Chapter Nine: The time for Prayers

 

The time for the breaking of fast in Ramadan, and for Maghrib prayers is the same, therefore for the breaking of fast Allah Almighty says:

“…and eat and drink until the white thread becometh distinct to you from the black thread of the dawn…”
Surah al-Baqarah, verse 187

The words of

الیٰ اللیل

in relation to breaking of fast is clear, the word

الیٰ

doesn’t mean just reaching a boundary or limit, but it means to go inside it. As it has been said in Surah Bani Israel:

“Glory be to Him Who made His servant to go on a night from the Sacred Mosque to the remote mosque…”
Surah al-Israa’, verse 1

Now it doesn’t mean that Holy Prophet’s (s) journey was limited to the outer premsis of al Aqsa, obviously it means he also went inside the Mosque. Likewise, Allah (swt)’s order about the breaking of fast mentions night, means that the time for Maghrib prayers will be when the night starts to prevail. Allah (swt) says:

“And the day when it revealeth him, And the night when it enshroudeth him…”
Surah al-Shams, verse 3-4

The scholars have named the first part of night as “Shafaq” and the second part as “Ghasaq”. Allah Almighty says:

“Oh, I swear by the afterglow of sunset, And by the night and all that it enshroudeth…”
Surah al-Inshiqaaq, verse 16-17

It clearly shows that “Shafaq” is the afterglow of night, and night is something that comes after that. It means that initially it is “shafaq” and one should wait for “ghasaq”, that is the night.

The Holy Qur’an says:

“Establish prayers after the decline of the sun till the darkness of the night and the morning recitation…”
Surah al-Israa, verse 78

Al-Munjid describes Ghasaq by saying that it is the dark part of the night. A Hadeeth can certainly clarify it more;

“The Holy Prophet (s) said “When the night mounts from the east and the day turns back to the west and the sun sets, then it is the time to break your fasts.”
Tayseer al Bari fee Sharh Sahih Bukhari, Book of Fast (Saum), volume 3, page 115.

Similarly we read in Sahih Muslim and Sunan Tirmidhi:

Umar bin al-Khatab narrated that the Prophet said: ‘When comes forth the darkness of the night from the east and the day turns away and the sun disappears then you should do Iftaar (break the fast)’
1. Sunan Tirmidhi, Volume 3 page 190 Hadith 702
2. Sahih Muslim Book 006, Number 2421

We also read:

‘Abdullah b. Abi Aufa reported: We were with the Messenger of Allah (may peace be upon him) on a journey during the month of Ramadan. When the sun had sunk he said: So and so, get down (from your ride) and prepare the meal of parched barley for us. He said: Messenger of Allah, still (there is light of) day. He (the Holy Prophet) said: Get down and prepare meal of parched barley for us. So he got down and prepared the meal of parched barley and offered him, and the apostle of Allah (may peace be upon him) drank that (liquid meal). He then told with the gesture of his hand that when the sun sank from that side and the night appeared from that side, then the observer of the fast should break it.
Sahih Muslim Book 006, Number 2422

Just look at how clear the word of the Prophet (s) are, the fast is broken when the sunset disappears and is replaced by night you break your fast, as is the same with Salat.

Let us now read the practice of Umar and Uthman in this regard. We read in Muwatta Malik, the narration of Muhammad bin al-Hassan , Volume 2 page 185:

أخبرنا مالك أخبرنا ابن شهاب عن حميد بن عبد الرحمن بن عوف أنه أخبره : أن عمر بن الخطاب وعثمان بن عفان كانا يصليان المغرب حين ينظران الليل الأسود قبل أن يفطروا ثم يفطران بعد الصلاة في رمضان
قال محمد : وهذا كله واسع فمن شاء أفطر قبل الصلاة ومن شاء أفطر بعدها وكل ذلك لا بأس به

Narrated Malik from Ibn Shihab from Humayd ibn Abd ar-Rahman bin Auf that Umar ibn al-Khattab and Uthman ibn Affan would pray maghrib when they saw the night darkening, before they broke their fast, and that was during Ramadan.

Muhammad said: By all means there is room in this and it doesn’t matter if you pray before iftaar or afterwards.

We will end the dicussion on the words of Imam Ghazali stated in Ahya ul-Uloom, volume 1, page 335 (Dar ul Isha’at, Lahore):

“…the time for Maghrib prayer is when the sun is concealed from one’s vision. This concealment is meant to be in terms of going below the surface of the earth. In this case, one should wait till the darkness prevails over the horizon/sky”

 

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