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    Times of As-Salah: Common Errors Regarding Prayer Times

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    بسم الله الرَّحمان الرَّحيم

    The first issue that must be addressed before touching on others is the issue of the time sheets. This is because these time sheets are one of the greatest reasons for us failing to pray on time. Even the sincere Muslims from among us find themselves praying out of the prescribed times due to not knowing the truth behind these charts. And the reality behind them is that they are a faulty tool which has created a great problem in that people rely completely on these charts, be they right or wrong. Many Muslims seek to justify the complete reliance on these error-filled charts. So, if Allaah wills, in this article we will mention some of the common misconceptions and doubts surrounding this issue and then reply to them as necessary:

    This is not the real horizon; we have mountains or trees in our way!
    Many times, it is argued that we are not able to be view the real sunrise or sunset because our view of the horizon is blocked by trees or mountains. And this is a false argument. It requires us to surmise that the actual horizon that we are required to wait for the sun to set behind or rise from is a hypothetical one that exists somewhere behind the actual visible horizon. And this is a strange argument as it requires us to believe that the Companions, may Allaah be pleased with them, and the generations of Muslims who followed them began fast, broke fast, and observed the Fajr and Maghrib prayers based on a sunset and sunrise that they could not be able to see. In fact, it would not be possible for anyone to be able to easily know its time for over a thousand years until we entered upon the “modern” era when timetables would inform us when the sun was rising or setting behind the “real” horizon. In fact, even today, for the one who does not have access to these “blessed” timetables, he has no way to know the “real” times for the prayers and the “real” times for starting and ending the fast.

    And as if that were not bad enough, the Messenger of Allaah, (صلى الله عليه وسلم), ordered us to hurry in breaking the fast, saying:“My Ummah will continue to be upon good as long as they hasten to break the fast.”[1]

    A task almost impossible for all except the most recent generation of Muslims due to their not possessing these “blessed” charts.

    However, the Shari’ah has come to make things easy for us, not to make them difficult as stated by al-Allaamah Siddeeq Hasan Khan [2]: “And from that which is necessary to be made known: is that Allaah, ‘Azza wa Jall, has not burdened his slaves regarding the knowledge of the times for prayer with that which causes hardship upon them or difficulty, for the religion is easy, and the Shari’ah is forgiving and simple, rather he, (صلى الله عليه وسلم) , made for the times detectable physical signs that everyone is aware of.” [3]

    The Prophet, (صلى الله عليه وسلم) , has shown that it is from his Sunnah to hurry in breaking the fast as long as we think the sun has set, even though it may have merely set behind clouds which are not even connected to the earth. So what about mountains and trees?!

    On the authority of ‘Abdullaah bin Abi Auffa: We were in the company of the Prophet ((صلى الله عليه وسلم)) on a journey and he was observing fast and when the sun set he addressed somebody “O so and so, get up and mix saweeq with water for us” He replied “O Allaah’s Messenger till it is evening?” The Prophet ((صلى الله عليه وسلم)) said, “Get down and mix saweeq with water for us.” He replied, “O Allaah’s Messenger! Till it is evening.” The Prophet ((صلى الله عليه وسلم)) said again: “Get down and mix saweeq with water for us” He replied “It is still daytime[4] The Prophet ((صلى الله عليه وسلم)) said again: “Get down and mix saweeq with water for us.” He got down and mixed saweeq for them. The Prophet ((صلى الله عليه وسلم)) drank it and then said: “When you see night falling from this side, the fasting person should break his fast.”[5]

    Also there is the hadith, Narrated Abu Usaamah: Hishaam bin ‘Urwa said on the authority of Faatimah: Asmaa bint Abee Bakr said: “We broke our fast during the lifetime of the Prophet, (صلى الله عليه وسلم), on a cloudy day and then the sun appeared.”

    There is also another rational proof:

    If we were to reverse the situation and we found ourselves upon a high mountain, would we resolve to break fast or pray Maghrib before the sun actually set with the logic: “If we were in the valley the sun would have set already?!!” No, of course not. We would pray when we saw the sun set. Therefore when we are in the valley we should pray when we see the sun set.

    There is a clear quote from the noble Shaykh, Muhammad Naasir ad-Deen Al-Albaani, (رحمه الله) , supporting this as he said in tape no. 590 of Silsilah al-Hudaa wan-Noor:

    “So the adhaan these days-in most of the lands of Islaam, is, unfortunately, I have to say, and not just in Jordan, and I have known this from investigation, in most of the lands of Islaam-the adhaan for Maghrib is given after the time it becomes due. And the reason for this is that we have abandoned adhering to and applying the Islamic rulings, and instead we have come to depend upon astronomical calculations. We depend upon the timetable.

    But these timetables are based upon astronomical calculations which count the land as being a single flat plane. So they give a time for this flat plane, whereas the reality is that the land, particularly in this land of ours, varies, varying between the depression of the valleys and the elevation of the mountains. So it is not correct that a single time be given which covers the shore, the planes and the mountains. No, each part of the land has its own time. So therefore whoever is able in his place of residence, in his city or his village, to see the sun set with his own eye then whatever time it sets at then that is the hastening that we have been commanded with in his, (صلى الله عليه وسلم), saying which we just mentioned, “My Ummah will continue to be upon good as long as they hasten to break the fast.” So the Prophet (صلى الله عليه وسلم), was careful to implement this Sunnah by teaching it and putting it into practice.”

    We don’t know for sure that the time has come in until the chart says so!
    Ignorance has become widespread until these most basic of signs that the Messenger of Allaah, sallallaahu alayhi wa sallam, taught us for identifying the times of prayer have become unknown to the vast majority of Muslims. So we find the people not knowing when to really begin their prayers nor when their times end. Nor do they know when the time for fasting begins and ends. So you will find them that most of them begin their fasts early and break their fasts late “just in case;” both of which happen to be reprehensible innovations the Prophet, (صلى الله عليه وسلم), warned us from falling into.

    And one of the effects of this ignorance that has befallen the Muslim ummah regarding the appropriate prayer times is that we have begun relying on the timetables because we feel that they are precise and accurate and thus reliable. But the charts themselves are not exact. Is it not clear to anyone who looks at them that they are mere approximations. Can it not be seen that seconds are never placed on the chart? Is it feasible that the sun sets exactly upon the minute every day? And are we also to assume that all of the clocks in the world are synchronized exactly to “real” time? Yet some people will use their clocks in conjunction with these timetables as if they are precise to the very second!

    And we have been commanded to act upon our best judgment and estimation in regards to these different times:

    Narrated ‘Abdullaah bin ‘Umar: Allaah’s Messenger (صلى الله عليه وسلم) mentioned Ramadhaan and said: “Do not begin fasting unless you see the crescent moon, and do not give up fasting till you see the crescent moon, but if the sky is overcast and you can’t see the moon, then act on estimation.” [6]

    Furthermore we are supposed to follow the Qur’aan and the Sunnah, not some calculations which were not known to the Prophet ((صلى الله عليه وسلم)) or the companions. In fact we have been told contrary to this as the Prophet (صلى الله عليه وسلم) has said in the hadith:

    Narrated ibn ‘Umar: The Prophet (صلى الله عليه وسلم) said, “We are an illiterate nation; we neither write, nor know accounts. The month is like this and this, i.e. Sometimes of 29 days and sometimes of 30 days.” [7]

    So why is it that so many of us who insist on beginning and ending the months based upon the sightings of the moon neglect to rely upon the Shari’ah’s determinations for the times of prayer.

    And we have been told by Allaah in the Qur’aan:«It is He Who made the sun a lamp and the moon as a light and measured out its (their) stages, that you might know the number of years and the reckoning. Allaah did not create this but in truth. He explains the Ayaat in detail for people who have knowledge.»[8]

    And ibn Katheer comments: “So by the sun, the days are known and by the changing of the moon the months and years are known”

    Furthermore we have been ordered in the Qur’aan:«…and eat and drink until the white thread (light) of dawn appears to you distinct from the black thread (darkness of night), then complete your Saum (fast) till the nightfall... »[9]

    Take note of whom this verse addresses. It is not addressed to the trees or hills and mountains behind which we are supposed to believe that the “real” Fajr takes place. Can anyone claim that the Companions understood this verse to mean that they were to calculate when the white thread and black thread of Fajr should become visible based upon their altitude and assuming that there were no trees or hills present to obstruct their view of the “real” horizon.

    So whenever Fajr is distinguishable to us is when we should pray and begin our fast.

    This is how it is done in the Muslim countries!
    This is the weakest of them all because we are all aware of the state of the Ummah and its lack of concern for the religion in this day and age. In fact most people are not even praying much less praying on time. So how can we place the actions of these types of Muslims before those of the Prophet, (صلى الله عليه وسلم), and his Companions?

    And many scholars are speaking out against these charts on behalf of those who are ignorant. Shaykh Al-Albaani (ÑÍãå Çááå) said [10]:

    “And in it is an important clarification of the obligation of performing the salaah after the rise of the true Fajr; and in this is, the mu’adh-dhins of many lands, amongst them ‘Ammaan, have failed. For the single Adhaan given there (in ‘Ammaan) is completed before Fajr by almost half of an hour, based upon the astronomical charts, and this is a mistake which is affirmed by the true reality of affairs! And it is like this in many of the other lands like Damascus and Algeria and Morocco and Kuwait and Madinah and Ta’if. And Allaah is the One from whom help is sought.”

    In fact, on some days, our charts here in Mobile, Alabama show the Fajr prayer entering as much as 40 minutes before its actual time!

    And he said [11]:

    “I say: and this is a lost Sunnah in the lands of ash-Shaam, and from them is ‘Ammaan, for my house is on the Mountain of Hamlaan from amongst its (‘Ammaan’s) mountains, and I see with my two eyes the rising of the sun and its setting, and I hear them give Adhaan for Maghrib after the setting of the sun by about ten minutes, while its known that the sun sets for those who are in the middle of ‘Ammaan and in its valleys before it sets for me! And in contrast they give the Adhaan for the Fajr prayer before its time enters by about half of an hour. So verily to Allaah we belong and to Him shall we return.”

    Now that it is established that we have to pray and fast using the gauges that Allaah has ordained for us, the next study will discuss determining the prayer times based upon the indicators given to us by the Noble Shari’ah, if Allaah wills.


    Ar-Rawdhah an-Nadiyyah
    At-Ta’leeqaat ar-Radhiyyah vol. 1 p. 231
    Saheeh al-Bukhaari
    Saheeh al-Bukhaari
    Saheeh al-Bukhaari
    Saheeh al-Bukhaari
    Yunus 10:5
    Al-Baqarah 2:187
    693 As-Saheeha
    2245 in as-Saheehah
    Last edited by madeenahsh; 09-17-2005 at 10:28 PM.
    Times of As-Salah: Common Errors Regarding Prayer Times

    In the Name of Allaah, the Most Merciful, the Bestower of Mercy. By the time! Verily mankind is at loss – except for those who believe and perform righteous deeds, and advise one another towards the truth and advise one another towards patience.
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