This week, with the start of Ramadan, Muslims from Indonesia to Michigan began fasting from sunrise to sunset in observance of one of the religions' primary holidays. But what happens in places where the sun never sets because the country is too far north? For many, this particular dilemma is a relatively new one, only apparent over the last two years. Since the month of Ramadan is pegged to the lunar calendar, it rotates on a yearly basis. The last time the holiday fell this deep into the summer months was nearly three decades ago in the mid 1980s, a time when few Muslim communities could be found above the Arctic Circle. But with Muslims from Somalia, Iraq, and Pakistan -- to name a few places -- increasingly immigrating to countries like Sweden, Norway, and Finland, the ethical dilemma posed for them by the endless summer days has become very real.
For an answer to this question, I caught up with Muslim residents of Tromsø, a city located in the heart of Norway's northernmost region -- approximately 350 km (215 miles) north of the Arctic Circle. Between late May and the end of July, the island city, which is surrounded by dramatic snow-covered mountains and fjords, experiences the phenomenon of "midnight sun." This year, for the first time in the growing Muslim community's history, the sun will not cease shining for the majority of the Ramadan month.