As we learn in the Bible and the following quotation, the majority are always wrong:
"Abdullah bin Amar (RA) relates that the Holy Prophet (peace be upon him) said : Surely things will happen to my people as happened earlier to Israelites, they will resemble each other like one shoe in a pair resembles the other to the extent that if anyone among the Israelites has openly committed adultery to his mother there will be some who will do this in my Ummah as well, verily the Israelites were divided into 72 sections but my people will be divided into 73 sections, all of them will be in the fire except one." The companions asked, 'Who are they O Messenger of Allah,' Holy Prophet (peace be upon him) said, "They are those who will be like me and my companions."
The Messenger (sallallaah 'alayhe wa sallam) said,
"The Jews split into 71 sects, and the Christians split into 72 sects. My nation is going to split into 73 sects, and all of them will be in the Hellfire except one."
It was said, "Who are they (that one Saved Sect), O Messenger of Allaah?" He replied,
"They those who are upon what I and my Companions are upon."
[From an authentic hadeeth collected by Aboo Daawood, At-Tirmithee, Ibn Maajah, and others. Al-Albaanee discusses its different chains and wordings in Silsilatul-Ahaadeethis-Saheehah (203-204).]
Judaism - Some say Sunrise, Others Dawn
Judaism, the mother of Christianity and Islam, begins minor fasts from sunrise or dawn to the appearance of three stars in sky or dark, with the exception of the Day of Atonement and 9th of Ab.
According to the Jewish Encyclopedia:
All Jewish fasts begin at sunrise and end with the appearance of the first stars of the evening, except those of the Day of Atonement and the Ninth of Ab, which last "from even till even."
Some Jews suggest minor fast days begin at sunrise (see Fast Days a Survival). Chabad, Orthodox Judaism believes minor fasts begin at dawn.
From Fast Days:
Fasting is pretty simple. If you are a healthy man or woman over the age of bar or bat mitzvah, just abstain from food and drink from dawn until dark.
Another Jewish source, 'Major' and 'Minor' Jewish Fast Days adds:
On 'minor' fast days, the fast lasts from sunrise to nightfall - how long this is will depend on the season of the year (summer days are longer than winter days).
There are five minor fasts on the Jewish calendar. With one exception, these fasts were instituted by the Sages to commemorate some national tragedy. The minor fasts (that is, all fasts except Yom Kippur and Tisha b'Av) last from dawn (first light) to nightfall (full dark), and one is permitted to eat breakfast if one arises before dawn for the purpose of doing so (but you must finish eating before first light). There is a great deal of leniency in the minor fasts for people who have medical conditions or other difficulties fasting. The date of the fast is moved to Sunday if the specified date falls on Shabbat.
There can be over one and half hours difference between sunrise and dawn. And there are different types of dawn.
Dawn or civil dawn is the time at which the sun is 6 degrees below the horizon in the morning. Civil dawn is defined as that time at which there is enough light for objects to be distinguishable and that outdoor activities can commence.
Nautical dawn is the time at which the sun is 12 degrees below the horizon in the morning. Nautical dawn is defined as that time at which there is just enough sunlight for objects to be distinguishable.
Astronomical dawn is the time at which the sun is 18 degrees below the horizon in the morning. Astronomical dawn is that point in time at which the sun starts lightening the sky. Prior to this time, the sky is completely dark.
Dawn should not be confused with sunrise, which is the moment when the leading edge of the sun itself appears above the horizon.
During Ramadan a pre dawn meal is eating before dawn called the Suhoor. It is generally accepted fasting begins after the meal but before dawn or the Fajr prayer. Debates rage as to when the true dawn occurs.
Here is an article reprinted explaining the situation below.
Distinguishing the True Dawn from the False Dawn
Written by Sheikh Dr. Muḥammed Taqi’l-Dīn al-Hilāli al-Maghribi, raḥimahullāh
Translated by Sheikh Dr Kehlan al-Jubury
With the name of Allāh, The Compassionate, The Merciful
All praise be to Allāh, the one who made happiness in this life and in the Hereafter, specifically for those who follow His straight path, clinging to His book and the Sunnah of his honourable Prophet. May Allāh send salutations upon him, his family, his companions and those who follow him. O Allāh, Lord of the Worlds, make us among them as well!
The most desperate slave in need of the mercy of the Greatest and Ever High, Mūhammed Taqi’l-Dīn, the son of ‘Abd’l-Qādir al-Hilāli says:
I spent my youth and the time after, including some of my old age, in the East and when I returned to Morocco because of the trouble that took place in Iraq in the year 1379 AH (1958), I discovered after a lot of research, checking and repeated observations from those who have good eyesight (and I was with them at that time and able to see the dawn without hardship in those days) that the Moroccan timing for the Fajr Adhān did not agree with the correct Islamic timing. That is because the Mu’adhdhin calls to prayer before the true Islamic dawn. His call at that time does not make Fajr prayer permissible and also does not prohibit eating for the fasting person.
I began giving fatwa according to this and still act upon it to this day. In Ramaḍān from this year 1394 AH (1974), some of our brothers fell into confusion. The reason for this was because a brother – who is a preacher – visited Morocco in Ramaḍān. Some people from those who accompanied him claimed that he said the Islamic dawn was in agreement with the Moroccan dawn timing; but a trustworthy brother known to me told me that the preacher actually found that the difference between the Islamic dawn that can be seen with the eyes and the Moroccan time (observed outside the city, in an open field) was about 13 or 15 minutes (the doubt is from the brother I know).
So this narration is clearly contradictory. If what they said is correct – that the Islamic dawn and the Moroccan dawn are in agreement – then this is a mistake that can be identified by everyone who knows the Islamic dawn and he has eyes that he can see with (it is obvious that in countries where there are a lot of clouds and fog, that the people do not know the dawn, which also includes those who live in the desert but are not keen in such matters).
If one wants to know the Islamic dawn, then he must do two things:
Firstly he must study the Prophet’s (ṣallallāhu ‘alayhi wa sallam) statements which differentiate between the false dawn and the true dawn, and then the statements of his companions, the second generation and the great Imams.
Secondly, he has to be from those people who are used to seeing the dawn, such as a Mu’adhdhin or a person who travels a lot in the desert.
To explain the first part, I am writing this book and calling it the explanation of the true dawn and distinguishing it from the false dawn through evidences.
To begin, we must explain what Allāh Almighty said in Sūrat’l-Baqarah, verse 187:
وَكُلُواْ وَاشْرَبُواْ حَتَّى يَتَبَيَّنَ لَكُمُ الْخَيْطُ الأَبْيَضُ مِنَ الْخَيْطِ الأَسْوَدِ مِنَ الْفَجْرِ
“Eat and drink until the white thread of dawn becomes distinct from the black.”
Ibn Kathīr explained this āyah using different statements of the Prophet (ṣallallāhu ‘alayhi wa sallam):
The first Ḥadīth has been narrated in the two authentic books (Bukhāri and Muslim) from the narration of al-Qāsim from ‘Ā’ishah that the Messenger of Allāh (ṣallallāhu ‘alayhi wa sallam) said: “Let the Adhān of Bilāl not prevent you from your Suḥūr (pre-dawn meal) because he calls it in the night, so eat and drink until you hear the Adhān of Ibn Umm Maktūm because he doesn’t call the Adhān until the Fajr starts.” This is the narration of Bukhāri.
We understand from this narration and other narrations with similar meanings that the Prophet (ṣallallāhu ‘alayhi wa sallam) used to have two people giving the Adhān during Ramaḍān: one of them who could see, which was Bilāl, and the other was a blind man known as Ibn Umm Maktūm. The Prophet (ṣallallāhu ‘alayhi wa sallam) had appointed the Mu’adhdhin who could see to alert the people that the dawn was close and it used to be done at night, i.e. before the start of the Fajr, whereas he appointed the blind Mu’adhdhin to call for Fajr after the Fajr began. So what was the intention of the Prophet (ṣallallāhu ‘alayhi wa sallam)?
If we think about this with deficient minds it would seem apparent to us that the Mu’adhdhin that can see (i.e. Bilāl) should do the last Adhān. He has more right to do so than the blind Mu’adhdhin, because he can see the beginning of dawn with his eyes and call the Adhān on time in order that the people will stop eating and drinking from the beginning of Fajr. The blind Mu’adhdhin should be the one who calls the people during the night so that they will know simply when the dawn is close by.
But the Prophet (ṣallallāhu ‘alayhi wa sallam) did the opposite; he appointed the blind man as the caller of the Adhān to prohibit food and drink and the start of the Ṣalāh. He therefore intended – without doubt – to make things easier for his nation and not harder. So whoever makes things restricted and difficult when Allāh and His Messenger have made then easy and spacious, then he is in the wrong.
The statement of Allāh, subḥānahu wa ta‘ālā: “Until it becomes distinct”, is in agreement with the statement of the Prophet because He did not say until the dawn comes out, but He said until you people can see it clearly in a way that no one has doubt about it and the explanation of that will come shortly, in shā Allāh.
In a narration by Bukhāri and Muslim, it states: “…‘so eat and drink until Ibn Umm Maktūm calls the Adhān,’ and he was blind, and would not call the Adhān until it was said to him ‘It’s morning! It’s morning!’”, so reflect upon this meaning if you are among those of understanding.
The second Ḥadīth: Ibn Kathīr said: Imām Aḥmed said: and he mentioned the chain from Qais Ibn Ṭalq from his father that the Messenger of Allāh (ṣallallāhu ‘alayhi wa sallam) said: “The dawn is not that which is vertical in the sky but it is that which is red and horizontal”. This is also narrated by al-Tirmidhi. His narration states: “Eat and drink and don’t worry about the clear vertical (dawn), but eat and drink until you see the red and horizontal (dawn/light).” Then Ibn Kathīr mentioned different narrations from Ibn Jarīr (the Imām of the scholars of Tafsīr), for this Ḥadīth:
The first narration: from Samurah Ibn Jundub that he said: the Messenger of Allāh (ṣallallāhu ‘alayhi wa sallam) said: “Do not be deceived by the call of Bilāl, wait until the dawn ‘explodes’.”
The second narration: from him that the Messenger of Allāh (ṣallallāhu ‘alayhi wa sallam) said: “Do not be deceived by the call of Bilāl and do not be deceived by the white column of dawn, until it spreads (across the horizon).”
The third narration is narrated by Muslim in the same way it was narrated by Ibn Jarīr.
The fourth narration which was also from Ibn Jarīr: from Muḥammed Ibn Thawbān who said: The Messenger of Allāh (ṣallallāhu ‘alayhi wa sallam) said: “The dawn is of two types – one that is like the tail of the Sirḥān which does not prohibit anything, and then the one that spreads across and covers the horizon. This (latter) is the one which permits the prayer and prohibits food.” This is a good Mursal Ḥadīth.
(Muḥammed Taqi’l-Dīn said) The tail of the Sirḥān means the tail of a wolf because it lifts up and becomes vertical, similar to the false dawn.
Another narration from ‘Abd’l-Razzāq with his chain of narration mentions from Ibn ‘Abbās that he said: “There are two dawns. As for the one which is clear in the sky, that doesn’t permit or prohibit anything. But the dawn that lights the top of the mountains is the one that prohibits drinking.”
‘Aṭā’ said: “As for that dawn that is clear and its light goes vertically to the sky, it does not prohibit drinking for the person, and the Ṣalāh is not allowed based on it and the Ḥajj is not missed because of it. But if it is spread across the top of the mountains, then drinking is prohibited and the Ḥajj is missed.” These are authentic chains to Ibn ‘Abbās and ‘Aṭā’, and are similar to other narrations from more than one of the Salaf, may Allāh be merciful to them.
(Muḥammed Taqi’l-Dīn said) The meaning of ‘the Ḥajj being missed’ is that the person who is doing Ḥajj but misses standing at ‘Arafah during the 9th day of Dhu’l-Ḥijjah and he stands during the night before the true Fajr, then his Ḥajj is correct. But if he reaches ‘Arafah after the true dawn then there is no Ḥajj for him in that year.”
Some Aḥādīth from the Jāmi‘ of Imām al-Tirmidhi, with its Explanation by Our Shaykh ‘Abd’l-Raḥmān al-Mubārakpūri, raḥimahullāh:
The first Ḥadīth: al-Tirmidhi said, with his chain from Zayd Ibn Thābit who said: “We had our Suḥūr with the Messenger of Allāh (ṣallallāhu ‘alayhi wa sallam) and then we stood up for Ṣalāh. I asked, “How long was that?” He said, “About 50 verses.”
(Muḥammed Taqi’l-Dīn al-Hilāli said) The Salafi scholar Abu ‘Alī al-Ḥabīb Ibn ‘Alī al-‘Alawi said that he recited 50 verses in two minutes. According to this, the time between the Suḥūr of the Prophet and the Fajr prayer used to be two minutes, or could perhaps be five minutes, but those ignorant of the Sunnah consider eating five minutes before Ṣalāh time as invalidating the fast. This issue will soon increase in clarity, in shā Allāh.
Al-Tirmidhi then said: “There are other narrations in this subject from Ḥudhayfah.”
Abu ‘Īsa (al-Tirmidhi) said: “The Ḥadīth of Zayd Ibn Thābit is sound and authentic, and is acted upon by al-Shāfi‘ī, Aḥmed and Isḥāq. They recommended the delaying of the Suḥūr.”
The second Ḥadīth: al-Tirmidhi said with his chain to Ṭalq Ibn Ali, that the Messenger of Allāh (ṣallallāhu ‘alayhi wa sallam) said: “Eat and drink and don’t worry about the clear and vertical, but eat and drink until you see the red horizontal.”
(Muḥammed Taqi’l-Dīn said) We understand from this Ḥadīth that the false dawn that precedes the true dawn, is pure white and it is goes from the earth to the sky and that does not prohibit eating for a fasting person, nor does it permit the Fajr prayer. The true dawn, which is horizontal across the horizon, with redness, comes before the sunrise and this is the one which prohibits food and permits the prayer.
Our Shaykh explained fifty verses as being medium, not long and not short, and the recitation is also medium, not fast and not slow. He attributed that to al-Ḥāfidh (Ibn Ḥajr).
The third Ḥadīth: our Shaykh said the Ḥadīth of Hudhayfah is narrated by al-Taḥāwī, in his book Sharḥ Ma‘ānī al-Āthār, from the narration of Zirr Ibn Ḥubaysh who said: I had my Suḥūr, and I rushed to the mosque; I passed by the house of Ḥudhayfah, and I entered it. He commanded that his she-camel be milked and a pan to be heated, and he told me, “Eat.” I replied, “I want to fast.” He said, “And I also want to fast.” We ate, and then we drank and then we came to the mosque and offered the prayer that had just started. Ḥudhayfah said, “That’s how the Messenger of Allāh did with me, or that’s how I did with the Messenger of Allāh (ṣallallāhu ‘alayhi wa sallam).” I asked, “After the dawn?” He said, “After dawn, but the sun hadn’t risen yet.” This is also narrated by al-Nasā’ī and Aḥmed.
(Muḥammed Taqi’l-Dīn said) We say to the amateur and careless people, what do you say about the fasting of Prophet Mohammed (ṣallallāhu ‘alayhi wa sallam)? Was it valid or invalid? If you say it was valid then it is now clear that what you previously said is wrong i.e. that it is compulsory to make up your fast if you eat after the Moroccan whistle, although it whistles at night, before the true and even the false Fajr!
Ma‘mar, Sulaymān al-A‘mash, Abu Mijlaz, and al-Ḥakam Ibn ‘Utaybah all said that it is permissible to have Suḥūr as long as the sun doesn’t rise. Their evidence was the Ḥadīth of Ḥudhayfah as mentioned by Imām al-Tirmidhi.
It is narrated from Ibn Jurayj: I said to ‘Aṭā’, “Is it disliked to drink whilst I am at home and I don’t know if the Fajr has started?” He said, “That isn’t a problem, it is a doubt.” Ibn Abi Shaybah said, “Abu Mu‘āwiyah told us from al-A‘mash from Muslim that he said, “They did not used to consider the dawn as your dawn; they used to consider the dawn which filled the houses and roads.”
Ma‘mar used to delay his Suḥūr so much that the ignorant claimed his fast was invalid. Sa‘īd Ibn Manṣūr, Ibn Abi Shaybah and Ibn al-Mundhir narrated from Abu Bakr al-Ṣiddīq, with numerous chains, that he ordered the door to be closed so that he did not see the dawn. Ibn al-Mundhir narrated with an authentic chain from ‘Alī, may Allāh be pleased with him, that he prayed Fajr, then he said, “Now is the time when the black and white threads are distinguished.”
This led Ibn al-Mundhir to say: “Some of them said that the meaning of the whiteness and the blackness of the dawn is when the whiteness spreads in the roads, streets, and houses.” He narrated with an authentic chain from Sālim Ibn ‘Ubayd al-Ashja‘ī (one of the companions of the Prophet) that Abu Bakr said to him, “Go out and see if the dawn has begun.” I looked and then came to him and told him, “It has become white and clear.” Then he said, “Go out and see if the dawn has begun.” I looked and replied, “It has become horizontal.” Then Abu Bakr said, “Now give me my drink.”
He narrated from Wakī‘ from al-A‘mash, who said, “If I was not afraid that I would become famous, I would pray Fajr then have my Suḥūr.” This is in (the books) ‘Umdat’l-Qārī and Fatḥ’l-Bārī.
Ibn Ḥazm in al-Muḥalla said: It is not obligatory, neither in Ramaḍān, nor at any other time except when the second dawn becomes clear, and as long as it doesn’t become clear then eating and drinking and intercourse is permissible. This is all in the case of the one who is in doubt that the dawn hasn’t begun, or if he is sure that it has not begun.
Then he mentioned the verse of Sūrat’l-Baqarah that we mentioned earlier. He said after that, and I quote, “Because Allāh Almighty made it permissible to have intercourse, eat and drink until we see clearly the dawn, Allāh Almighty didn’t say until the Fajr begins, and he didn’t say until you have doubts about the Fajr. So it is not permissible for anyone to say or obligate the fast unless it becomes clear to that person.”
Then Abu Muḥammed (Ibn Ḥazm) said: “It is narrated with an authentic chain, that eating after the beginning of the dawn is permissible as long as the person who intends to fast has not clearly seen it.”
Then he mentioned with a chain to Zirr Ibn Ḥubaysh that he said to Ḥudhayfah, “What time did you have your Suḥūr with the Prophet (ṣallallāhu ‘alayhi wa sallam)? He replied, “It was during the day but the sun had not come out yet.”
He also narrated, with his chain to Abu Hurayrah that he said, “The Messenger of Allāh peace be upon him said, “If any of you hear the call to Ṣalāh and the cup in his hand, he should not put it down until he is full from it.” Then Ibn Hazm narrated with his chain from Abu Bakr al-Ṣiddīq that he said, “If two men look at the dawn and one of them has doubt, they should both eat until both of them clearly see it.”
He also narrated with his chain, to Sālim Ibn ‘Ubayd that he said, “Abu Bakr used to say to me, “Stand up between me and the dawn until I have my Suḥūr.”
Sālim Ibn ‘Ubayd is al-Ashja‘ī from the city of al-Kūfah and from the companions of the Messenger (ṣallallāhu ‘alayhi wa sallam), and this is one of the most authentic chains possible.
Then he (Ibn Ḥazm) narrated, with his chain from Abu Qilābah that Abu Bakr Al-Ṣiddīq used to say, “Close the door until we have our Suḥūr.” Then he narrated from Ḥammād Ibn Salamah from Abu Hurayrah, that he heard the call to the prayer whilst a cup was in his hand and he said, “I acquired it by the Lord of the Ka‘bah.”
He then narrated from Ibn Jarīr, from Ibn ‘Abbās, that he said, “Allāh permits drinking as long as you have doubts.” Then Ibn Ḥazm narrated from ‘Ikrimah that Ibn ‘Abbās said, “I have doubts by Allāh, give me something to drink.” And he drank.
Then he narrated with his chain from Makḥūl al-Azdī, that he said, “Ibn ‘Umar took a container of Zamzam and said to two men, “Has the dawn begun?” One of them said, ‘It has began,’ and the other said, ‘No it hasn’t,’ so Ibn ‘Umar drank.
He narrated with his chain, from Ḥabbān Ibn al-Ḥārith that he had his Suḥūr with ‘Alī Ibn Abi Ṭālib and both of them intended to fast, and after he finished he told the Mu’adhdhin to do the Iqāmah for the Ṣalāh.
He also narrated with his chain from Ibn Abi Shaybah from ‘Āmir Ibn Maṭar that he said, “I came to ‘Abdullāh Ibn Mas‘ūd, in his house, and he took out for us his leftover Suḥūr. We had our Suḥūr with him and the Ṣalāh started. We came out and we prayed with him.”
Also from Khubayb Ibn ‘Abd’l-Raḥmān that he said, “I heard from my aunty that she accompanied the Prophet (ṣallallāhu ‘alayhi wa sallam) and that he said, “Ibn Umm Maktūm used to call to the Ṣalāh at night, so eat and drink until Bilāl calls it. And Bilāl sometimes calls at night so eat and drink until Ibn Umm Maktūm calls it.” One of them used to come down and the other used to come up, and she said, “We used to hold on to him asking him to wait until we had eaten our Suḥūr.”
It is narrated from Muḥammed Ibn ‘Alī Ibn Ḥusayn: “Eat until the Fajr become clear to you.”
It is narrated from al-Ḥasan: “Continue to eat as long as you are in doubt.”
It is narrated from Ibn Mijlaz: “The high (light in the sky) is the false dawn but the true one is clear and horizontal.”
It is narrated from Ibrahīm al-Nakhaʿī: “The horizontal and red (light) permits the prayer and forbids food.”
It is narrated from Ibn Jurayj that he said to ‘Aṭā’, “Do you dislike it if I drink whilst I am at home and I am not sure if the Fajr has begun?” He said, “There is no problem with that. This is a matter of doubt.”
On the authority of Ibn Abi Shayba who said, “Abu Mu‘āwiyah told us while we were with al-A‘mash, on the authority of Muslim, that he said, “They were not considering the Fajr as your Fajr; they consider the Fajr when it fills the houses and streets.”
It is narrated from Abu Wā’il, that he had his Suḥūr and he went to the mosque and the Ṣalāh has started.
It is narrated from Ma‘mar, that he delayed the Suḥūr so much, that the ignorant would say that his fast was invalid.
‘Alī (Ibn Hazm) said, “We have mentioned in this subject those who had their Suḥūr thinking it is night but it was day and they did not believe that they had to make it up.”
Abu Bakr, ‘Umar, ‘Alī, Ibn ‘Umar, Ibn ‘Abbās, Abu Hurayrah, Ibn Mas‘ūd, Hudhayfah, the Aunt of Khubayb, Zayd Ibn Thābit and Sa‘d Ibn Abi Waqqāṣ are eleven Companions – it is not known from any other of the Companions that they differed with them on this, may Allāh be pleased with all of them. The only thing we see is a weak narration on the authority of Makḥūl from Abu Sa‘īd al-Khudri but they never met one another (thus the narration is weak), and also on the authority of Yaḥyā al-Jazārī from Ibn Mas‘ūd but they also never met one another.
From the Tābi‘īn (the second successive generation after the Prophet) in support of the above: Muḥammed Ibn ‘Alī, Abu Majliz, Ibrāhīm, Muslim, the students of Ibn Mas‘ūd, ‘Aṭā’, al-Ḥasan al-Baṣrī, al-Ḥakam Ibn ‘Utaybah, Mujāhid, ‘Urwah Ibn al-Zubayr and Jābir Ibn Zayd.
The Sunan of Abu Dāwūd and its Explanation
Abu Dāwūd said, “On the authority of ‘Abdullāh Ibn Sawādah al-Qushayrī, from his father who said, “I heard Samurah Ibn Jundub giving a speech saying, “The Messenger of Allāh (ṣallallāhu ‘alayhi wa sallam) said, “Let the Adhān of Bilāl not prevent you from your Suḥūr, nor the whiteness of the horizon which is like this i.e. vertical, until it spreads across everywhere (yastaṭīr).”
This was also narrated by Muslim and al-Nasā’ī. Al-Khaṭṭābī said, “The meaning of yastaṭīr is when the dawn covers the horizon and its light spreads there.
The poet said:
وهان على سراة بني لؤي … حريق بالبويرة مستطير
It was easy to the sons of Lu’ay … A Mustaṭīr (spread) flame in al-Buwayrah
Abu Dāwūd also narrated from ‘Abdullāh Ibn Mas‘ūd that he said, “The Messenger of Allāh (ṣallallāhu ‘alayhi wa sallam) said, “Let not the Adhān of Bilāl prevent you from your Suḥūr because he calls the Adhān in order that those of you who are awake (and praying) can now rest and those who are asleep can wake up; and the dawn is not like this. Yaḥya al-Qaṭṭān put his hands together and he pointed with his two fingers.” This is narrated by al-Bukhāri and Muslim.
‘Adīyy Ibn Hātim narrated that when this āyah was revealed: “Eat and drink until the white thread of dawn becomes distinct from the black,” he said, “I took black and white threads, and I put them under my pillow, and I looked and I couldn’t distinguish between them. I mentioned that to the Messenger of Allāh (ṣallallāhu ‘alayhi wa sallam) and he laughed, and said, “Your pillow must be so wide and long then! This is referring to the night and the day.”
‘Uthmān Ibn Abi Shaybah said, “It is the darkness of the night, and whiteness of the day.” This is narrated by al-Bukhāri, Muslim, al-Tirmidhi and al-Nasā’ī.
Shaykh Shams’l-Dīn Ibn’l-Qayyim raḥimahullāh said: This hadith was criticised by Ibn al-Qaṭṭān who he said that there is some doubt in the continuity of its chain. He said that because Ibn Dāwūd said that ‘Abd’l-A‘lā Ibn al-Hammāl, said, I think, “On the authority of Ḥammād, from Muḥammed Ibn ‘Amr from Abu Hurayrah and then he mentioned the Ḥadīth.”
Al-Nasā’ī narrated from Zirr that he said: We said to Ḥudhayfah, “What time did you have your Suḥūr with the Messenger of Allāh (ṣallallāhu ‘alayhi wa sallam)?” He said, “It was daytime but the sun had not come out yet.”
There are different opinions in this matter.
The first opinion has been articulated by Isḥāq Ibn Rāhway who narrated from Wakī‘ that he heard al-A‘mash say, “If I was not afraid of becoming famous, I would pray Fajr then have my Suḥūr.” Then Isḥāq mentioned from Abu Bakr al-Ṣiddīq and Ḥudhayfah similar to that, and then he said, “They did not used to see any difference between the time for eating and the time for the obligatory prayer.” This is the end of Isḥāq’s statement. This has also been narrated from Ibn Mas‘ūd. (So in summary, the first opinion is that one can eat and drink until just after Fajr has actually started, and not just that the time has “begun”, but after the adhan and iqamah etc.)
The second opinion: most of the scholars are of the opinion that one is to stop the Suḥūr by the beginning of Fajr, and this is the opinion of the four Imams and most of the scholars of different countries and something of similar meaning has been narrated by ‘Umar and Ibn ‘Abbās.
The people with the first opinion have used the statement of the Prophet (ṣallallāhu ‘alayhi wa sallam), “And eat and drink until Ibn Umm Maktūm gives the Adhān.” It is known that he was not giving the Adhān until Fajr had already begun. That is in al-Bukhāri and in some narrations it states: “He was a blind man and he was not giving the Adhān until it was said to him that, ‘The Fajr has begun! The Fajr has begun!’”
These people say the day begins when the sun rises (meaning that one can eat into the Fajr time).
The majority on the other hand used the verse: “Eat and drink until the white thread of dawn becomes distinct from the black.” Also the statement of Muḥammed (ṣallallāhu ‘alayhi wa sallam), “Eat and drink until Ibn Umm Maktūm gives the Adhān,” and his statement, “There are two Fajrs: the first one does not prohibit food and does not permit the prayer and the second prohibits food and permits the prayer.” Narrated by al-Bayhaqi in his Sunan.
They also said that the Ḥadīth of Ḥudhayfah is faulty and that the fault is that it is Mawqūf (a statement of a Companion alone), and that is Zirr is the one who had his Suḥūr with Ḥudhayfah. This was mentioned by al-Nasā’ī.
End of statement from Ibn’l-Qayyim.
(Muḥammed Taqi’l-Dīn said) I don’t agree with that, because Ḥudhayfah said, “That’s how I did it with the Messenger of Allāh (ṣallallāhu ‘alayhi wa sallam)” and this is Marfū‘ (a statement/event elevated to the Prophet).
Out of all these Ḥadīths, we give Fatwa based on the middle opinion: that the true dawn which prohibits food on the fasting person and permits the prayer is as the Prophet (ṣallallāhu ‘alayhi wa sallam) said: the red dawn, the one that whose whiteness is mixed with some redness and is horizontal in the horizon. It is the one which fills the houses and streets and the people do not differ between them about it, and all people can identify it. Any other dawn such as the one identified by the Moroccans is false, it doesn’t prohibit food on the fasting person and doesn’t permit the Fajr prayer.
We usually delay our Fajr prayer more than half an hour after the Moroccan time, until we can see the true dawn. This is what we worship Allāh with and Allāh says the truth and He guides us to the straight path. We ask Allāh to show us the truth as truth and to help us to follow it and to show us the falsehood as falsehood and to help us to avoid it.
And all praise is due to the Lord of the Worlds.
I finished writing this before noon, Saturday the 4th of Shawwāl 1394 (1974) after the migration of the Prophet (ṣallallāhu ‘alayhi wa sallam).
Translated by Kehlan Al-Jubury, Manchester, Monday, 25 June 2012