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Scholarly Consensus: Faj’r in UK begins at 18 degrees


The time for Salatul-Faj'r and fasting in Islam begins with true dawn..


Scholarly Consensus: Faj’r in UK begins at 18 degrees:

Based on the work and research of Shaykh (Mufti) Sajid Patel (HA)

To produce a timetable for your city click and follow these instructions.


Shaykh (Maulana) Ashraf Ali Thanwi (RA) [1863-1943] on PrayerTimes in London:

In the scans (pages 237, 238 & 239) Shaykh (RA)  in the last book of his life Bawadirun-Nawadir published roughly 2 weeks before his passing away confirms the facts in the question in his response as follows:

    1 Adoption of 18 degrees for Fajar & Esha

    2 From 22nd of May to 21st of July is perpetual twilight:


iThe Ulamah who claim that Esha is not Fardh during this time are upon error




Darul-uloom Karachi Fatwa (1493/48-December 2012)

In the name of Allah the beneficent ever-merciful

(This is a translation of Urdu Question & Answer above)

Janab Mufti Saheb

Assalamualaikum Wa Rahmatullahi Wa Barakatuh

In the moment the times of Subh Sadiq in London have become a difficult issue. Before there were two Eids in one house; now we are observing two different suhoor times in one house. One person is performing his Fajr Salah whilst the other brother is eating his suhoor. (pre-fast meal).

The reality is that from the 22nd May till the 21st of July there is no night. ( night in Shariah terms). Meaning that the sun does not go 18 degrees below the horizon. We got away with Tahajjud, as it was optional. But fast are obligatory and caution is most necessary. At the moment we have two timetables:

1 One is the Aqrab ul Ayyam (nearest day), meaning, the last time Subh Sadiq occurred which was on the 22nd May, is continued for two months. The time was 1:17 AM.

2 The second timetable is the one in which for the sake of ease 3:15AM has been fixed. (The Hizb ul Ulama timetable subh sadiq time)


There are many people that say that lets keep subh sadiq according to the one seventh method. That would be about one hour three minutes before sunrise. The problem here is that it becomes too bright. If on the above mentioned issue Mufti Taqi Uthmani has issued a fatwa in the past can you please send it to me, or can you issue a new fatwa which we could implement with ease and our fast would not be ruined or spoilt. This year has passed, atleast in the following year we could act upon it in unison.

Yours Obedient
Asif Khan

( Darul Ifta Darul Uloom Karach, fatwa Number 1493/48)

In the name of Allah the beneficent ever-merciful


London is located at a position where it experiences abnormal conditions. In summer time there are days in which the sun does not go 18 degrees below the horizon. If Ramadhan occurs in these days then the ending of Suhoor time will be calculated, and there are three methods for this calculation as mentioned below:


1 Aqrabul Ayyam (nearest day): Meaning the last day Subh Sadiq occured when the sun went 18 degrees below the horizon, use that time for all the days that the Subh Sadiq does not occur. As mentioned (in the timetable submitted) 1:17 AM.


2 Aqrabul Bilaad ( nearest city): Use the Subh Sadiq times of that place nearest to you, where conditions are normal. Whatever time the sun went 18 degrees below the horizon at that place, use that time at those locations where conditions are abnormal. The countries that are located on 48.5 degrees latitude are those countries where the conditions are normal. The times of Subh Sadiq and Isha of these countries can be made a standard for countries which experience abnormal conditions. The time of Subh Sadiq which is when the sun goes 18 degrees below the horizon in the countries located on 48.5 degrees latitude is 2:36 AM. The Suhoor could be ended on this time in London.


3 Nisf ul Lail (half of night): In this method the whole night (meaning the time between sunset and sunrise) will be divided into two parts. The first part is for Maghrib and Isha ( further divide this part into two, one part for Maghrib whilst the other part is for Isha) and the second part is for Fajr. Hence as soon as the second part starts the time of suhoor will end.


Practically Aqrabul Ayyam (nearest day) and Nisf ul Lail (half of night) will work out near enough the same.

There will be no major difference.

One may act upon any three of these methods.

Apart from this, those that give an opinion of the one seventh method, this method is not for countries located at a position where they experience abnormal conditions. This method was devised by Hadhrat
Thanvi RA for some locations in India. Which always experiences normal conditions. This method is correct there. Not at places which experience abnormal conditions, so do not act upon this method.

Attached with the question is a timetable of Balham Masjid ( based on 18 degrees) this is in accordance with Aqrabul Ayyam (nearest day). The other times on this table are also correct. Whereas the timetable published by 'AL MUNTADA AL ISLAMI TRUST' (Subh Sadiq times supplied by HIZB UL ULAMA UK) is NOT CORRECT. The times of Subh Sadiq is NOT CORRECT in it. Neither is the time of sunrise correct. Hence DO NOT ACT UPON THIS TIMETABLE.

And Allah knows best
(Mufti) Sayed Hussain Ahmad
Darul Ifta, Jamia Darul Uloom Karachi
24th of Muharram 1434 hijri
9th December 2012
The answer is correct
(Mufti) Mahmood Ashraf
27/01/1434 AH

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Download original Urdu Fatwa



Deliberations & Verdict of Deobandi Ulamah in UK

Initial decision:

On 16th of Sh'aban 1403 corresponding to 29th May 1983, a meeting was held in Jam'i Masjid, Howard St, Bradford, in the presence of Hadhrat Mufti Mahmood Sahib RA, in that meeting approximately 70 Scholars and over 100 representatives from various Islamic Organisation were present. After spending some considerable time deliberating on the issue of Subh Sadiq, no conclusion was reached, upon which Hadhrat Mufti Mahamood Sahib RA, personally wrote:

"it's difficult to give preference as everyone has a valid opinion, any method one adopts will be permitted as long as it complies with Quran & Sunnah and his heart testifies to this".


After writing the above, Scholars, Moulana Yakub Qasmi, Mufti Shabbir and Mufti Maqbool were instructed to sit together and decide and thus they decided,

"the correct time for Subh Sadiq is 18 degrees, 12 degrees (Nautical Twilight) is incorrect and also decided that during the days of persisting twilight, adopt Aqrab-ul-Ayyam from the four methods",

upon which all the participants, 70 Scholars and over 100 members of Islamic Organisation unanimously agreed without any disagreement and this agreement was then signed by Hadhrat Mufti Mahmood Sahib RA, Mufti Shabbir Sahib DB, Moulana Yakub Qasmi DB, Mufti Maqbool and Moulana Abdul Rasid Rabbani DB.

Hadhrat Mufti Mahmood Sahib RA's confirmation of revokation of his earlier decision:

On 23rd Sh'aban 1403, Hadhrat Mufti Mahmood RA, in another gathering recalled back his earlier hand written statement which read; "it's difficult to give preference as everyone has a valid opinion, any method one adopts will be permitted as long as it complies with Quran & Sunnah and his heart testifies to this", and revoked it and again advised one and all to adopt the following unanimous decision agreed by over 70 Scholars and over 100 Islamic Organisations which was;

"the correct time for Subh Sadiq is 18 degrees, 12 degrees (Nautical Twilight) is incorrect and during the days of persisting twilight to adopt Aqrab-ul-Ayyam from the four methods" .

Original (urdu) handwritten confirmations of the consensus:

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Shaykh (Maulana) Miftahi (HA) of Hizbu-ul-Ulamah and his confusion:

For Moulana Miftaahi (HA) to write in one of his previous and present article that the unanimous decision made by the Scholars of UK, in the presence of Hadhrat Mufti Mahmood Sahib RA, to adopt 18 degrees was revoked byHazrat Mufti Mahmood RA, is outrageous and slanderous to say the least.

Below are the comments of Ml Miftaahi of Hizbu-ul-Ulama which can be found on pg6 of his article "Why our fasting times are not wrong"

"Hazrat Mufti Mahmudul Hasan Gangohi RA- One of our greatest Muftis' and buzrug of the century ruled about differences of opinion in timetables many years go. The declaration by Hazrat Gangohi RA in 1983 at Jame Masjid, Howard Street, Bradford, circulated by the critics, suggesting an agreement on adopting 18 degrees, it will be remembered, was revoked by Hazrat and Hazrat issued another Fatwa at the same time, which Molana Qasmi has used in his book ruling that any method one adopts will be permitted. This is also evidenced by a pamphlet published at the time by Jamiatul Ulama Britain and by Hazrat Maulana Ismail Manubari sahib personally the Muhtamim of Darul Uloom Bharuch".

It should be noted here that Ml Miftaahi has a habit of revoking Fatawas which he cannot understand or which are against his wishes. May Allah T'alaa guide him and improve his understanding. (In recent past a genuine valid Fatawa from pg 426, vol 4 of Ahsanul-Fatawa was also revoked by Ml Miftahi due to his poor understanding).

2012: Reconfirmation of the consensus by four (4) Ulamah who particpiated in the original meeting

Shaykh (Mufti) Sajid Patel discussed the matter with four (4) of the following Ulamah and they all testified to the consensus of 1983, the names of these Ulamah are as follows and the recorded converstion (of their confirmation) in Urdu is presented below:


1 Moulana Abdur Rashid Rabbaani (Secretary of Jamiatul Ulamaa),


2 Mufti Yusuf Sacha DB,


3 Moulana Yakub Qasmi DB


4 Mufti Shabbir Sahib DB


Request to Shaykh (Maulana) Miftahi (HA) of Hizbu-ul-Ulamah:

It is hoped that Shaykh (HA) will realise his error in recollection and retract his claim which is causing confusion amongst British Muslims and putting their acts of worship in jeorpardy.



Shaykh (Mufti) Ebrahim Desai (HA): Faj’r & Isha timings & degrees

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:

a Allamah Siraj al-Deen Ibn Nujaim in al-Nahr al-Fa'iq

b Mulla Ali Qari in Fath Baab al-'Inayah


c Allamah Qahastani in Jam'e al-Rumooz


d Alamah Shurabulali in Mara'iq al-Falah


e 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:


a Allamah Ibn Humam in Fath al-Qadir


b Allamah Qasim ibn al-Qutlubuga in al-Tasheeh wa al-Tarjeeh ala Muktasar al-Qudoori


c Allamah Zain al-Deen Ibn Nujaim in al-Barh al-Ra'iq


d Allamah Fakr al-Deen al-Zaila'ee in Tabyeen al-Haqa'iq


e 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 Addendum:

Since this Fatwa two important clarifications have been issued by Ulamah of Pakistan and they are as follows:

Shaykh (Mufti) Taqi Usmani (HA) & Darul-uloom Karachi:

Dear Molana Hanif Sahab

Assalamu alaikum

Thanks very much for your email.

There are some fundamental misunderstandings that have been narrated in the referenced article. The viewpoint of the scholars of Darul Uloom Karachi since the time of my honourable father, Hazrat Maulana Mufti Muhammad Shafee' Sahab (rh) has been that Subh Saadiq commences when the sun reaches 18 degrees below the horizon, implying that Sehri ends at this time and it is totally impermissible to eat even a morsel after this time for one who is fasting. Similarly, it also implies that the time of Fajr Salah commences at this time, meaning that any person who performs his Fajr Salah at this time will not be required to repeat his Salah as it was performed validly in its time.

Keeping this in mind, the practice in Ramadhan in Darul Uloom Karachi is that Suhoor ends at 18 degrees whilst the Adhan of Fajr is called out at after the sun reaches 15 degrees below the horizon. This is done on the basis of Ihteyaat so as to enable practice on both the views of 18 and 15 degrees.

This is in the same context as appears in numerous occasions in the classical texts of Fiqh, wherein a jurist regards practicing on a view which takes into consideration and reconciles between differing views, as better (and not as necessary) to practice upon even though it may be permissible according to that jurist to practice on the differing opinion. I hope this has clarified the misunderstanding.


Muhammad Taqi Usmani

Shaykh (Mufti) Sultan Alam (HA) & Jamia-tur-Rasheed Karachi:

Jamia-tur-Rasheed and Darul-uloom korangi, Karachi, both institutes recommend that it is better to stop Suhoor at the time of 18 degrees and Make Azan and Fajr Prayer according to 15 degrees time." Following emailing may be useful.

رمضان المبارک کی آمد کے ساتھ ہی کثرت سے یہ سوال پوچھا جاتا ہے کہ فجر کا وقت کیا ہے؟ مختصر جواب درج ِ ذیل ہے اور خاطرخواہ تفصیل منسلک مکاتبت میں ہے:

''جامعۃ الرشید اور دارالعلوم کورنگی کراچی، دونوں ادارے بالاتفاق فجر کے وقت کے بارے میں یہ مشورہ دیتے ہیں کہ بہتر یہ ہے کہ سحری 18 درجہ کے وقت کے مطابق بند کردی جائے اور فجر کی اذان و نماز 15 درجہ کے وقت کے مطابق پڑھی جائیں۔ واللہ اعلم بالصواب''.



Ramadan and Fixed True Dawn: A Fasting Protocol for Northerly Latitudes

Shaykh Nuh Keller (HA)

Ramadan takes place in any season in any land. Muslims living in Birmingham, England, and Oslo, Norway, asked me this year for a fiqh solution as to what time to begin fasting Ramadan each day when it occurs in the summertime, and there is no true dawn because of the persistence of twilight all night at their latitudes.

The first thing to remember is that the difficulty is a temporary one. Ramadan is one lunar month, and in Allah’s words emphasizing its briefness to mankind, “a matter of a few days” (Koran 2:184). It arrives about eleven days earlier each solar calendar year, so that in the main northerly cities with the lion’s share of the problem—those at around 60 degrees north such as Oslo, Stockholm, Helsinki, Copenhagen, and others—Ramadan advances after remaining for six or seven years in the summertime into the spring months that have true times, after which no special fiqh solution will be needed for another three decades or so. Some thirty years ago, I experienced Ramadan as a Muslim under the extreme circumstances of the summer months while deep-sea fishing out of Kodiak, Alaska, and became aware of the human parameters of the question. The answer I would give today is:

Fasting during the month of Ramadan commences each day when the sun rises to within 18 degrees beneath the horizon. This marks the beginning of “astronomical twilight,” and is the time of the first light of dawn. For Muslims in countries at northerly latitudes, such as the United Kingdom, Norway, and parts of Canada, the sun does not descend at night 18 degrees below the horizon for approximately one month before and after the summer solstice on 21 June. During this period a weak light (astronomical twilight) persists throughout the night. The question I have been asked is how to determine the starting time of fasting during this period.

My preferred method is to commence fasting at the time of the last true 18-degree time for one’s location, and then continue beginning to fast at that time until there is a true 18-degree time again. For example, in Birmingham the last true 18-degree time was on 17 May, when dawn entered at 1:27 a.m. In this case people should start fasting at 1:27 a.m. until 25 July, when true dawn begins again. From 25 July onwards one simply follows the 18-degree time for one’s location.

A second question might arise concerning “whose 18 degrees?” Different timetables list different times for 18 degrees. In the United Kingdom one should follow the times calculated by Her Majesty’s Nautical Almanac Office, who have been observing and calculating times for approximately two hundred years, and until recently were part of the Royal Observatory, Greenwich. These times can be found here.

This year I reviewed a variety of proposed solutions to the question which are currently applied in various cities in northern Europe, and they are a potpourri of positions at odds with each other. I have studied the questions, and believe, for reasons that I shall discuss, that the Fixed True Dawn solution is the most logical and convincing; but at the end of the day, I cannot condemn or deny the validity of other true scholarly fatwas. Moreover, whoever cannot follow any valid method of fasting Ramadan, due to weakness or illness or old age, may break his fast, and make up the fast on days later in the year. The details of establishing one’s inability, and hence the permissibility of making up the fast-days later, are given by Hasanayn Muhammad Makhluf on pages 894–95 of Reliance of the Traveller.

Regarding the time of nightfall prayer (isha), people should determine its beginning when the red leaves the sky, relying on timing their own observation of this on clear evenings, and estimating from these timed observations for other days. Praying isha after the red leaves the sky is a followable position in both the Hanafi and Shafi‘i schools.

We shall examine some of the evidence and texts behind this solution point by point.

I. The Validity of Eighteen Degrees

Fasting during the month of Ramadan commences each day when the sun rises to within 18 degrees beneath the horizon. This marks the beginning of “astronomical twilight,” and is the time of the first light of dawn. For Muslims in countries at northerly latitudes, such as the United Kingdom, Norway, and parts of Canada, the sun does not descend at night 18 degrees below the horizon for approximately one month before and after the summer solstice on 21 June. During this period a weak light (astronomical twilight) persists throughout the night. The question I have been asked is how to determine the starting time of fasting during this period.

To the best of my knowledge and empirical observation, “astronomical twilight” occurs when the center of the sun enters within 18 degrees of the earth’s horizon, and the light of the sun thereby becomes visibly greater than the background light of the stars. It is the figure concurred upon by the astronomical observatories of the world. It coincides with the first light of dawn; and when it sinks below this after sunset, with the disappearance of the last light at night. As I wrote in 2002:

In recent years, at least one writer and a major North American Islamic organization have challenged this figure and stated that fifteen degrees below the horizon is closer to the sun’s actual first and last visible light. The disparity between the two figures has resulted in prayer-time calendars for the same city that show an up to twenty minutes’ difference on the same day between suggested times of dawn, with the obvious consequences this has for both the time of the prayer and the fast-days of Ramadan.

Aware that myriad city lights, even below the horizon, often make precise observation of the first of dawn and nightfall all but impossible, the translator [of the Maqasid, in which these words appear] travelled with other observers hundreds of kilometers into the Jordanian desert, far from human settlement, to try to empirically determine the truth about the matter. What they saw was that calculations based on the eighteen-degree figure were as precise as anything could be. That is, the observations cited by the above-mentioned writer, from England, America, India, and other heavily settled areas, do not match what may be actually seen where there are no lights. The upshot is that the older calendars based on eighteen degrees, giving the correct early time for dawn, should be relied upon, especially for fasting on the days of Ramadan; while the new calendars based on fifteen degrees, giving the later time, though adequate for dawn prayer because the time they suggest is well after the arrival of dawn, cannot be relied upon for fasting (al-Maqasid, 36–37).

This is what I and the other observers unmistakably witnessed in the desert, confirming what observatories use in their calculations of astronomical twilight. If light-pollution prevails to an almost unbelievable extent nearly everywhere today, in places where it does not, the 18-degree figure may be empirically observed as the actual true dawn, which is why it alone can serve as the basis of the Fixed True Dawn method.

II. The Preferability of Fixed True Dawn

My preferred method is to commence fasting at the time of the last true 18-degree time for one’s location, and then continue beginning to fast at that time until there is a true 18-degree time again. For example, in Birmingham the last true 18-degree time was on 17 May, when dawn entered at 1:27 a.m. In this case people should start fasting at 1:27 a.m. until 25 July, when true dawn begins again. From 25 July onwards one simply follows the 18-degree time for one’s location.

The “preferred method” mentioned in this paragraph is not the solution I have previously published in both Reliance of the Traveller and Maqasid; namely, that when a place does not have the true times for the above reasons, Muslims there should adopt the times from the closest city that has the true times. This is the position of the Shafi‘i school of jurisprudence (Tuhfa al-muhtaj, 1.424–25) that was taught to me by my late teacher Sheikh Nuh ‘Ali Salman al-Qudah (Allah have mercy on him). I now realize that this is not the best solution because (i) literally followed in the modern world, it entails impossible hardship; and (ii) the Fixed True Dawn method is preferable for two other compelling reasons. Let us consider each of these three in turn.

(i) Impossible Hardship

Literally following the times of “the closest city” is not a workable method because of the continuity of the earth’s surface: the polar regions where the sun stays up all night in summertime, at one extreme; and the equator, where times change but little all year round, are connected to each other by a continuous gradient from north to south of gradual changes in the timings of the sun’s motions. That is, prayer and fasting times vary gradually as one proceeds north or south.

       This means that on the summer calendar date at which the interval between true nightfall (last light) and true dawn finally diminishes to zero at one’s own northerly location, when astronomical twilight reigns between sunset and sunrise, the same interval in the “closest city” that has true nightfall and dawn will be only a few seconds or minutes. This is because today, the surface of the earth in populous lands presents a more or less unbroken continuum of successive human habitations, and the gradual diminishment of the interval between nightfall and dawn found going south means that wherever it becomes zero, to the next town south the interval will be almost zero. That is, it will not help, because the few seconds or minutes of true nightfall in “the closest town that has the true times” do not provide a workable interval to break the fast in, restore the body’s food and water, and perform the sunset (maghrib), nightfall (isha), and dawn (fajr) prayers for people fasting Ramadan just north of it.

       My own repeated experiments with hunger, thirst, and work have led me to conclude that most people between puberty and old age can perform their prayers and restore their food and water enough to fast and work the next day of the thirty fast-days of Ramadan if they have approximately three hours at night to do so. I believe that less than three hours of recovery poses an impracticable hardship for the average Muslim. Such hardship is described by Professor ‘Abd al-Wahhab Khallaf in a famous textbook on Sacred Law in the following words:

From the condition that an act must be within the individual’s capacity before he can be held accountable for it, one should not jump to the conclusion that this implies there will not be any hardship whatsoever for the individual in the act. There is no contradiction between an act’s being within one’s capacity and its being hard. Nothing a person is responsible for is completely free of hardship, since moral responsibility is being obliged to do that in which there is something to bear with, and some type of difficulty.

Hardship, however, is of two types. The first is that which people are accustomed to bear, which is within the limits of their strength, and were they to continue bearing it, it would not cause them harm or damage to their persons, possessions, or other concerns. The second is that which is beyond what people are accustomed to bear and impossible for them to continually endure because they would be cut off, unable to go on, and damage and harm would affect their persons, possessions, or one of their other concerns. Examples include fasting day after day without breaking it at night, a monastic life, fasting while standing in the sun, or making the pilgrimage on foot. It is a sin for someone to refuse to take a dispensation and insist on the stricter ruling when this will probably entail harm (‘Ilm usul al-fiqh, 133).

In view of the impossible hardship of following the times of the closest city, some contemporary fatwa literature suggests following far away places with “moderate” (mu‘tadil) times, such as those of the closest Muslim country, as Tunisia is, for example, to many northern European nations, or following the times of Mecca or Medina—even if it means beginning the fast (imsak) after the sun has risen in one’s own location, or breaking one’s fast before it has set. Why is the Fixed True Dawn method preferable to such an alternative, already in practice by some northern European Muslims today?

(ii) Reasons for Preferring the Fixed True Dawn Method

(1) The first reason for preferring the Fixed True Dawn is that it acquits one of the demands of taqwa or godfearingness, since by this method one does not find oneself eating and drinking in Ramadan while the sun is above one in the sky. Allah says, “So fear Allah all that you can” (Koran 64:16). It is closer to the spirit and purpose of Ramadan if it is closer to taqwa. Allah says, “O you who believe, fasting has been prescribed for you just as it was prescribed for those but before you, that haply you may attain godfearingness” (2:183). It seems intuitively obvious that Allah has created both Ramadan itself and the extreme times at the northerly latitudes as a transitory test to imbue souls with taqwa. The word taqwa derives from ittiqa’, or “to ward off” a blow or peril. In religion, it means every measure to avert Allah’s wrath and win His good pleasure. Allah loves this in man and says so in many verses of the Koran, such as, “Truly Allah loves the godfearing” (3:76), “Know that Allah is with the godfearing” (9:36), “Verily the final issue is to the godfearing” (11:49), and others. The Fixed True Dawn method addresses one’s innate sense of taqwa by saying, “O Allah, we no longer have the true times to tell when to begin the fast, but will use those You last created until the true times return again.” It is what I would do if fasting Ramadan in northerly lands, and feel I could answer for on the Day of Judgement.

(2) The second reason is that it does not impose impossible hardship. I did not originate the Fixed True Dawn method, but rather it has already been used successfully in Norway and in the United Kingdom by adults and families breaking their fast and recovering in a period of around three hours on the nights of Ramadan. Their experience proves it is possible. The bulk of the populations in the north where the problem arises live between 48 and 60 degrees north. Major cities clustered around 60 degrees, the highest latitude, include Inverness, Scotland (57 29N), Oslo, Norway (55 59N), Stockholm, Sweden (59 20N), Helsinki, Finland (60 15N), Copenhagen, Denmark (55 41N), Leningrad, Russia (59 55N), and Anchorage, Alaska (61 13N). Using the Fixed True Dawn method in these cities would give those fasting about three hours, more or less, to eat, drink, and pray between fast-days, which is enough to sustainably fast the whole month. Not easy, perhaps, but made easier by recalling that when Ramadan returns again to the winter months, their “fast-days” will last no longer than from late morning to midafternoon. As one proceeds south of these cities to others closer to the 48th parallel, the time at night to restore one’s strength grows steadily longer than three hours.

(3) The third reason for preferring the Fixed True Dawn method is its closeness to the main evidence in the sunna for establishing exceptional times of prayer and fasting; namely, the rigorously authenticated (sahih) hadith of the Masih al-Dajjal (Antichrist) in the Musnad of Imam Ahmad, Abu Dawud, Tirmidhi, and Sahih Muslim. The hadith deals with exceptional prayer times, the obvious reason why jurists have applied it by analogy to exceptional fasting times as well. The Prophet (Allah bless him and give him peace) in this lengthy hadith foretold to his Companions what would happen in the days of the Masih al-Dajjal (Antichrist). Al-Nawwas al-Sam‘ani, who related the hadith, said, in the part of the hadith about the length of the events it describes:

We asked, “O Messenger of Allah, how long will he remain on earth?” He replied, “Forty days: a day like a year [in length], a day like a month, and a day like a week, then all the rest of his days will be [of ordinary length] like your own days.” We said, “O Messenger of Allah, so that day which will be like a year: will it suffice us in it to perform the prayer of a single day and night?” He said: “No. Estimate for it [the duration of] its measure [in time]” (Ahmad, 4.181–82: 17629. S).

This hadith is also related in Sahih Muslim (4.2250–55: 2137. S), and Imam Nawawi explains in his commentary on it:

The meaning of “Estimate for it its measure” is that “when the amount of time has passed after dawn that occurs everyday between it and noontime, then pray the noon prayer (dhuhr); then later, when the amount of time has passed after that occurs [everyday] between it and midafternoon, pray the midafternoon prayer (‘asr); and when the amount of time has passed after it that is [everyday] between it and sunset, pray the sunset prayer (maghrib), and so on, until the entire day [lasting a year] has passed, and the prayers of one year have all taken place in it, all of them being obligatory prayers duly performed in their proper time” (Sharh Sahih Muslim, 18.66).

The Hanafi hadith Imam and commentator ‘Ali al-Qari also explains “Estimate for it its measure” as meaning “Estimate for the time of the prayer of a day—the day that is like a year, for example—its [usual ordinary] measure; that is, the measure it has on any [usual] days (Mirqat al-mafatih: sharh Mishkat al-masabih, 5.196).

       Imam Ibn Athir related this hadith in his eleven-volume hadith commentary Jami‘ al-usul, after explaining the meaning more exactly by saying, “‘Estimate for it,’ that is: ‘Estimate the measure of a day from your own familiar days [emphasis mine], and pray in it [the five prayers] each day [of those you estimate would have taken place in that day that lasts a year] by the amount of its hours,’” (Jami‘ al-usul, 10.346).

       I submit that what the Prophet (Allah bless him and give him peace) would almost certainly have had in mind, and been understood to say by those around him, was what Ibn Athir spelled out in so many words: “Estimate the measure of a day from your own familiar days (min ayyamikum al-ma‘huda).” This is why taking the standard of the last true 18-degree time in one’s own location is more convincing and closer to the way indicated by the Prophet (Allah bless him and give him peace) than taking it from a city far away. The “Global Village” was certainly not an idea that would occur to anyone who first heard the Prophet’s words (Allah bless him and give him peace) on this matter, nor would drawing on times from so remote a location as Mecca, Medina, or Tunisia from northern Europe today. The standard established by the last day that had true dawn in one’s own locality is simply more familiar and closer to the context of the Prophetic words and guidance in the hadith.

These are three reasons why the Fixed True Dawn method is preferable to others: (1) its taqwa, (2) its practicality in the places of the greatest populations unable to fast normally because they lack true dawn for a period of time during the summer months, and (3) its closeness to the wording of the main Prophetic hadith on what to do instead.

III. Accuracy in Finding Timetables of Eighteen Degrees

A second question might arise concerning “whose 18 degrees?” Different timetables list different times for 18 degrees. In the United Kingdom one should follow the times calculated by Her Majesty’s Nautical Almanac Office, who have been observing and calculating times for approximately two hundred years, and until recently were part of the Royal Observatory, Greenwich. These times can be found here

This does not require a lengthy explanation, as most educated people today sufficiently understand that they can expect far greater accuracy from the astronomical almanacs and tables of a modern sovereign state, with decades or centuries of experience behind its observing and calculating times within its own dominions, than they can from talented amateurs or even professionals from elsewhere who cannot match such experience or resources. I have dealt with the relation between empirical science and Sacred Law in chapters 9 and 10 of Port in a Storm. Muslims in northerly countries other than the United Kingdom may check similar relevant authorities in their own lands, of which we can mention a few that are current at this writing (2013).

       In Oslo, Norway, the Institute of Theoretical Astrophysics, Faculty of Mathematics and Natural Sciences at the University of Oslo, publishes an almanac yearly. The institute does the calculations and revisions themselves. The almanac has been published each year since 1804. More information can be obtained from Almanakken. In Copenhagen, Denmark, the Niels Bohr Institute, Faculty of Science, University of Copenhagen, contains the Astronomical Observatory. They also publish the Danish Almanac. More information can be found here. In Stockholm, Sweden, the Alba Nova University Center Department of Astronomy at Stockholm University publishes an astronomical almanac yearly for selected cities in Sweden called Den Svenska Almancackan. Other timetables and special calculations are done by the Department of Astronomy at Stockholm University on a commercial basis only and have to be paid for. More information is available here . In Helsinki, Finland, the Helsinki University Development Services Ltd. University Almanac Office computes local times for sunrise and sunset for over 100 newspapers, radio stations, and airports in Finland. For further information see . In the United States, those interested in the Astronomical Almanac Online may see .

IV. Those Unable to Fast

This year I reviewed a variety of proposed solutions to the question which are currently applied in various cities in northern Europe, and they are a potpourri of positions at odds with each other. I have studied the questions, and believe, for reasons that I shall discuss, that the Fixed True Dawn solution is the most logical and convincing; but at the end of the day, I cannot condemn or deny the validity of other true scholarly fatwas. Moreover, whoever cannot follow any valid method of fasting Ramadan, due to weakness or illness or old age, may break his fast, and make up the fast on days later in the year. The details of establishing one’s inability, and hence the permissibility of making up the fast-days later, are given by Hasanayn Muhammad Makhluf on pages 894–95 of Reliance of the Traveller.

In any one area, a unified solution to the problem of lacking true dawn to begin the fast is preferable to the alternative of people without taqwa-training or a grasp of the relevant issues taking liberties with one of the most central pillars of Islam, the fast of Ramadan.

       This is not being doctrinaire, but a mere appeal to a reasonable degree of Muslim unity and taqwa in the fast under such temporary, extraordinary circumstances. People of ordinary health and strength, who are not suffering from weakness, illness, or debilitating old age, but merely live at latitudes considerably north of the major cities clustered around the 60th parallel I have mentioned such as Inverness, Oslo, Stockholm, Helsinki, Copenhagen, and Anchorage, should follow the closest major city in their own lands that, when using the Fixed True Dawn method, has an approximately three-hour nightly recovery period to pray and break their fast. This is a sensible modification of the Shafi‘i school’s mandate to follow the closest city with the true times, merely adding the proviso that it be something people can sustainably do. The mujtahid Hanafi Imam Ibn ‘Abidin found latitude for fiqh scholars choosing ways in which the problem might be solved, saying:

I have not seen anyone of our [Hanafi] school who has dealt with the ruling on their fasting in a situation when dawn appears just as the sun sets, or just after it by a period of time in which the person fasting would be unable to eat enough to sustain his bodily strength, for it is not valid to say that the person is obliged to keep fasting day after day, since that would lead to perishing. If we say that fasting is obligatory, it entails holding that one must estimate its duration. Does one estimate the amount of their night by the closest city to them, as the Shafi‘is have also said here; or rather estimate for them the amount of time it takes to eat and drink [and pray, at night; as I have estimated it above at approximately three hours]; or rather that they are only obliged to make up the missed fast, not to perform it at present?—All of these seem in principle possible to adopt, so let one consider. It is not possible to say here that they are not legally responsible to fast at all to begin with (Radd al-muhtar, 1.244).

What I have suggested here is merely to combine the first two of Ibn ‘Abidin’s three named alternatives for those living well above the 60th parallel whom the Fixed True Dawn method does not give roughly three hours at night to recover; namely, that they follow the closest major city in their country (around the 60th parallel) for whom the method does give three hours. Those unable to do so, and who cannot find another valid method of fasting Ramadan from a scholarly fatwa they can follow, whether their inability is due to weakness or illness or old age, may follow the third of Ibn ‘Abidin’s three named alternatives; that is, by merely making up their missed fast days later in the year. That is, the fatwa of Hasanayn Muhammad Makhluf mentioned above from Reliance of the Traveller defining “inability” to fast should apply equally to those using the Fixed True Dawn method or another valid fatwa alternative as it does to those who have an actual true dawn time in their area. His fatwa reads (with commentary by Sheikh Nuh al-Qudah (N:) in parentheses) as follows:

Fasting, as defined by Sacred Law, begins at the coming of dawn and ends at sunset of each day, its time span varying with the different situations of various countries. No matter how long this period is, its mere length is not considered a legitimate excuse permitting one not to fast. It is only permissible not to fast (N: a day or more of Ramadan, making up the missed fast-day by fasting a day in its place later in the year) if one believes it probable that fasting the whole day will harm one (N: for example, such that one cannot continue working), whether this belief is because of:

(1) a symptom that appears;

(2) having previously tried to fast this long (N: until unable to do so because of weakness, dizziness, etc., and then having eaten);

(3) or being informed by a competent physician.

The ruling in such a case is like that of someone who is ill and fears destruction, an increase in his ailment, or a delay in his recovery were he to fast. This is the general basis of the dispensation not to fast and of leniency for those responsible for the obligations of Sacred Law. Everyone who knows himself and is aware of the reality of his case will know whether it is lawful or unlawful for him not to fast. When one’s fasting the long period will lead to illness, debility, or exhaustion, whether these are certainly established or whether considered likely because of one of the above-mentioned means of knowledge, it is permissible for one to take the dispensation not to fast; and when fasting will not lead to this, it is unlawful for one not to fast. People differ in this respect, and for the condition of each, there is a particular ruling (Fatawa shar‘iyya, 1.271–73).

V. Prayer Times at Night in Exceptional Latitudes

Regarding the time of nightfall prayer (isha), people should determine its beginning when the red leaves the sky, relying on timing their own observation of this on clear evenings, and estimating from these timed observations for other days. Praying isha after the red leaves the sky is a followable position in both the Hanafi and Shafi‘i schools.

There is little controversy about the times of sunset and sunrise, while true nightfall, the final disappearance of astronomical twilight when the sun dips farther than 18 degrees below the horizon, cannot exist under the exceptional circumstances we have been discussing.

       The red leaves the sky in most places, marking the beginning of nightfall (isha) for Shafi‘is, when the center of the sun descends below the horizon by somewhere between 12 and 13 degrees. It is more variable than the 18-degree “astronomical twilight” because atmospheric factors at night such as the amount of humidity, smoke, or dust in the air may influence how long the redness in the sky remains visible to the human eye. So relying on one’s own observation may work better than a simple formula stated in degrees. What most observe is that 12 degrees (known as “nautical twilight”) plus about ten minutes’ time is usually enough to see the last redness depart, while 13 degrees is an added margin of safety, and only means an additional delay of ten minutes or so. Redness means the color people ordinarily describe as “red.” If one remains stymied, consult the tables of a local astronomical observatory for 12 degrees, add twenty minutes to it, then pray isha. It is most important when one cannot clearly observe the redness of the sky, however, to pray the sunset prayer (maghrib) as soon as the sun sets, or within forty-five minutes or so thereafter, to make sure it falls within the right time. What we have just mentioned above about the time of isha is precaution for isha, not maghrib. What I have seen time and time again in Jordan is that the time of maghrib lasts about fifty-five minutes, then isha has come, according to the Shafi‘i school.

       That Hanafis and others may pray isha after the red leaves the sky under such circumstances is clear from Ibn ‘Abidin’s comments on the following words of Imam al-Haskafi:

The time of the sunset prayer (maghrib) lasts from sunset until the last redness of the horizon sinks from view, according to the two [disciples and colleagues of Imam Abu Hanifa, Imams Muhammad ibn Hasan al-Shaybani and Abu Yusuf], and this is the position held by the three [non-Hanafi schools of jurisprudence, the Maliki, Shafi‘i, and Hanbali], and to this position the Imam [Abu Hanifa] returned, as is recorded in the commentaries of al-Majma‘ [Majma‘ al-bahrayn wa multaqa al-nayyirayn, by Ibn al-Sa‘ati] and other works, so it is the [position of the Hanafi] school . . . [Ibn ‘Abidin says, after critiquing the validity of this, and giving his own summary opinion:] Their [the Imams Muhammad ibn Hasan al-Shaybani’s and Abu Yusuf’s] position is broader, while his [Imam Abu Hanifa’s true position; namely, of the later time] is more precautionary (Radd al-muhtar, 1.241).

In Jordan I have observed the disappearance of the red from the sky often enough to confidently pray isha fifty-five minutes after sunset, according with the Shafi‘i school; though if within hail of a mosque, I generally wait to pray with the group later at true nightfall, which prayer-time schedules here follow in deference to Imam Abu Hanifa.

VI. Questions

       Question: Sunset (iftar) on the first day of Ramadan is at 9:28 p.m. One breaks the fast, prays, and eats. There is not enough time to sleep. If one takes the start of isha as 11:29 p.m., then one will have finished praying tarawih and isha around 12:30 a.m. If the times calculated by Her Majesty’s Nautical Almanac Office are followed, then fajr enters at 1:27 a.m. (or earlier, in the north of England). People will thus finish praying fajr at 2:00 a.m. Most men need to be up for work by 7:00 a.m. This will mean, first, an effect on the circadian rhythms; and second, exhaustion at some point of the month.

       Answer: Some who speak about circadian rhythms are convinced that human beings must sleep in periods of forty-five minutes, ninety minutes, or three hours; and if they fail to do so they will pay for it with ill health. By the grace of Allah, I work for a living and am as healthy as the next man, and for decades, I have split my nightly sleep into two periods: one prior to getting up before fajr, and a second period after fajr, before getting up for work in the morning. In the winter months the former is longer and the latter is shorter, while vice versa in the summer months, and in the spring and autumn, they may come out about equal. Their relative length shifts with the seasons of the year. I find that as long as the total hours slept roughly meet one’s needs, say, from five and a half to seven and a half hours of sleep, the body’s homeostasis manages fine by just adding up the times, and does not seem to mind that its rhythms shift and adjust with the seasons and length of the nights. If more sleep is needed in extraordinary circumstances, one may sleep after work, or whenever one can catch a nap. The body adjusts, by Allah’s help, with or without circadian rhythms, and exhaustion need not occur, if one takes time to sleep. In the month of Ramadan, under the extraordinary circumstances being discussed, this may pose problems, especially for fasting children off to school early, or people getting up for the early Fixed True Dawn fajr who must also tend to the needs of dependent parents following a later fajr time. If such people also have early commutes to work, or young children to see to, it may indeed eventually cause exhaustion. To prevent it, they should try to get back from work by 7:30 p.m. or earlier and sleep for two hours before iftar, and also take care to catch up on sleep missed during the week by sleeping extra hours on their days off.

       Question: The 12-degree isha time [based on the Shafi‘i position that isha’s time begins when the red leaves the sky] which you suggest means that around July in Keighley, in the north of England, for example, isha comes in well after midnight. It is very difficult for people to pray isha this late, and given the fact that most mosques are praying isha between 11:00 and 11:15 p.m., following the 12-degree [plus ten-minutes-of-time] methodology for praying isha would mean we would be doing something for isha that no other group or scholar suggests or does in practice. Is there an argument for praying isha earlier, as some of the Deobandi scholars suggest? One mufti has said that there is a “practical ijma‘” of U.K. scholars that one can pray isha before the time has come, due to the hardship that summer times bring. Also, one would miss tarawih at the mosque if the above times are followed. Should one pray a shorter tarawih at home?

       Answer: First, the reality of isha for Imam Shafi‘i and others is one’s own actual eye-witness observation that the red is gone from the sky or has changed to some other color that people do not normally call “red.” I gave the 12-degree-plus-ten-minutes formula merely as an approximation to ensure that isha is prayed well after the red is gone from the sky. It may well be that your own actual eye-witness observation—which is what I really recommend—reveals that the red leaves the sky, and hence the time for isha enters, within an hour or less of sunset: as I mentioned, in Jordan it takes only fifty-five minutes.

       Second, one should pray isha with the group at the local mosque and then pray tarawih with them. If one’s eye-witness observation of the redness after sunset leads one to conclude that the group has prayed isha before the red has left the sky or changed to some other color that people do not call “red,” one should later repeat isha and witr sometime before the Fixed True Dawn time of fajr, intending “the last isha and witr that I reached, but did not pray.” Someone in i‘tikaf at the mosque may unobtrusively do the same thing there. The larger point is that on Judgement Day the first thing we will be asked about is our prescribed prayers. They hence merit some precaution, and following the recorded position of an Imam of one of the schools, when possible, is generally more precautionary in one’s religious practice than following contemporary fatwas or local mosque practice. However, when hardship is real, muftis must deal with it, even though, as pointed out above, summertime does not last forever, and then isha begins to grow earlier. This is why I would prefer to pray isha at the mosque with the group each night, intending to follow the muftis’ position, and then repeat my isha at home again, in a group prayer with my family or others, before the Fixed True Dawn time enters, for taqwa and precaution. At the same time, whatever prevents a man from attending the group prayer at the mosque, other things being equal, is generally from the Devil. Tarawih is a major point of contact with the Divine in Ramadan, and if one’s own school of fiqh is to pray it in a group, there is no question that the greater baraka lies in doing that. Though it is a supererogatory work, every rak‘a of tarawih prayed in Ramadan is as if having prayed seventy ordinary rak‘as in any other month.

       Finally, for Shafi‘is, just as tarawih is a sunna to pray in a group, it is also a sunna to pray by oneself (Reliance of the Traveller, 158), so if one does miss tarawih at the mosque with the group for some reason, praying it at home remains a valid possibility even for non-Shafi‘is, as one may without blame follow another school in performing one’s supererogatory works, if one knows how.

       Question: If we are to pray isha at the mosque then repeat later, what is the status of the tarawih prayer, given that we would have prayed it in the mosque before “true” isha?

       Answer: Again, under the extraordinary summer circumstances, there is no true isha, and its place is supplied by estimation. Intend adopting the estimation of other fatwas for the isha and tarawih at the mosque, and repray your isha at home out of taqwa and precaution. At the very worst, the tarawih of each night could be a valid make-up of the previous night’s tarawih. Imam Nawawi mentions the desirability of making up later any supererogatory works that one misses.

       Question: Is the period between our early imsak (dawn cessation of eating) and the later imsak of the mosques a period of doubt in which it is better not to pray fajr?

       Answer: No. Under the extraordinary summer circumstances being discussed, there is no true fajr, and its place is supplied by adopting the Fixed True Dawn time.

       Question: With unusually high temperatures in England, and longer fasts than in the Muslim heartlands, people are suffering from moderate dehydration, including disorientation and confusion. Could you please say a word about hydration?

       Answer: Ask Allah to make the fast easy, and He does. One’s iftar at sunset in hot weather should be to drink one’s fill of water first, then wait a space before eating one’s fill. A protocol I have followed in previous years is that if the temperature at maghrib is around 27 degrees, I drink three six-ounce glasses of water before praying maghrib, then two glasses afterwards, then begin eating some minutes later; while if it is higher than 27 degrees, I have four glasses before the prayer and three after. Everyone is a bit different, but it helps to keep a written note-card from year to year of things that make the fast easier. I have found a light iftar of mostly vegetables is easier at night, while a hearty suhur is better for the coming day. My own suhur, besides herbal teas, consists of quantities of whole-fat sheep, goat, and buffalo yogurt. Yogurt strengthens the fasting body, the saturated fat in it helps keep the brain functioning properly all the day, and it releases its water gradually throughout the day so one doesn’t get thirsty. However, as with other diet schemes, the only hard and fast rule seems to be “different strokes for different genetic folks,” and what suits one seldom suits all. The best food is what Allah is remembered over and is eaten to please Him, for it has baraka in it. And Allah knows best.

VII. Bibliography

al-‘Abbadi, Ahmad ibn Qasim, Ibn Hajar al-Haytami, Yahya ibn Sharaf al-Nawawi, and ‘Abd al-Hamid al-Sharwani. Hawashi al-Shaykh ‘Abd al-Hamid al-Sharwani wa al-Shaykh Ahmad ibn Qasim al-‘Abbadi ‘ala Tuhfa al-muhtaj bi sharh al-Minhaj [Haytami’s interlineal exegesis of Nawawi’s Minhaj al-talibin, printed with it on the margins of its commentaries by Sharwani and (below him) ‘Abbadi]. 10 vols. 1315/1898. Reprint. Cairo: Dar al-Fikr, n.d.

Ibn ‘Abidin, Muhammad Amin. Radd al-muhtar ‘ala al-Durr al-mukhtar. 5 vols. Bulaq 1272/1855. Reprint. Beirut: Dar Ihya’ al-Turath al-‘Arabi, 1407/1987.

Ibn al-Athir, al-Mubarak. Jami‘ al-usul fi ahadith al-Rasul. Edited by ‘Abd al-Qadir al-Arna’ut. 11 vols. Beirut: Dar al-Fikr, 1403/1983.

Ibn Hanbal, Ahmad. Musnad al-Imam Ahmad Ibn Hanbal. 6 vols. Cairo 1313/1895. Reprint. Beirut: Dar Sadir, n.d. [After citing above the volume and page number of this older unnumbered edition (which is the standard), the number of the hadith and its authenticity evaluation have been supplied from a more recent edition:] Ibn Hanbal, Ahmad. Musnad al-Imam Ahmad Ibn Hanbal. Edited with notes by Shu‘ayb al-Arna’ut et. al. 50 vols. (including five vols. 46–50 of indexes). Beirut: Mu’assasa al-Risala, 1416–1421/1995–2001.

Keller, Nuh. Port in a Storm: A Fiqh Solution to the Qibla of North America. Amman: Wakeel Books, 2001.

Makhluf, Hasanayn Muhammad. Fatawa shar‘iyya wa buhuth Islamiyya. 2 vols. Cairo: Dar al-I‘tisam, 1405/1985.

al-Misri, Ahmad ibn Naqib. Reliance of the Traveller: A Classic Manual of Islamic Sacred Law. Tr. Nuh Keller. Abu Dhabi, 1991. Revised Edition. Beltsville, Maryland: Amana Publications, 1999.

Muslim ibn al-Hajjaj, and Yahya ibn Sharaf al-Nawawi. Sahih Muslim bi Sharh al-Nawawi. 18 vols. Cairo, 1349/1930. Reprint (18 vols. in 9). Beirut: Dar al-Fikr, 1401/1981.

al-Nawawi, Yahya ibn Sharaf. Al-Maqasid: Nawawi’s Manual of Islam. Tr. Nuh Keller. Evanston, Illinois, 1994. Revised Edition. Beltsville, Maryland: Amana Publications, 2002.

al-Qari, ‘Ali ibn Sultan. Mirqat al-mafatih: sharh Mishkat al-masabih. 5 vols. Cairo 1309/1892. Reprint. Beirut: Dar Ihya al-Turath al-‘Arabi, n.d.

Imams and Masjid committees must inform their congregations of the 18 degrees prayer timing

Shaykh (Dr) Haitham Al-Haddad (HA)

All praise be to Allah and may the peace and blessings be upon the Prophet Muhammad.

The ongoing debate concerning the correct time to start fasting requires us to deal with the matter both sensibly and practically. There are a number of issues that must be addressed, and for the scope and purpose of this Fatwa I would like to focus on how Mosque imams and committees should deal with the differing opinions on when to start the fast.

Using the 18-degree calculation is not one of Ijtihad in which imams and committees can decide to choose one opinion over the other.

Primarily, this is because the 18-degree start time –which gives an earlier time for the onset of fajr - is an opinion that is supported by the vast majority of scholars across the world, both near the equator and towards the north of the world throughout history, from the early days of Islam right up to today. They have all advocated the 18-degrees timing to be an accurate reflection of the reality of Fajr start times. For timetable click here.

The conflicting position, which corresponds to a later fast starting time, has only been presented recently by a small number of groups and lone individuals.

The conflicting opinion of starting the fast at a later time (including adoption of 12 degrees or the Hizbul Ulama UK timetable) actually has no basis except for alleged sightings with the naked eye (mushahadah) that coincidently have been negated by other sightings around the world and throughout history. To elaborate slightly, fajr start timings have been examined and determined over hundreds of years to our current time. There have been many mushahadas (naked eye sightings) throughout the globe, including the UK, at varying times throughout the year and history. They have all independently confirmed that the correct start time for Fajr (Subh Saadiq) is seen (mushahadah) when the sun is 18-degrees below the horizon.

If Imams or committees still believe that the second opinion (later Fajr start time) is correct then it is obligatory for them to at least inform those under their influence of the 18-degree timetable thus allowing them the choice to investigate the matter further.

So I urge our respected imams and committees to do just that and furthermore to provide the congregation with the 18-degree timetable either by print or online sources (. I understand there are difficult implications in following this fatwa but we should not get frustrated and emotional about the hardships put on us by Allah. Indeed it is a test for us all and through the efforts of us all we hope to fulfil our duty to the wider Muslim community in the fairest way possible.

Personal worship vs. Communal matters

Although fasts have already begun and some may view it as too late, the responsibility lies on those in authority to act in the manner instructed and remove the blame on themselves. Committees and imams can either choose to explain and educate the congregation in the coming days on the 18-degree timetable or simply make the worshippers aware of a second (earlier) timetable and advise them to investigate and make a more informed decision and not merely follow the masjid blindly. Simply relying on the decision of the imam in this matter does not remove the burden on the individual. To believe that this issue can be left with the masjid to decide is a very dangerous and incorrect approach to have. Muslims must exercise some more care and concern to the matters relating to their worship, even if they consider themselves laymen. Lay people are also addressed by the following Qur'anic guideline:

"[4:59 O you who have believed, obey Allah and obey the Messenger and those in authority among you. And if you disagree over anything, refer it to Allah and the Messenger, if you should believe in Allah and the Last Day. That is the best [way] and best in result".

If this is not done then imams and committees run the risk of enforcing their opinion (on a non-ijtihadi matter) upon the congregation which is not permissible in matters related to an individual's 'ibadah. Scholars have confirmed that a person in a position of authority can decide issues for his subjects on matters of Ijtihad that are related to the publics' interest. However, none of the scholars have stated that such people of authority can decide on matters related to the personal worship of their subjects (whether matters of ijtihad or not). Each Individual is obliged and has also the right to act upon what they believe is the correct view and thus knowledge of other opinions that might correct his or her personal worship must not be withheld. This matter is directly related to personal worship and not one of public interest. No individual should be compelled to act upon the ijtihad of the imam or committee concerning personal worship.

For example the Ruler or Imam cannot command people to raise their hands in prayer nor to believe wiping over cotton socks nullifies the wudhu. Similarly, no one can dictate when others should start fasting. What the Ruler or Imam may do is decide on matters related to the public interest such as the time for the congregational prayer. So there is a difference between the matter of the start of the fast and that of praying together in congregation. The first is an individual's responsibility whereas the second is that of the masjid's.

Some people claim that presenting more than one opinion to the masses might only serve to confuse them. This may be true to some extent, but then it is upon the Imam to adopt the safest opinion in the first place, i.e. 18-degrees timetable. If, for whatever reason, that is not possible then he must at least inform his subjects of the opinion that has been adopted and endorsed by the majority of scholars – this being the 18 degrees timing. This principle was explained by the great scholar al-Qarafi in his famous book al-Furuq [under the chapter, '224: The Difference between the Principle of Fatwa and the principle of Judicial Judgement.' Ibn Taymiyyah also elaborated on this point thoroughly.].

I also understand that because fasts have now started people may feel reluctant to change their time to begin fasting, claiming that it is too late now or other reasons alike. But this is the wrong attitude to take on this matter. All the Muslims in the UK should now realise that this is a recurring issue with every Ramadan that we anticipate. It has become normal now and much discourse, both written and multimedia, is available for Muslims to educate themselves and research before the onset of Ramadan so that they are clear on all matters relating to their fast. But we find again that ignorance and laziness to conduct any form of research are the main reasons for why Muslims are left confused and negligent. In any case if this is the situation a Muslim has found himself in then I advise him either to read around the topic now from articles on this site and material from the opposing view so he may make an informed decision, or take the safer 18 degree option which translates into an the earlier of the two available times to fast this year.

And finally I advise people to ask their Imams and committees following the later time to start fasting, whether there is another opinion related to an earlier start time of fasting and to ensure they are aware of the essential responsibility upon them as stated in this fatwa, including informing the congregation of the earlier fasting start time.

I ask Allah to give us fiqh in His deen, to protect us from disunity and to unite our hearts.

ISNA revokes earlier decision of 15 degrees for Faj'r and adopts 17.5 degrees

Many prayer calculation programs still offer 15 degrees for Faj'r & Esha as recommended by ISNA, however we must point out that ISNA have changed their position to 17.5 (which is close to 18 degrees) and there is no worldwide Islamic body or organisation which now supports 15 degrees (or earlier) for Faj'r.

Below is an email we received in ICOP from Dr. Zulfiqar Ali Shah, the Executive Director of the North American Fiqh Council of ISNA. It shows that starting from September 2011 ISNA has adopted new angles for Fajer and Isha, which are 17.5 for Fajer and 15 for Isha.

-------- Original Message --------
Subject: Timings
Date: Sun, 29 Jul 2012 15:07:07 -0400 (EDT)
From: Dr. Zulfiqar Ali Shah
To: Engineer Mohammad Odeh (ICOP)

Assalamo alaykum wrwb Akhee al-Habib,

Below is the agreed upon statement.

Fiqh Council of North America Position for Fajr & Isha'

In the FCNA meeting of September 25, 2011 the following position for Fajr & Isha' was agreed upon:

For North America Use functions of latitude and seasons for Fajr, and Isha' as determined by A computer user can go to the following web site to obtain full year prayer times from

For most areas in USA this will result Fajr around sun being 17.5° below horizon, and Isha around 15°. The time difference between 17.5° and 15° is about 12 minutes. Fajr will be 12 minutes earlier than calculated for 15°. It is suggested that if one wants to calculate Fajr & Isha based on degrees, one can opt to use 17.5° for Fajr and 15° for Isha'.



Dr Shaukat Khalid of advises to stop eating (during Ramadhan) at 18 degrees

Question F3: Some Ramadan timetables in my area have the sehri end time based at 15 and others at 18. Which one is the correct one?

Answer: 18 is considered appropriate by many Ulamaa, although observations for Subh-Sadiq in many parts of the world show that Suh Sadiq fluctuates in degrees. No fixed degree is the correct answer. It is suggested that if one has 15 degree chart for Fajr then one should finish eating 20 to 30 minutes before that chart time for Fajr. Get the most accurate Prayer Times from

Confirmed by Dr Shaukat Khalid on 19th of July 2013 in email that this is still his advice.

Asslamo Allaikum Dr Khalid Shaukhat Saheb,

Ramadhan Mubarak,

Do you still advise users of your timetable to stick to this advice?

Jazakullah Khairun


The time for Salatul-Faj’r and fasting in Islam begins with true dawn