I wish to ask you about the problem of
praying ‘Isha and Fajr in the region of Newcastle in Britain. The Muslims here in
Newcastle have a big problem with defining the right time for Fajr and ‘Isha’
prayers, and the time for starting the fast, because the light reaches the surface of the
earth before the sun rises, and stays there after it has set, for a long time, and
sometimes this light remains there for the entire night. The astronomers here have divided
this period when the light appears until the sun rises, and when remains after sunset
until it disappears, into three:
when the intensity of the light is such that a person is able to do some work
when the light is such that a person cannot do any work that needs light
The question here is: how do we define the beginning of the time for Fajr and ‘Isha’ and for starting to fast in the light of the times given by these astronomers’ calculations?
Praise be to Allaah.
In defining the times of prayer, the astronomers’ calculations do not matter. For determining the time of Fajr, what counts is the appearance of a horizontal line of light on the eastern horizon. The time for Fajr starts when this line becomes clear and distinct, and it ends when the sun rises. The time for Maghrib starts when the disk of the sun has set, and it doesn’t matter if there is still light after the disk of the sun has disappeared. The time for ‘Isha’ begins when the red afterglow of sunset disappears.
The time for fasting begins when the time for Fajr begins, as we have explained above, and the fast ends when the disk of the sun itself has set, even if some of its light remains afterwards.