Ramadan in Iceland: A Tale of Two Mosques

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Abstract

During the month of Ramadan, Muslims are required to fast from dawn to the beginning of the night. During summers in Nordic states, this means daily fasts of more than 18 hours. Two religio-juristic opinions have emerged regarding this challenge: one requires strict adherence to the commands of the Qur'an so long as night and day are distinguishable; the other encourages fasting the same number of hours as in Mecca and Medina or a nearby country where the duration of the day is moderate. This article offers an overview of these opinions, their development and how they resist common distinctions between ‘pragmatic' and ‘strict' juristic panels. On the basis of a field study conducted during 2015 in two mosques in Reykjavik, it also explores the division among Iceland's tiny minority of devout Muslims over this issue, and the contesting justifications given by leaders and attendees of the two mosques for their respective views. The discussion demonstrates the conflation of transnational and local influences (including satellite television channels) that contribute to the diffusion of fatwās in Europe, and the limited utility of the labels wasaṭī and salafī in predicting the actual practices of individuals and communities.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)397-417
Number of pages21
JournalIslam and Christian-Muslim Relations
Volume27
Issue number4
DOIs
StatePublished - 1 Oct 2016

Keywords

  • Iceland
  • Ramadan
  • religious law of Muslim minorities
  • salafiyya
  • wasaṭiyya

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