By Imam Muhammad Shoyaib Nurgat
Many places in the UK are having a major problem with times of Salah, especially the times of Isha and Fajar. This problem comes to light more in the month of Ramadhan, when we observe that whilst some Masajid have completed their Fajar Salah, other Masajids are guiding their Musallees and communities around them to continue eating. This situation is by the day becoming more confusing and to a great extent unacceptable. Because of
somebody making a mistake, either the Salat ul Fajr of one group is not valid or the fast of the other group is not valid, which would mean that a person refrained from eating and drinking for 16+ hours for no reason whatsoever.
There are many amongst the community that will brush this issue aside, saying ‘this is not our problem, we just follow the Masjid’. The reality is that this approach is wrong, as Allah Almighty has given intellect to all individuals and has made each and every individual responsible; the explanation given to the Hadith: “Talabul Ilm Fareedatun...” is that if Salah or Saum are obligatory upon you, then the Masaa’il relating to Salah and Saum is also obligatory. Amongst these Masaa’il is also the knowledge of the timings of Salah and Fast. If this principle is understood, then it should be understood that research as to which times are correct becomes the responsibility of each and every individual on whom these modes of Ibaadaat are obligatory. Ibn Abideen writes in Radd Ul Muhtar: “It is Fardh for every person to understand the injunctions that apply to his everyday life to avoid falling into Haraam.” (Vol 1- Pg 42)
First of all, let us identify the three timetables that are going around. One is the 18 Degrees timetable, the second the 15 Degrees timetable and the third the Hizb ul Ulama timetable.
Recently in Blackburn one of the senior members of the Hizb ul Ulama, Moulana Ismail Manubari Saheb DB, has also come up with a fourth timetable for Isha Salah.
Now, let us evaluate the different timetables, with the first being the Hizb ul Ulama timetable, used by many Masajid in the UK.
This time table is based on the Mushahadah (observation by the naked eye) carried out by Moulana Yaqub Miftahi Saheb and a few others. Hizb ul Ulama also claim that the Prophet of Allah Sallallahu Alayhi Wasallam has annulled the use of technology. They cite the Hadith:
“We are an unlettered nation; we neither read; nor do we calculate; a month is like this (29 days) and like this (30 days).”
(Sahih Bukhari P.256 V.1)
In light of information/research now coming out there are many problems with this timetable, which would deem the following of this time table against caution and Ihtiyaat, if not totally incorrect. Below are a number of reasons for this very ‘bold’ statement:
1. In a question sent to the Darul Iftaa of Darul Uloom Karachi. On the 13th of October 1990, seeking verification/endorsement of the observations (Mushahadah) of Hizb ul Ulama, Mufti Saheb very clearly instructed the questioner that the people who did the observation had erred. He (the questioner) was instructed by Mufti Saheb to prepare another timetable based on 18 degrees. This fatwa was prepared by Mufti Muhammad Ashraf Saheb and counter signed by Mufti Muhammad Taqi Saheb and Mufti Abdur Rauf Saheb. (See attached Fatwa No 1)
2. The Mushahadah that was used as the basis for this timetable was only done for FIFTY days out of the whole year, not for every day of the year, as is being portrayed. If the use of technology is not permissible as this group claims, then how were the other 315 days determined? Note: the daily accounts of only 11 days have been published by Hizb ul Ulama.
3. Most of the times given on the Hizb ul ulama timetable contradict their own observations. For example:
On May the 21st, according to the Mushahadah performed by Moulana Miftahi and Hizb ul Ulama, the difference between the first speck of dust observed and sunrise was 2 hours 22 minutes and the difference between Tabyeen (light spreading) and sunrise was 1 hour 32 minutes. (See attached table No 2). The recommendation by Hizb ul Ulama to the Masajid is to deduct 1 hour and 51 minutes on that day. (see chart No 3). This would mean that if the first spec of dust was to be deemed as Subh Sadiq, then the Subh Sadiq declared by Hizb ul Ulama is 31 minutes, after their own Musahadah. And if Tabyeen was to be deemed as Subh Sadiq, then the Subh Sadiq declared by Hizb ul Ulama is 19 minutes before their own Musahadah. On May the 25th, according to the Mushahadah of Hizb ul Ulama, the Difference between the first speck of dust observed and sunrise was 2 hours 24 minutes and difference between Tabyeen and sunrise was 1 hour 44 minutes. (See attached table No 2)
Despite observing these times they have advised communities in table 5 of their book ‘Fajr and Esha times’ to deduct 1 hour 54 minutes to sunrise times. This would mean that if the first spec of dust was to be deemed as Subh Sadiq, the Subh Sadiq declared by Hizb ul Ulama is 30 minutes after their own Mushahadah. And if Tabyeen was to be deemed as Subh Sadiq then the Subh Sadiq declared by Hizb ul Ulama is 10 minutes before their own Musahadah.
This is not a coincidence as there are many other such examples in the writings of Moulana Miftahi, who is the most senior figure in Hizb ul Ulama and was behind the observations undertaken in 1988/89. How can this be correct? This would mean that one does not have the confidence in ones owns observations or Mushahadah.
4. The Mushahadah of 1988 completely contradicts the Mushahadah of 1999. Why? (see attached table No 3 and No 4)
5. It is impossible that one witnesses the first spec of light of Subh Sadiq, but then fails to witness the Tabyeen, following the first spec of light. Although there is a difference of opinion regarding when one should stop eating to fast (either the first spec of light or Tabyeen) the cautious opinion is at the FIRST SPEC OF LIGHT. And surprisingly neither time has been used in the Hizb ul Ulama timetable. This point itself is enough to render the Subh Sadiq times in the Hizb ul Ulama incorrect and FALSE.
6. In an email to Moulana Farid Saheb, the creator of the Hizb ul ulama timetable writes:
a. “May 21 first light is 2.38 and tabayyun is 3.28. the time used for Blackburn is 3.07 ie well within the parameters of acceptability.”
Does this mean that according to Moulana Yaqub Miftahi if someone ended Sehri anytime between 2:38 and 3:28 their fast would be fine? Accordingly if anyone performed Fajr anytime between 2:38 and 3:28 their Fajr would be ok? And further how can one fix 3:07 as the time for Subh Sadiq when the first light is at 2:38 which is the ‘Afdhal’ (cautious) Subh Sadiq time. Or if you want to go by the second opinion it should be 3:28. HOW DOES 3:07 COME ABOUT?
7. Hizb ul Ulama claim to use a method known as Aqrabul Ayyam. It is clear from their timetables that they do not. When they were questioned about this, they produced a definition of the term "Aqrabul Ayyam" which cannot be found in the books of Fiqh It appears that they fabricated a definition for a technical term used commonly in books of Fiqh to substantiate their own times.
8. If one refutes the use of technology then why has an Astronomer been used?
a. "These times have been kindly computed by Brother Khalid Shaukat, a well known Muslim scientist with a track record in the field of astronomical research. He is advisor to the Islamic Society of North America (ISNA). Dr Khalid Shaukat has ensured that observatory calculated times have been adapted for accuracy as observatory times do not take into account specific shariah requirements."
Salat Times and Qibla Guide by Moulana Yaqub Miftahi.
9. And further if one is refuting the use of technology then why the use of observatory for Zuhr and Asar times? These are the words of Moulana Miftahi Saheb, creator of the Hizb ul ulama timetable:
“As far as the times of Zohr, Asar and Magnrib are concerned this is what is being reffered to when the book says observatory calculated times have been adjusted.”
10. Observations/ Mushahadah that took place in Blackburn are not acceptable for the rest of the UK. (Pg 3 Fatwa of Mufti Ismail Bharkodrawi-Sadar Mufti, Darul Uloom Kantharia, District Bharuch.)
11. Finally if the Mushahadah by Hizb ul Ulama was done, then why has the senior member of Hizb ul Ulama, Moulana Ismail Manubari recently come up with a completely different timetable for Salat ul Isha? Has he retracted his original opinion? If Members of Hizb ul ulama do not have the confidence and trust in their own times or observations, how can any other person have the trust and confidence?
These are only some of the problems I have highlighted as regards to the very widely used Hizb ul Ulama timetable.
The 18 Degrees timetable
Contrary to some peoples opinion that this is a Moulana Yaqub Kavi Qasmi created timetable, this is actually a timetable widely used throughout the Muslim world. The majority of the Arab world, the Indian subcontinent, and many in America, Canada and the UK follow this CENTURIES OLD timetable. Although the title given to this timetable is ‘the 18 degrees timetable’, which suggests that it is ‘only’ astronomy based, the reality is far from this.
Allamah Shaami RA has also advocated 18 degrees to 19 Degrees as the time of Subh Sadiq. See Radd ul Mukhtaar, Vol 2, Pg 93.
(Source: The essay of Subh Sadiq and Subh Kazib by Moulana Shabbir Ahmad Kakakheel)
Throughout the years Ulama and experts in many parts of the world have done MUSHAHADAH (observation with Naked eye) to verify the times. The 18 degree times have matched the times that Subh Sadiq was observed by the Naked eye.
Previously in the UK, senior Ulama from Batley went to locations far away from well lit areas (as Musahadah in areas which are well lit is not possible, nor acceptable as can be understood from the Fatwa of Mufti Rashid Ahmad Ludhyaanwi Saheb RA) to observe for themselves whether the times of Subh Sadiq at 18 degrees matched observation with the naked eye. They reported that their observations matched the 18 degrees.
Very recently Ulama in Preston have undergone this very same task, and are continuing till today, they have also verified that their observation matched the 18 degrees cited. Any brother that wishes to join them may contact Moulana Farooq Qazi or Moulana Habibullah Munshi to witness for themselves the facts and the truth.
One should also understand that to observe Subh Sadiq, expertise and experience is also important. Hakim ul Ummat Hadhrat Thanwi RA writes in Al Saa’aat lil Taa’aat “to identify Subh Sadiq without experience, and to identify ‘Mithlain’ without hisab is not possible.” (Bawadir al Nawadir Pg 429)
In addition to the UK Mushahadah (observation) has also been done to verify the 18 Degrees in Pakistan, Canada and Arab World.
Recent observations by the teachers and students of Darul Uloom Karachi and Darul Iftaa have also concluded that the Subh Sadiq occurs at 18 Degrees. (Source: The essay of Subh Sadiq and Subh Kazib by Moulana Shabbir Ahmad Kakakheel)
This timetable has been adopted and endorsed by senior Ulama/Astronomers of the Ummah past and present:
Abu Rayhan Al Berooni (who passed away in 440 AH) writes: ‘that when the sun is 18 degrees below the horizon, that is the time of Subh Sadiq’. (Kitab Al Qanoon Al Mas’oodi) Saheb Rooh ul Ma’aani Allama Alloosi RA writes in the commentary of ‘Was Subh Izaa Tannaffas’ in Surah Al Takweer, that ‘Subh’ is the light on the eastern horizon, according to famous view is 18 Degrees.
In 1313 Hijri (1896) Maulana Lutfullah Saheb who was the Mufti of Rampur wrote a book ‘Hall ud Daqaaiq fi Tahqeeq is Subhis Sadiq’. In this book he also pointed out that Fajr time begins and Sehri ends (Subh Sadiq) when the sun is 18 Degrees below the horizon. This was reiterated by another book written in that era by Munshi Muhammad A’alaa who named his book ‘Subh Sadiq’. Both these books were endorsed by the Akaabir of Ulama e Deoband, including the likes of Sheikh ul Hind, Hadhrat Maulana Mufti Mahmud ul Hasan Saheb, Hadhrat Maulana Khalil Ahmad Saharanpuri Saheb and Mufti Aazam e Hind, Hadhrat Maulana Mufti Aziz ur Rahman Saheb (May Allah Taalaa shower his mercy upon them). (Source: research on Subh Sadiq and Shafaq Pg 80,81. By Moulana Yaqub Qasmi).
As well as these great people, Hadhrat Moulana Ashraf Ali Thanwi RA, Mufti Shafi, Mufti Wali Hassan Tonqi, Mufti Raza Ul Haq, Moulana Yusuf Binnori, and Moulana Zafar Ahmad Usmani and present day Ulama/Akaabir such as Hadhrat Mufti Muhammad Taqi Uthmani Saheb are of the same view. This is confirmed in Mufti Taqi Uthmani’s Fatwa, below:
Answer By Mufti Muhammad Taqi Saheb:
After a good deal of research and continuing observation my father Mufti Muhammad Shafi as well as other 99% of the Ulama in Pakistan and India are unanimous on the point that the time of Isha and Fajr begins when the Sun is 18 degree below the horizon. This basis has been confirmed by scientific as well as religious research carried by a large number of scholars in both fields.
Hadhrat Mufti Muhammad Shafee Saheb RA and Muhaddith e Kabeer Moulana Muhammad Yusuf Binnori Saheb RA, after initially agreeing with the 15 degrees opinion of Hadhrat Mufti Rashid Ahmad Ludhyaanwi Saheb RA, retracted their opinions: “after repeated observations and research of many books, they have concluded the 18 degrees for Subh Sadiq to be the correct view.” (See Fataawaa Uthmani Vol 1 Pg 387, Mufti Muhammad Taqi Utmani DB). (Attached Fatwa No 5)
In the presence of the former Mufti e Aazam of India, Hadhrat Mufti Mahmood ul Hasan Saheb Gangohi RA, a senior Khalifah of Hadhrat Sheikh ul Hadith Moulana Muhammad Zakariya Saheb Khandhelwi RA, senior Ulama of the UK decided on 18 degrees being the time for Subh Sadiq. (29th May 1983 in Howard St Masjid Bradford, conference held by Jamiat Ulama Britain). (See attached No 6)
Senior Ulama in this country including Moulana Saleem Dhorat, Mufti Ismail Kacholvi Saheb, Mufti Yusuf Sacha Saheb and Moulana Ayyub Surti Bande Elahi are all of the opinion of 18 Degrees.
Recently, apart from one Masjid, (Masjid al Falah) all the Masajid in Leicester have adopted the 18 Degrees timetable. The Masajid of Dewsbury, Batley, South London and many others throughout the country have been following this timetable for quite a few years.
The 15 Degrees timetable
This is the view of Mufti Rasheed Ahmad Ludhyaanwi RA. His evidence can be found in Ahsan ul Fatwa (P.164 V.2). This is a view respected by many, due to the sheer knowledge of Hadhrat Mufti Saheb , but not widely practiced upon. What has now come out in the open through the essay of Moulana Shabbir Ahmad Kakakheel RA, (this essay in Urdu is available on request) is that Hadhrat enforced an 18 Degrees timetable for the end of fast, and a 15 Degrees timetable for the beginning of Fajr Salah, in his Darul Iftaa. This is extreme caution, which befits this great Aalim and Wali. (May Allah shower him with his mercy)
In light of what is written one may conclude that the most cautious approach in Salah times is to follow the opinions of our past and present Akaabir. That is the 18 degrees timetable. I sincerely appeal to all responsible Ulama/people to take this matter seriously and act upon what is right and correct. Always remember: Our loyalty should be with Allah and his Rasool Sallal lahu Alaihi Wasallam.
And Allah knows best