Dubai: Muslims around world have begun Ramadan fasting, abstaining from food and water between dawn and dusk, with the fasting hours ranging from around 11 hours to 20 hours in different countries.
Ramadan is the 9th month of the Islamic calender, which follows a lunar system, which means the season in which the fasting month falls keeps changing every year.
Depending on the season and latitude of the place the length of the fasting duration also varies.
Over the last four years, fasting hours have been longer on an average, with Ramadan coinciding with the Middle Eastern and South Asian summer.
This year, as Ramadan once again falls during the hot summer months in the Middle East region, fasting hours in most Muslim countries average around 14 to 15 hours.
In countries such as the UAE, Saudi Arabia, India and Pakistan Muslims will fast for around 14 to 15 hours, with the searing summer heat making it a tougher experience.
Longest fasting hours will once again fall in the northern hemisphere, with the fasting duration going up to 20 hours, while those in the southern hemisphere have the shortest fasts of around 12 hours.
Countries with the longest fasting hours this year are Greenland, Sweden and Iceland with more than 20 hours, while Muslims in the Netherlands, Belgium and Germany will fast for around 19 hours.
Apart from long hours of fasts Arctic and Scandinavian countries along with Northwest Territories of Cannada, for instance, have perpetual daylight, with no demarcation between night and day, posing an additional challenge for those who fast.
In such extreme cases Islamic scholars have advised Muslims to either follow the fasting hours of Makkah or the nearest Middle Eastern country.
Among the countries with shortest fasting hours are Argentina, Australia and New Zealand with just under 12 hours.