Not Sure About the Time of Fajr and ‘Ishaa’ Due to Light Pollution
Fatwa No: 387526

  • Fatwa Date:3-12-2018 - Rabee' Al-Awwal 25, 1440
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Question

As salaamoe alaykoemwrwb.
My question is about fajr and isha time. In Europe we have a lot of light pollution. So is it still right to just look at the horizon and find out the times of fajr and ishaa? Because some people say you will see wrong times. Also I want to ask about what to do when people coming with different observations in the same place. Which one should i follow?

Answer

All perfect praise be to Allah, The Lord of the Worlds. I testify that there is none worthy of worship except Allah, and that Muhammad  sallallaahu  `alayhi  wa  sallam ( may  Allaah exalt his mention ) is His slave and Messenger.

There is no doubt that the lights in the cities affect the sight of true dawn as well as the sight of the twilight at ‘Ishaa’. However, we cannot authoritatively assert that it is impossible to see them as the lights vary in strength and weakness from one city to another, and from one area to another within the same city.

What we can say, however, is that if you cannot be sure of the time of the prayer because of light pollution, as you mentioned, or because of the difference of people (regarding the time), or for any other reason, and you cannot find out the time through the Islamic signs, then do not pray until enough time passes with which you become sure or you predominantly think that the time of the prayer has started.

The scholars stated that one should not pray unless one is certain or predominantly think that the time (of the prayer) has started. Ibn Qudaamah  may  Allaah  have  mercy  upon  him said in his book Al-Mughni:

If a person doubts that the time of the prayer has started, then he should not pray until he becomes certain that the time has started, or he predominantly thinks so….” [End of quote]

With regard to abstaining from eating and drinking for fasting, then you may eat and drink until you become sure, or you predominantly think that the time of true Fajr has started. If you stop eating and drinking before this in order to be on the safe side, then there is no harm. When breaking the fast, you also do not break the fast until you are sure, or you predominantly think that the sun has set.

For more benefit, please refer to Fataawa 381931, 88061, and 92311.

Allah knows best.

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