Muslims have started their annual fast during the Islamic month of Ramadhan as of dawn this morning. One of them asked me yesterday, “Have you spotted the new moon yet?” I told him it was only 1:30 p.m. my time, perhaps by nightfall. Then I asked if he knew there are places in the United States where the sun doesn’t set. He laughed it off.
Muslims fast because the Qur’an commands it. As important as this fast is to Islam, it wasn’t even practiced the first decade after the advent of Islam.
The Qur’an strictly puts the fast as from dawn to dusk. Why would a supposedly all-knowing God give a command that depends on the sun when Muslims these days live in areas where the sun in some months doesn’t rise or set? For example in the United States, Barrow, Alaska, today the sun rose at 3:04 a.m. and will set 23 hours later at 1:59 a.m. There is twilight for the hour the sun appears set. How could a Muslim in Barrow break his or her fast?
Some Muslims argue in modern times clocks replace the sun, which doesn’t make any sense because the Qur’an clearly says “seek what Allah Hath ordained for you, and eat and drink, until the white thread of dawn appear to you distinct from its black thread; then complete your fast Till the night appears.” The Qur’an envisaged the fast to be strictly according to the position of the sun.
Several reasons exist to show that the Muslim fast did not originate from God Almighty:
1. The command to fast is specific to Arabia where lengths of nights and days don’t vary greatly throughout the year. The Qur’an says fasting wasn’t institute to be burdensome but Muslims in Alaska would fast for as little as zero hours to as long as a few months because the sun doesn’t rise or set during certain months. You think Moses and Jesus Christ going without food or water for 40 days hold the record? Alaskan Muslims would have to go longer.
2. The Qur’an states that the sun sets “in a spring of murky water.” It tells a story of a man who traveled and “reached the setting of the sun, he found it set in a spring of murky water.” “God” in the Qur’an was limited to seeing the sun “going down” into the horizon, hence instituted the fast according to that knowledge.
3. Muslims fast during the month of Ramadhan because the Qur’an claims the Qur’an was revealed during this month. However, even non-Muslims know Prophet Muhammad started receiving the Qur’an in 610 A.D. If this month were so sacred, why was the fast to celebrate its sacredness invented 14 years after the fact?
4. Prophet Muhammad did not have a problem with observing the Jewish fast even after the Islamic calendar was invented in 621 A.D. Here is what happened:
a. When Prophet Muhammad migrated to Medina, he encountered Jews who were fasting and asked them why they were fasting. He learned from them they fasted due to Yom Kippur (Day of Atonement). And he observed their fast.
b. Then he commanded Muslims to observe the Jewish fast. In the Qur’an “Fasting is prescribed to you as prescribed to those before” refers to the Jewish fast.
c. Then Prophet Muhammad had a fallout with the Jews in Medina. He concocted fast during Ramadhan but he did not make it compulsory. Verse 184 of Suratul Al-Baqara (chapter 2 of the Qur’an) clearly shows Ramadhan was optional. The Hadith shows it as well.
d. He made the Jewish fast optional.
e. Then when he had further fallout with Jews, he banned Muslims from observing the Jewish fast and made Ramadhan compulsory
Fasting during the Islamic month of Ramadhan was not from God Almighty. It only came into existence when Muhammad did not get along with the Jews of Arabia. That explains why the fast doesn’t make any sense in Polar Regions.