Ramzan diaries: Why do Sehri and Iftar timings differ in various Muslim sects?

It is said that the person who prepared the timetable might have maintained precautions

Telangana: Sehri and Iftar timings differ in various sects of Muslims and this is creating confusion. Muslims follow two different timings for the cut-off point for Sehri (the pre-dawn meal) and Iftars (breaking fast).

A large section of the faithful stop eating and drinking about 10 minutes before and delay 5 minutes in breaking the fast following the decades-old timetable of prayers approved by famous seminaries ‘Jamia Nizamia’. Ahle Hadees’ people have their own timetable according to which they do Sehri 12 minutes late and break the fast 5 minutes before.

For instance, on the fourth Ramadan i.e. 27th of March general Muslims will end their Sehri at 4:53 am and break the fast at 6:35 pm, while Ahle Hadees people will eat and drink till 5:03 am and break the fast at 6:29 pm.

What is the reason for this?

The reason for the difference in timings is not because of a difference in understanding the Sharia but the observance of hyper-wariness. The man who prepared the timetable decades ago has fixed the timings 10 minutes earlier for Saher and five minutes late for Iftar.

It is said that the person who prepared the timetable might have maintained precautions. Thus he fixed 10 minutes early in Saheri and a 5-minute delay in Iftar to ensure that people must stop eating and drinking before the start time of fasting and do not break the fast before the prescribed time which was fixed at the moment of sunset.

Those who stop themselves from eating and drinking 10 minutes earlier and delay 5 minutes in breaking the fast cite that we are following this practice as a precaution, while those who do not maintain precautionary timings contend that at present we have an accuracy of time and everyone has access to the correct time.

There is also a small group that says that even Ahle Hadees people are not following the exact timings for Saheri as they failed to maintain the leniency given by the Sharia which permits drinking and eating till the True Dawn while the timetable of Ahle Hadees shows that it ends the Sehri timing on False Dawn and there is about 12 minutes gap between two dawns.

Moulana Farooq Quadri, a senior cleric in Hyderabad, said that they are following this timetable for decades and people are maintaining it without considering the true timings. “This is not possible for someone to convince them that we follow unwanted precautions as Sharia does not ask the followers to take precautions while fasting,” he said.

Moulana Shaykh Ismayeel Umri said there are many sayings of Prophet Mohammed which allows the faithful to eat till the Azan of Fajr (calling for dawn prayer). Likewise, Prophet Mohammed motivated for hastening in breaking the fast.

Constitute a committee of experts

Ishaq Mansoor, an activist, opined that there shall be a discussion on the accuracy of the timetable followed by different people in the city and if possible they can constitute a committee in which they can include a few experts in astronomy and Sharia to calculate the true timings in the light of times and conditions prescribed for the prayers.

Twilight is twofold: the first is called al-fajr al-kadhib (the false dawn) or Nautical Twilight. It rises without extending laterally, which appears black, presenting itself like an obstacle (on the horizon). The second is called al-fajr al-Sadiq (the true dawn). It is the rising and spreading (dawn) or Civil Twilight that appears to rise and fills the horizon with its whiteness.

Creating a baseline across the different time zones according to the geographical locations is important as there can be a standard time.

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