Praise be to Allaah.
Note that the time for Fajr prayer begins when the second
dawn starts, which is the white line that spreads horizontally along the
horizon right and left. The time lasts until the sun rises.
The first dawn is the false dawn, which is whiteness that
appears vertically in the sky like pillars. This happens approximately
twenty minutes before the true dawn, and it increases and decreases
according to the season.
It is known that the rulings apply to the true dawn, not the
There are many ahaadeeth which speak about the two dawns,
such as the following:
The Prophet SAWS (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him)
said: “There are two dawns, the dawn when food becomes haraam and prayer
becomes permissible, and the dawn when prayer (i.e., Fajr prayer) is haraam
and food is permitted.”
(Narrated by al-Haakim and al-Bayhaqi from the hadeeth of Ibn
‘Abbaas; classed as saheeh by al-Albaani in Saheeh al-Jaami’, 4279).
And the Prophet
(peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) said: “There are two dawns. With
regard to the dawn which is like the tail of a wolf, this does not make it
permissible to pray and haraam to eat. With regard to the dawn which appears
horizontally in the sky, this makes it permissible to pray and forbidden to
(Narrated by al-Haakim and al-Bayhaqi from the hadeeth of
Jaabir; classed as saheeh by al-Albaani in Saheeh al-Jaami’, 4278)
According to another report, “There are two dawns. One is
called the tail of the wolf, which is the false dawn that appears
vertically, not horizontally. The other appears horizontally and not
vertically.” (Classed as saheeh by al-Albaani in al-Silsilah al-Saheehah,
And the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon
him) said, “Do not let the adhaan of Bilaal stop you from eating suhoor, or
the vertical dawn, but the dawn which appears along the horizon.”
(Narrated by Abu Dawood and al-Tirmidhi, who classed it as
hasan. Classed as saheeh by al-Albaani in Saheeh al-Tirmidhi, no.
From this explanation given by the Prophet (peace and
blessings of Allaah be upon him), we know that the definition of the time of
Fajr is based on observation, not on astronomical calculations or on
timetables whose authors are unknown as far as their trustworthiness and
knowledge are concerned, especially if it is proven that they do not give
the correct times.
This mistake does not occur only in Egypt, rather it seems
that most of the timetables do not give the correct time for Fajr and are
based on the false dawn. This means that there is the risk that the Muslims’
prayers are invalid, especially in the case of those who pray in their
houses immediately after hearing the adhaan.
A group of scholars and researchers in the Kingdom of Saudi
Arabia, Syria, Egypt and Sudan have attempted to find out the time of the
true dawn, and it is clear to them that the timetables in use at present are
Shaykh al-Albaani (may Allaah have mercy on him) said:
“I have seen that myself many times in my house, in the
Hamlaan mountains to the south-east of Amman, and that enables me to confirm
what some of those who are keen that the Muslims’ worship should be correct
have said, that the adhaan of Fajr in some Arab countries is given 20-30
minutes before the time of the true dawn, i.e., it is also before the time
of the false dawn. I have often heard the iqaamah for Fajr being given in
some mosques at the time when the true dawn begins, and they give the adhaan
before it is time. And they may hasten to do the fard prayer before it is
time during the month of Ramadaan.”
(from al-Silsilah al-Saheehah, 5/25)
Once this is understood,
the people from each town or city should appoint a group of trustworthy
scholars to find out the time of Fajr and to announce that to the people,
and warn them against following timetables if it is proven that they are
The brother who asked this question, and all Muslims, should not pray Fajr until they are certain or think it most likely that dawn has broken; if they can
delay the adhaan until this time, they should do that. They should also
explain this ruling to their wives and daughters, lest they end up doing the
prayer at the wrong time.
And Allaah knows best.