ʿIshāʾ at High Latitudes?

Please pro­vide guid­ance on how Isha should be cal­cu­lat­ed at high lat­i­tude. There are prob­lems with per­pet­u­al twi­light and prob­lems when Isha occurs but hap­pens extreme­ly late, can Harj be tak­en into account dur­ing these late Isha times and if so how should Harj be calculated? 

In the Name of Allah, the Most Gra­cious, the Most Merciful.

As-salā­mu ‘alaykum wa-rah­mat­ul­lāhi wa-barakātuh

This issue was dis­cussed at a meet­ing in Pre­ston at the Al-Ansaar Wel­fare & Edu­ca­tion (140–142 Garstang Rd, Ful­wood, Pre­ston PR2 8NA) on the 11th of Novem­ber 2018 for over 7 hours, the con­clu­sions of the meet­ing are record­ed in this article.

Imām Ibn ʿĀbidīn 1 makes a men­tion of a place called Bul­ghār. This place is described as being north of the then Ottoman Empire, a place where ʿIshā time does not occur in sev­er­al months of the year and one where it is extreme­ly cold. There is an obvi­ous pos­si­bil­i­ty that this is Bol­gar (Spassky Dis­trict, Repub­lic of Tatarstan) which is locat­ed at 54.9671° latitude.

These are the excep­tion­al cir­cum­stances for the lack of or late occur­rence ofʿIshā at Bul­ghār:

وَفَاقِدُ وَقْتِهِمَا كَبُلْغَارَ ، فَإِنَّ فِيهَا يَطْلُعُ الْفَجْرُ قَبْلَ غُرُوبِ الشَّفَقِ فِي أَرْبَعِينِيَّةِ الشِّتَاءِ ( مُكَلَّفٌ بِهِمَا فَيُقَدِّرُ لَهُمَا ) [ ص: 363 ] وَلَا يَنْوِي الْقَضَاءَ لِفَقْدِ وَقْتِ الْأَدَاءِ بِهِ أَفْتَى الْبُرْهَانُ الْكَبِيرُ وَاخْتَارَهُ الْكَمَالُ ، وَتَبِعَهُ ابْنُ الشِّحْنَةِ فِي أَلْغَازِهِ فَصَحَّحَهُ ، فَزَعَمَ الْمُصَنِّفُ أَنَّهُ الْمَذْهَبُ ( وَقِيلَ لَا ) يُكَلَّفُ بِهِمَا لِعَدَمِ سَبَبِهِمَا ، وَبِهِ جَزَمَ فِي الْكَنْزِ وَالدُّرَرِ وَالْمُلْتَقَى وَبِهِ أَفْتَى الْبَقَّالِيُّ ، وَوَافَقَهُ الْحَلْوَانِيُّ والمرغيناني وَرَجَّحَهُ الشُّرُنْبُلَالِيُّ وَالْحَلَبِيُّ ، وَأَوْسَعَا الْمَقَالَ وَمَنَعَا مَا ذَكَرَهُ الْكَمَالُ [ ص: 364 — 365 ] قُلْت : وَلَا يُسَاعِدُهُ حَدِيثُ الدَّجَّالِ ; لِأَنَّهُ وَإِنْ وَجَبَ أَكْثَرُ مِنْ ثَلَثِمِائَةِ ظُهْرٍ [ ص: 366 ] مَثَلًا قَبْلَ الزَّوَالِ لَيْسَ كَمَسْأَلَتِنَا ; لِأَنَّ الْمَفْقُودَ فِيهِ الْعَلَامَةُ لَا الزَّمَانُ ، وَأَمَّا فِيهَا فَقَدْ فُقِدَ الْأَمْرَانِ .

مَطْلَبٌ فِي فَاقِدِ وَقْتِ الْعِشَاءِ كَأَهْلِ بُلْغَارَ

. ( قَوْلُهُ : كَبُلْغَارَ ) بِضَمِّ الْبَاءِ الْمُوَحَّدَةِ فَسُكُونِ اللَّامِ وَأَلِفٍ بَيْنَ الْغَيْنِ الْمُعْجَمَةِ وَالرَّاءِ ، لَكِنَّ ضَبْطَهُ فِي الْقَامُوسِ بِلَا أَلِفٍ . وَقَالَ : وَالْعَامَّةُ تَقُولُ بُلْغَارُ : وَهِيَ مَدِينَةُ الصَّقَالِبَةِ ضَارِبَةٌ فِي الشَّمَالِ شَدِيدَةُ الْبَرْدِ ا هـ .

( قَوْلُهُ : فَإِنَّ فِيهَا يَطْلُعُ الْفَجْرُ قَبْلَ غُرُوبِ الشَّفَقِ ) مُقْتَضَاهُ أَنَّهُ فُقِدَ وَقْتُ الْعِشَاءِ وَالْوِتْرِ فَقَطْ وَلَيْسَ كَذَلِكَ ، بَلْ فُقِدَ وَقْتُ الْفَجْرِ أَيْضًا ; لِأَنَّ ابْتِدَاءَ وَقْتِ الصُّبْحِ طُلُوعُ الْفَجْرِ ، وَطُلُوعُ الْفَجْرِ يَسْتَدْعِي سَبْقَ الظَّلَامِ وَلَا ظَلَامَ مَعَ بَقَاءِ الشَّفَقِ أَفَادَهُ ح .

أَقُولُ : الْخِلَافُ الْمَنْقُولُ بَيْنَ مَشَايِخِ الْمَذْهَبِ إنَّمَا هُوَ فِي وُجُوبِ الْعِشَاءِ وَالْوِتْرِ فَقَطْ ، وَلَمْ نَرَ أَحَدًا مِنْهُمْ تَعَرَّضَ لِقَضَاءِ الْفَجْرِ فِي هَذِهِ الصُّورَةِ ، وَإِنَّمَا الْوَاقِعُ فِي كَلَامِهِمْ تَسْمِيَتُهُ فَجْرًا ; لِأَنَّ الْفَجْرَ عِنْدَهُمْ اسْمٌ لِلْبَيَاضِ الْمُنْتَشِرِ فِي الْأُفُقِ مُوَافِقًا لِلْحَدِيثِ الصَّحِيحِ كَمَا مَرَّ بِلَا تَقْيِيدٍ بِسَبْقِ ظَلَامٍ . عَلَى أَنَّا لَا نُسَلِّمُ عَدَمَ الظَّلَامِ هُنَا ، ثُمَّ رَأَيْت ط ذَكَرَ نَحْوَهُ

The peo­ple of Bul­ghār, as dis­cussed by Imām al-Mar­jānī, adopt­ed a num­ber of posi­tions rather than agree­ing upon one posi­tion when it came to the two prayers in extreme circumstances.

  • Some con­sid­ered that ʿIshā was no longer com­pul­so­ry due to the absence of its sabab.
    Imām al-Mar­jānī dis­agrees with this position.
  • Some con­sid­ered it valid by adopt­ing a pre­cau­tious atti­tude, how­ev­er for fear that it may not be a com­pul­so­ryprayer, prayed it indi­vid­u­al­ly; due to posi­tion of the Ḥanafī school of
    not pray­ing a supereroga­to­ry prayer, which it may be, in congregation.
  • Some prayed it by adopt­ing the school of Imām Mālik or Imām Shā­fiʿī or oth­er Fuqahā. In oth­er words they viewed it com­pul­so­ry and prayed it by util­is­ing their meth­ods as detailed below in excep­tion­al circumstances.
  • Some were of the view that the prayer time had occurred because the shafaq that need­ed to be con­sid­ered was al-Shafaq al-Aḥmar, which had dis­ap­pered. There­fore this is refer­ring to those days in which it would disappear.
  • Some were of the view that the shafaq should dis­ap­pear in the direc­tion of the hori­zon in which the Sun has set; in oth­er words the west­ern hori­zon. The light on the east­ern hori­zon was con­sid­ered as the start of dawn. As as result the night was split into two (Niṣf al-Layl), the first half rep­re­sent­ing night and the sec­ond half repere­sent­ing dawn. So they would not eat after half the night if they were fast­ing the next day.
  • Some prayed ʿIshāʾ but with the view that it was a Qaḍā of the ʿIshāʾ from the night before.
  • Some prayed ʿIshāʾ after half the night was over, in the sec­ond half of the night.
  • Some would calu­late based upon the coun­tries close to them who con­tin­ued to have shafaq disappearing.

Prayer times are cal­cu­lat­ed based on the lat­i­tude of a city. Here is table of four British cities with dis­tinct lat­i­tudes as follows:

  1. Lon­don (51.5074° latitude)
  2. Stoke-on-Trent (53.0027° latitude)
  3. Glas­gow (55.8642° latitude)
  4. Aberdeen (57.1497° latitude)

The prayer times of these four cities give us a good approx­i­ma­tion of the chal­lenges fac­ing the Mus­lim com­mu­ni­ty in Britain. The geo­graph­i­cal loca­tion of these four cities also presents the argu­ment that much of Britain is close to or beyond the lat­i­tude of Bul­ghār.

It can be deduced there­fore that remains oblig­a­tory on Mus­lims in Britain and in oth­er high lat­i­tude coun­tries but there is scope for adjust­ing the Salah times based on Haraj (dif­fi­cul­ty) in the North­ern Hemi­sphere. The ques­tion then becomes as to how this Haraj (dif­fi­cul­ty) should be calculated?

We looked at sun­rise and sun­set times from 48° to 66° degrees lat­i­tude on the short­est and the longest day of the year in the North­ern Hemisphere.

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Ishāʾ (al-Shafaq al-Aḥmar) at 15° degrees:

We have artic­u­lat­ed and giv­en the posi­tion of the schol­ars that Faj’r occurs at 18° degrees. In Astro­nom­i­cal terms it is also the dis­ap­pear­ance of the white twi­light (al-Shafaq al-Abyadh). Imām Ibn ʿĀbidīn (RA) has writ­ten that the dif­fer­ence between the (set­ting of the) two twi­lights i.e. between al-Shafaq al-Abyadh and is al-Shafaq al-Aḥmar is 3° degrees.

ذَكَرَ الْعَلَّامَةُ الْمَرْحُومُ الشَّيْخُ خَلِيلٌ الْكَامِلِيُّ فِي حَاشِيَتِهِ عَلَى رِسَالَةِ الأسطرلاب لِشَيْخِ مَشَايِخِنَا الْعَلَّامَةِ الْمُحَقِّقِ عَلِيٍّ أَفَنْدِي الدَّاغِسْتَانِيِّ أَنَّ التَّفَاوُتَ بَيْنَ الْفَجْرَيْنِ وَكَذَا بَيْنَ الشَّفَقَيْنِ الْأَحْمَرِ وَالْأَبْيَضِ إنَّمَا هُوَ بِثَلَاثِ دُرَجٍ

Thus it can be rea­son­ably deduced that if Ishāʾ is cal­cu­lat­ed at the set­ting of al-Shafaq al-Abyadh at 18° degrees then 15° degrees is the set­ting of the al-Shafaq al-Aḥmar.

Des­ig­nat­ing the start of Ishā to be the set­ting of al-Shafaq al-Aḥmar is a sound opin­ion with­in the Hanafi Madhab.

( وَ ) وَقْتُ ( الْمَغْرِبِ مِنْهُ إلَى ) غُرُوبِ ( الشَّفَقِ وَهُوَ الْحُمْرَةُ ) عِنْدَهُمَا ، وَبِهِ قَالَتْ الثَّلَاثَةُ وَإِلَيْهِ رَجَعَ الْإِمَامُ كَمَا فِي شُرُوحِ الْمَجْمَعِ وَغَيْرِهَا ، فَكَانَ هُوَ الْمَذْهَبَ

( قَوْلُهُ : و إلَيْهِ رَجَعَ الْإِمَامُ ) أَيْ إلَى قَوْلِهِمَا الَّذِي هُوَ رِوَايَةٌ عَنْهُ أَيْضًا ، وَصَرَّحَ فِي الْمَجْمَعِ بِأَنَّ عَلَيْهَا الْفَتْوَى ، وَرَدَّهُ الْمُحَقِّقُ فِي الْفَتْحِ بِأَنَّهُ لَا يُسَاعِدُهُ رِوَايَةٌ وَلَا دِرَايَةٌ إلَخْ . وَقَالَ تِلْمِيذُهُ الْعَلَّامَةُ قَاسِمٌ فِي تَصْحِيحِ الْقُدُورِيِّ : إنَّ رُجُوعَهُ لَمْ يَثْبُتْ ، لِمَا نَقَلَهُ الْكَافَّةُ مِنْ لَدُنْ الْأَئِمَّةِ الثَّلَاثَةِ إلَى الْيَوْمِ مِنْ حِكَايَةِ الْقَوْلَيْنِ ، وَدَعْوَى عَمَلِ عَامَّةِ الصَّحَابَةِ بِخِلَافِهِ خِلَافُ الْمَنْقُولِ . قَالَ فِي الِاخْتِيَارِ : الشَّفَقُ الْبَيَاضُ ، وَهُوَ مَذْهَبُ الصِّدِّيقِ وَمُعَاذِ بْنِ جَبَلٍ وَعَائِشَةَ رَضِيَ اللَّهُ عَنْهُمْ . قُلْت : وَرَوَاهُ عَبْدُ الرَّزَّاقِ عَنْ أَبِي هُرَيْرَةَ وَعَنْ عُمَرَ بْنِ عَبْدِ الْعَزِيزِ ، وَلَمْ يَرْوِ الْبَيْهَقِيُّ الشَّفَقَ الْأَحْمَرَ إلَّا عَنْ ابْنِ عُمَرَ ، وَتَمَامُهُ فِيهِ . وَإِذَا تَعَارَضَتْ الْأَخْبَارُ وَالْآثَارُ فَلَا يَخْرُجُ وَقْتُ الْمَغْرِبِ بِالشَّكِّ كَمَا فِي الْهِدَايَةِ وَغَيْرِهَا . قَالَ الْعَلَّامَةُ قَاسِمٌ : فَثَبَتَ أَنَّ قَوْلَ الْإِمَامِ هُوَ الْأَصَحُّ ، وَمَشَى عَلَيْهِ فِي الْبَحْرِ مُؤَيِّدًا لَهُ بِمَا قَدَّمْنَاهُ عَنْهُ ، مِنْ أَنَّهُ لَا يُعْدَلُ عَنْ قَوْلِ الْإِمَامِ إلَّا لِضَرُورَةٍ مِنْ ضَعْفِ دَلِيلٍ أَوْ تَعَامُلٍ بِخِلَافِهِ كَالْمُزَارَعَةِ ، لَكِنَّ تَعَامُلَ النَّاسِ الْيَوْمَ فِي عَامَّةِ الْبِلَادِ عَلَى قَوْلِهِمَا ، وَقَدْ أَيَّدَهُ فِي النَّهْرِ تَبَعًا لِلنُّقَايَةِ وَالْوِقَايَةِ وَالدُّرَرِ وَالْإِصْلَاحِ وَدُرَرِ الْبِحَارِ وَالْإِمْدَادِ وَالْمَوَاهِبِ وَشَرْحِهِ الْبُرْهَانَ وَغَيْرِهِمْ مُصَرِّحِينَ بِأَنَّ عَلَيْهِ الْفَتْوَى . وَفِي السِّرَاجِ : قَوْلُهُمَا أَوْسَعُ وَقَوْلُهُ أَحْوَطُ ، وَاَللَّهُ أَعْلَمُ .

[ تَنْبِيهٌ ] قَدَّمْنَا قَرِيبًا أَنَّ التَّفَاوُتَ بَيْنَ الشَّفَقَيْنِ بِثَلَاثِ دُرَجٍ كَمَا بَيْنَ الْفَجْرَيْنِ فَلْيُحْفَظْ

The fol­low­ing Ulamā have agreed to adopt­ing 15° degrees for Ishā in Britain for the entire year, the one who did not attend the meet­ing but agree with the opin­ion are also highlighted:

  1. Mufti Rafi Usmani (HA): Agreed with the adop­tion of 15° degrees for Ishā for Leices­ter in Nawadir­ul-Fiqh
  2. Shaykhul-Hadeeth (Mufti) Taqi Usmani (HA): Did not attend the meet­ing but it was con­firmed with him that it is valid and per­mis­si­ble to adopt 15° degrees for Ishā for Britain
  3. Shaykhul-Hadeeth (Maulana) Moham­mad Ayub Bande Ilahi (HA): Did not attend the meet­ing but agrees with the adop­tion of 15° degrees for Ishā for Britain
  4. Mufti Shab­bir Ahmed (HA): Did not attend the meet­ing but it was con­firmed with him that it is valid and per­mis­si­ble to adopt 15° degrees for Ishā for Britain
  5. Mufti Ismail Kacholvi (HA): Did not attend the meet­ing but agrees with the adop­tion of 15° degrees for Ishā for Britain
  6. Mufti Ismail Patel (RA): Agreed with the adop­tion of 15° degrees for Ishā for Britain in his lifetime
  7. Maulana Marghoob Ahmed Lajpuri (HA)
  8. Qari Muham­mad Shoy­aib Nur­gat (HA)
  9. Mufti Zakariyya Aku­di (HA)
  10. Mufti Zubair Dud­ha (HA)
  11. Mufti Amjad Mohammed (HA)
  12. Mufti Yusuf Dan­ka (HA)
  13. Maulana Rafiq Sufi (HA)
  14. Maulana Hanif Dud­hwala (HA)
  15. Maulana Yusuf Shab­bir (HA)
  16. Maulana Mohammed Farook Kazi (HA)
  17. Mufti Javed Pathan (HA)
  18. Maulana Muham­mad Javed (HA)
  19. Qad­hi Imran Falahi (HA)
  20. Maulana Arif Pol­li (HA)
  21. Maulana Habibul­lah Mun­shi (HA)
  22. Maulana Zakir Dola (HA)
  23. Mufti Bilal Issak (HA)
  24. Maulana Yousaf Baig (HA): Did not attend the meet­ing but agrees with the adop­tion of 15° degrees for Ishā for Britain

Ishāʾ (Haraj):

This applies to the sce­nario whenʿIshāʾ times occurs but it occurs too late in the night. This caus­es Haraj (hard­ship and incon­ve­nience). The deci­sion reached by major­i­ty of schol­ars after a 7 hour delib­er­a­tion was that no agreed upon Nation­al solu­tion can be pro­posed since this is a grey area but there is prece­dence and prac­tise of adjust­ing the start time for ʿIshāʾ times, the 4 solu­tions pro­posed are as follows:

  • ʿIshāʾ times at each lat­i­tude should be restrict­ed to 65 min­utes after the local Astro­nom­i­cal sun­set on the longest day of the year, account­ing for the refrac­tion of sun­light. This is the lat­est sun­set at most loca­tion. This was the opin­ion of many of the Ula­ma at the meet­ing. Mufti Amjad Mohammed (HA) is of the opin­ion that this should be sug­gest­ed for the entire coun­try as an offi­cial Wifāqul Ulāmā position.
  • Ishāʾ times at each lat­i­tude should be cal­cu­lat­ed at 15° degrees and at 1/7th of night and the low­er val­ue adopt­ed. This was the opin­ion of Ula­ma from Lon­don as they artic­u­lat­ed that adopt­ing the first method for lat­i­tudes 48–52° degrees would be too late dur­ing cer­tain months and it may cause incon­ve­nience to Mus­lims, par­tic­u­lar­ly dur­ing the month of Ramad­han. The Lon­don Ula­ma sug­gest­ed this for­mu­la to be used in a prayer App.
  • Ishāʾ times should be locked at a cer­tain time regard­less of the lat­i­tude and sun­set time for our coun­try e.g. 23:00. Ishāʾ times at each lat­i­tude should be cal­cu­lat­ed at 15° degrees and if it goes beyond 23:00 it should be ignored and the time should remain locked at 23:00 until it becomes less then 23:00.
  • Local Ula­ma should look at Haraj for their indi­vid­ual com­mu­ni­ties, dis­cuss and delib­er­ate with Senior schol­ars and adopt suit­able times.

Ishāʾ (Fāqid al-Layl):

This applies to the sce­nario when the twi­light does not set for ʿIshāʾ times. Ishāʾ times at each lat­i­tude should be restrict­ed to 65 min­utes after the local Astro­nom­i­cal sun­set on the longest day of the year, account­ing for the refrac­tion of sun­light. This is the lat­est sun­set at most locations.

Southern Hemisphere?

Local schol­ars should be con­sult­ed for advice for prayers times in loca­tion in the South­ern Hemi­sphere. This was not dis­cussed in the meeting.