The time for the Dawn prayer (Subh) begins at the true dawn when the sky around the horizon starts to grow light
(Zuhr) begins after the sun's zenith for the day.
The time for the mid-afternoon prayer (Asr) begins when an object's of shadow minus the length of its shadow at the sun's zenith equals the object's height (or twice according to Abu Hanifa's School of Thought).
The time for the sunset prayer (Maghrib) begins when the sun has completely set.
time for the nightfall prayer (Isha) begins when the red of sunset (white of sunset Abu Hanifa's school of thought) twilight leaves the sky.
The Muslim scholars agreed to follow a certain astronomical data to determine the beginning of prayer timings in most of the Muslim countries as follow:
The true Fajr begins at an angle of depression ( -17.50 to -18.00 ) E.
Disappearance of Twilight (Isha) ( -17.50 to -18.00 ) W
Sunrise ( -0.5 to -1 ) E
Sunset ( -0.5 to -1 ) W.
Adding 2 minutes to Zuhr and Asr, Maghrib and Isha time and subtract 2 minutes from Fajr and sunrise time for affirmation.
This is in accordance with the Muslim World League Conference's Resolutions in 1406H, at Makkah Al-Mukarramah and the International Conference for Time-table at I.C.C. London in 1984 and the Egyptian Astronomy Directorate, the Arab Union for Astronomy and Space Sciences in Aman (Jordan). And the British Royal Observatory Greenwich .
At Northerly Latitudes (beyond 48 e.g. Britain) the features that legally define the true Fajr and Isha during the summer months ( 25th May to 18th July are absent. This phenomena is called persistent twilight as you can see in Table No. 1
Clearly - as you notice in that table from Ist May to 25th May and from 18th July till beginning of August the phenomena does exist but it is difficult to follow: For instance Isha time becomes very late and Fajr time comes very early, till the difference between them is less than an hour. Obviously, it is very difficult to perform the Isha and Fajr Jamaat or to fast and perform Taraweeh prayer in Ramadan.
Consequently, all those countries which are on such an extreme northerly Latitude adjust the prayer time - Isha and Fajr - within the boundary of Shariah rules - in order to make it convenient for their people's day to day life.
Some of the Islamic Centres in UK have different prayer timings. This is mainly due to different opinions in "Estimating" (Taqdeer) prayer timings during that period when the Shariah phenomena is interrupted or absent completely. We at the ICC are using the Shariah rules, which indicate that if anything is permitted under "extreme necessity" the permission should only be confined within that terminology and not beyond. And that exceptional cases should not be generalised.
Accordingly, if we have to estimate some prayer times - when the Shariah phenomena is interrupted or absent, we should only confine our estimation under these circumstances and not when the Shariah phenomena exists.
In some prayer Time-tables the timings for prayers are changed all year round without any valid reason.
Here in Britain the Shariah phenomena is there for about eight and a half months. So in those months we do not need to change or adjust any of the prayer times only at three and a half summer months (approx.) where the problems have been previously mentioned. Probably you might have noticed that we at the I.C.C. follow and abide by the Islamic Shariah's rules in order to determine the prayer timings in those eight and a half months where the Shariah phenomena is stable, consistent and is implementable.
But we need to estimate the prayer timings only if the Shariah phenomena is absent or difficult to implement. I would like to draw your attention to the following:
- To follow a certain School of Thought does not mean that others are not reliable or sound. Moreover, according to Shariah rules, a scholarly opinion does not breach other scholars' opinion, obviously only in the area where people can seek scholar's opinion e.g. timings for praying and fasting according to a certain School of Thought does not mean the prayers and fasting of others are not valid.
- According to Shaafi School of Thought, if one's location does not have one or more of prayer times e.g. due to extreme northerly latitude, in that case, one should pray and fast at the same time as the nearest city that has the true times (Aqrab Al-Beldan). When the Shariah phenomena is there then one should follow no matter how difficult - we should abide by them. That is why we have set Table No. 2 - for those who want to follow strictly that School of Thought.
- However, in those summer months, it is permissible to join the prayers (Maghrib and Isha) to whom he needs. For more details, please contact the I.C.C.
May Allah (SWT) guide all of us to the right straight path whom He knows best and the Guidance from Him.
May Allah the Most High bless His beloved Muhammad and give him peace and his companions one and all - Ameen.