بسم الله الرحمن الرحيم
Alhumdulillah Ta'ala it is a blessing of the Almighty that the Ummah is becoming interested in salah times and whether the salah they are performing is performed at the correct time or not. Hizbul Ulama have recently published an article which aimed to respond to the leaflets that I produced and were distributed countrywide. In this article, I would like to present the reasons why I cannot accept Hizbul Ulama's arguments that have been presented in the article.
For the remainder of this article, for the sake of clarity, I will quote major portions of the article in red and offer reasons why many Ulama in the country have rejected this timetable in black.
The visit of Hazrat Mufti Mahmudul Hasan Gangohi RA-Let me take you back almost 30 years when we were fortunate enough to receive the personality of Hazrat Molana Mufti Mahmudul Hasan Gangohi RA. Hazrat attended a gathering in Jamia Masjid, Howard Street, Bradford on 29 May 1983 at a time when there were several methods followed for prayer times in the UK based on solar depression angles and fixed times for Isha etc. Hazrat tried to resolve this issue of differences by ruling that in the absence of a mushahadah it will be permissible to adopt any of the methods, provided one does not follow one’s own whim and vain desires, and that no one should consider the other person wrong. Everyone’s ibadat will be accepted InshaAllah. How excellent this advice was from this noble personality but alas we are so unfortunate that as soon as Hazrat leaves the Country we are left fighting about salah timings.
My first concern here is the use of the phrase in the "absence of mushahadah it will be permissible to adopt any of the methods". This goes against the document that came about as a result at the meeting which stated categorically that the previous adoption of Nautical Twilight (12 degrees) was wrong and the actual time of Subh Sadiq is at Astronomical Twilight ie. 18 degrees. The only places when people have a choice is when [in the Summer months] astronomical twilight does not occur. In this situation he says people have four choices, however he has preferred the nearest day method (for more details on this methods see here). Here is the agreement scanned and now translated. If Hizbul Ulama have a document that says: 1) That this was a measure as a result of not having done any mushahadah or (2) it is permissible to adopt any of the methods instead of 18 degrees or (3) Everyone's 'ibadat will be accepted inshaAllah, I kindly request that this may be made available to all. [Hizbul Ulama have recently updated their article, the reference still fails to use the words "in the absence of mushahadah".]
The arguments continued repeatedly amongst the community, and people were becoming fed-up and getting more and more frustrated until finally the good news arrived that with one voice of the people and committees of Masajids the community were heading towards resolving this issue just as it resolved the Moon sighting issue before at Darul Uloom Bury under the supervision of Hizbul Ulama UK and Jamiatul Ulama Britain on 28 December 1986. Mushahadat to resolve problem – 70 years previously Hakimul Ummat Hazrat Thanvi RA referred to mushahadat in response to a questioner from Scotland before sending a timetable chart in the absence of mushahadat in the UK. We now had the chance to consider and carry out mushahadat to resolve our problems with Salat in the UK and some key members of the community and senior Ulama decided they wanted to put an end to this division once and for all and for the sake of uniting the Muslims began a year long observation of Subha Sadiq and Isha in Blackburn, Lancashire during 1987/88. When the Mushahadat was completed a meeting of Ulama was called and all three Ulama Jamaat’s at the time, Jamiyat Ulama Bartaniya, Hizbul Ulama, UK, and Markazi Jamiat Ulama, after much discussion and deliberation agreed to adopt a timetable based on the results, in the manner pointed out in Imdadul Fatawa and Bawaderun-nawadir by Hakimul Ummat Hazrat Thanvi RA. A year long mushahadah resulted in sufficient observations to construct a timetable and apply the gaps observed to other cities. The Ulama present signed an agreement to adopt the timetables and people left the gathering happy that they had achieved a major success in uniting on this controversial issue.
At this point I would like to make it clear that I have no doubts about the sincerity and hard work of these Ulama. They stayed awake at night to observe 'Isha and Fajr times for the sake of the Ummah and inshaAllah, their reward is with Allah Ta'ala. The major point in this text is the statement that the timetable was produced in the manner pointed out in Imdadul Fatawa and Bawadirun Nawadir. I recently received a scanned copy of the exact pages referred to by Hizbul Ulama. Having looked through the text, it appears there has been some misunderstanding of the text because the methodology of Maulana Ashraf Ali Thanwi رحمه الله includes the following criteria:
1) That observations should occur on either the 12th of the lunar month at the time of moon set (because according to Maulana Thanwi this is the time of Subh Sadiq) or on the 26th of the lunar month at the time of moon rise (because according to Maulana Thanwi this is also when Subh Sadiq occurs).
2) He mentions that his methodology is only correct for places around Thana Bowen in India.
3) He says that the time between sunrise and Fajr is the same as between 'Isha and sunset.
Hizbul Ulama have with the greatest respect not followed any of these principles. The observations were random and not on the 12th and 26th of the month. We haven't even been provided with the lunar dates. Some months have only two observations, July has zero observations. See original observation reports here.
The methodology has been applied to the UK which is not Maulana Thanwi's advise.
Hizbul Ulama in their books have clearly rejected the idea that the time between sunrise and Fajr is the same as between 'Isha and sunset. Their timetable proves otherwise, people are free to check this on their yearly timetable.
If there are any other fatawa that state that random dates can be observed and these used to produce a timetable for an entire country, evidence should be provided.
No one has a monopoly on truth and where there are genuine fiqhi differences no one should be accused of being wrong. Last year Mufti Taqi Usmani Sahib and Maulana Khalid Saifullah Rahmani, two of our top scholars of the present day, during their visits to the UK both made a point of explaining this principle, in direct response to questions being asked about these divisive issues. Mufti Taqi Sab is well aware of the differences as he held a meeting five years ago with Hizbul Ulama, UK to find out the full facts about the mushahadah. Mufti sab had also already read the books produced on the issue prior to the meeting with Hizbul Ulama UK.
Mufti Taqi Uthmani was asked last year and also during his visit in July of his views on Fajr and 'Isha times, he said that 18 degrees is the correct methodology. It is clear from Hizbul Ulama's statement that his views were not said in ignorance but rather after reading Hizbul Ulama's literature and meeting with them.
Questions to Mufti Rafi Usmani Sab-Maulana Saleem Dhorat Sab posed a series of questions to Hazrat Mufti Azam first by giving the context of Leicester where he said some Masjids used the mushahadah timetable when Maulana took over the running of Masjid Noor. After a great deal of discussion with the ulama especially with the respected Imam of Masjid Al Falah, Molana learnt that the times were based on“the mushahadah of several mo’tabar ulama and supported by the ulama of Jamiyat Ulama, Hizbul Ulama and Markazi Jamiyat Ulama at a meeting attended by a countless number of Ulama and Muftiyane Kiram from the UK”, and all the Masjids in Leicester adopted this timetable at the time. Later Jame Masjid and Masjid Bukhari shifted from this timetable and adopted 18 degrees. Molana explains that he felt confident of the timetable of Masjid Noor and others based on the mushahadah but desired that there should be unity amongst all the Leicester Masjids. Masjid Noor later adopted 18 degrees after Molana read a pamphlet by Molana Yaqub Qasmi sab. Molana then wrote to Mufti Rafi Usmani Sab to seek clarity.
Responding to questions from Maulana Saleem Dhorat sahib on the mushahadah timetables, Mufti Sahib said, in the case of sehri and fajar, Shari’ah basis its times on mushahadah, not science. As it is unlikely that Mushahadah was carried out for a full year in a country like the UK, but only for a few days, and if after carrying out mushahadah for those few days, the ulama have found a gap of 1 hour and 35 minutes and Qiyas was used to fill the remainder of days, this will be permissible. It will be permissible to follow this timetable not just for those who express confidence in the mushahadah but also permissible for those who have some doubt about it. In a country like UK where mushahadah is not possible for a full year shariah has allowed “Zanne Galib” and it will be permissible to act on this Zanne Galib principle.
With regards to this, it is sufficient to say that in Mufti Rafi' Uthmani's book; Nawadirul Fiqh he has given preference for the people of the UK to follow 18 degrees. This is the practice of the Maulana Saleem Dhorat's institute and whatever is written above must be substantiated. For those interested they can see the whole fatwa and question here.
To conclude, from the evidences we have to hand all what was said on the previous leaflet stands. What Hizbul Ulama have quoted especially in relation to following the methodology of Maulana Ashraf Ali Thanwi is a clear misinterpretation of the text which is now available for the public to read. Also the explanation of what Mufti Mahmudul Hasan Gangohi رحمه الله states is also an accusation as he clearly states the previous practice of 12 degrees was wrong and that 18 degrees is correct.
The idea presented by Hizbul Ulama is that 18 degrees is not based on any observations, this is an accusation and is incorrect. Ulama all over the world including the UK have observed Subh Sadiq at 18 degrees. So it is not a question of Mushahadah Vs 18 degrees which has been incorrectly portrayed, it's Hizbul Ulama methodology of Mushahadah vs Mushahadah of many others that substantiate 18 degrees. See observation of Preston Ulama here, see Canadian Ulama's report here, see details of Maulana Shabbir Ahmed Kakakhel here and see details of Maulana Ahmed Reza Barelvi'shere (see page 6). All these observations prove that Subh Sadiq occurs at 18 degrees. The Hizbul Ulama timetable has been rejected for reasons of accuracy which have been mentioned previously and have been mentioned in the Fatawa ofDarul Ulum Karachi (Mufti Taqi’s signature is at the end) and Mufti Ismail Barkordrawi (Kantharia). For those who cannot read Urdu, both fatawa state categorically that there are major errors with the Hizbul Ulama timetable.
If Hizbul Ulama can provide fatawa that state that it is permissible to follow their timetable, I await them being made available.
I await explanations with the clarity that I have provided in this article.
غفرله و لوالديه