A London-based cleric has issued a fatwa to reduce the prolonged fasting period for British Muslims during the holy month of Ramadan.
Sheikh Dr Usama Hasan of the Quillian Foundation has advocated that devotees in the UK should follow the timings observed in Mecca, where fasting hours last around 12 to 13 hours a day.
Long daylight hours in summer would mean Muslims get only five to six hours between suhour (the meal before dawn) and iftar (the meal after sunset) in the UK.
"A number of people have asked me since last year about the excessive length of fasting during UK summer months," Hasan writes in his fatwa.
"This has included those new to the practice of fasting, elderly and middle-aged people, who wish to fast but simply cannot manage the very long days. Since last year, I've heard reports of such people in hospital, as well as of children falling seriously ill, due to fasting more than 18 hours per day," he added.
The Muslim scholar also suggests that believers "follow timings of the lands of revelation, viz. Mecca and Medina (Hijaz) – throughout the year, the dawn-sunset fast here is 12-15 hours. Follow timings of the nearest "moderate land.""
As the holy month approaches, British Muslims prepare for the four-week-long fasting, which is often considered the hardest due to the 16-19 hours of daylight in summer.
Muslims in the Arctic Circle were already planning to frame a new set of rules for their Ramadan fasting as the region will have sunshine for 24 hours a day.
Last year, Sheikh Hassan Halawa, of the European Council for Fatwa, however, opposed cutting short of the fasting period by saying that it is improper for British Muslims to not fast for the long summer times as there are countries where people fast in spite of the intolerable heat.
Ramadan marks the anniversary of the Quran being revealed to the Prophet Muhammad and the holy month is celebrated by Muslims across the world with much passion.
During the entire month, Muslims fast and practice self-restraint from sunrise until sunset. They also devote themselves to the study of the Quran and in charity work.