Are you a fasting Muslim who is planning to travel during the holy month of Ramadan? Do you know what the rules are when it comes to ending or beginning your fast if you are inside a flight?
According to Dr Mohammed Eyada Alkobaisi, Grand Mufti, Islamic Affairs and Charitable Activities Department in Dubai, while in the air, it is not permissible to break the fast before the sun actually sets according to the place where you are at that time.
"This is regardless of the sunset time at the country you travelled from and the destination country. What is considered for the traveller is the actual sunset time in his current location, regardless of the sunset time on the ground," Dr Alkobaisi said.
Therefore, the traveller (or cabin crew) should observe the actual sunset and disappearance of the sun below the horizon, "which is easily visible from the airplane".
"Anyone who broke his fast while the sun is still visible in his current location has made a mistake because he broke his fast before its time," he added.
The Grand Mufti said information about the exact time of sunset is readily available nowadays for any place. He urged airlines to provide this information and alert the fasting Muslim passengers traveling on board about the actual time of Fajr and sunset, calculated according to the position of the airplane.
Interestingly, Emirates Airline has a "unique tool" to calculate the correct timings for Imsak (the time to commence fasting) and Iftar while in flight. It calculates the exact Ramadan timings using the aircraft's longitude, latitude and altitude - "ensuring the greatest level of accuracy possible while on board".
"When the sun sets, passengers will be informed of the Iftar time by the captain. This tool was developed to supplement the Ramadan timetable, available on every flight," the airline said in a statement.
According to Dr Alkobaisi, early Muslim scholars have discussed this topic and given their juristic opinions regarding it. "For example, Az-Zayla'y mentioned in his book that the scholar Abu Mosa Adh-Dhareer was asked about a person who ascended the lighthouse of Alexandria and was able to see the sun for a long time after it had already set for people on the ground. (When asked if it was) permissible for him to break his fast, he said: "No, it is not permissible for him, yet it is permissible for the people on the ground, because each one should follow what he sees."
Airlines offer Ramadan treats for Muslim travellers
Dubai-based airlines are offering Ramadan treats for Muslim travellers during the holy month of Ramadan.
Emirates' Ramadan service consists of specially crafted Iftar meals on board, relevant programming on its inflight entertainment system, and the distribution of dates and water on the ground for those ending their fast.
A flydubai spokesperson also told Khaleej Times that Iftar boxes will be provided for fasting passengers. Iftar boxes are distributed during the Iftar time of the flight destination.
The Emirates' special meals will be available to passengers across all cabin classes on select Emirates flights that coincide with Iftar times. This includes flights to and from the Gulf region as well as flights catering to Umrah groups travelling to Jeddah and Madina during the holy month of Ramadan.
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