Is the Maghrib (Sunset) Prayer

Fatwa no. 3779 All praise is to Allah Alone and peace and blessings be upon the Messenger, his family and Companions.The Committee has read the question submitted by the Muslim World League to his Eminence the President, referring to Fatwa no. 641 from 6/4/1401 AH, which states: In reference to the letter of his Excellency, the Minister of Hajj and Awqaf, no. 2620 of 28/11/1400 AH addressed to your Excellency, and the enclosed letter of his Excellency, the Minister of Awqaf, Islamic Affairs, and Holy Places in Jordan, which says that the time Fajr (Dawn) Prayer starts is when the white thread (light) of dawn appears distinct from the black thread (darkness of night). Jordanian specialists in astronomical studies stated there are three ways of calculating the time for the Fajr Prayer: the astronomical, the nautical, and the civil. His Excellency is asking whether the time for starting to offer the Fajr Prayer in the Kingdom is calculated according to one of these three ways, and he wishes to know the opinions of the scholars on this matter. (Part No. 6; Page No. 126)

The Committee gave the following answer: The time that the Fajr Prayer starts, according to Islamic Shari`ah, is when the white (light) of dawn breaks on the eastern horizon distinct from the darkness. This is a cosmic phenomenon that precedes the rising of the sun, which Allah made to mark the end of the night and the beginning of Sawm (fasting) and the time for offering the Fajr Prayer according to the Islamic Shari`ah. This is the boundary that separates night from day according to the Islamic Shari`ah and linked to this is what has been obligated among the acts of worship. Allah has not made it permissible for people to rely on astronomical calculations in determining the times for the acts of worship. The above-mentioned methods of calculating the time for Fajr and their names have no origin in the Shari`ah. In fact these are just modern terms agreed upon by some people and are not to be considered when determining the times for the acts of worship.May Allah grant us success. May peace and blessings be upon our Prophet Muhammad, his family, and Companions.