Fajr Time in Ramadan

Statement regarding Fajr time in Ramadan 1442/2021

انقر هنا لقراءة هذا البيان باللغة العربية

Brother and sisters, Assalamu Alaikum wa Rahmatullah.

The goal of this statement is to clarify the jurisprudential basis adopted by Edinburgh Central Mosque for determining the prayer times in Ramadan for this year. Specifically, we hope to demystify the jump in Fajr time, when its astronomical sign disappears, and the alternative measures adopted, which will happen between 4th and 5th of May.

So, seeking the guidance of Allah, I say:

Allah has decreed that the obligatory prayers have their specific times, and made these times the reason for the obligation and a condition of its correctness, so no prayer is an obligation before its time comes nor it is accepted from anyone before its time starts. Allah says in the Quran ((Indeed, prayer has been decreed upon the believers a decree of specified times)) [An-Nisaa 103]

The authentic Sunnah of the Messenger of Allah, peace and blessings be upon him, conveyed to us from his sayings and actions the specifics of these prayer times [Muslim 1/427], upon which is the practice of Muslims in the past and nowadays [Tafseer Ibn Kathir 3/70]. Scholars of Islam have the consensus that the start of a prayer time is a condition of its correctness, and that the prayer of one who prays before the time is void.

Brothers and sisters in Islam,

As we are approaching the blessed month of Ramadan, whose fasting  from dawn and to sunset is an obligation, we read in the Quran ((And [you are allowed to] eat and drink until the white thread of dawn becomes distinct to you from the black thread [of night], then complete the fast until the sunset)) [Al-Baqarah 187]. So, it is very clear from the Quran that a fasting day starts at the break of dawn which is signalled by the first thread of white light spreading over the horizon (true Fajr). This is accepted to correspond to an angular depression of 18 degrees of the sun below the eastern horizon. 

To clarify, Muslims for 14 centuries have always depended on eyesight to determine the start time of Fajr. Nowadays, however, with electricity and artificial lighting becoming the norm in urban communities, it is becoming much harder in cities and towns to accurately sight the start of Fajr, forcing Muslims to adopt astronomical calculations instead as the new way to determine worship times. The time at which Fajr prayer and fasting starts is widely accepted to correspond to a solar angular depression of 18 degrees. That is, when the centre of the sun sits below the eastern horizon by 18 degrees.  Edinburgh Central Mosque has adopted this definition for Fajr time following the teachings of the Quran, Sunnah, and the texts of Islamic jurisprudence.

For this year (1442/2021), this definition of Fajr applies only up to the first few days of Ramadan. After the 4th May, with the high latitudinal location of Edinburgh, the astronomical sign of Fajr (18 degrees solar depression) ceases to happen. That is, starting from Wednesday 5th May and for about three months, twilight that appears after Maghrib persists up to the time of Fajr. Scholars of Islam have looked into legal solutions to determine Fajr time for prayer and fasting in these abnormal situations.

There is no doubt that the disappearance of the astronomical sign that differentiates Fajr from the night before it makes it very hard for the fasting Muslims, but Islam has lifted hardship and difficulty from Muslims in their religious matters. Allah says (and [Allah] has not placed upon you in the religion any difficulty) [Al-Hajj 78] and says (Allah intends for you ease and does not intend for you hardship) [Al-Baqarah 187].

Scholars, past and present, have the opinion of using estimated times for Fajr in these cases, according to the Hadith of An-Nawas bin Sam’aan, may Allah be pleased with him, where he said: the Messenger of Allah, peace and blessing be upon him, mentioned the Dajjal (Anti-Christ) one morning, …, and we asked: O Allah’s Messenger, how long would he stay on the earth? He said: For forty days, one day like a year and one day like a month and one day like a week and the rest of the days would be like your days. We said: O Allah’s Messenger, would one day’s prayer be sufficient for the prayers of the day equal to one year? Thereupon he said: No, but you must make an estimate of time (and then observe prayer) [Muslim 18/65-66].

From that Hadith, the majority of scholars have agreed that in places where the astronomical signs of some of the prayer times disappear, like in the case of Edinburgh in summer, then the ruling is to estimate the times based on the prayer times in the closest place where the day and night are distinguishable and the prayer times can be determined using their normal astronomical signs. This was the Fatwa of the Islamic Fiqh Council in its 6th decision of the 9th meeting (page 202).

The closest places to Edinburgh where twilight continues to disappear as normal and Fajr time can be determined in these months are the cities on latitude 45 degrees south, which is what we used for Fajr time estimation.

Thus, the prayer times of Edinburgh Central Mosque in Ramadan 1442 are estimated with these rules in mind starting from Fajr of Wednesday 5th May till the end of Ramadan. Also, following the Fatwa, we add two minutes to the time of Maghrib and remove two minutes from Fajr time in precaution for the benefit of fasting.

This statement is put forth with the hope that it answers some of the questions one might have with regard to the sudden jump in Fajr time between Monday 4th May and Tuesday 5th May.

And Allah knows best.

May Allah accept the fasting and the prayers.

Ahmad El-Gehani

تقدير موعدي صلاة الفجر والعشاءعند اختفاء العلامة الفلكية” م.محمد شوكت عودة
بحث ” أوقات الصلوات في البلاد ذات خطوط العرض العالية “، د. سعد بن تركي الخثلان
البيان الختامي لندوة إعداد تقويم بلدان أوروبا الواقعة بين خطي 48-66، المركز الإسلامي والثقافي ببلجيكا، 2009م
مواقيت الصلاة والصيام في البلاد ذات خطوط العرض العالية” صفحة الإسلام اليوم؛
محضر اجتماع اللجنة الخاصة بشأن إعداد تقويم لدول أوروبا الواقعة بين خطي عرض 48-66 شمالا وجنوبا، رابطة العالم الإسلامي 10/08/1430