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.