Dawn / Suhur / Sehri timings during Ramadan

Bismillah. I blogged about this last year. A number of people have asked me about these again, so here goes:

There are variations in UK mosque timetables for dawn and end of Suhur (Sehri) timings. The variation can be over one hour.

This is due to different methods of calculating the time of the first appearance of dawn, usually based on the sun’s angle below the horizon. Some jurists recommend 15 degrees, others use 18 or 17.5 degrees.

I use the visual observation of dawn, as per the original Prophetic practice. I don’t follow clocks rigidly to the minute – that is not the spirit of Islam. I don’t wear a watch any more, to reduce our over-obsession with telling time via clocks as opposed to our bodily rhythms and other cycles of nature. (I recommend “Pip Pip” by Jay Griffiths for a wonderful exploration of time, clocks, nature & humanity. The world’s biggest four-faced clock tower, currently being built opposite the outwardly light-polluted, but inwardly light-bathed, House of God and Symbol of the Heart in Mecca, really is a sign of the times!) But of course, in modern, clocks-dominated societies, calculated timetables are inevitable.

Visual observation of the dawn usually tallies with a 15 degree angle in urban or light-polluted areas and 18 degrees in very rural, dark-sky locations.

In high latitudes in the summer, the “dawn” is there all night, and the jurists use various rules such as: nearest valid time; most recent valid time; last fifth, sixth or seventh of the night, etc.

As with the Ramadan start date, these are all valid interpretations / ijtihads. Individuals and communities should follow what is most sensible for them.

Allah knows best!


7 Responses to “Dawn / Suhur / Sehri timings during Ramadan”

  1. Shams Says:

    Good explanation. But please do us a favour, (us – refers to those of us who are still hocked on clock and still need to fast), kindly state the time that you start fasting tomorrow.

    Secondly, what do you mean when you dais during summer, the dawn is there all the time?

  2. SJ Says:

    Thanks Usama
    I found this on the web: http://websurf.hmnao.com/surfbin/placefinder.cgi?program=Prayers&ticket=5772b7ae4c63e137
    It allows you to create timetables based upon different criteria: 15 degrees, civil twilight, astrological twilight, nautical twilight etc.
    For me – I’m just imaging living in the middle of the desert and working out when to eat at suhoor. I don’t think it would be in the pitch black – which is what I am doing according to my timetable which I think must be following the 17.5…

  3. Naveed shaikh Says:

    I have thought about shunning clocks before-interesting that you have

    I thought you were in favour of scientific calculation of Islamic dates-has your position changed on this?

    • Usama Hasan Says:

      wa ‘alaykum as-salam & thank you for commenting, Naveed. Over-reliance on technology is not good. But for pragmatic reasons, I favour calculating the months (accurate & practical, and only once a month) but relying on the natural cycles for daily prayer times. Since the latter occur so often, using clocks/timetables really separates us from natural phenomena and has a dehumanising effect.

  4. riaz Says:

    Please follow this link for UK (or anywhere else in the world) prayer time table.

    You can download a free software for any java enabled mobile phone from the same site that can tell you the prayer times all year long with Azan notification

  5. More Thoughts on the Prayer and Fasting Time Confusion… « Even the fish in the sea… حتى الحيتان في الماء… Says:

    […] / ijtihads. Individuals and communities should follow what is most sensible for them.” [from: https://unity1.wordpress.com/2010/08/12/dawn-suhur-sehri-timings-during-ramadan/%5D   It seems that he’s saying that dawn depends on whether or not you have artificial lights […]

  6. Unique and original clocks made from blank and unwanted CD's Says:

    Unique and original clocks made from blank and unwanted CD’s…

    […]Dawn / Suhur / Sehri timings during Ramadan « UNITY[…]…

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

%d bloggers like this: