Differences in Times of Imsak


My head is reeling having tried to navigate this thread:


Actually, I wasn’t looking for this, I just wanted some background on the issue of why there seems to be so much disparity on the time for when suhur ends and fajr starts. This led me to read about imsak and fajr, subh al-kadhib vs subh al-sadiq. But even that doesn’t seem to be the core contention here. It cuts deeper, to how best to qualify the timings, and which measurement is valid. I can understand that we bicker over moonsighting (even though we shouldn’t), given the polarisation in the Ummah as a whole. But it stupefies me how, given not even that Ramadhan is an annual occurrence, but that salah is a five-times-a-day occurence, that “we” still seemed to have not obtained clarity on how best to establish the time for fajr (and by association, imsak)?!

That thread is very involved, and it made me wonder what the responsibility of the layman is here? The whole 15 degrees vs 18 degrees debate is not something I’ve looked into, and reading that thread, there are claims and counter-claims, questions around the integrity of the sightings done for research, controversey surrounding the methodology itself, and demands for rootedness in fiqh. After a while the words just become a blur…

I mean, the entire timetable for fajr salah is being questioned in some cases, because the time gap between one locality and another (in neighboring counties) is so far apart that laymen begin doubting themselves (in terms of whether what they’re following is actually right?). So you have some people finishing suhur 45 minutes before they believe fajr has kicked in. Which leads to hardships. Still, the simplest solution I see is to do just that, i.e. eat suhur early and do fajr late(r).

Is this a country-specific issue, or does it affect other countries, this 15 degrees vs 18 degrees (I know there are different figures others take, too, apparently) question?

Can somebody break it down in simple terms for a non-specialist like myself, please? What a miserable state to be in at the outset of Ramadhan, imposing unnecessary hardships on oneself and one’s family because those whom we’re supposed to look to as reference points, don’t seem to be able to agree on a basic criteria to move forward on. Where are the lights?



`Alaykum as-Salam wa rahmatullah,

Perhaps it is not the difference in calculating methods, which has always been around, that creates hardship but rather excessive scrupulosity or unwarranted suspicion of the local method by comparing it to a neighboring country. Fiqh-wise even in the improbable case that one’s entire community is wrong in determining the times for fajr and imsak one would be excused in following the same error that was committed in good faith. Computer programs are not that far off but differ only up to 5-10 minutes, which never leads to up to 40 minutes pre-fajr imsak time but half that time at most.


Hajj Gibril

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