Notes: Islam: The World Religion

The Light (Pakistan), 1st June 1922 Issue (Vol. 1, No. 12, p. 1)

A correspondent of the Christian paper, the Epiphany, has taken exception to the Catholicity of Islam on the ground that the institution of fasting cannot be observed universally. He says:

“Now, fasting during the month of Ramazan [Ramadan] is one of the religious duties enjoined upon Muslims by Islam. They have to fast from sunrise to sunset. In the Quran it is written, ‘Eat and drink until ye can plainly distinguish a white thread from a black thread by the daybreak; then keep fast until night” (Sura Baqr, II, Ayat 183) [The Holy Quran, 2:183].

Everyone who is acquainted with geography knows that within the tropics days and nights are equal all the year round, but that in the temperate and Arctic zones their respective lengths vary so much that in some countries the day may last four or six times as long as the nights, and vice versa. Now, because Muslims have to fast from sunrise to sunset, it must follow that those living in Stambul [the old part of Istanbul] and further north would have to fast for about sixteen or twenty hours. We know that about the 67th degree north latitude the day lasts about one month; about the 69th two; and about the 73rd three months; that is, one, two, or three months intervene between a sunrise and the next sunset.

What will be the result if the inhabitants of these northern latitudes were to embrace Islam and observe its rule regarding the Ramzan [Ramadan] by abstaining from all eating and drinking for only one such day? Surely, the first Ramazan [Ramadan] fast would cause the death of all its faithful observers. A universal religion, Divinely intended for all men, should be able to be observed in every part of the earth and by all the nations of the world.”

Apparently, this objection is due to ignorance of the Islamic doctrines. The same question was raised in the time of the Holy Prophet [pbuh] , who is reported to have answered that,

“They (i.e., the people of such countries) should measure according to the measure of their (the Arabs’) days.”

From this, it would follow that in the countries where the days or the nights are too long, the time of fasting may be measured according to the normal days.

It may also be noted here for the information of the said correspondent that the Holy Quran has given a standard of measure for the fasting time, which can be utilised both by the crudest and the most civilised societies, and this is a testimony to the universality of Islam.