramadan in decades.

This year’s Ramadan coincides with both the deliciously-named ‘strawberry moon’ and the summer solstice.

Muslims inside the Arctic Circle, where the sun shines all 24 hours over several days, use alternative methods to observe their fasting, such as another country’s Ramadan timetable.

In the Norwegian city of Tromsø, the local mosque decided to follow Mecca’s schedule, so they only have to fast for less than 14 hours per day.

In places such as the UK, however, Muslims have been going without food or water for up to 20 hours over 30 days, while those in Iceland have been getting shout-outs on social media for their 21 hours of daily perseverance in the name of charity and devotion.

The annual sacrifice is seen as a way to connect with those who are struggling with hunger all-year round.

Ramadan is the ninth month on the Islamic calendar and starts about 11 days earlier than the year before.

The last time it fell on a summer solstice was 1984.

Despite its name, the ‘strawberry moon’ won’t turn red this week. Instead, the term comes from the Algonquin people of North America, who believed the full moon in June was a sign of the strawberry picking season.