An explanation to Fajar & Esha Times in UK

31st July 2013

Asslamo Allaikum Wa Rahmatullahi Wa Barakatuh,

There is a lot of confusion in UK about varying times of Fajar & Esha between Masjids very close to each other. We will Insha’Allah attempt to simplify the issues shielding the reader from overly technical scientific or Fiqh discussions and terminologies.


Start of Fajar:

  1. Sun sets (Maghirb)
  2. In between we have two separate Subh-Sadiqs (dawns):
    1. False Dawn: These are the two characterstics (see picture below)
      1. It is vertical and classical Islamic books describe it as the tail of a wolf (fat and then gets thinner as it tapers off upwards)
      2. It goes away after a while and darkness prevails again

    2. True Dawn: These are the two characterstics (see picture below)
      1. It is horizontal across the width of the horizon
      2. There is no darkness after its appearance and the sky gets brighter and brighter until the sun rises (eventually)

  3. Sun rises (Fajar ends)

False Dawn:


True Dawn (Extreme example to illustrate to the readers):

Start of Esha:

  1. Sun sets (Maghirb)
  2. In between we have two separate Esha times and a person can choose to pray on either one. First one comes early and the second one comes a little later
    1. Setting of Red Twilight: After the red twilight has disappeared Esha time starts and this is the opinions of the students of Imam Abu Haneefa (RA) i.e. Imam Abu Yusuf (RA), Imam Muhammad (RA) and the other 3 Madhabs
    2. Setting of WhiteTwilight: : After the white twilight has disappeared Esha time starts and this is the opinion of Imam Abu Haneefa (RA)

  3. False Dawn (see above)
  4. True Dawn (see above)
  5. Sun rises (Fajar ends) eventually

Red Twilight (after Sunset):

White Twilight (after Sunset):

How to pray and when to start your fast :

The best method and closest to Sunnah is to observe these natural phenomenon and call the Adhan as done by the earlier Muslims. This requires two things:

  1. Expertise in observing natural phenomenon, knowledge of where the sun sets and rises (respective of your location) the ability to distinguish between false and true dawns and various colours of twilight (as the shades differ due to local atmospheric conditions)
  2. Venturing out in the country away from light pollution. It is IMPOSSIBLE to discern any of this from your bedroom window!  If any of our sincere brothers and sisters offer a few on Faj’ar start based on their observations from their bedroom window or the horizon while on their way to the Masjid within city limits then politely listen and ignore because these can’t readily be observed within city limits.

When to pray Esha?

Due to a difference of opinion within the Hanafi Madhab (in itself) and within other Madhabs there are at least two UK Scholars who permit praying Esha in Maghirb times when it arrives very late in UK:

  1. Shaykh (Mufti) Yusuf Sacha (HA): Shaykh is of the opinion that in UK the latest Esha is at 23:00 and all times later should be ignored and this should be the limit.
  2. Shaykh Abu Yusuf Riyadhul-Haq (HA) in his talk on perpetual Twilight: The relevant section of the talk (full discussion from 0:53 onwards) is summarised as follows:

There comes a time when the twilight doesn’t set and (roughly) it is between 17th of May to 10th of July so in those times it doesn’t matter:

  • Whether you pray Isha immediately after Maghrib
  • Whether you pray Isha one hour after Maghrib

When to pray Fajar & Start Fasting?

There is no difference of opinion amongst Islamic Scholars on Fajar and the agreement is that Fajar starts at Subh-Sadiq and the signs are also as described previously.

The global consensus of Islamic Scholars now states that Fajar start is at 18 degrees. Laymen have four (4) choices:

  1. Observe True Dawn everyday and start their fast & pray accordingly
  2. Follow the consensus of worldwide Scholars and protect their acts of worship
  3. Carefully collect & record observational data throughout the year and take it to Scholars and prove that in their locality Fajar doesn’t start at 18 degrees.
  4. Make up random times based on incomplete knowledge and assumptions and place their acts of worship in jeopardy

What is 18 degrees for Fajar?

Astronomically speaking there are 3 kinds of twilights:

  1. Civil Twilight: the time at which the sun is 6 degrees below the horizon. At this time, there is enough light for objects to be clearly distinguishable and that outdoor activities can commence (dawn) or end (dusk) without artificial illumination. Civil twilight is the definition of twilight most widely used by the general public. You can easily see things and take pictures without a flash so Fajar has already started!

  3. NauticalTwilight: The time when the center of the sun is 12 degrees below the horizon, and only general or vague outlines of objects are visible. During the evening this is when it becomes too difficult to perceive the horizon, and in the morning this is the point when the horizon becomes distinguishable. This term goes back to the days when sailing ships navigated by using the stars.It is fairly bright and anyone can discern the light on the horizon You can see things and take pictures without a flash and Fajar has already started!

  5. Astronomical Twilight: The time at which the sun is 18 degrees below the horizon. It is that point in time at which the sun starts lightening the sky. Prior to this time during the morning, the sky is completely dark. During the evening, this is the point where the sky completely turns dark.

Morning twilight appears at 18 degrees and no other.  Evening twilight dissappears completely at 18 degrees and no other.  However, under good observation conditions our perception of this first [or last light] may be very slightly delayed [or hastened] owing to location, time of year, light pollution and other considerations. 

How to get 18 degree times for Fajar & Esha?

Method 1: If you have a computer prayer time calculation program  set it to the following option out of all of these available options:

Convention Fajr  Angle Isha Angle
University of Islamic Sciences, Karachi 18      18
Islamic Society of North America (ISNA) 17.5 * 15
Muslim World League (MWL) 18 17
Umm al-Qura, Makkah 19* According to their table it is 90 mins after Maghrib
Egyptian General Authority of Survey 19.5* *

Method 2: Google Astronomical Twilight for your city e.g. "Astronomical Twilight London"

Method 3: Download a sunrise/sunset calculation program for your iPhone, Windows, Android device and look for Astronomical twilight

Method 4:Many of the watches also give you this information but ensure that you set the right longitute and latitude for your location

What happens when there is no 18 degrees time?

  • Using the Last Times:This method is to pray Maghrib after sunset, Esha at the last time that Esha entered at.
  • Nearest City:This method requires the following of the nearest city at which the phenomena is not occurring. In UK, the nearest city is Avignon in France. Regents Park Mosque (London) followed this method until June 2011.
  • ½ Night:This method involves splitting the night into halves. Maghrib is prayed on time, and the Esha is prayed before half of the night. Take a look at your Dhohar time (e.g. 13:12) and flip it so 01:12 will be start of Fajar
  • 1/3 Night:This method allows the first third for Maghrib, the next third for Esha.
  • 1/7 Night: This method splits the night into seven parts, with the first for Maghirb and the next five remaining parts for Esha.
  • Makkah Times:Another method is to follow the initial land of Islam, Makkah, and the timings that are used there. This is the method that has been used in the northern most Mosque of the world in Norway, where they suffer from 24 hour day during the summer months.
  • Esha and Maghrib together, Fajr near Sunrise:This method allows the combining of Maghrib and Esha.


Principle 1:Allah (SWT) has commended Non-Scholars to follow Ulamah (Scholars) in the Qur’aan and that absolves us of our responsibility on the day of judgement.

Principle 2:Sayyidina Rasul-ullah (Sallallaho Alaihe Wassallam) has commanded us to REMOVE doubt and ABANDON what places you in doubt!.

There is a possibility that in your area Fajar doesn’t start at 18 degrees but starts later at 17, 16 or even 15 degrees. During the blessed month of Ramadhan you have two options:

  1. Exercise CAUTION and adopt the agreement opinion of global Islamic Scholars and start your fasting at 18 degrees and SECURE your fast. The worst outcome is that your fast may be a little longer.
  2. Discuss, debate, present your “opinions” or follow your local Masjid (because it’s convenient) and jeopardise your fasting (inadvertently or willingly)

There is a consensus of Deobandi, Hanbali/Salafi & Barelwee Ulamah about Fajar start being at 18 degrees so before going out on a tangent watch this video for explaination as to why 18 degrees have been chosen!

Choice is yours!

Jazakullah Khairun

ISNA have changed their stance and the table now looks like this and click here to see the confirmation of their change!

Addendum (Shaykh (Mufti) Sajid Patel (HA): What happens when there is no 18 degrees time for Fajar?

Also many of our Scholars are unaware that نصف الليل (Nisf-ul-Lail) is the only option mentioned by the Hanafi Jurists with regards to Fajr. After accepting that perpetual twilight does occur in Bulgaar, Tahtaawi writes the definition of Fajr;

ووجود الفجر بظهور البياض منتشرا من جهة المشرق

Translation of Tahtaawi's text: "Fajr occurs when manifestation of spreading of whiteness appears from the east". It should be noted that Tahtaawi has ignored the light from the west or NNW which is before midnight and says"Fajr occurs when manifestation of spreading of whiteness appears from the east"  before midnight the perpetual twilight is from the west (NNW), hence light after midnight is from the east or NNE.

The words من جهة المشرق is the focal point in understanding Nisf-ul-Lail from the above text. 

Tags: islam
posted by Muadh_Khan on 31st July 2013 - 2 comments


fishman99 wrote on 31 Jul 2013
Jazarkallah for this detail and clear explanation
abu mohammed wrote on 31 Jul 2013
Very beneficial. Jazakallahu khair.

I have seen a certain site of the Salafi background claiming that Fajr should start at between 12-6 Degrees.


With regards to the format, it has been very difficult since we have been given the privelage of having the HTML editor. InshaAllah, Admin can give us the choice of Plain or HTML editors or fix the HTML editor. Trying to edit one of them is an absolute nightmare!
Blogger's Reply:
That Shaykh is an Ahl-e-Hadeeth I believe because he has listed the unified opinions of all 4 Madhabs and then not blatantly ignored it (because he cant publicly) but tried to gloss over it. Secondly, he has not given any evidence for his weird position and just sufficed translating from Arabic an article based on observations outside of UK.
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