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You Are Here: Knowledge Base Acts of Worship and their Rulings Fasting and Ramadaan

The Duration of Fasting

The fast has to be observed from the appearance of Fajr until the daytime ends and the night begins, i.e. from dawn (sunrise) to dusk (sunset). Allah says in the Qur'aan, "And eat and drink until the white thread (i.e., light, whiteness of dawn) appears to you distinct from the black thread (i.e., darkness of night)." [Soorah al-Baqarah (2): 187]

The Prophet (sallallahu alaihi wa-sallam) explained: "The Fajr is two Fajrs; as for the first Fajr, it does not make food forbidden, nor does it make the prayer lawful. As for the second, it makes food forbidden and the prayer lawful." [Reported by Ibn Khuzaimah (3/210), al-Hakim (1/191- 495), ad-Daaraqutnee (2/165) and al-Baihaqee (4/261) by way of Sufyan, from Ibn Juraij, From Ataa, From Ibn Abbas and its isnaad is saheeh. It has a supporting witness from Jabir reported by al-Hakim (1/191), al-Baihaqee (4/ 215) and ad-Daaraqutnee (2/165) and they differ about its being mawsool or mursal, and it has a third witnessing narration from Thawbaan reported by Ibn Abee Shaibah (3/27)]

1. The False Fajr is the rising vertical column of whiteness that appear looking like the tail of a fox.
2. The True Fajr is the horizontally spreading reddishness, which can be seen above the mountain passes and tops, which spread its light throughout the roads, streets, and houses.

Samurah (radhi allahu anhu) said, Allah's Messenger (sallallahu alaihi wa-sallam) said, "Let not the adhaan of Bilal deceive you, nor this vertical whiteness of dawn until it spreads horizontally." [Saheeh Muslim (no. 1094)]

From Talq Ibn Alee (radhi allahu anhu) that the Prophet (sallallahu alaihi wa-sallam) said, "Eat and drink and do not let the tall vertical brightness deceive you, but eat and drink until the reddish one spreads horizontally for you." [Reported by at-Tirmidhee (3/76), Abu Dawood (2/304), Musnad Ahmad (4/23) and Ibn Khuzaimah (3/211). Its isnad is saheeh]

If there is Cup of Water in Your Hand, then drink it at ease, even if you hear the nidaa (call for prayer), since it is an allowance from Allah, the Most Merciful, for His fasting servants. The Prophet (sallallahu alaihi wa-sallam) said, "If one of you hears the nidaa (call) and the drinking vessel is in his hand, then let him not put it down until he has satisfied his need from it." [Reported by Abu Dawood (no. 235), Musnad Ahmad (2/423), al-Hakim (1/426), al-Baihaqee (2/218) and Ibn Jareer (no. 3115) from Abu Hurayrah. Its isnad is hasan, and it has another chain of narrators reported by Ahmad (2/510) and al-Hakim (1/203,205) and it is saheeh.]

An-Nidaa here means the second adhaan given for the appearance of the true dawn. This meaning is attested to by what Abu Umaamah (radhi allahu anhu) reports, "That the call for prayer was given and a drinking vessel was in the hand of Umar (radhi allahu anhu), so he said, 'Shall I drink it, O Messenger of Allah?' He (sallallahu alaihi wa-sallam) said, 'Yes,' so he drank it." [Reported by Ibn Jareer (2/102) through two isnads]

Narrated Aisha (radhi allahu anha), "Bilal used to pronounce the Adhan at night, so the Messenger of Allah (sallallahu alaihi wa-sallam) said, 'Carry on taking your meals (eat and drink) till Ibn Umm Makhtum pronounces the Adhan, for he does not pronounce it till it is dawn.'" [Saheeh al-Bukharee]

Withholding from Food before the Appearance of the True Fajr due to Claims of Taking Precaution is a Bidah (innovation). Al-Hafidh Ibn Hajr (rahimahullah) says in al-Fath (4/199), "One of the reprehensible innovations which have appeared in this time is to make the secondary adhaan about a third of an hour before Fajr in Ramadaan, and the extinguishing of lights, which is used as a sign indicating the forbidance of eating and drinking for the one, intending to fast, claiming that what he has innovated is a precautionary measure to protect his worship...This has lead them to the stage, where they do not give adhaan until four minutes or so after the actual sunset, to make sure of the time as they claim. So, they delay breaking the fast and take suhoor early and act in contradiction to the Sunnah. Therefore, there is little good found in them and much evil and Allah's Aid is sought."

The Time of Iftar: Breaking the Fast
Umar (radhi allahu anhu) said, "The Prophet (sallallahu alaihi wa-sallam) said, 'When the night approaches from here, and the day passes away from here, and the sun sets, then the fasting person's fast is broken.'" [Saheeh al-Bukharee (4/171) and Saheeh Muslim (no. 1100)]

This is something, which, comes about immediately after the sun sets, even if the sky is bright and clear. During his fasts, Allah's Messenger (sallallahu alaihi wa-sallam) would order a man to climb upon something and check the status of the sun, which if had set, he would break his fast. [See, al-Hakim (1/434) and Ibn Khuzaimah (no. 2061). Al-Hakim declared it authentic according the standards of al-Bukharee and Muslim]

It may be misunderstood that the night does not appear directly after the setting of the sun, but rather starts when the darkness spreads in the east and west. Such is how some of the Sahabah also understood the matter, so they were made aware that the beginning of darkness in the east directly after the sun disappears is sufficient.

Abdullah Ibn Abee Awfaa (radhi allahu anhu) said, "We were with Allah's Messenger (sallallahu alaihi wa-sallam) on a journey and he was fasting (in the month of Ramadaan), so when the sun set he said to one of the people, 'O so and so (and in a narration of Abu Dawood, 'O Bilaal') stand and mix gruel (thin porridge) for us.' He said, 'O Messenger of Allah (sallallahu alaihi wa-sallam), if you were to wait until evening' (and in a narration of al-Bukharee, 'The sun!') He (sallallahu alaihi wa-sallam) said, 'Get down and mix gruel for us.' He said, 'It is still day time!' He (sallallahu alaihi wa-sallam) said, 'Get down and mix gruel for us.' So he dismounted and made the gruel and the Prophet (sallallahu alaihi wa-sallam) drank (and he said, 'if anyone had mounted his camel to try and see the sun, he would have seen it'. Then he beckoned (in a narration of al-Bukharee, 'he indicated with his hand), (and in a narration of al-Bukharee and Muslim, 'he indicated with his finger towards the east') then said, 'when you see that the night has approached from here then the fasting person's fast is broken." [Saheeh al-Bukharee (4/199), Saheeh Muslim (no.1101), Ahmad (4/381) and Abu Dawood (no. 2352). The first addition is reported by Muslim (no. 1101) and the second by 'Abdur-Razzaq (4/226). The Hadeeth contains many valuable points, which can be read in al-Fath (4/198)]

Note: One should break the fast and pray according to the Sunnah even if for some reason the adhan is deliberately delayed.

Taken from As-Sunnah Newsletter -