With anticipation, happiness and excitement mounting, Muslims from every corner of the Earth are busy with Ramadan preparations.
Every Hijri year arriving 11 days earlier than the last one in respect to the Gregorian (solar) Calendar, its Hijri lunar months are cycling Ramadan through the seasons.
Like tawaf around the year in a counter-clockwise fashion, the full cycle of Ramadan through the four seasons of a year takes approximately 33 years to accomplish.
Similar to last year and since 2007, the majority of the Muslim World which is located in the Northern Hemisphere is celebrating Ramadan this year in the longest and hottest time of summer.
The world’s 1.6 billion Muslims fast for varying numbers of hours depending on their location on our big blue sphere, and Allah, as informed by His Apostle, will reward everyone for this.
Global Fasting Hours in 2015/1436
References to daylight and night hours are given according to the geographical measurement of latitudes which merely represent physical locations on Earth.
A latitude is defined as “the angular distance north or south from the earth’s equator, measured through 90 degrees.” Together with longitudes, imaginary vertical grid lines circling the earth, they allow pinpoint precision of geographical locations.
The length of daytime on any date, and therefore the length of fasting hours, is the result of visible sunlight, as may be apparent at any given coordinates on Earth.
Unlike gaseous celestial bodies, the Earth is a rocky planet; thus time passes similarly with the same pace in all its locations, depending on the latitude.
But, it is the angle of the sun in relation to the Earth’s horizon at any given location which determines the length of daylight hours.
Sunset is defined as the moment of time in which the top of the sun’s disc falls below the horizon in any given location. Dawn, according to Islam, is the first moment of visible daylight in any given location.
As explained by Mathforum.org, during the summers of high and low latitudes such as that of Alaska and Antarctica respectively, the sun sets at a relatively shallow angle to the horizon. “Thus it takes longer at higher and lower latitudes for the sun to get a given angular distance below the horizon.”
Additionally, refraction of sunlight inside Earth’s atmosphere increases the length of time before visible sunset, as well as the earlier visible appearance of light from the sun.
Calculated for the 15th of Ramadan, the slight difference of daylight hours and minutes which occurred in the slippage of 11 days doesn’t result in a change to the average fasting hours recorded for the delineations of latitude on last year’s map.
A sample of Ramadan fasting hours for a few locations across the broad spectrum of latitudes is also provided, based on the starting date for Makkah, with calculations provided by Islamic Finder.
In the Southern Hemisphere, currently experiencing winter, fasting hours are as short as ten hours.
For example, Tierra Mayor, Argentina, at 54.86°S latitude starts Ramadan by fasting approximately nine hours, 29 minutes, and ends Ramadan with nine hours, 58 minutes.
In the Northern Hemisphere, currently experiencing summer, the range of fasting hours extends up the latitudes to a maximum of around 20 hours.
For example Oslo, Norway, at 59.9°N, starts at 20 hours, 25 minutes, and ends with 20:08.
Praying at the extreme north and south latitudes, as covered by Islamic ruling, has some leniency allowed due to the apparent number of sunlight hours in the summer season.
Fasting Hours in Muslim Siberia
Who can count the mercies of Allah? In the extreme latitudes during summer months when the days are their most lengthy; Allah designated cooler climates for the inhabitants of these lands.
For example, the northernmost Muslim country of Sibir (aka Tyumen or Tümen) at 57°N latitude will start Ramadan this year by fasting from 1:36 am until 9:27 pm, a total of 19 hours, 51 minutes.
While at Ramadan’s end, the fasting hours in Sibir’s capital, Tyumen city, will start at 1:49 am, and end at 9:11 pm, a total of 19 hours, 22 minutes.
The annual average Siberian summer temperature is 19°C, but according to the Siberian Times, July 2014 saw the highest recorded summer temperature for Siberia at 35°C.
Even though, the Siberian Tatar Muslim capital city, Tyumen, in southwestern Siberia reported only 12°C on this same date.
No matter what the temperature may be during Ramadan, Siberian Tatars are always ready with their balanced diets which are formed of beneficial nutrients that keep them well-nourished during the Holy month in the harsh Siberian weather conditions.
Some popular Siberian Tatar dishes are shared with the rest of the Islamic World while others are unique for this Muslim nation. These vitamin-rich dishes include Şulpa, pilmän, bäliş, pilaw, porridge and talkan. Fish soup and various fish dishes are also common.
Iftar meat dishes are mostly made from mutton, beef, horse meat, rabbit, elk, goose and duck, as well as domestic and wild fowl. Vegetable-based soups and dishes are commonly made of barley groats, potatoes, peas, oats, millet, spelt and rice.
Calcium-rich milk products from Sibir include sour cream, butter, cottage cheese and yogurt, which are all suitable for a nutritious suhur meal. Sibir’s Tatars hydrate themselves by tea, “airan”, fruit juices, and fermented mare’s milk.
They also provide their bodies with energy from the sugary desserts like Çäkçäk, baursaki, sansu and halvah. Glucose intakes from these desserts allow the bodies of Siberian Tatars to sustain and endure the long fasting hours which the high latitudes of Sibir witness in summery Ramadans.
Ramadan Under Occupation
For Sibir’s Muslims, every Ramadan after the year 1598 was never like the previous Ramadans. In 1585, the Russians invaded Sibir Kingdom and demolished its capital city, Chimgi Tura (or modern-day Tyumen city). The civilized Muslim Siberian capital was left in ashes.
Thousands of indigenous Siberian Muslim Tatars were massacred at the hands of the forces of Yermak Timofeyevich, a Russian military leader of the first Russian tsar, Ivan the Terrible.
After courageous resistance and heroic struggle, the Muslim Sibir Kingdom totally fell in 1598. Mosques and madrasas were razed to the ground over the heads of their brave defenders.
From this time forward, Russian settlers’ systematic decimation of the native Muslim Siberian Tatar population has continued unabated. Even today, this policy is clearly ongoing, as revealed in official Russian documents.
According to the Russian 2002 census, Siberian Tatar numbers were recorded at 242,325, but by the 2010 census, these numbers are drastically reduced to 6,779.
And, although Islam was the dominant religion before the Russian occupation, in the passage of 417 years of Christianization and Russification of the Muslim country of Sibir, Islam has been diluted to the point of only 6%, according to the Russian Census of 2010.
Bukharskaya Sloboda district is now the living center of Chimgi Tura/Tyumen. The district lies at the low bank of the Tura River where it’s mostly formed of very old one- or two-story wooden buildings dominated by native Muslim Siberian Tatars.
Although one of Tyumen’s two remaining mosques was recently completely destroyed, nevertheless the mosque’s reconstruction on the same site caused controversy among the Russian settlers, in spite of the fact that when the Tyumen Synagogue collapsed in 2000, it was quickly reconstructed on the same site.
The current Mufti of Sibir and Siberian Tatars, Zulckarnay Shakirzianovitch, speaking of the history of the Muslim congregation of the Siberian Central Mosque of Omsk, in east Sibir, related that with the rise of the Soviet Communist regime in 1917, religion was prohibited.
Nevertheless, the Mufti related the conditions in 1978, when he arrived at Omsk as Imam. In those days, he said, “the mosque was situated in an old house 80 square meters (m2). Old men and women were forced to say their prayer in an overcrowded room without any ventilation. And in celebrations, as Eid al-Fitr, we were sitting outdoors on bare soil because of shortage of place; and they were saying their prayer under snow and rain, in cold and heat.”
“However, Alhamdulillah, as in many places all over the globe, Islam is increasing in Siberia. By 1999, the congregation of the Siberian Central Mosque of Omsk had almost 90 thousand Muslims and a brand new mosque. Over 6,000 people celebrated Eid al-Fitr in the new mosque, and “the mosque, the rooms of madrasah were overcrowded. We are proud of it,” reported Mufti Zulckarnay Shakirzianovitch (aka “Dhul-Qarnain Shaker” in Arabic).
Signs of Hope from Volga
In spite of ongoing controversies with Russian settlers, Sibir is experiencing an inspiring Islamic renaissance which is now in full bloom.
As reported by the World Congress of Tatars, early in 2015 the Board of Trustees of the Spiritual Administration of Muslims of Tyumen Region met with local businessmen to address the growing critical needs of Muslims in Sibir.
Noting recent achievements, the chairman of the board of trustees reported the unification of three Spiritual Administrations of Muslims, 11 Islamic Sunday Schools opened in the past seven months, a seminar for Imams was held, an Islamic educational center was opened, and massive celebrations for the two Eids of 2014 were hugely successful.
Regarding critical needs, funds were allocated for the construction of two new mosques, and a grant was agreed upon for students of Tyumen Architectural University, to awaken the interest of young architects in designing religious buildings.
In addition, the board of trustees accepted the responsibility and financial burden to pay all Imams’ salaries, in arrears for 2014, and to provide an ongoing monthly salary for all Imams from that point forward.
Although documented and strongly eyed with suspicion by the current authorities of the Russian occupation, Islam is indeed recognized as growing rapidly among the inhabitants once more, especially noted with the immigration waves of Muslim Volga Tatars to wealthy Sibir.The World Congress of Tatars is an international organization working for the unification and consolidation of the whole Tatar nation, both in the Republic of Tatarstan which has been under Russian occupation since 1552, and in all the other Muslim countries of Tatar peoples like Crimea, Bashkortostan, Astrakhan and Sibir.
(This article originally appeared on OnIslam.net)