by Imam Muhammad Shoyaib Nurgat
The issue of the correct time of Subh Sadiq has become particularly prominent this Ramadhan, as there is a difference of nearly two hours between our Subh Sadiq time and that of other Masajid. Many people have approached me with their concerns which I have Alhamdulillah addressed. I have recorded these Q&A’s on paper for distribution, with the hope that it removes any doubt for many people and results in their keeping of their fast at the correct time. First of all, one should be aware that once a person is conscious of the truth then he must not hide it for fear of backlash from the community or anyone else. Suppression of the truth was the reason behind the destruction of many nations before us. The Holy Qur’aan warns of hiding or withholding the truth:
“Who can be more unjust than the one who conceals the testimony he has from Allah?” (2:140)
In the Hadith a very clear warning can be found: "Those who conceal something (a religious truth) that they know when asked about it will have a bridle of fire put on them on the Day of Resurrection." (Abu Dawood/ Tirmidhi)
In light of the above verses and the Hadith one can understand the consequences of suppressing the truth. My respected brothers and sisters, the truth has to be told and people must be guided on the correct method, whether it pleases or displeases someone. Now, let me get to the FAQ’s on this issue:
Question: It is common belief that we should follow our local Masajid or Marakiz. Is this way of thinking correct?
Answer: No, it is not correct, as there are only four forms of evidences accepted by our Holy Shariah:
1) The Holy Qur’aan 2) Ahadith 3) Ijmaa e Ummat 4) Qiyaas
Masajid are not part of these FOUR principles. We need to follow what is right in light of the four principles.
Question: There are many Masajid who are following the Hizb ul Ulama the so called ‘Mushahadah’ time, so why are we as a minor-ity following a different time?
Answer: I will come on to the Mushahadah timetable later on, but let me tell you: Our Holy Shariah has not deemed the minority or the majority as a criterion for determining truth or falsehood. Rather if one looks at the Qur’aan and Hadith one will clearly see that on many occasions it is the minority that are on the correct path. Let me quote examples of each:
The Holy Qur’aan states: “But few (Qaleelum) of my slaves are grateful.” (Surah 34 Verse 13)
“And many of them were ‘Fasiqun’.” (Katheerum) (Surah 57 Verse 16)
A Hadith of Prophet (salallahu alayhi wassallam) states: “There will always be a ‘Taa’ifah’ (group) from my Ummah that will be helped on the truth, their enemies will not be able to harm them, until the order of Allah arrives, (meaning Qiyamah).” Sahih Bukhari/Muslim
Those familiar with the Arabic language are aware that ‘Taa’ifah’ means a small group. Therefore, this Hadith clarifies that a minority group, even if it is one individual, can be on the path of truth, even if the whole world is opposed to them. Through the Qur’aanic verses and the Hadith one can conclude that the self made criterion that, ‘the majority is Haq, whereas the minority is wrong and Baatil’, is indeed false and incorrect.
Question: Why can’t we follow the Hizb ul Ulama ‘Mushahadah’ timetable like the rest, so our Suhoor can also be two hours later?
Answer: It is not correct to follow that time for many reasons. Let me explain: The Holy Qur’aan has declared the time of Subh Sadiq thus: "Eat and drink until the white thread of dawn becomes distinct to you from the black thread". (Al Baqarah 2:187)
The time for Subh Sadiq is at the crack of dawn or the first speck of light on the eastern horizon, after which darkness ends and the light of morning spreads. The majority of the Fuqaha/Jurists have preferred the crack of dawn to be the time of Subh Sadiq. The fatwa given in the Hanafi Madhab is also on this opinion. (Fataawa Shaami 1:357)
All the scholars of the past and present have practised this opinion.
The Hizb ul Ulama timetable, in which Suhoor ends two hours after our time table, is claimed to be based on the time when the light of Subh Sadiq spreads and covers the horizon. This is known as ‘Tabyeen’. Acting upon Tabyeen is bad enough as it is against cau-tion. In matters of obligatory Ibaadat, caution is of great importance. Further, I use the word ‘claimed’ as in reality there are many problems attached with the so called ‘Mushahadah’; Mushahadah means ‘visual observation’. People have been led to believe that the Hizb ul Ulama times have been set after a year long observation of Subh Sadiq. This is far from the truth. According to their own writings only Twenty one days of successful Fajr observations and Twenty two days of successful Isha observations were carried out and out of these, only ELEVEN days are recorded. There were NO observations for the months of January and July, and only one ob-servation was carried out in April.
Can a timetable in which 343 days of observation, including TWO whole months , were missed out, be deemed a timetable of Mushahadah? How and according to what criteria were the other Subh Sadiq times fixed? No satisfactory, Shariah compliant, explanation has been provided by Hizb ul Ulama on this issue to date. Correspondence on this issue is available upon request.
Another problem with the Hizb ul Ulama times are that they themselves are not following their own observed times! As I said earlier, only 11 observations are recorded. Out of the 11 observations, the observations carried out on May 15th, May 21st, May 25th , 6th June, 13th June, 7th August and 16th August DO NOT match the times they have given to the Masajid to announce. If the Hizb ul Ulama do not have confidence in their own observations, how can they expect the learned Ulama to go against the Subh Sadiq times agreed upon and observed by the majority of Ulama and astronomers throughout the centuries?
The conclusion is that we are not following the claimed Hizb ul Ulama ‘Mushahadah’ timetable because:
A) It contradicts its own observations
B) There were no observations made throughout the majority of the year
C) The times have been set according to a formula not acceptable in our Holy Shariah
D) The observations of Blackburn, Lancashire cannot be used to fix the Subh Sadiq times throughout the UK
E) Two out of the original so called 'Expert observers' have signed statements saying that they did not go out to ob-serve frequently as claimed; rather they were only present for up to 2 to 5 observations. The third of those original ob-servers have come out with a timetable of his own. This makes a mockery of the claims that all observers were experts. If an observer himself does not have confidence on his own observations so much so that he decided to create a timeta-ble of his own, how can anyone have confidence in those observations!
Let me end this question on the conclusion of an answer given by Chief justice Hadhrat Mufti Taqi Uthmani Saheb DB when he was sent this Hizb ul Ulama ‘Mushahadah’ timetable for approval/endorsement:
1. Shafaq e Abyadh occurs when the sun is 18 degrees below the horizon as does Subh Sadiq. This is the opinion of (Quote) the majority of Ulama and those acquainted with the knowledge of astronomy. There are some who hold the opinion that Shafaq e Abyadh occurs when the Sun is 15 degrees below the horizon.
2. The Mushahadah times you have sent are even BEFORE the time of 15 degrees. Hence (quote) THIS CAN NEVER BE COR-RECT. Subh Sadiq occurs before your Mushahadah times.
3. An explanation is given as to why this mistake has occurred in the Mushahadah (visual observations). (Quote) “The changing of seasons, not having the experience of doing Mushahadah and not having the full knowledge of Subh Sadiq has led to this mistake. Hence PREPARE A TIMETABLE ACCORDING TO 18 Degrees and follow that”.
4. “Yes, it is correct that the time span between Subh Sadiq and Sunrise is the same as the time span between sunset and Shafaq e Abyadh.” (Original Fatwa available on request)
Question: So what about the times you are following; where did you get them from and what makes them correct?
Answer: The Subh Sadiq time adopted by us is based on the research of hundreds of years. First of all, let me quote Allamah Shaami RA, the authority in the field of Fatawa whom every Mufti quotes to authenticate their Fatwa. He has advocated 18 de-grees to 19 Degrees as the time of Subh Sadiq. (See Radd ul Mukhtaar, Vol 2, Pg 93) Various institutes that are referred to for the Fajr and Isha times currently in use in many countries consider 18 degrees as the minimum degree for calculating Fajr time. For example, Muslim World League (MWL), Umm al-Qura, Makkah, and the University of Islamic Sciences, Karachi. The present day timetable of Darul Uloom Deoband is based on 18 degrees.
It is a known fact that the majority of the Muslim World have based their Subh Sadiq times on 18 Degrees. Apart from this, great scholars such as the likes of Sheikh ul Hind, Hadhrat Maulana Mufti Mahmud ul Hasan Saheb RA, Hadhrat Maulana Khalil Ahmad Saharanpuri Saheb RA, Hadhrat Moulana Ashraf Ali Thanwi Saheb RA, Allamah Yusuf Binnori RA and many other re-nowned Ulama have endorsed the Subh Sadiq time based on the sun being 18 degrees below the horizon.
The fatwa above shows that one of the most authentic authorities of this era, Hadhrat Mufti Taqi Uthmani Saheb DB, is also of this view. In 1983, in front of many Ulama, a unanimous decision was reached in a gathering headed by the late Mufti e Aazam Hind Hadhrat Mufti Mahmood ul Hasan Saheb Gangohi RA that Shafaq e Abyadh occurs when the sun is 18 degrees below the horizon, as does Subh Sadiq. This agreement was countersigned by the late Hadhrat Mufti Maqbool Ahmad Saheb of Glasgow, who was one of the most senior Muftis of the UK at the time.
Question: My knowledge tells me that Mushahadah takes precedent over an Astronomy based time. Is this correct?
Answer: Yes this is correct. This is the reason why Ulama over the years have undertaken the task of Mushahadah/ visual ob-servation throughout the world. Their observations have matched the times of 18 Degrees. Such observations have been car-ried out here in the UK in places such as Glasgow, London, Batley and Preston. Recently (2012) observations have been carried out on Walton-on-the-Naze by Ulama and laymen from London; Alhamdulillah the observations have matched the 18 degree time.
Question: Is it only the Indian subcontinent Ulama insisting on 18 Degrees time for Subh Sadiq?
Answer: No; far from it, the former grand Mufti of Saudi Arabia Sheikh Abdulaziz ibn Abdullah ibn Baz (May Allah Shower his mercy upon him) was of this view, as is Sheikh Salih ibn Foozan ibn Abdullah Al-Foozan and Sheikh Muhammad ibn Abdullah ibn Subayyil as well as many other prominent Scholars of the Islamic world as you can see from the ruling below:
(This is Part of The Translation of the Decree from the Muslim World League (Notes concerning other times have been deleted; full transcript could be accessed on: http://reocities.com/athens/8383/computing.html)
In the Name of Allah, the Compassionate, the Merciful.
In its ninth session, the Fiqh Council deliberated in the Muslim World League building in Makkah Al-Mukarramah be-tween the dates of Saturday, 12 Rajab 1406 AH and Saturday, 19 Rajab 1406 AH regarding times for prayers and fasting at extreme latitudes.
In conformance with the lenient spirit of Islamic Law and the findings provided by the Council of Astronomers, the [Fiqh] Council decrees the following:
1. In order to avoid the confusion caused by multiple computational methods, each prayer time is de-scribed in two ways: the astronomical phenomenon specified in Islamic Law and the corresponding astronomi-cal calculation. The latter is expressed in terms of the position of the sun above or below the horizon. Islamic scholars of prayer times determined the following:
a) Fajr corresponds to the first appearance of a white light that spreads laterally across the horizon. This is referred to as true dawn and corresponds to when the sun is 18 degrees below the eastern horizon...
[Signed] Dr. Abdullah Umar Naseef Vice President
Abdulaziz ibn Abdullah ibn Baz President of the Fiqh Council
Dr. Talal Umar Bafaqeeh Reporter of the Islamic Fiqh Council
Muhammad ibn Jubayr, Abdullah Aal Abdurrahman Al-Bassam, Salih ibn Foozan ibn Abdullah Al-Foozan,
Muhammad ibn Abdullah ibn Subayyil, Mustafa Ahmad Al-Zarqa'
22.214.171.124. [Handwritten note:] I opine that the extremes of day and night for different seasons in Hejaz or the entire Arabian Peninsula form a basis for measurement of prayer times at extreme latitudes.
Muhammad Mahmood Al-Sawwaf, Salih ibn Uthaymayn, Muhammad Rasheed Kabbani, Muhammad Al-Shathili Al-Nayfir, Abu Bakr Joomy, Dr. Ahmad Fahmy Abu Sinnah, Muhammad Al-Habeeb ibn Al-Khojah, Dr. Bakr Abu Zayd, Yu-suf Al-Qaradhawi, Muhammad Salim ibn Abdulwadood,Abu Al-Hasan Ali Al-Hasani Al-Nadawi
The same Fatwa was also adopted by the European Council for Fatwa and Research (www.e-cfr.org) in its 11th conference (decision #1) and again in its 12th conference (decision #2). The Fatwa clearly indicates that that time of Isha enters when the Sun is 17° below the horizon and the time of Fajr enters when the Sun is 18° below the horizon. The Fatwa also indicated the method to estimate the times of Isha and Fajr in regions of high latitude when the signs of Fajr and Isha are no longer visible.
Question: What is the position on this issue of the Brelwi School of thought?
Answer: The position of Aala Hazrat Moulana Ahmad Raza Khan RA is clear he refutes the 15 degree position and says that thousands of observations are witness that the Subh Sadiq true dawn begins when the sun is 18 degrees below the horizon. (Al Fataawa al Rizawia Volume 10 page 570.) In fact a whole book has been written by Moulana Ahmad Raza Khan RA on the issue of Subh Sadiq this can be accessed on this link: http://www.scribd.com/doc/9403471/Alahazrats-Books-079Dara-alQub-an-Darki-Waqtis-ub
Question: Is there any clear ruling from the Faqih of this era Mufti Muhammad Taqi Usmani?
Answer : Yes; see the email from Mufti Muhammad Taqi Sahib below:
From: 'Justice Muhammad Taqi Usmani'
Sent: 21 August 2011 11:21
To: 'Moulana Hanif Dudhwala'
Subject: RE: Suhoor & Fajar
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 (RA) 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 per-forms 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 احتياط 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. Wassalam
Muhammad Taqi Usmani
Question: What is the term used in the English language for 'Subh Sadiq'?
Answer: True dawn, this is the time at which the sun is 18 degrees below the horizon in the morning. Astronomical dawn is that point in time at which the sun starts lightening the sky. Prior to this time, the sky is completely dark
Question: Why can't we also act upon caution and end suhoor at 18 degrees and perform Fajr at 15 degrees?
Answer: We are living in a high latitude location (UK) where conditions are not normal, as we can see in the winter months sun-set is at 4-00pm whilst in summer months it increases to 9-30pm. Pakistan, Saudi Arabia etc., are located near the equator, they enjoy perfect conditions, there is no major difference in their day and night throughout the year, hence the difference between 18 degrees and 15 degrees would only be between 12-15 minutes whereas here in the UK it could be as much as a few hours.
Question: There seems to be a lot of movement between each days Suhoor times in this month, between 5 to 10 minutes?
Answer: These times although they appear to be moving abnormally are times calculated according to 18 degrees. These calcu-lations are based on worldwide observations which show that Subh Sadiq occurs at this time and are therefore should be ac-cepted as correct. The scientific explanation given for this is: As the declination of the sun increases, the slope of the path de-creases resulting in increase of the duration of the twilight.
I do hope and pray that this information removes your doubts and you observe your fast confident that what you are acting upon is correct and in accordance with the decision of a great number of past and present prominent scholars.
And Allah knows best.
This is a very brief article. Gain in-depth knowledge on this issue by visiting: www.wifaqululama.co.uk