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Summer ‘Ishā & Fajr Prayer Times

*Ramadān 2014 timetables for UK and Europe available here*

All praises are due to Allah, the Lord of all things; and may His peace and blessings be upon Muhammad, the final messenger to mankind.

My previous fatwa on the issue of prayer times for ‘Ishā and Fajr during summer is in accordance with the decree of the Islamic Fiqh Council. I also believe that if there is a difference between my fatwa and the one issued by the Council then the latter should be endorsed and implemented. The relevant selection of the Council’s decree from the second decree of the 19th assembly in Makkah al-Mukarramah held on 8/11/2007 concerning prayer times for countries situated between latitudes of 48 and 66 degrees North and South is as follows:

‘To clarify this decree further in order to answer the specific problematic scenario put forward to the Council, the Council views the previous decree instructing the use of referring (to other regions) for reference, for countries with latitudes between 48 and 66 degrees North and South, to be specifically for the case where astronomical signs for the times are non-existent. As for the case where the signs of prayer times do occur but the disappearance of twilight, indicating the start of ‘Ishā, is very late, the Council views it as being obligatory to pray ‘Ishā in its legally specified time. However, whoever experiences difficulty in waiting to pray it in its time, like students, office-workers and labourers during the days of their work, they can combine prayers in accordance with the textual evidences relating to the removal of burdens from the Ummah. One example of this is the narration of Ibn ‘Abbās, and others, may Allah be pleased with them, “The Messenger of Allah combined Zhuhr and ‘Asr, and Maghrib and ‘Ishā in Madīna without (cause of) fear or rain”. Ibn ‘Abbās was questioned about this to which he replied, ‘He wanted to not burden his Ummah’. The condition for this though is that the practice of combining should not be the norm for all people in that country for this whole duration because this will in effect change the concession of combining into a permanent and intended obligatory action from the onset. The Council also views the adoption of approximating and distributing the times in such a situation all the more (appropriate).’

The fatwa issued was as follows:

The beginning of summer brings great confusion amongst many Muslims living in the UK, North America, Canada and some other European countries concerning the commencement of ‘Ishā, Maghrib and Fajr prayers. Muslims frequently enquire about the best time to pray ‘Ishā given that it starts very late. In this fatwa I will explain the different opinions of the scholars in dealing with this issue, and thereafter, I will discuss these opinions, their evidences, and any respective criticisms made against them. Finally, I will explain the best practical opinion taking into consideration the diversity of Muslims residing in the aforementioned countries as well as the abnormal situation they face.

Firstly, it is essential to state that ‘Ishā time commences once twilight disappears. This is based on many prophetic traditions such as the statement narrated in Sahīh Muslim by ‘Abdullāh Ibn ‘Amr that the Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) said, “…and the time for Maghrib continues until the twilight does disappear”. Both Muslim and non-Muslim astronomers disagree on the time twilight disappears especially in areas of extreme latitude such as Canada and many European countries. England has a latitude of between 50 to 60 degrees. Some believe that the twilight never disappears for a certain period of time during the summer while others believe that it does disappear, but extremely late.

This disagreement is a result of different opinions concerning two main factors:

  1. The linguistic interpretation of the disappearance of twilight; and,
  2. The astronomical interpretation of the disappearance of twilight.

While the vast majority of scholars believe that it is the disappearance of the redness of twilight that truly signifies its ‘disappearance’, Hanafi scholars believe that it is the disappearance of the whiteness. Concerning the second reason behind this disagreement, Muslim scholars differ on which astronomical interpretation should be adopted to determine the disappearance of twilight. The resolution of the ninth Muslim World League conference held in 1406 H (March, 1996) holds that 17 degrees is the correct interpretation for the disappearance of twilight. If we adopt this opinion (which in any case is the opinion of the majority of Muslim scholars as well as astronomers) then all countries located above 49 degrees latitude may well observe the phenomenon of persistent twilight until the break of dawn. If we adopt the other linguistic meaning and the second astronomical interpretation for the disappearance of twilight we allocate 15 degrees as the start of ‘Ishā time. According to this value, twilight does disappear yet it disappears very late in places located roughly at 49 or 50 degrees, but it never disappears in countries which are located at 60+ degrees latitude. According to the opinion of the vast majority of scholars and astronomers, twilight does not disappear for a period of time during summer in many European countries since many of them are located above 49 degrees latitude.

The above discussion is far from sufficient in uniting the opinions of the scholars since the difference discussed above is deeply rooted in the four acceptable official schools of thought as well as astronomical interpretation. Moreover, the wide diversity of Muslims residing in the UK and Europe, their juristic schools of thought, and the absence of any Muslim leadership for Muslims to follow makes it almost impossible to agree on specific criteria for the timings of prayer. In any case, it is almost universally accepted that twilight either does not disappear or persists until very late into the night before disappearing in many European countries. In other words, there are two aspects to this period of confusion or hardship:

  1. When the legislated indications of the commencement of ‘Ishā are to be observed, but very late; and,
  2. When the legislated indications for the commencement of ‘Ishā disappear completely.

Hence, irrespective of the disagreement amongst scholars and astronomers, there will be places which observe only one aspect while there will be definitely some other countries observing both aspects mentioned above. The issue is further confounded when on the one hand, some followers of some schools of thought believe that they are observing the first aspect only, while on the other hand, followers of other schools of thought in the very same locality, may believe that they are facing both situations. Now, regardless of whether we follow 17, 19, or 15 degrees as being the start of ‘Ishā, a comprehensive explanation and solution should be presented taking in consideration the diversity of understanding found amongst the Muslims.

The problem of the absence of the legislated signs indicating the start of ‘Ishā, or the very late start, leads to difficulty in understanding the correct position concerning three related issues:

  1. The end of Maghrib;
  2. The start of ‘Ishā; and
  3. The start of Fajr.

Let us first discuss the start of ‘Ishā time since it is the main matter of concern here.

Start of ‘Ishā time

From the previous discussion we conclude that the aspects relevant to this discussion comprise two parts:

  1. The first part is when the legal sign is visible, but it starts extremely late, and,
  2. The second part is when the legal sign disappears altogether.

Both cases are treated in a very similar way since the late start makes it extremely difficult to pray ‘Ishā on time. An example of this is the start of ‘Ishā time on May 20th in London just after midnight[1] and a similar time is found on 25th July. The following options result when examining this situation in its totality, taking into consideration all of its various facets:

a) Muslims pray ‘Ishā at its stated time even if it starts very late or even if it starts after midnight[1], which according to many scholars signifies the end of ‘Ishā time. This is based upon many prophetic traditions. Let us call this option praying at the astronomical time or praying on time;
b) Because of the difficulty involved, Muslims estimate the time for ‘Ishā prayer at odds to its actual astronomical time. Let us call this option estimation;
c) Because of the difficulty involved, Muslims combine ‘Ishā with Maghrib at the time of Maghrib. Let us call this option combination.

Discussion of the first opinion: praying on time

Scholars who hold the first option, i.e. praying on time, base their opinion on numerous evidences that clearly indicate that praying on time is the most important condition for performing prayer. Among such proofs is the Qur’ānic verse where Allah says [2] “Verily, the prayer is enjoined on the believers at fixed hours”. We also find that the Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) explained the significance of prayer at the appointed time in various ways. For example he said, “The most beloved of actions to Allah is the prayer at its time”. However, this opinion faces problems when twilight persists. In that period, the legal sign for the start of ‘Ishā disappears, so what then should be the starting time of ‘Ishā? These scholars, in this circumstance, adopt the option of estimation yet their opinions vary as to the best way of estimating. Some scholars believe that the last time on which the legal sign appeared should be the reference time. This time should be adopted throughout the period of persistent twilight. In London, for example, the last day when the legal sign is detectable is the 25th May at 12:38 am.[3]  According to this opinion, ‘Ishā should be prayed at 12:38 until the legal sign starts to be visible again on the 18th July. A second group of these scholars hold that the reference point should be the nearest city where the legal sign is visible. A third group of these scholars hold that we should divide the night into 3 parts and ‘Ishā should start by the end of the first third of the night. This means that Muslims living in London, for example, should pray ‘Ishā at around 10:45 pm. The fourth group of those scholars hold that Makkah should be our reference point for matters related to acts of worship as it is our Qiblah and we perform Hajj there. According to this opinion ‘Ishā commences one and a half hours after Maghrib.

Discussion of the second opinion: estimation

The second group of scholars believe that estimation is the best solution. We have seen in the previous argument the justification for such an opinion. These scholars do not accept the option of combination due to the following reasons:

a) The Sharī’ah intended to distribute the prayers over the day and night. This is why the Sharī’ah considered time a vital condition for prayer. They supported their argument by the fact that the Sharī’ah discourages people from combining unless there is a pressing need let alone the fact that many scholars prohibited the continuous practice of combining prayers over a long period of time in a manner that gives rise to a habitual action;

b) The estimation of ‘Ishā time is a valid approach since many scholars agree that ‘Ishā time starts after the end of the first seventh of the night according to an interpretation of some Shāfi’i scholars;

c) The principle of estimation in essence is valid since it is mentioned in the famous hadīth of the Dajjāl during the last days when Allah extends the length of the days of his presence so that one day will be as long as one complete year, another day will be equal to a month in length, and the third day as long as a week, while others are normal days in length. The Companions asked the Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) about praying in these extended days. The reply of the Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) was to command them to estimate the times of prayer. This hadīth is reported in Sahīh Muslim.

Discussion of the third opinion: combining

Those who believe that we should combine prayers during the whole period, i.e. both scenarios, base their opinion on various justifications: a) The disappearance of the legal sign leaves no option but to combine the two prayers together. b) The late start of ‘Ishā makes it extremely difficult for the vast majority of people in these countries to pray on time when the sign is visible, or at similar time when the sign can no longer be observed. This difficulty brings to attention the principle established by Islamic law to remove any hardship. There is no doubt that praying ‘Ishā after midnight, or close to midnight, in such countries is a hardship that the Sharī’ah seeks to remove. Based on this they believe that, whether the legal sign is visible or invisible, the end ruling is the same, i.e. the period of late visibility should be treated the same as the period of absence. There are numerous prophetic traditions where the Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) combined Maghrib with ‘Ishā. Most of the scholars believe that the legal reasoning behind this combination is to remove hardship. For example, the prophet carried out this practice several times while he was on a journey from one city to another.[4]

Moreover, the Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) practiced combination once when he was resident in the city of Madīnah neither without being sick nor in a state of fear. Ibn ‘Abbās explained the reason behind this by saying “He intended to remove hardship from his Ummah”. The scholars deduce from this that in cases of hardship or necessity it is allowed to combine between Dhuhr and Asr prayer any time between the start of Dhuhr and the end of Asr. Likewise it is allowed to pray Maghrib and ‘Ishā together in the time of either. According to these scholars, this verdict is conditional on not making this act a habit. In a similar vein, we find that Imām Ahmad allowed the breast-feeding woman who faces difficulty in cleaning her clothes to combine between these prayers. Sa’īd ibn al-Musayyib instructed a shepherd who sought his advice to combine ‘Ishā with Maghrib before sleeping if he is afraid of missing ‘Ishā prayer due to sleepiness and tiredness. These scholars disagree with the opinion of estimating prayers, as they believe that it is baseless. They believe that this situation is different from the situation mentioned in the hadīth of the Dajjāl. These scholars explained that this analogy is unacceptable because this hadīth is only applied in the case of complete disappearance of all the legal signs. This means that we cannot extend this to cover our case when only one of the legal signs is present but appears very late or is absent altogether.

The strongest opinion concerning the start of ‘Ishā time in such countries

As we can see, all the opinions mentioned above are justified by many evidences, while at the same time, none of these opinions are free of criticism. Even if we say we must pray on time irrespective of the necessity of hardship involved in praying late at night, we will still not be safe from valid criticism. ‘Ishā might start after midnight, as is the case of cities lying above 49 degrees. Midnight according to many scholars is the end of ‘Ishā time. This means that adopting this option results in praying ‘Ishā after it has ended! Having analysed the previous argument, the following conclusion can be drawn: 1) There is no opinion free of criticism and 2) All opinions are supported by strong direct or indirect proofs and evidences. Moreover all opinions are supported by quotations from the previous scholars. As a result this disagreement becomes a matter of valid Ijtihād. So if someone were to ask: what shall I do and when do I pray ‘Ishā? We will give the following answer:

The male adult should join the congregational prayer in the mosque that he usually prays in whether they combine or chose any criteria for estimation;

  1. Praying in congregation is compulsory upon every able male adult and it is of great significance in Islam. The Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) desired to punish those who did not attend the congregational prayer and he did not excuse a blind person who hears the call for Salāh from not attending it. Some scholars mentioned that attending prayer in congregation takes precedence over many conditions of Salāh. For example the adult person who is sick and will pray in a sitting posture if he joins the congregation while he could pray in a standing posture if he prays alone should join the congregation;
  2. The times assigned for ‘Ishā in such countries are not definite as shown by the previous discussion. Actually it is a matter of ijtihād as we have just stated. In such cases courses of action that maintain unity or remove disagreements should take precedence over individual opinions; and
  3. The reason behind this conclusion is the fact that we cannot confirm that ‘Ishā during this period starts at a specific time which puts it within the area of ijtihād. So if it is a matter of ijtihād, one should pray in congregation even if it takes place at a time that does not match his ijtihād. This conclusion is supported by the fact that Islam aims to prevent fitnah between Muslims and block all roads leading to it.

If there isn’t a mosque nearby or the person is not an individual who must join the congregation such as a sick person, a female, or child who has yet to reach religious maturity, then he or she should delay ‘Ishā prayer as much as he or she can. The reason behind this conclusion is the fact that praying on time puts great hardship on a person yet at the same time this opinion is not free of criticism. On the other hand combining ‘Ishā with Maghrib should not be a habit especially when there is no pressing need. Estimation, as a last resort, should take into consideration the practical side of the situation despite the fact that there is no solid foundation for any of the estimation criteria mentioned earlier. Moreover estimation is not a very strong option during the time of late visibility since the sign is still visible. So we should pray ‘Ishā at the closest time to its legal time which starts very late provided that we do not cross midnight. The basis for this is the principle in Islam established by the Qur’ānic verse, “fear Allah as much as you can.” Also, by doing so, we are meeting the Sharī’ah’s aim of distributing the prayers over the day and night.

A related point to this is a situation where a person has the choice to join either of two congregational prayers: one praying late and the other praying early. In this case this person should join the prayer that is taking place very close to the actual legal start of ‘Ishā time, provided that it does not cross midnight, unless there is a harm that arises from doing this. An example of this harm is a split occurring between the Muslims praying in that Mosque.

Fajr time

Another major problem occurs during summer time especially when the twilight does not disappear is determining the beginning of Fajr prayer. This is due to the fact that the continued presence of the twilight makes it impossible to determine the appearance of the white colour of the Fajr or we might even say that there is no start for Fajr. In this case what should be done? Again this is a matter of disagreement between the scholars. The previous opinions and justifications mentioned earlier when we discussed the start of ‘Ishā time are also applied here which makes it a matter of valid Ijtihād. To conclude we advise people who cannot join the congregational Fajr prayer to pray Fajr one and half hour before sunrise. Any time around that may be acceptable. Many Muslims ask if they can pray Fajr at times such as 1:15 am since many Islamic calendars show that Fajr time enters at that time in many European countries (England is one example).

The answer for this is we should pray at a time that is most likely part of the legal time. We should avoid praying and performing worship based upon our doubt concerning the time. The Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) said, “Leave what is doubtful for that which is not doubtful.” There is no question about the uncertain start of Fajr at 1:15am. So we should delay Fajr to a time where we are most likely sure that the time has definitely started. A good time for that is 1 ½ or 2 hours before sunrise. Another reason for that is the aim of the Sharī’ah in distributing the prayers over the day and night. The Sharī’ah seeks to establish prayer during the beginning, middle and end of the day. Allah says in the Qur’ān, “Perform al-Salāt from dulūk al-shams (midday) till the darkness of the night, and recite the Qur’ān in the early dawn. Verily, the recitation of the Qur’ān in the early dawn is ever witnessed.”[5] The manner in which the Sharī’ah legalised combining two prayers gives us a clear indication that there are five times in normal situations and three times for abnormal situations. These are: just after the end of the night and sleep period and just before the start of the day; at midday; just after the end of the day; in the beginning of the night; and at night. However, if other factors are involved we should exercise a degree of flexibility since the matter is an issue of valid ijtihād. A critical factor in this regard is unity, what leads to it and to remove any form of fitnah.

Maghrib time

Maghrib time starts after sunset and ends when the twilight disappears according numerous prophetic traditions. This conclusion is what the scholars have agreed upon unanimously. We have mentioned earlier that scholars differ on the end of the visibility of twilight. As a result we can conclude that they differ on when the time for the Maghrib prayer ends for us in the summer months. According to some scholars and astronomers Maghrib time ends just before midnight as twilight disappears at that time. Moreover, can someone say that Maghrib time ends before Fajr time or even after Fajr since twilight ends at that time? The answer is of course not since it is against the meaning of the time allocated for Maghrib; it will lead to changing the order of prayers and it will lead to combining Maghrib, ‘Ishā and Fajr, which is completely unacceptable.

So when shall we pray Maghrib in these situations? The answer is very simple and can be extracted from the hadīth narrated by al-Tirmidhi through Ibn ‘Abbās that the angel Gabriel led the Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) to teach him the prayer times. On the first day he prayed all the prayers at the beginning of their respective times and on the second day he delayed the prayers until just before the end of their times for all prayers except Maghrib where he instead prayed it on both days at the same time. This hadīth explains the other hadīth that shows that the Maghrib time continues until the disappearance of twilight and it is a clear indication that the time of Maghrib is very limited. That is why the Hanafi school of thought normally prays Maghrib immediately after sunset. Moreover, a deep reflection upon Qur’ānic verses and prophetic traditions shows us that the daily prayers are distributed over five different times in normal situations and three times in abnormal situations. As a result we should pray Maghrib just after the sunset and should not delay it for more than an hour after sunset. Other guidelines provided earlier should be applied here as well.

Conclusion

We have explored the main opinions about performing ‘Ishā, Fajr and Maghrib prayers in countries located in extreme latitudes. We have seen that all of these opinions are justified by valid proofs and at the same time they are not free from valid criticism. Consequently, this existent difference of opinions which is supported by authentic evidences places this matter into the realm of valid ijtihād. In consideration of this fact, Muslims facing this situation should apply a certain degree of flexibility when dealing with other Muslims who hold different opinions as a result of valid ijtihād in this regard especially when dealing in an inappropriate manner may lead to fitnah, a split, disunity or extreme hardship.

I also advise Muslims to pray on time whenever possible. In situations of extreme hardship or invisibility of the legal signs for the start of any prayer, they should join the congregation in their localities unless they are excused from doing so such as the elderly or sick men, women, young children or very remote individuals. In this case they should strive to perform their prayers in a way very similar to the aim of the Sharī’ah in distributing the five prayers throughout the day and night.

*Please note that the MRDF Ramadān 2014 timetable will be published shortly, inshā’Allāh.

Source: www.islam21c.com

Originally posted on 20th May 2012.

Notes:

[1] There is a common misconception about the term ‘midnight’ from an Islamic perspective. Many people think that it is at 12:00 am while the correct time of midnight should be allocated by finding out the length of the night then adding half of it to the sunset (Maghrib) time. The length of the night can be calculated by finding the length between Maghrib and fajr. Thus, midnight in this sense actually does mean the middle of the night.

[2] Al-Qur’ān 4:103

[3] As we have said before, astronomers differ in determining this time. This information cited here is based on Central London Mosque who in turn base their information on the data given to them by Greenwich Observatory.

[4] You might refer to Sahīh al-Bukhāri and Muslim for various narrations for this practice.

[5] Al-Qur’ān 17:78

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About Shaikh (Dr) Haitham Al-Haddad

Dr. Haitham al-Haddad is a jurist and serves as a judge for the Islamic Sharia Council (UK & Eire). He has studied the Islamic sciences for over 20 years under the tutelage of renowned scholars such as the late Grand Mufti of Saudi Arabia as well as the retired Head of the Kingdom's Higher Judiciary Council. He specialises in many of the Islamic sciences and submitted his doctoral thesis on Islamic jurisprudence concerning Muslim minorities. Shaikh Haitham is highly respected having specialised knowledge in the field of fiqh, usul al-fiqh, maqasid al-shari'ah, ulum al-Qur’an, tafsir, aqidah, and fiqh al-hadith. He provides complex theories which address the role of Islamic jurisprudence within a western environment whilst also critically re-analysing the approach of Islamic jurists in forming legal rulings (ifta’) within a western socio-political context. He has many well known students most of whom are active in dawah and teaching in the West. The shaikh is an Islamic jurist (faqih) and as such is qualified to deliver verdicts as a judge under Islamic law, a role he undertakes at the Islamic Sharia Council as Islamic judge and treasurer. Dr Haitham al-Haddad also sits on various the boards of advisors for Islamic organisations, mainly in the United Kingdom but also around the world.

35 comments

  1. Thanks for explaining but honestly, more than 90% people don’t have time to read what you wrote. Only 10% or may be less are those who should be reading this. Now those who are known as Ah Dhikar in Quran should come to a common point and lead the ummah but unfortunately they cannot come to a point let alone leading ummah.
    This happens only once in some part of year and roughly for a month. Can you not use your mind, your intellect, your aqal pray on correct time?!!
    Allah never think like humans and I am sure He will reward you more if you come to common terms rather than praying Aisha with difference of opinion!
    Read it and move on there is no need to reply. I haven‘t written this to comment on rather, I have written it for you to think.

  2. Jazzak Allah khairan Sheikh for this well discussed and informed article. It certainly has cleared for me, and I hope for others as well, the confusions surrounding start and end of prayer times. May Allah Jalla Wa a’la bless the sheikh and others like him to guide us all in these troubled and confused times.

    There is a hadith, and Allah knows best, which states that if you are faced with two alternatives, choose the easier one.

  3. JZK for your commonsense, not so common it seems. Islam is the middle way, its not about extremes.

  4. Aslmkm

    In regards to start of fajr time, please can you clarify:

    1. If we say that fajr starts at a certain time (e.g. 01.13), then is it not the case that we can pray at any time after 1.13 until ‘sunrise’; or is it ‘necessary’ to wait for a few hours to ‘be certain’?

    2. If fajr time starts at a certain time (e.g. 01.13), then by definition suhoor (e.g. in Ramadhan) must be before 01.13. Then do we not do suhoor at this time (i.e before 01.13), and then read fajr straight away after? Or, if we have to wait a few hours until the time that fajr is ‘certain’, then do we delay suhoor as well?

    Please clarify as these issues continue to cause confusion

    Jzk

    wslm

  5. common sense
    Assalamu ‘alaykum brothers and sisters,

    IMHO the original latitude and longitude (=Makkah) should be used all over the world for prayer times. The main idea was to use the daylight efficiently. That was the main reason to set Fajr at dawn, Isha’a at full darkness after sunset, and the rest in between at logical intervals (Dhuhr at noon, Maghrib at sunset, and Asr exactly halfway in between the last two). Those people at those times were smart and reasonable.

    Now, look what happened after the Prophet (p.b.u.h.) died. Schism and all kinds of stupidity. At that time nobody thought that there would be eskimos becoming Muslims and therefore all those “instructions” as to how to define the time to pray were related to people living in Makkah.

    It is stupid to pray at 1am and then again at 3am, and sleep for 2 hours. It is unhealthy, too. If you would do that every day you would die from sleep deprivation very soon. It is stupid to follow all kinds of calculations based on superstitious stuff. Islam is the religion of peace and wisdom, so please don’t ridicule our great Ummah by all these nonsensical calculations when to pray. The rule is simple: either use the standard Saudi timeframes (they will allow for a comfortable 8 hours sleep between Isha’a and Fajr) or just use common sense. E.g. in Lappland (Finland) it is basically 6 months sunlight in the summer and 6 month darkness in the winter. So those Muslims should not sleep at all right? Or do the 5 prayers in 5 mins and then do nothing for 24 hours? If you know anything about geography you will understand how ridiculous these calculation methods are.

    The main point is to use the daylight as efficiently as possible and pray (=remember to be a good Muslim) at every significant moment of the day. These are when you wake up with the sun, a bit later when the sun rises, then when you have lunch, then when you go home, then when the sun sets and finally when it becomes so dark that you better go to sleep. Simple as that. The early Muslims still had some common sense which seems to be missing and been replaced with sophism and ignorance. Pity…

    Borthers and sisters, let us be smart and wise again, as the Ummah used to be, OK? Follow “normal” Saudi latitude times or use your common sense to determine your own praying times, please…

    That is my humble opinion on the matter, but Allah knows best, so if in doubt ask Him for the final decision. Maybe He wants to see northern people die earlier by being so uncompassionate about them…

    Salaam,

    Jaqaqa

  6. Common sense
    Assalamu ‘alaykum brothers and sisters,

    IMHO the original latitude and longitude (=Makkah) should be used all over the world for prayer times. The main idea was to use the daylight efficiently. That was the main reason to set Fajr at dawn, Isha’a at full darkness after sunset, and the rest in between at logical intervals (Dhuhr at noon, Maghrib at sunset, and Asr exactly halfway in between the last two). Those people at those times were smart and reasonable.

    Now, look what happened after the Prophet (p.b.u.h.) died. Schism and all kinds of stupidity. At that time nobody thought that there would be eskimos becoming Muslims and therefore all those “instructions” as to how to define the time to pray were related to people living in Makkah.

    It is stupid to pray at 1am and then again at 3am, and sleep for 2 hours. It is unhealthy, too. If you would do that every day you would die from sleep deprivation very soon. It is stupid to follow all kinds of calculations based on superstitious stuff. Islam is the religion of peace and wisdom, so please don’t ridicule our great Ummah by all these nonsensical calculations when to pray. The rule is simple: either use the standard Saudi timeframes (they will allow for a comfortable 8 hours sleep between Isha’a and Fajr) or just use common sense. E.g. in Lappland (Finland) it is basically 6 months sunlight in the summer and 6 month darkness in the winter. So those Muslims should not sleep at all right? Or do the 5 prayers in 5 mins and then do nothing for 24 hours? If you know anything about geography you will understand how ridiculous these calculation methods are.

    The main point is to use the daylight as efficiently as possible and pray (=remember to be a good Muslim) at every significant moment of the day. These are when you wake up with the sun, a bit later when the sun rises, then when you have lunch, then when you go home, then when the sun sets and finally when it becomes so dark that you better go to sleep. Simple as that. The early Muslims still had some common sense which seems to be missing and been replaced with sophism and ignorance. Pity…

    Borthers and sisters, let us be smart and wise again, as the Ummah used to be, OK? Follow “normal” Saudi latitude times or use your common sense to determine your own praying times, please…

    That is my humble opinion on the matter, but Allah knows best, so if in doubt ask Him for the final decision. Maybe He wants to see northern people die earlier by being so uncompassionate about them…

    Salaam,

    Jaqaqa

  7. Zaheer-uddin Quazi

    A. Professor
    AoA

    MashaAllah good analysis and great work done by Sheikh and engaging discussions Jaza kom ullah Khair,

    But there may be other solutions, let us consider another idea

    First we have to admit that there exist an abnormal situation at high North (latitudes above 48.5). Abnormal situation arises when Isha and Fadjr times are not defined according to the Devine law. If we climb higher up we find that Sun is 24 hours up for months and Asr, Maghrib, Isha and Fadjr times are not defined.

    The Scholars opinion on abnormal situation

    The hadith scholar, Ibn Hajar al-’Asqalani (773 – 852 AH), mentioned in Fath al-Bari (2/62): “The [primary] texts pertain to common and normal circumstances and not to what is uncommon.” In the same book (2/199), he cites Imam Abu al-Fath ibn Sayed al-Nas al-Ya’mari, “Rulings are contingent upon what is common and not on what is uncommon.” (Fatwa from Dar al-Ifta al Misriyyah; Number: 2806)

    The luminary and Hanafi scholar, Ibn ‘Abdin (1198 – 1252 AH), wrote in Radd al-Muhtar ‘ala al-Dur
    al-Mukhtar (2/123): ” … the general texts are construed in reference to what is prevalent and common and not in reference to what is uncommon and unknown.” (Fatwa from Dar al-Ifta al Misriyyah; Number: 2806)

    Sheikh Ibn Taymiyah (661 – 728 AH), the Hanbali scholar, determined that the timings mentioned in Islamic law pertains to normal days. He mentioned in Mukhtasar al-Fatawa al-Misriyyah (1/38): “The [prayer] times which Jibril (peace be upon him) taught the Prophet [pbuh], and which the Prophet [pbuh] taught his community, are those which the scholars mentioned in their books and which refer to normal days. There is a different ruling for the day of which the Prophet said will extend to the length of one year. Concerning this day, he said, “Estimate [the timings of prayer].” (Fatwa from Dar al-Ifta al Misriyyah; Number: 2806)

    To conclude these scholars one can say that we cannot use Quran and Sunnah in abnormal situation because they deal with only normal situations.
    Over 66 latitude Muslims have to pray their Maghreb, Isha and Fadjr under sunlight. This fact together with the scholar’s opinion above implies that:
    We have to find a solution without thinking about sunset, sunrise, twilight etc. Egypt’s most prestigious fatwa Counsel (Dar-al-Ifta Almisriyya) says the same.
    If our mindset is ready for that then solution for latitudes between 48 and 67 may be to freeze the times for all 5 prayers a day before the abnormal situation arises and continue to use the same times till the normal situation arises.
    Problems: We are so used to normal situation (to pray Maghreb, Isha and Fadjr after sunset) that it looks awkward and a strange feeling disturbs us. If this is the case with you then take a week free and visit Norwegian town Tromso in June or July. After that you will not feel like that.
    Our contemporary Islamic scholars have yet to say their opinion on it. Please cooperate with your local masque or local area Islamic leaders. This is just an idea it may become reality if Muslims leaders adopt it.
    Benefits: Your everyday life will become normal. Prayer and fasting will become easy for your children too.

  8. Salat Time
    Praise be to Allah, I live in Toronto, today is July 5th 2012.
    Regarding Salat time sometime can be very difficult to come up with a correct method, I live far away from the mosque,so I go the mosque only on Jummah,so I pray at home unless I’m downtown, anyway long story short no need to tell my life story.
    anyway I purchase an APP on my Iphone call SUN SEEKER it’s very helpful to Asr Salat it shows Shadow Ratio, Elevation e.t.c., also i use another one call Skyclock it gives me exact time of Astronomical, Nautical, and Civic Twilight for am and pm . to my knowledge it help a lot to find the correct time for beginning of each salat, it wasn’t made for us to do Salat

  9. Rtd airline capt.
    Countries affected are outside 45`N/45`S–so why not have a standard timing for them for Ramadhan-0500 to 1700/12hours/winter
    0500 to 2100/16hours/summer and combine Magrib and Isha prayers.Islamic teachings are not only practicle but also compassionate.

  10. reference for Imam Ahmed & Sa’eed ibn al-Musayyib opinion
    A very interesting article. Can someone please provide me with a reference (name and sections of the book) as to where the rulings by Imam Ahmed and Saeed ibn al-Musayyib suggest the combining of the prayers. JazakAllah in advance.

  11. Prayer times and fasting in Finland for 2012
    Thank you for the great informative lesson on isha and fajr.

    I agree with the comment about fasting for 20 hours in Finland this summer. I’m concerned that this is dangerous. How do we handle this? It would be great to have an analysis relating to prayers and fasting during the summer months of Finland.

  12. Abdul Samad al-Maliki

    Summer ‘Isha and Subh Times according to Maliki Madhhab
    Summer Isha And Subh Times according to Maliki Madhhab:
    ———————————————————-

    Start of ‘Isha:

    “The time of ‘Isha prayer begins when all the yellowness and redness remaining in the sky, from the remaining rays of the sun, has disappeared. No attention need be paid to any whiteness (twilight), which may remain on the western horizon.”

    End of ‘Isha:

    “The time for ‘Isha extends from this time (disappearance of redness in the sky) until a third of the night has passed.” This is when the Ikhtiyaari time ends and Daruri time starts and extends all the way till dawn. 

    Shaykh Abu Qanit doesn’t encourage delving into the 18 or 15 or 12 degree angle issue –  he recommends the Malikis to use the 50 minutes for `Isha. Which means that ‘Isha starts 50 minutes after Maghrib. Another valid approach is that Isha time starts after the end of the first seventh of the night. 

    Start of Subh:

    “the beginning of the time for this prayer is when dawn breaks and the light spreads out in the extreme east,”

    End of Subh:

    “The end time is when the light has got very bright so that someone ending the prayer says the Salaam just as the edge of the sun appears over the horizon.”

    A valid approach according to a group of scholars is that Subh time starts after six-seventh of the night has passed. Shaykh Abu Qanit however, recommends the one-hour-twenty-minute rule, which states that time for Subh begins roughly one hour and twenty minutes before sunrise, or a 
    Iittle before or a little after this time, depending on the location on the globe and time of the year.

    (However, I personally found the 1/7th of the night for Isha and 6/7th of the night for Subh to be more accurate. As the time varies immensely for Subh in the Winter, which can be problematic for one intending to fast the next day and wake up for Suhoor, where using one-hour-twenty-minute rule may not be applicable)

    {Citations from Risalah of Ibn Abī Zayd}

    The above can be applied in the following way:

    If sunset is at 9:00pm and sunrise is at 5:00 am then:

    Night = 8 hours long

    Start of ‘Isha:

    ‘Isha will start at around 9:50 PM (using 50 minute rule)
    Or it will start at around 10:08 PM (using 1/7th of the night rule)

    End of ‘Isha: 

    ‘Isha will end at 11:40 PM (using 1/3 of the night rule)
    Daruri time will start from here till dawn.

    Start of Subh: 

    Subh will start at around 3:51 AM (using 6/7th of the night rule)
    Or it will start at around 3:40 AM (using one-hour-twenty-minute rule) 

    End of Subh:

    Subh will end at around 4:50 AM (as the top of the sun appears on the horizon at this time and complete sunrise is at 5:00 AM)

    Comparing the above using 18 degree angle:

    Subh will be at 2:25 AM 
    ‘Isha will be at 11:14 PM (it will end at 11:40 PM)

    Comparing the above using 12 degree angle:

    Subh will be at 3:30 AM
    ‘Isha will be at 10:23 PM

    Comparing the above using 15 degree angle:

    Subh will be at 3:02 AM
    ‘Isha will be at 10:50 PM

  13. Summary pls!
    Salaams

    May Allah swt reward the Shiekh for a very detailed answer but can you just summarise, can we combine Maghrib and Isha in London during may-july 2012?
    Shukran!

  14. fajr/maghribe/esha time
    better do it in anyway practical you prefer rather than finding excuses to miss them.
    so no harm in doing esha after maghribe ending time & start fasting/fajr before sunrise, even if it implies staying up, doing zikr,etc. after esha awaiting fajr to then go to sleep.
    Allah[swt] only knows best.

  15. Fasting in Finland
    I have the same question as Zaf for fasting in Finland. I know a new convert who is very concerned about fasting for such a long duration in Finland. Please address this question in detail as Ramadan is round the corner.

    facebook.com/GoodNewsFromMuslims

  16. Fajr Start Time in Ramadan
    Salam wr,

    May Allah SWT bless our beloved Sheikh and reward him for his time in writing such an elaborate answer to a very sensitive topic.

    I wish to ask that Ramadan would come into summer in the UK in 5-6 years time. At that time, the issues mentioned would arise as well. In such a scenario, what would be the best thing to do for Suhoor.

    How will we know when precisely to stop eating?

    Perhaps it is something that need not be answered urgently.

    JZK

  17. ramadan during summer for higher altituted
    Salam,

    Plsssssss tell me how to fast for 20 hours in Finland ? I m in vaasa city around 63 altitude and Ramadan is approaching. Praying on timings in midninght has made my life miserable, and also my office work is seriously affected. YOur fatwa at least gave some good option to combine 2 prayers. But even if we combine Isha and maghrib, then Fajar will be skipped when we sleep after isha .What to do for that ?

  18. Fasting in Summer time!!
    Salam Alaikum:
    I appreciate the great efforts of our sheikh for this interpretation and this what I am personally doing with my family..we live in edmonton Canada where the sunset in summer is about 10:30 pm…and we need to wake up early for work at 5 :00am and kids need to sleep before 10:00 or max 11:00 o’clock..
    But I need more imortant Interpretation about FASTING in these days..what should we do? and how kids can fast at least 17 or 18 hours a day? and no time for sohor if isha prayer is at 11:30pm and fajr is at 2:00 am? and my job is also hard and I have to work from 6:00am to 6:00 pm everyday?
    I hope I can find a good releving answer from you..

  19. summer prayer times
    as salamu alaikum,

    most helpful article because i live an area that has only 5 hours between isha and fajr in the summer. at the beginning of summer i was a bit fatigued because i had to get up so early i found it very difficult to stay awake to pray isha. had i known that it would have been permissible to combine maghrib and isha i would have done so. essentially what i have done is alter my sleeping schedule for the summer to sleep after fajr (approx. 3 am). insha allah, next year i will combine the prayers if i find it too fatiguing on me. we have a problem here in the winter also where the prayer times are very close together. with only 10 hours of day light the prayers seem so close together. the benefit is that the night is longer which allows more time for tahajjud and reading quran.

    jazakallahu khair.

    wa salamu alaikum wa rahmatullah,
    abdus sabur

  20. Footnote 1
    Please note footnote 1 is correct. I’m not sure why the confusion occured.

  21. Our Islamic .COm
    [b][/b]Jazakallah, I saw this on http://www.ourislamic.com It was good!

  22. student
    salam alaikum sheikh,

    i duno if this post will reach u.. but if it doesnt can some one pls forward this to our sheikh here.

    i got an observation to share.

    fyi, i am a student in nottingham.

    i am intrigued about this issue as it is new to me as i originally from malaysia.

    i began looking at the horizon myself during maghrib and isha time from our calculated prayer timetable of nottingham uni islamic society. this happened about the time of the summer solstice.

    subhanallah, the sun actually sets slightly inclined to north west.

    and as for isha time… the is light as well in the sky. HOWEVER, i would to point out, that the light came from the north! not from the site where the sun sets.

    so i think there is actually still a proper time present for isha. just that people have gotten themselves mixed up between the northern light and the light from the sunset horizon which i think the latter is the light used by the time of our prophet. surely u dunt look north if there’s any light in mecca do you?

    as for me… i myself do jama’ if i found it really hard for me to observe the 5 prayer time. however, i always try to do the 5 prayers on its proper time as much as possible.

    may allah reward us all for our effort.

    pls do get back to me at atiqbaik@yahoo.com

    jzkk

  23. muslim
    jazaakallhu khair may allah reward u and the sheikh

  24. Laa Quwwata illa billaah
    Jazaak Allah to all on this thread, a very useful discussion, although the bbrother questioning the Shaikh’s qualifications needs to chill and stop imposing his view – enough partisanship bro. Read non-Hanafi works rather than expecting non-Hanafi scholars to know and accept all Hanafi opinions. Let’s not confuse Fiqh with Shareah…
    Last question above is a very valid point. Any response would be enlightening.

  25. Fasting
    as-salamu’alaykum

    Can someone please ask the shaykh what his advice is to the one who wishes to fast in such a period? Do they take the safer route and fast from around 1.15 am till 9.30pm? Or do they estimate fajr begins approx. 1 1/2 hours before sunrise and hence begin their fast then?
    It is mentioned that the Shari’ah seeks to remove hardship, so then with regards to fasting should we take the easier option or try and begin the fast as early as one is able?
    It will be only 4 to 5 years before Ramadan will fall into this time of the year – I think many people will find fasting this long very hard and for 30 days even harder and some will just not fast – will then the opinion regarding maghrib, isha and fajr change?
    Jazakallah Khayr
    wa’alaykum as salam

  26. SALAFI
    JAZAKALLAH KHIAR SHAYKH FOR THAT DETAILED ANSWERS.

  27. balanced response
    Masha’Allah. The sheikh has given well-balanced response in regards to matter. To understand that one should reflect on the fitnah that exist in our mosques and likely to exist if one strictly adheres to one ijtihad. To name a few: fights, backbiting, people not praying in same mosque or behind the same imam, creating a rivalry mosque close by. None would deny that, these things do not happen in UK. We must understand the importance of unity to fully appreciate the sheikh’s response. May Allah bless us with unity. Ameen. Allah knows best

  28. Shahid Husain

    My Mistake? I’m a Hanafi!
    I think the Sheikh made a mistake in footnote 1, he writes, “The length of the night can be calculated by finding the length between magrib and fajr.” I’m sure it should be between sunrise (Maghrib) and sunset (Tuloo Al-Shamsh, not fajr).

    As i am a Hanafi and we do believe that Ijtihaad can only be performed by someone capable, a Mujtahid. There are many levels (6,7,or 8)of Ijtihaad and many conditions one must obtain to become from amongst one of the levels. These conditions can be found in various tradional works of the great Hanafi jurists. I have not yet come accross a mujtahid in my Hanafi mazhab today and therefore do not agree with any of the solutions given by the Sheikh in the lengthy article. I don’t understand the comment the Sheikh has made repetitively regarding Ijtihaad. Our school of thought has a set of principles (Usool) as to which Ijtihaad is necessary to be followed. We have to follow the mufta bih or the raajih, the preferred, etc. We do not pick and chose as we are not to follow our desires. A good example to read is the Uqood Rasm Al-Mufti by Ibn Abideen Al-Shaami.

    Why not follow the Fatwa of the past Mujtahid Jurists? The likes of Ibn Abideen Al-Shaami are surely capable of being followed. Why not study his view and follow that? I’m surprised to see that the Sheikh has not even mentioned the view of the many great Hanafi Mujtahids that lived in the past. They have discussed this matter and have argued whether the Isha remains an obligatory upon those who live in such countries or not. They have agreed that it does remain an obligatory.

    They say that when the Isha time does not appear due to the Astronomical twilight not disappearing, it’s clear that after Maghrib, begins Fajr. The Astronomical twilight can be seen on the horizon of sunset and sunrise. The sunset twilight indicates that Maghrib is yet valid (whether Makrooh or not) and the sunrise twilight indicates Fajr has began. Both the times have combined. To differentiate between the twilight of both horizons they say we must believe that the twilight before midnight indicates Maghrib and the twilight after midnight indicates Fajr. This is because the sun is under the sunset horizon before midnight and therefore Maghrib and under the sunrise horizon after midnight therefore Fajr.

    Isha prayer because the time does not appear must be performed in Fajr time because Fajr indicates that Isha time has passed. There is no such thing as Salah before its specific time but there is after its specific time (Bearing in mind the Hanafi School of thought, there is no Jama’ Bayn Al-Salaatayn besides in Hajj).

    Did they not bother about the hardship a muslim will face? A question i have no answer for. I guess they new better to when rules are changed due to hardship and how linient a Mufti can be. I guess they new better what hardship is, what laziness is and what the tricks of the devil are. I’ve heard from many new muslim friends that the five time prayers, especially the Fajr prayer is too hard for people nowadays. They say to me that prohibiting sensible rap, soul, dance etc music for a person living in the 2oth century makes life too hard. It keeps many away from Islam. However, i know that it’s not from amongst that takleef (hardship) which Allah (Azza Wa Jal) negates from the believer.

    Anyhow,

    According to the Hanafi school there is no such thing in combining two prayers in the the specific time of one of them besides in Hajj. Neither does combining two prayers come under any of the al-asbaab al-sittah, the six reasons when a rule of Islamic law changes.

    The splitting of the night into 3 or 7 has no basis in our Fiqh. Neither has any Jurist mentioned such in any traditional text.

    Estimating time is totally against the fact that prayer is established at specific times as clearly mentioned in the Qur’aan. Surely the specific times are specified clearly by the Prophet(peace be upon him)and they are spread amongst the day and night. This spreading cannot be done ourselves in anyway. We are not given that authority, we should fear Allah.

    The Hadeeth regarding Jibreel (Be upon him peace) performing the Maghrib time at sunset both the days is abbrogated (naasikh) for its end time and therefore cannot be used as evidence.

    I have not seen any valid evidence to show that Isha should be performed before its time has come or passed.

    I believe firmly that Allah knows what’s best.

    Wa al-salam

  29. prayer endind time
    aoa,
    you discussed prayer start time. could you please tell us pyaer end time especially esha prayer.

    thank you very much
    may ALLAH bless you

  30. Combining Prayers
    Salamu-Alykum and Jazakallahokhairan for the article. My question: my local mosque combine prayers and you mentioned in your article “he or she should delay Isha prayer as much as he or she can.” I missed maghrib and catched-up for isha, should i pray maghrib and followed by Isha or should I delay it as you said “he or she should delay Isha prayer as much as he or she can.

    Wslaam

  31. Muhammed Iqbal

    Sorry no Title
    Jazakallahokhairan,
    The shaikh has given very indepth analysis of the Isha Time, Fajr Time. We have had a lot of issues with Hanafis and other Schools arguing about this matter.

  32. Al-hamdu lillah
    May Allah reward the Shaykh for this enlightening discussion. Whilst a lengthy read,he explains the various positions with their respective authority from the texts and the trustworthy scholars, and shows great wisdom and balance that is so often absent from our discussions. The Shaykh teaches us not only the lessons of fiqh in this matter, but the lessons of unity, of the correct manner in ikhtilaf (differing), of trying always to arrive at a deeper and clearer understanding; of providing sound nasiha from both the love of Allah and the love of the Muslims; of the joy of coming together in order to do our best as both individuals and as a community in our worship of our Rabb (Lord) as best as we can. One should not praise a person too much of course, and all good comes from Allah alone; may Allah forgive me if I transgress, but this is a much needed and timely exposition of a particularly thorny issue and it has by the grace of Allah been dealt with by the Shaykh in a wise and beasutiful manner. Again jazaka Allahu khayran to Shaykh Haytham for the many lessons this explanation contains for those who seek them. May Allah guide us and grant us all ease.

    Wal-hamdu lillahi rabbi al-alamin.

  33. Thanks
    For your breakdown. it makes a few things clear

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