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The Issue of Salah Times in the UK

Imam Muhammad Shoyaib Nurgat

Many places In the UK are having a major problem, with times of Salah, especially the times
of Isha and Fajar. This problem comes to light more in the month of Ramadhan, when we
observe that whilst some Masajid have completed their Fajar Salah, there are some Masajid
who are still guiding their Musallees and communities around them to eat. This situation by
the day is becoming confusing and to a great extent unacceptable. Because somewhere
along the line someone is making a mistake, either the Salat ul Fajr of one group is not valid,
or the fast of the other group is not valid, which would mean that a person refrained from
eating and drinking for 16+ hours for no reason whatsoever.

There are many amongst the communities that will brush this issue aside saying this is not
our problem, we just follow the Masjid. The reality is that this approach is wrong, as Allah
Almighty has given intellect to all individuals and has made each and every individual
responsible; The explanation given to the Hadith: “Talabul Ilm Fareedatun...” is that if Salah
or Saum are obligatory upon you, then the Masaa’il relating to Salah and Saum is also
obligatory, amongst these Masaa’il is also the knowledge of the timings of Salah and Fast. If
this principle is understood, then it should be understood that research as to which times
are correct becomes the responsibility of each and every individual on whom these modes
of Ibaadaat are obligatory. Ibn Abideen writes in Radd Ul Muhtar: “It is Fardh for every
person to understand the injunctions that apply to his everyday life to avoid falling into
Haraam.” Vol 1- Pg42

First of all let us identify the three timetables that are going round one is the 18 Degrees
timetable, the second is the 15 Degrees timetable and the third is the Hizb ul Ulama
timetable. Recently in Blackburn one of senior members of Hizb ul Ulama, Moulana Ismail
Manubari Saheb DB has also come up with a fourth timetable for Isha Salah.

Now lets evaluate the different timetables first let’s look at the Hizb ul ulama timetable
used by many Masajid in the UK:

This time table is based on the Mushahadah (observation by naked eyes) carried out by
Moulana Yaqub Miftahi Saheb and a few others. Hizb ul Ulama also claim that the Prophet
of Allah Sallallahu Alayhi Wasallam has annulled the use of technology. They cite the Hadith:
“We are an unlettered nation; we neither read; nor do we calculate; a month is like this (29
days) and like this (30 days). (Sahih Bukhari P.256 V.1)

In light of information/research now coming out there are many problems with this
timetable, which would deem the following of this time table against caution and Ihtiyaat, if
not totally incorrect. Below are a number of reasons for this very ‘bold’ statement:
1. In a Question sent to the Darul Iftaa of Darul Uloom Karachi, on the 13th October
1990, seeking verification/endorsement on the observations (Musahadah) of Hizb ul
Ulama, Mufti Saheb very clearly instructed the questioner that the people who did
the observation had erred. He (questioner) was instructed by Mufti Saheb to
prepare another timetable based on 18 degrees. This fatwa was prepared by Mufti
Muhammad Ashraf Saheb and counter signed by Mufti Muhammad Taqi Saheb and
Mufti Abdur Rauf Saheb. (See attached Fatwa No 1)

2. The’ Musahadah ‘that was deemed as the basis of this timetable was only done for
FIFTY days out of the whole year. Not for every day of the year, as is being portrayed.
If the use of technology is not permissible as this group claims, then how were the
other 315 days determined? Note: the daily accounts of only 11 days, has been
published by Hizb ul Ulama.

3. Most of the times given on the Hizb ul ulama timetable are contradicting their own
observations. For example:
On May the 21st according to the Mushahadah performed by Moulana Miftahi and
Hizb ul Ulama, the Difference between first speck of dust observed and sunrise was 2
hours 22 minutes and difference between Tabyeen and sunrise was 1 hour 32
minutes. (See attached table No 2). The recommendation by Hizb ul Ulama to the
Masajid is to deduct 1 hour and 51 minutes on that day. (see chart No 3). This would
mean that if the first spec of dust was to be deemed as Subh Sadiq, then the Subh
Sadiq declared by Hizb ul Ulama is 31 minutes, after their own Musahadah. And if
Tabyeen was to be deemed as Subh Sadiq, then the Subh Sadiq declared by Hizb ul
Ulama is 19 minutes before their own Musahadah.
On May the 25th according to the Mushahadah of Hizb ul Ulama, the Difference
between first speck of dust observed and sunrise was 2 hours 24 minutes and
difference between Tabyeen and sunrise was 1 hour 44 minutes. (See attached table
No 2)Despite observing these times they have advised communities in table 5 of
their book Fajr and Esha times to deduct 1 hour 54 minutes to sunrise times. This
would mean that if the first spec of dust was to be deemed as Subh Sadiq, then the
Subh Sadiq declared by Hizb ul Ulama is 30 minutes, after their own Musahadah.
And if Tabyeen was to be deemed as Subh Sadiq, then the Subh Sadiq declared by
Hizb ul Ulama is 10 minutes before their own Musahadah.
This is not a coincidence as there are many other such examples in the writings of
Moulana Miftahi who is the most senior figure in Hizb ul Ulama, and was behind the
observations undertaken in 1988/89. How can this be correct? This would mean
that one does not have the confidence in ones owns observations or Mushahadah

4. The Musahadah of 1988 is completely contradicting the Musahadah of 1999, why?


(see attached table No 3 and No 4)

5. It is impossible that one witnesses the first spec of light of Subh Sadiq, but then fails
to witness the Tabyeen, (light spreading) following the first spec of light. Although
there is the difference of opinion as to when one should stop eating to fast: The first
spec of light or Tabyeen, the cautious opinion is at the FIRST SPEC OF LIGHT. And
surprisingly neither time has been used in the Hizb ul Ulama timetable. This point
itself is enough to render the Subh Sadiq times in the Hizb ul Ulama incorrect and
FALSE.

6. In an email to Moulana Farid Saheb the creator of the Hizb ul ulama timetable
writes:
a. “May 21 first light is 2.38 and tabayyun is 3.28. the time used for Blackburn
is 3.07 ie well within the parameters of acceptability.”
From: info@hizbululama.org.uk; Date: Tue, 1 Sep 2009 17:55:42 +0100.

Does this mean that according to Moulana Yaqub Miftahi if someone ended
Sehri anytime between 2:38 and 3:28 their fast would be fine? Accordingly if
anyone performed Fajr anytime between 2:38 and 3:28 their Fajr would be
ok? And further how can one fix 3:07 as the time for Subh Sadiq when the
first light is at 2:38 which is the ‘Afdhal’ (cautious) Subh Sadiq time. Or if you
want to go by the second opinion it should be 3:28. HOW DOES 3:07 COME
ABOUT?

7. Hizb ul Ulama claim to use a method known as Aqrabul Ayyam. It is clear from their
timetables that they do not. When they were questioned about this, they produced
a definition of the term "Aqrabul Ayyam" which cannot be found in the books of
Fiqh It appears that they fabricated a definition for a technical term used commonly
in books of Fiqh to substantiate their own times.

8. If one refutes the use of technology then why has an Astronomer been used?

a. "These times have been kindly computed by Brother Khalid Shaukat, a well
known Muslim scientist with a track record in the field of astronomical
research. He is advisor to the Islamic Society of North America (ISNA). Dr
Khalid Shaukat has ensured that observatory calculated times have been
adapted for accuracy as observatory times do not take into account specific
shariah requirements."
Salat Times and Qibla Guide by Moulana Yaqub Miftahi.

9. And further if one is refuting the use of technology then why the use of observatory
for Zuhr and Asar times? These are the words of Moulana Miftahi Saheb creator of
the Hizb ul ulama timetable:
“As far as the times of Zohr, Asar and Magnrib are concerned this is what is being
reffered to when the book says observatory calculated times have been adjusted.”
From: info@hizbululama.org.uk Date: Sat, 29 Aug 2009 13:58:35 +0100

10. Observations/ Mushahadah that took place in Blackburn are not acceptable for the
rest of the UK. (Pg 3 Fatwa of Mufti Ismail Bharkodrawi-Sadar Mufti, Darul Uloom
Kantharia, District Bharuch.)
11. Finally if the Mushahadah by Hizb ul Ulama was done, then why has the senior
member of Hizb ul Ulama, Moulana Ismail Manubari recently come up with a
completely different timetable for Salat ul Isha? Has he retracted his original
opinion? If Members of Hizb ul ulama do not have the confidence and trust in their
own times or observations, how can any other person have the trust and
confidence?

These are only some of the problems I have highlighted as regards to the very widely used
Hizb ul Ulama timetable.

The 18 Degrees timetable

Contrary to what many people think that this is a Moulana Yaqub Kavi Qasmi created
timetable, this is a timetable widely used throughout the Muslim world, majority of the
Arab world, the Indian subcontinent, and many in America, Canada and the UK follow this
CENTURIES OLD timetable. Although the title given to this timetable is ‘the 18 degrees
timetable’ which suggests that it is ‘only’ astronomy based, the reality is far from it.

Allamah Shaami RA has also advocated 18 degrees to 19 Degrees as


the time of Subh Sadiq. See Radd ul Mukhtaar, Vol 2, Pg 93.
(Source: The essay of Subh Sadiq and Subh Kazib by Moulana Shabbir Ahmad Kakakheel)

Throughout the years Ulama and experts in many parts of the world have done
MUSHAHADAH (observation with Naked eye) to verify the times. The 18 degree times
have matched the times that Subh Sadiq was observed by the Naked eye.

In the UK previously, Senior Ulama from Batley went to locations far away from well lit areas
(as Musahadah in areas which are well lit is not possible, nor acceptable as can be
understood from the Fatwa of Mufti Rashid Ahmad Ludhyaanwi Saheb RA) to observe for
themselves whether the times of Subh Sadiq at 18 degrees matched observation with the
naked eye. They reported that their observations matched the 18 degrees.

Very recently Ulama in Preston have undergone this very same task, and are continuing till
today, they have also verified that their observation matched the 18 degrees cited. Any
brother that wishes to join them may contact Moulana Farooq Qazi or Moulana Habibullah
Munshi to witness for them selves the facts the truth.
As one should also understand that to observe Subh Sadiq, expertise/experience is also
important. Hakim ul Ummat Hadhrat Thanwi RA writes in Al Saa’aat lil Taa’aat “to identify
Subh Sadiq without experience, and to identify ‘Mithlain’ without hisab is not possible”
Bawadir al nawadir Pg 429

Apart from UK Mushahadah/ observation has been done to verify the 18 Degrees in
Pakistan, Canada and Arab World.
Recent observations by the teachers and students of DARUL ULOOM KARACHI, AND DARUL
IFTAA have also concluded the Subh Sadiq occurs at 18 Degrees. (Source: The essay of Subh
Sadiq and Subh Kazib by Moulana Shabbir Ahmad Kakakheel)

This timetable has been adopted and endorsed by senior Ulama/Astronomers of the
Ummah past and present:

Abu Rayhan Al Berooni (who passed away in 440 AH) writes: ‘that when the sun is 18 degrees
below the horizon, that is the time of Subh Sadiq. Kitab Al Qanoon Al Mas’oodi.

Saheb Rooh ul Ma’aani Allama Alloosi RA write in the commentary of ‘Was Subh Izaa Tannaffas’
in Surah Al Takweer, that ‘Subh’ is the light on the eastern horizon, according to famous view is
18 Degrees.

In 1313 Hijri (1896) Maulana Lutfullah Saheb who was the Mufti of Rampur wrote a book ‘Hall ud
Daqaaiq fi Tahqeeq is Subhis Sadiq’, in this book he also pointed out that Fajr time begins and
Sehri ends (Subh Sadiq) when the sun is 18 Degrees below the horizon, this was also reiterated
by another book written in that era by Munshi Muhammad A’alaa who named his book ‘Subh
Sadiq’ both these books were endorsed by the Akaabir of Ulama e Deoband the likes of Sheikh ul
Hind, Hadhrat Maulana Mufti Mahmud ul Hasan Saheb, Hadhrat Maulana Khalil Ahmad
Saharanpuri Saheb and Mufti Aazam e Hind, Hadhrat Maulana Mufti Aziz ur Rahman Saheb
(May Allah Taalaa shower his mercy upon them) (Source: research on Subh Sadiq and Shafaq Pg
80,81. By Moulana Yaqub Qasmi).

Apart from these great people, Hadhrat Moulana Ashraf Ali Thanwi RA, Mufti Shafi, Mufti Wali
Hassan Tonqi, Mufti Raza Ul Haq, Moulana Yusuf Binnori, and Moulana Zafar Ahmad Usmani,
present day Ulama/Akaabir like Hadhrat Mufti Muhammad Taqi Uthmani Saheb is of the same
view as one may understand from his Fatwa, below:

Answer: By Mufti Muhammad Taqi Saheb


After a good deal of research and continuing observation my father Mufti Muhammad Shafi
as well as other 99% of the Ulama in Pakistan and India are unanimous on the point that the
time of Isha and Fajr begins when the Sun is 18 degree below the horizon. This basis has
been confirmed by scientific as well as religious research carried by a large number of
scholars in both fields.

Hadhrat Mufti Muhammad Shafee Saheb RA and Muhaddith e Kabeer Moulana


Muhammad Yusuf Binnori Saheb RA after initially agreeing with the 15 degrees opinion of
Hadhrat Mufti Rashid Ahmad Ludhyaanwi Saheb RA, retracted their opinions, by declaring
that “after repeated observations and research of many books, they have concluded the
18 degrees for Subh Sadiq to be the correct view.” (See Fataawaa Uthmani Vol 1 Pg 387,
Mufti Muhammad Taqi Utmani DB). (Attached Fatwa No 5)

In the presence of the former Mufti e Aazam of India, Hadhrat Mufti Mahmood ul Hasan
Saheb Gangohi RA, a senior Khalifah of Hadhrat Sheikh ul Hadith Moulana Muhammad
Zakariya Saheb Khandhelwi RA, senior Ulama of this country (UK) decided on 18 degrees
being the time for Subh Sadiq. (29th May 1983 in Howard St Masjid Bradford, conference
held by Jamiat Ulama Britain). (See attached No 6)

The senior Ulama in this country like Mufti Ismail Kacholvi Saheb, Mufti Yusuf Sacha Saheb
are all of this opinion of 18 Degrees.
Recently apart from one Masjid ( Falah) all the Masajid in Leicester have adopted this 18
Degrees timetable. The Masajid of Dewsbury, Batley, Regents Park and South London, and
many others throughout the country have been following this timetable for quite a few
years.

The 15 Degrees timetable

This is the view of Mufti Rasheed Ahmad Ludhyaanwi RA. His evidence can be found in
Ahsan ul Fatwa (P.164 V.2), this is a view respected by many due to the sheer knowledge of
Hadhrat Mufti Saheb , but is not widely practiced upon. What has now come out in the open
through the essay of Moulana Shabbir Ahmad Kakakheel RA, (this essay in Urdu is available
on request) is that Hadhrat enforced an 18 Degrees timetable for the end of fast, and a 15
Degrees timetable for the beginning of Fajr Salah, in his Darul Iftaa. This is extreme
caution, which befits this great Aalim and Wali. (may Allah him with his mercy)

In light of what is written one may conclude that the most cautious approach in Salah times
is to follow the opinions of our past and present Akaabir. That is the 18 degrees timetable. I
sincerely appeal to all responsible Ulama/people to take this matter seriously and act upon
what is right and correct. Always remember: Our loyalty should be with Allah and his Rasool
Sallal lahu Alaihi Wasallam.

And Allah knows best