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Topic initiated on Sunday, December 10, 2006  -  1:52 PM Reply with quote
Salat Timings in Antartica/moon

1. In extraordinary circumstances like when one is on board a plane, he has to face the direction of Ka’bah as far as possible at the time of starting the Namaz. Though Ka’bah is thousands of feet below when you are flying, you do not have to lie face down, to face the Ka’bah. Similarly while on moon, you can face towards the earth without facing upwards. The above answer holds good for people present on one hemisphere i.e. one half of the surface of the moon as there is always one face of the moon that faces the earth. It is because both the rotation of the moon and its revolution around the earth take equal time. For the other half, which never faces the earth, Shariah has always emergency solutions for the extraordinary circumstances. For example: “When faced with fear, pray on foot or while riding (in whatever postures possible) and when you are restored to safety, remember Allah as He has taught you what you did not know (i.e. pray again in the normal mode of Salat)” (2:238). Similarly, when it is not possible to turn towards Ka’bah while riding (a vehicle), the Fiqh rule is to offer Salat facing any direction; for the Qur’an had made it clear: “To Allah belongs the east and the west. Whichever way you turn, there is the face of Allah. He is Omnipresent and All-knowing”. (2:115)

A conclusion may therefore be drawn that on the other face of the moon that never faces the earth, one may turn to any direction to offer Salat. Let us pray and hope and make efforts that these hypothetical situations might become real and Muslims by coming to the forefront of scientific fields really need such extraordinary solutions.

2. Antarctica does not have 24-hour periods broken into days and nights. At the South Pole, the sun rises on about September 21 and moves in a circular path upward until December 21, when it reaches about 23.5 above the horizon. Then it circles downward until it sets on about March 22. This “day,” or summer, is six months long. From March 22 until September 21, the South Pole is dark, and Antarctica has its long “night,” or winter. This is a general fact about Antarctica, but it happens only at the exact and extreme South Pole (a very small part of Antarctica) that there is 24 hours light for six months and 24 hours darkness during the Antarctic winter. Antarctica is a huge continent, its area being more than India and China combined. In most parts of Antarctica, this phenomenon (24 hours light or 24 hours darkness) occurs only for a few days around December 21 and July 22 respectively. For example in November, there is 20-21 hours day and 3-4 hours night in most part of Antarctica. We also must know a few more facts before considering the actual occurrence of the hypothetical situation in question.

98% of Antarctica is covered by ice, which in some places is as much as 3 miles thick. South Pole mean annual temperature is -58 F. The world’s coldest naturally-occurring temperature (-1290F) was recorded at Vostok, Antarctica. Antarctic winds (called katabatic) have been recorded at speeds in excess of 200 mph - the strongest on Earth. Because of these extreme conditions, it has no indigenous human inhabitants. There is no record of primitive humans or a native group. Approximately 2,000 people live in Antarctica in the summer (about 800 of them stay the year-round). These 2000 people do not live at exact South Pole, but at places where there is some hour’s darkness in 24 hours in summer. Till now the people who have reached there do not care to offer Salat.

But our inquirer is very imaginative and he rightly presumes that Insha’llah the people living there in the near future shall be Muslims. Even if they do live at some distance from the exact south pole, they will at least have to encounter some days around 21st December when there will be no darkness and some days around 22nd July when there will be total darkness. Of course, our Namazi brothers shall also visit the exact South Pole and stay there for a while for scientific experiments. There is another problem also. Shall they offer five prayers (Fajr to Isha in a span of 3-4 hours light in 24 hours in winters? Will their fasting be of 3-4 hours duration in winters and of 20-21 hours in summers? What will our Muslim brethren do for their prayers and fasting in Antarctica? The Shariah has a ready solution for them and the Prophet (Pbuh) had given us a solution for such extraordinary circumstances more than 1400 years ago.

Remember, there are extraordinary solutions for extraordinary situations in Shariah. The Prophet (Pbuh) gave us a solution for prayers and fasts in Antarctica when he answered to a query of the Companions who were worried about prayers in the Days of Dajjal, the Anti-Christ.

The Prophet (Pbuh) was telling about Dajjal when the Companions asked: “O Prophet, how long will he stay on earth”? He replied, “Forty days; and one of those days will be equal to a year, another day will be equivalent to a month, yet another day will be of a week’s length, while the rest of those 40 days shall be like your ordinary days”. The Companions asked, “O Prophet, Will our one day’s Salat suffice on the day that will be equivalent to an year”? “No”, the Prophet (Pbuh) answered, “It (the Salat times) will be estimated according to the estimate (of the present day at Madinah)”. (Muslim, Tirmizi)

It may be deduced on the basis of the above Hadith that in the regions where there are days of extraordinary length, the day shall have to be estimated as per days of the permanent homeland of the Namazis or the days of Madinah for the purpose of ascertainment of prayers.

3. Unlike South Pole, there is no land at North Pole. South pole is a huge island surrounded by sea while the North Pole is sea, surrounded by land. So in the extreme Northern sphere, the human habitation is at a distance from actual North Pole.

The world’s most northern city with a population over 1 million is St Petersburg located at 59 degrees 57' North (roughly on the same latitude as Oslo, Norway, the southern tip of Greenland and Seward, Alaska). Due to such high latitude, the sun does not go under the horizon deep enough for the sky to get dark. The dusk meets the dawn and it is so bright that in summer they do not turn street lighting on. If the weather is cloudy, you might not see any White Night, though on a clear day you can get a feel for a White Night even in mid-July. From late May to early July, nights are bright in St Petersburg, but the real White Nights normally last from June 11 to July 2. The days and nights there are of 3 months duration approximately, but the 3-months day does not mean that there is no darkness during those three months. Even during the White Nights period, the night can be separated from the day in each 24-hour period. The Fiq’h scholars of such areas may estimate the day according to the solution given in the above answer if Ramadhan falls during mid-summer or mid-winter when the days are very long or very short.

S A Tarique

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