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Isha Salat (Hanafi Fiqh) 15 or 18 degrees?

By Mufti Ebrahim Desai

Q: We are a small community of pakstani origin living in Vancouver, . Our question is regarding Isha Salat time according to Fiqh Hanafi. We use to pray Isha salat late in the night during summer time for years. All of a sudden the local BCMA changed the timetable and pretty much fixed it around 90 minutes from magrib. When we did some inquiries from the local ulama/mufti sahaib, they didnt have any valid explanation and they didn’t object to new timing. When we called back home we found out that our timings were suppose to be calculated around 18 degrees. The new timings are not even close, they are not done with 15 degrees in mind. Nobody knows what it is. Please advise us what to do in this circumstances. We are still reading salat according to old timings and everyone else have problem with us. The timeable we downloaded form Islamic finder differnt from Islamic City's timings but Islamic City and both of em follow 18 degrees. Are we supposed to follow Mufti Shafi Usmani's fatwa (DalrlUloomKarachi) of 18 Degrees or 15 Degree (Which we don’t have any fatwa) and also where should we get the correct timings. We cant observe Shafaq Ahmar or Shafaq Abiyyaz on our own. Please help us in this matter. We want this answered by Mufti Ibrahim Sahab because he had traveled our area and people would only listen to his fatwa. It would be highly appreciated if you guyz could answer this within few days because lots of ppl loosing their salat.

A: In the name of Allah, Most Gracious, Most Merciful

Assalaamu `alaykum waRahmatullahi Wabarakatoh

We appreciate you contacting our institute to resolve the issue which you have stated. Since this issue is regarding Canada, the ideal thing would be to contact the Ulama of Canada and follow their opinion. However, we will state our research before you.

Differences regarding the commencing time of Isha Salah

1. Isha time sets in with the disappearing of al-Shafaq al-Abyadh (whiteness in the sky). This is the view adopted by Imam Abu Hanifa (ra).

2. Isha times sets in with the disappearing of al-Shafaq al-Ahmar (redness in the sky). This is the view adopted by Sahibain (the two students of Imam Abu Hanifa (ra); Imam Abu Yusuf (ra) and Imam Muhammad (ra)), Imam al-Shaf’ee (ra), Imam Malik (ra) and Imam Ahmed (ra). This is also one narration of Imam Abu Hanifa (ra).

(Badai al-Sanai 1:320 Dar al-Kitab)

The difference between the two Shafaqs.

The difference between al-Shafaq al-Abyadh and al-Shafaq al-Ahmar is of 3 degrees.

(Rad al_Muhtar 1:361 H.M. Saeed Company)

Fatawa pertaining to the commencing of Isha time.

Amongst our Ulama there have been two views regarding the commencing time for Isha Salah.

1. Mufti Muhammed Shaf’ee (ra), Maulana Yusuf Benori (ra), and majority of the Ulema of the Indian Subcontinent are of the view that al-Shafaq al-Ahmar disappears when the sun is 15 degrees below the horizon and al-Shafaq al-Abyadh disappears when the sun is 18 degrees below the horizon. They have conducted months of research checking the times to when the two Shafaqs disappear. After their research they came to following conclusion.

2. Mufti Rasheed Ahmed Ludhyanwi (ra) concluded that al-Shafaq al-Ahmar disappears on the sun being 12 degrees below the horizon and al-Shafaq al-Abyadh disappears on the sun being 15 degrees below the horizon. He has also done an extended research which can be found in Ahsan Al-Fatwa v. 2 p. 157. (Mufti Shaf’ee (ra) and Maulana Yusuf (ra) were also of this view but after continuing their research they retracted from this view.)

Since most of the Ulama take Mufti Shaf’ee’s (ra) view and accept his fatwa, it will be cautious for the people in your community to also adopt this fatwa.

As stated before that there are differences of opinion between Imam Abu Hanifa (ra) and his two students Imam Abu Yusuf (ra) and Imam Muhammad (ra) regarding the commencing time for Isha Salah and the disappearing of the redness or the whiteness in the sky.

Many jurists have stated that the view of Imam Abu Yusuf (ra) and Imam Muhammed (ra) is the view upon which Fatwa is given. From amongst them are:

* Allamah Siraj al-Deen Ibn Nujaim in al-Nahr al-Fa’iq
* Mulla Ali Qari in Fath Baab al-‘Inayah
* Allamah Qahastani in Jam’e al-Rumooz
* Alamah Shurabulali in Mara’iq al-Falah
* Mulla Khusar in Durrar al-Ahkam

Many Jurists have refuted this and have stated that the fatwa is on Imam Abu Hanifa (ra) view. From amongst them are:

* Allamah Ibn Humam in Fath al-Qadir
* Allamah Qasim ibn al-Qutlubuga in al-Tasheeh wa al-Tarjeeh ala Muktasar al-Qudoori
* Allamah Zain al-Deen Ibn Nujaim in al-Barh al-Ra’iq
* Allamah Fakr al-Deen al-Zaila’ee in Tabyeen al-Haqa’iq
* Allamah Tahtawi in his Hashiya on Dar al-Muktar as well as in his Hashiya on Mara’iq al-Falah

To practice on the view of Imam Abu Hanifa (ra) is safer since everyone unanimously agree upon the permissibility of Isha after the whiteness in the sky has disappeared. Also according to the principle of Fiqh, in normal circumstances fatwa should be giving on Imam Abu Hanifa’s view (see Hashiya of Tahtawi on Dar al-Muktar).

However, in some parts of North America, the whiteness in the sky remains till late in the night, e.g. around 11 o’ clock in the summer days. It becomes very difficult for normal working people to stay up so late for Isha and then wake up early for Fajr and work.
For these reason it will be permissible to act upon the view of Imam Abu Yusuf and Imam Muhammad (the sun being 15 degrees below the horizon).

But this should only be done in the days of summer. In winter there is no real difficultly. Isha should be read on its normal 18 degree time as is the view of Imam Abu Hanafi.

(Fatawa Uthmani of Mufti Taqi Utamani v. 1 p. 390)
(Nawadir al-Faqh of Mufti Rafi Uthmani v.1 p. 218)

And Allah knows best


Ml. Ehzaz Ajmeri,
Student Darul Iftaa

Checked and Approved by:

Mufti Ebrahim Desai
Darul Iftaa, Madrassah In'aamiyyah

Article taken (with Thanks) from

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