Summer in the Arctic brings about a sun that never sets for 24 hours and lasting a whole six months. In winter, it never rises for another six months. I spent my 5th day of Ramadhan over there and came back more than 2 weeks later. I prepared myself with the solat schedule as well as the iftar and imsak times and chose Makkah as a reference city based on given advice before starting the journey.
The Polish station where I stayed in was stocked up with enough halal food, which made cooking for sahur and iftar much, much easier. There was only one other Muslim, a student researcher in our team. Everyday I would wake him up for sahur and at the designated time of maghrib in Makkah we’d have our iftar.
It felt strange to break fast when the sun was still up as the day looked no different from fajr time so much so that at times I felt as if I was not fasting. I know that as a musafir, we need not fast but instead can make up the fast later on. However, I really did not want to miss this Ramadhan.
We were so used to our normal 24-hour time, which always meant that when the sun sets, it was time to break the fast and of course the azan always reminded us of iftar. In our family, everday in Ramadhan, we would always remind ourselves of the two blessings from Allah (the food one eats after a day of fasting and the promise of meeting Allah in the hereafter).
However, this particular Ramadhan story of which I had shared with my family (and now with the readers) is another blessing, an understanding that Allah alone has the power to create and the power of knowledge as was revealed in the Quran, Al Qasas (71-73), and this was made clearer through the experience I have gained:
(71) Say: “Tell me! If Allah made the night continuous for you till the Day of Resurrection, which god besides Allah could bring you light? Will you not then hear”;
(72) Say: “Tell me! If Allah made the day continuous for you till the Day of Resurrection, which god besides Allah could bring you night wherein you rest? Will you not then see”; (73) It is out of His mercy that He has made for you the night and the day that you may rest therein and that you may seek of His bounty — and in order that you may be grateful.
and Al-Furqan (62)
And He it is Who has put the night and the day in succession (Khilfatan), meaning, each one comes after the other, in a never-ending alternation.
The creation of night and day is one of Allah’s many favours, for without which we humans would not be able to survive. When we first arrived, we were told to choose the time for our ‘night’ and ‘day’ such that we will rest during the ‘night’ and work during the ‘day’. Both our schedules and the team’s were arranged based on these times. I could not imagine going through life with only days or only nights until death, could you?
In this surah, Allah explains that if He made the night continuous, lasting until the Day of Resurrection that it would be harmful for us and would cause boredom and stress. Then Allah tells us that if He had made the day continuous, lasting until the Day of Resurrection, that would also be harmful for us and our bodies would get tired from so much movement and activity. Thus the creation of day and night is Allah’s mercy such that the night is `to rest from work and activity’ and the day for seeking of His bounty – traveling, moving about and working. From this, we can give thanks to Allah by performing all kinds of acts of worship at night and during the day. Whoever misses something during the night can make up for it during the day, and vice versa.
The creation of days and nights in succession is surely Allah’s mercy for us, thus we must be thankful for this blessing. Indeed, this journey as all my other journeys taught me a lot, they are also reminders and times of contemplation of the greatness of Allah through the observation of His creation, His boundless blessings and help in my time of need.
Scientific expeditions open up windows to understanding Allah’s creations including this universe, thus realizing Allah’s call in surah Al-Imran(190- 194):
(190) Verily, in the creation of the heavens and the Earth, and in the alternation of night and day, there are indeed signs for men of understanding. (191) Those who remember Allah standing, sitting, and lying down on their sides, and think deeply about the creation of the heavens and the earth, (saying): “Our Lord! You have not created this without purpose, glory to You! Give us salvation from the torment of the Fire. (192) “Our Lord! Verily, whom You admit to the Fire, indeed, You have disgraced him; and never will the wrongdoers find any helpers. (193) “Our Lord! Verily, we have heard the call of one calling to faith: `Believe in your Lord,’ and we have believed. Our Lord! Forgive us our sins and expiate from us our evil deeds, and make us die along with Al-Abrar (the most righteous. (194) “Our Lord! Grant us what You promised us through Your Messengers and disgrace us not on the Day of Resurrection, for You never break (Your) Promise.
One of the dangers is the harsh arctic wind which can blow up to 200km/hour. During this time, we are not allowed to work outside since the meteorological condition may lead to severe disorientation. This is a normal phenomenon here, if we are already outside, we have to use GPS to find the station location despite the clear and sunny surroundings. We sometimes saw mirage and experienced minor hallucination before reaching our shelter. Such situation as this time reminded me of one of the last sign before the day of Judgment whereby Allah sends very cold wind to find and take the life of those who believed in Him before the final destruction of this universe. I just wonder whether this is the cold wind mentioned. This arctic wind contains high concentration of oxygen as well which can cause disorientation. Allah knows best.