Fatwa

The Suggested Calculation Method for Fajr and Isha

The Fiqh Council of North America – General Body Meeting in Dallas, Texas on October 27-29, 2017

The Suggested Calculation Method for Fajr & Isha Times

For a long time, Muslims have used calculations to determine the timings of Fajr and Isha prayer. The fixed degrees indicate the Sun’s angle of depression below the horizon. The concept of using fixed degrees has been around for centuries, which ranges anywhere from 12-20° in different regions.

Today, it is common for most Muslims to access these prayer times from a website or their mobile phone app. In the settings section of the app, there are usually options for choosing a calculation method as follows:

Calculation Methods

OrganizationAngle of the sun under the horizon (Fajr)Angle of the sun under the horizon (Isha)Region
Muslim World League18 degrees17 degreesEurope, The Far East, Parts of the USA
Egyptian General Authority of Survey19.5 degrees17.5 degreesAfrica, Syria, Iraq, Lebanon, Malaysia, Parts of the USA
University Of Islamic Sciences, Karachi18 degrees18 degreesPakistan, Bangladesh, India, Afghanistan, Parts of Europe
Umm Al-Qura18.5 Degrees (19 degrees before 1430 hijri)90 minutes after the Sunset Prayer.
120 minutes (in Ramadan only)
The Arabian Peninsula
Islamic Society of North America15 degrees15 degreesParts of the USA, Canada, Parts of the UK
Union des Organisations Islamiques de France12 degrees12 degreesFrance region
Majlis Ugama Islam Singapura20 degrees18 degreesSingapore region

Decades of research conducted by organizations such as moonsighting.com, as well as several other individuals, have revealed that the timings for Fajr and Isha are not scientifically deterministic and vary with season, latitude, elevation, and other factors. Due to repeated inquiries sent to the Fiqh Council of North America and the Islamic Society of North America, two sessions were held to discuss the topic in 2016 and 2017.

The conclusion from these meetings was that since none of the calculation methods are entirely accurate for all locations across North America, an approximation must be made to ease the burden on Muslims from having to visually observe twilight and dusk on a regular basis. After much discussion, and analyzing the observational data from different regions in North America, as well as discussing the legal [fiqhi] aspects of how the timings should be determined, a conclusion was reached.

The Fiqh Council of North America suggests using 15° for both Fajr and Isha in the USA and using 13° for both Fajr and Isha in Canada, throughout the year. Understanding that these timings are not always exact, FCNA also reminds Muslims who are able to determine the timings more precisely in their city and season through actual observations to consider exercising caution by either a) delaying the start of Fajr/Isha prayer by a few minutes to ensure that the time has really entered and b) hasten the start of fasting by a few minutes to ensure that the time to stop eating has not entered. This is not a requirement, only a recommendation.

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