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Calculating Prayer times for your local Masjid

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[4:103]Surely, Salah is an obligation on the believers that is tied up with time.


Introduction:

Creating a prayer timetable for many is a venture into the unknown with conflicting information available from multiple websites, experts and a myriad of apps available for phones, tablets and laptops with seemingly contradicting calculations and methods. 

We will attempt to streamline the process of calculating prayer times for your local Mosque or community while shielding a layman from as much technical information as possible. However, where necessary the technical details will be explained for it to make sense. If you don’t know what you are doing and importantly, cannot explain the prayer times which you have calculated, don’t inflict it on your community and leave it to Islamic Scholars and experts to ensure that the prayers and fasting of believers is not placed in jeopardy.

There are multiple sites on the Internet such as http://moonsighting.com/ and http://www.islamicfinder.org/ which offer different kinds of challenges to the laymen. Moonsighting.com/ imposes its own sets of angles for Fajar and Esha which are universally rejected by (global body) of Islamic Scholars while Islamicfinder gives as many options for calculating prayer times as ordering toppings on your pizza i.e. seemingly limitless!

Options are good as long as the person knows which ones to pick.

Prayer start times vs Optimal prayer times:

There is a difference between the start time of a prayer and the optimal time to actually pray. Some Scholars recommend that a person should pray as soon as the prayer has entered while others give the opinion to allow for some flexibility (based on the Sunnah). Many mosques also choose prayer congregation times based on maximum flexibility and benefit to the local (Muslim) community.

Before proceeding further, read Sunnah Method & Description of Salah Times. How you choose to organise your congregational times is upto you or your local Mosque committee and management.

Prayer times calculations summarised:

 

1 If you are in the UK visit HM Nautical Almanac Office

 

a Select "I accept" and click Thank You

 

b Click on Prayers

 

c Search for your town

 

d Select "Astronomical twilight / Sun's depression 18° 00' " as condition for twilight prayers

 

e The first Twilight indicates Fajar starts,  Shadow 1 indicates Asar Shaf'ae, Shadow 2 and last Twilight indicates Esha start. It is permissable for you to adopt any of the two Asar methods but keep in mind that if you adopt Shadow 1 then your Dhohar Salah ends at that time and if you adopt Shadow 2 then your Dhohar Salah will end at that time (later). 

 

f In the UK should lock Esha times at 23:00 and not go beyond that during Summer and manually adjust Esha timings, see "When to pray Esha?" for further details.

 

g In the UK during Summer during certain months (depending on your localtion) your Fajar and Esha times will not be displayed and you will need to manually adjust both prayer times, please see section entitled "What happens when there is no 18 degrees time?", below. 

 

2 If you are outside of the UK download Accurate Times

 

a Select "University of Islamic Sciences, Karachi" as twilight.

 

b In the high latitude countries during Summer Esha times may be really late thus casuing hardship to the believers. In the high latitude countries during Summer Esha times may be really late thus causing hardship to the believers, consult your local Scholars. In UK Scholars permit praying Esha early,  see "When to pray Esha?" for further details.

 

c In the high latitude countries during Summer during certain months (depending on your localtion) your Fajar and Esha times will not be displayed and you will need to manually adjust both prayer times, please see section entitled "What happens when there is no 18 degrees time?", below. 

 


 

Prayer times calculations explained:

Dhohar: 

When the sun begins to decline after reaching its highest point (Zenith) in the sky, Dhohar Salah begins and it ends with the start of Asar.

Asar: 

1The Maliki, Shafi`i, and Hanbali schools say it is at the time when the length of any object's shadow equals the length of the object itself plus the length of that object's shadow at noon.

 

2The dominant opinion in the Hanafi school says it begins when the length of any object's shadow is twice the length of the object plus the length of that object's shadow at noon.

 

Asar Salah shouldn't be delayed to such an extent that the times gets very close to sunset, however technically the time is until Maghrib Salah but it is disliked to delay Asar Salah until then. 

Maghrib: 

Maghrib Salah starts immediately after the sun has completely set beneath the horizon. Maghrib should also be prayed as soon as possible, however technically the time is until Esha Salah but it is disliked to delay Maghrib Salah until then. 

When to pray Esha?

1 According to the Hanafi school, Isha begins when complete darkness has arrived and the white twilight in the sky has disappeared. According to the Maliki and Shafi'i schools, the time begins when the red thread has disappeared from the sky.

 

2 In high latitude countries during Summer Esha times may be really late thus casuing hardship to the believers. Shaykh (Mufti) Yusuf Sacha (HA) is of the opinion that in UK the latest Esha is at 23:00 and all times later should be ignored and this should be the limit. Shaykh Abu Yusuf Riyadhul-Haq (HA) in his talk on perpetual Twilight states

 

There comes a time when the twilight doesn’t set and (roughly) it is between 17th of May to 10th of July so in those times it doesn’t matter as to whether you pray Isha immediately after Maghri or whether you pray Isha one hour after Maghrib

If you reside in high latitude countries other than UK, consult your local Scholars if the Esha times are too late. Where there are no Esha times you are free to set an arbitrary time as indicated by Shaykh Abu Yusuf Riyadhul-Haq (HA).

In the high latitude countries during Summer during certain months (depending on your localtion) yourEsha times will not be displayed and you will need to manually adjust prayer times, please see section entitled "What happens when there is no 18 degrees time?", below. 

Fajar and start of Fast?

There is near consensus amongst the Scholars that Fajar (and your fasts) starts at 18 degrees. Some of the mosques still follow a timetable which start Fajar at a lower degree, you are requested to take a firm stance on the issue and avoid placing your fasting in jeoprady!

Why have you chosen 18 degrees?

The method outlined in the summary section is known as calculating Fajar and Esha at 18 degrees. Morning twilight appears at 18 degrees and no other.  Evening twilight dissappears completely at 18 degrees and no other.  However, under good observation conditions our perception of this first [or last light] may be very slightly delayed [or hastened] owing to location, time of year, light pollution and other considerations. 

 

1 Principle 1: Allah (SWT) has commended Non-Scholars to follow Ulamah (Scholars) in the Qur’aan and that absolves us of our responsibility on the day of judgement.

 

2 Principle 2: Sayyidina Rasul-ullah (Sallallaho Alaihe Wassallam) has commanded us to REMOVE doubt and ABANDON what places you in doubt!.

 

There is a possibility that in your area Fajar doesn’t start at 18 degrees but starts later at 17, 16 or even 15 degrees. During the blessed month of Ramadhan you have two options:

a Exercise CAUTION and adopt the agreement opinion of global Islamic Scholars and start your fasting at 18 degrees and SECURE your fast. The worst outcome is that your fast may be a little longer.

 

b Discuss, debate, present your “opinions” or follow your local Masjid (because it’s convenient) and jeopardise your fasting (inadvertently or willingly). 

 

c Observe True Dawn everyday and start their fast & pray accordingly

 

There is a consensus of Deobandi, Hanbali/Salafi & Barelwee Ulamah about Fajar start being at 18 degrees so before going out on a tangent watch the following video for explaination as to why 18 degrees have been chosen!

 

 

How do I calculate 18 degrees time (for Fajar and Esha)?

The method outlined in the summary section is known as calculating Fajar and Esha at 18 degrees. Here are multiple methods of using this angle to calculate prayer times. 

1 Method 1: If you have a computer prayer time calculation program  set it to the following option out of all of these available options:

 

Convention Fajr  Angle Isha Angle
University of Islamic Sciences, Karachi 18      18
Islamic Society of North America (ISNA) 17.5 * 15
Muslim World League (MWL) 18 17
Umm al-Qura, Makkah 19* According to their table it is 90 mins after Maghrib
Egyptian General Authority of Survey 19.5* *

 

2 Method 2: Google Astronomical Twilight for your city e.g. "Astronomical Twilight London"

 

3 Method 3: Download a sunrise/sunset calculation program for your iPhone, Windows, Android device and look for Astronomical twilight. We recommend that you download Accurate Times

 

4 Method 4: Many of the watches also give you this information but ensure that you set the right longitute and latitude for your location.

 

What happens when there is no 18 degrees time (for Fajar and Esha)?

 

1 Using the Last Times: This method is to pray Maghrib after sunset, Esha at the last time that Esha entered at, and Fajr at the last time Fajr started at until sunrise.

 

2 Nearest City: This method requires the following of the nearest city at which the phenomena is not occurring. In UK, the nearest city is Avignon in France. Regents Park Mosque (London) followed this method until June 2011.

 

3 ½ Night: This method involves splitting the night into halves. Maghrib is prayed on time, and the Esha is prayed before half of the night, and the second half of the night is for Fajr. Take a look at your Dhohar time (e.g. 13:12) and flip it so 01:12 will be start of Fajar

 

4 1/3 Night: This method allows the first third for Maghrib, the next third for Esha and the last third for Fajr

 

5 1/7 Night: This method splits the night into seven parts, with the first for Maghirb, the last for Fajr and the five remaining parts for Esha.

 

6 Makkah Times: Another method is to follow the initial land of Islam, Makkah, and the timings that are used there. This is the method that has been used in the northern most Mosque of the world in Norway, where they suffer from 24 hour day during the summer months.

 

7 Esha and Maghrib together, Fajr near Sunrise: This method allows the combining of Maghrib and Esha, and the prayer of Fajr nearer the prayer times.

 

Sautations upon the Prophet (Sallalaho Alaihe Wassallam) before and after the dua: