Astronomical calendars may be beneficial

Q: I present to your Eminence the problem of the `Isha' (Night) and Fajr (Dawn) Prayer times in the Newcastle area of Britain. The Muslims here in Newcastle face a big problem in determining the times of the Fajr and `Isha' Prayers, and the time of Imsak (time of day that marks the beginning of the Fast), because the light reaches the surface of the earth before the sun rises and it stays for a long time after it has set, sometimes for the whole night. The astronomers here have divided this period from the appearance of the light until the sun has risen, and from the setting of the sun until the light disappears, into three periods:1. When the light is so intense that a person can carry out any work.2. When the light is such that a person cannot carry out any work that needs light.3. Total darkness.The question now is: how can we determine the beginning of the time for the Fajr (Part No. 6; Page No. 143) and `Isha' Prayers and the time for Imsak in the light of these times given in these divisions (astronomers’ calculations)?

A: Astronomical calculations are not consequential in determining the times of Salah (prayer), but what is crucial when determining the time for the Fajr Prayer is to take into account the appearance of a clear and distinct line of light along the eastern horizon. The time ends when the sun rises. The time for the Maghrib (sunset) Prayer starts when the disk of the sun disappears, and it is of no consequence if its light remains after it has set. The time for the `Isha' Prayer begins with the clear and distinct disappearance of the red twilight that appears after sunset.The time for abstaining from all that breaks the Sawm (fast) begins when the time for the Fajr Prayer starts, which has been explained earlier, and it [the time for fasting] ends when the disk of the sun has disappeared, even if some of its light remains afterwards. As for the places where the sun does not set for days or months, where the night is very long, or where the night remains for days or months, the Council of Senior Scholars in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia has issued a decision specifying what a Muslim who lives in these countries should do to begin and end their Salah or Sawm. (Part No. 6; Page No. 144) May Allah grant us success. May peace and blessings be upon our Prophet Muhammad, his family, and Companions.