No timetable anywhere in the world should be relied upon completely in judging the beginning of Fajr (i.e. the start of the fast) or the beginning of Maghrib (i.e. the end of the fast). One stops eating at the onset of Fajr, which is determined by looking towards the night sky – and if one sees a horizontally spreading light across the horizon and roof tops that spreads across the skyline, then he stops eating and prepares for the prayer. Also one should hasten to break the fast once the sun has completely set and not worry about the bright redness in the horizon.
The Five Daily Obligatory Prayers
Muslims are obligated to pray to Allāh five set times each day. This prayer is called the Salāh. It is the second pillar of Islām. Muslims take time out throughout the day to focus upon this special act where they focus on supplications and recitations to Allāh. The term Salāh in the Arabic language means “Supplication (Du’ā)”; and in the religious usage it refers to the Five Daily Prayers that are obligated upon every adult, able, sane Muslim male and female.
Prayer Times: The prayer times are worked out from the authentic hadeeth of the Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him). There is a narration when the Angel Jibreel visited the Prophet Muhammad (peace and blessings be upon him) over two days. On the first day he led the Prophet at the earliest times of the Prayers. On the second day, he led him at the end times of each of the Prayers. The prayer times are based around three daily events: sunrise, midday, and sunset. And of course these times alter greatly between the seasons of summer and winter – even by country. In Britain, winter prayer times are very different to summer prayer times. Each prayer is announced by the Adhān (the call to prayer), which is traditionally called by the Mu’adhin who stands just outside the mosque. Nowadays people have the Adhān recorded into their phones or clocks to remind them of the prayer times.
Prayer times: Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) said: “Jibrīl led me in Salāh twice at the House. So he prayed Dhuhrthe first day when the shadow was similar to the length of the strap of a sandal (just after midday). Then he prayed ‘Asrwhen an object was similar to the length of its shadow. Then he prayed Maghrib when the sun had set and the fasting person breaks the fast. Then he prayed ‘Ishā when the twilight had vanished. Then he prayed Fajr when the true dawn began (before sunrise), and when eating is prohibited for the fasting person. The second occasion he prayed Dhuhr when the shadow of everything was similar to the length of it, which was the time of ‘Asr the day before. He prayed ‘Asr when the shadow of an object was about twice as long as it. Then he prayed Maghrib at the same time as he did the first time. Then he prayed ‘Ishā, the later one, when a third of the night had gone. Then he prayed Fajr when the land glowed (before sunrise). Then Jibrīl turned towards me and said: “O Muhammad! These are the times of the Prophets before you, and the time is what is between these two times (for each prayer).” (At-Tirmidhī no. 146) So in summary we have:
|Fajr||After the true dawn but before sunrise|
|Dhuhr||Just after midday till the shadow of an object is the same as its the length|
|‘Asr||When the shadow of an object is the same as its length until it is twice|
|Maghrib||Just after the sunset|
|‘Ishā||When the twilight vanishes till half the night has passed|
Twilight: The light (or glow) that remains in the western sky after the sun goes down.
The prayer has conditions without which, it is not accepted by Allāh. These are: 1. Purification: usually ablution with water, and if it is not available then with soil. 2. Covering the important parts of the body (‘awrah) with loose thick garments (The woman: covers everything except the face and hands. The man: covers the navel to the knees and shoulders). 3. One’s skin and garments must be clean from impurities such as urine, excrement, etc. 4. Facing the direction of the Qiblah (Makkah) during the prayer. 5. A sincere intention in the heart (not by speaking it), knowing the prayer about to be prayed (e.g. is it Fajr or Dhuhr,etc), and making it solely for Allāh. 6. Making sure that it is prayed at the correct time.