The Time Between Suhur and Fajr – Seven Points

Anas reported that Zayd bin Thabit said: “We had suhur with the Prophet, and he then got up to pray.” Anas then asked: “How much time was there between the adhan and the suhur?” He answered: “Fifty verses.”

In ‘Fath al-Bari’ (4/164), Ibn Hajar made the following points on this hadith:

  • al-Muhallab and others said: “Shown in this narration is the fact that they would measure time with physical actions, and the Arabs would measure time with actions, such as their saying that such-and-such took the same amount of time that it would take to milk a sheep, or the amount of time it would take to slaughter a camel. So, Zayd bin Thabit similarly estimated the time using the recitation of the Qur’an, indicating that this time was used for the worship of reciting the Qur’an.”
  • Ibn Abi Jamrah said: “This is in indication that they would spend their time engrossed in worship.”
  • In it is also an indication that the suhur is to be delayed, as this serves the purpose of the suhur. Ibn Abi Jamrah said: “The Prophet would look to that which was easiest for his people, and would do that. This is because if he did not have suhur, they would have imitated him in this, and that would be too hard upon them. And if he were to have taken suhur in the middle of the night, this would also have been hard upon those who are heavy sleepers…”
  • He also said: “And in it is the virtuous one honoring others by having them eat with him, as well as the permissibility of walking at night if there is a need to do so, as Zayd bin Thabit did not live with the Prophet.
  • In it is they would gather to eat suhur together.
  • In it is the best manner of addressing another when making a point, due to Zayd’s saying: “We had suhur with the Prophet…,” and he did not say: “We and the Prophet had suhur…,” and this is due to his realization that his use of the word ‘with’ would show that they were his followers.”
  • al-Qurtubi said: “In it is a proof that they would finish up their suhur before the time of Fajr.”

One Response to “The Time Between Suhur and Fajr – Seven Points”

  1. Bismillahi alRahman AlRaheem

    Sh. Al-albaanee – rahimahullaah

    There is a hadeeth which is very often neglected because of another hadeeth, because the majority of people are unable to reconcile in practice and application between them. So this hadeeth is his, sallallaahu alaihi wa sallam,saying, “My Ummah will continue to be upon good for as long as they hasten to break the fast and delay the pre-dawn meal.”

    So here two matters were mentioned, and they are neglected by most of the people, and they are: hastening to break the fast, and delaying the pre-dawn meal (Suhoor).
    As for neglect of the first matter, which is hastening to break the Fast, then in the view of some people it contradicts another hadeeth, which is his, sallallaahu alaihi wa sallam, saying, “My Ummah will continue to be upon good for as long as they hasten to pray the Maghrib Prayer.”

    So here we have two commands, to hasten with two matters. So it appears to some people that we cannot hasten to perform both of them together.
    But reconciling between the command to hasten with breaking the Fast and the command to hasten to pray theMaghrib Prayer is a very easy matter. So it is something which our Prophet, sallallaahu alaihi wa sallam, made clear to us by his action and practice. So he, sallallaahu alaihi wa sallam, used to break the Fast with three dates. He would eat three dates. Then he would pray the Maghrib Prayer, then he would eat again if he found that he needed to eat the evening meal.
    But today we fall into two offences:

    i) Firstly we delay the Adhaan from its legislated time. Then after this delay comes another delay, which is that we sit down for a meal – except for a few people who are eager and pray the Maghrib Prayer in the mosque. But the majority of the people wait until they hear the Adhaan, and then they sit down to eat as if they are having a dinner, or their evening meal, and not just breaking their fast.

    So the Adhaan these days – in most of the lands of Islaam, is, unfortunately, I have to say, and not just in Jordan, and I have known this from investigation, in most of the lands of Islaam – the Adhaan for Maghrib is given after the time it becomes due. And the reason for this is that we have abandoned adhering to and applying the Islamic rulings, and instead we have come to depend upon astronomical calculations. We depend upon the timetable.

    But these time-tables are based upon astronomical calculations which count the land as being a single flat plane. So they give a time for this flat plane, whereas the reality is that the land, particularly in this land of ours varies, varying between the depression of valleys and the elevation of mountains. So it is not correct that a single time be given which covers the shore, the planes and the mountains. No, each part of the land has its own time. So therefore whoever is able in his place of residence, in his city or his village, to see the sun set with his own eye, then whatever time it sets at, then that is the hastening that we have been commanded with in his, sallallaahu alaihi wa sallam, saying, which we just mentioned, “My Ummah will continue to be upon good as long as they hasten to break the fast.” So the Prophet sallallaahu alaihi wa sallam, was careful to implement this Sunnah by teaching it, and by putting it into practice.

    As for his teaching, then he, sallallaahu alaihi wa sallam, said, in the hadeeth reported by al-Bukharee in hisSaheeh (no. 1954), “If the night appears from this side,” and he pointed towards the east ,”and the day has departed from here,” and he pointed towards the west , “and the sun has setthen the fasting persons fast is broken”
    What does, ‘the fasting persons fast is broken’ mean? It means he has entered under the ruling that he should break his fast. So then comes the previous ruling where the Messenger, sallallaahu alaihi wa sallam, encouraged hastening to break the Fast, and the Messenger, sallallaahu alaihi wa sallam, used to implement this, even when he was riding on a journey.

    So it is reported in the Saheeh of al-Bukharee (no.1955) that the Prophet, sallallaahu alaihi wa sallam, ordered one of his Companions to prepare the Iftaar for him. So he replied, O Messenger of Allaah it is still daytime before us.¹ Meaning: the light of the sun, so even though it had set, yet its light was still clear in the west. So the Messenger, sallallaahu alaihi wa sallam, did not respond to what he had said, rather he re-emphasised the command to him to prepare the Iftaar. So the narrator of the hadeeth who said, We could see daylight in front of us,¹ meaning: the light of day, the light of the sun, When we broke our fast,¹ said, “If one of us had climbed onto his camel he would have seen the sun.” The sun had set from here, and the Messenger, sallallaahu alaihi wa sallam,ordered one of the Companions to prepare the Iftaar . Why? To hasten upon good “My Ummah will continue upon good for as long as they hasten to break the Fast.”

    So what is important is that we notice that the Iftaar which is legislated to be hastened must be done with a few dates. Then we must hasten to perform the Prayer. Then after this the people can sit and eat as they need.

    This is the first matter which I wanted to remind of, and it is how to reconcile the two matters which the Prophet,sallallaahu alaihi wa sallam, commanded we should hasten to perform. The first being the command to hasten the breaking of the Fast, and the second being the command to hasten to perform the Maghrib Prayer. So the Iftaarshould be done with some dates, as occurs in the Sunnah, and if dates are not available, then with some gulps of water. Then the Prayer should pray in congregation in the mosque.
    Then the other matter which I want to remind of is what occurs in the previous hadeeth, “And they delay the pre-dawn meal” Meaning: what is required here is the opposite to the case of the Iftaar. So he, sallallaahu alaihi wa sallam, commanded us to hasten to perform the Iftaar. But as for the Suhoor, then it should be delayed. But what happens today is totally contrary to this, since many people eat their Suhoor before the appearance of Fajr by perhaps an hour. This is not befitting. This is contrary to the Sunnah shown by the saying of the Prophet,sallallaahu alaihi wa sallam, and by his practice. So the Companions of the Prophet, sallallaahu alaihi wa sallam, used to leave the Suhoor so late, that one of them would almost hear the Adhaan and he would still be eating. He delayed the Suhoor.

    Indeed there is an authentic hadeeth reported from the Prophet, sallallaahu alaihi wa sallam, which shows the ease afforded by Islaam, which is to be counted as one of the principles of Islaam, which the Muslims are proud of, especially with regard to the matter of Fasting, since Allaah, the Mighty and Majestic, concluded the aayahsconcerning Fasting with His Saying:
    Allaah desires ease for you, and He does not desire to make things difficult for you.

    So from this ease is his, sallallaahu alaihi wa sallam, saying, “If one of you hears the call to Prayer and the vessel is in the hand of one of you, then let him not put it down until he fulfils his need from it.”
    ” If one of you hears the call to Prayer and the vessel” the vessel containing food, whether it be milk, some drink, water, anything which a person may take as Suhoor, and he hears the Adhaan, then he should not say, Now the food is forbidden by the Adhaan being heard for the person who has had enough of it. It is not allowed for him to then have any more, whether it be a drink, or some fruit, when he has had his fill of whatever he was eating.¹

    But as for the one who hears the Adhaan and he has not yet taken what he needs from the food and the drink, then the Messenger, sallallaahu alaihi wa sallam, made that lawful for him. So he clearly said, in the clear and eloquent Arabic language, “If one of you hears the call to Prayer, and the vessel is in his hand, then let him not put it down until he fulfils his need from it.”

    And what is meant here by the call is the second call, the second Adhaan. It is not the first Adhaan, which they wrongly call the Adhaan for withholding (al-Imsaak). We must know that there is no basis for calling the firstAdhaan the Adhaan for withholding (imsaak).

    The second Adhaan is when we are to withhold, and this is clearly stated in the Quraan, since Allaah, the Mighty and Majestic, says:
    And eat and drink until the white thread of dawn becomes clear to you from the black thread of the night.

    So eating becomes forbidden at the start of the time of the Fajr Prayer. There is no separation between these two things. There is no withholding from food and drink for a quarter of an hour, or less than that, or more than that, before the start of the time for the Fajr Prayer. Not at all.
    Because the Prayer becomes due when the true dawn appears, and food becomes forbidden for the fasting person when the true dawn appears. So there is no separation between these two matters at all.

    So therefore there occurs in the hadeeth agreed upon by al-Bukharee and Muslim, from the hadeeth of ¹Abdullaah ibn ¹Umar ibn al-Khattaab, radiyallaahu ¹anhumaa, that the Prophet, sallallaahu alaihi wa sallam, said, “Let not the Adhaan of Bilaal deceive you ” meaning, the first Adhaan, ” because he gives the Adhaan in order to awaken the person who is sleeping, and so that the person who wishes to eat the pre-dawn meal can do so. So eat and drink until Ibn Umm Maktoon gives the Adhaan.”
    Ibn Umm Maktoon, and his name was ¹Amr, he was a blind man, and he was the one about whom the Saying of Allaah, the Exalted and Most High, came down:
    He frowned and turned away, that the blind man came to him
    to the end of the Aayahs.
    So he used to give the second Adhaan, the Adhaan which means that eating becomes prohibited, and that it is now time for the Fajr Prayer.
    ow had he used to give the adhaan when he was blind? This is a question which naturally occurs to some people. So ¹mr ibn Umm Maktoom used to climb upon the roof of the mosque, and he could not see the dawn, but he would wait until someone passing by saw the dawn. So when someone saw that the dawn had appeared and spread across the horizon, then they would say to him, It is morning. It is morning. Then he would give the Adhaan.

    So you will notice here that the Adhaan of ‘Amr ibn Umm Maktoom was after the Fajr had appeared, and had been seen by the people whilst they were walking in the streets. So the when it was said to him, “It is morning. It is morning,” he would give the Adhaan.

    So therefore there is latitude in the affair, since the muadhdhin would be delayed in giving the Adhaan until he heard the people telling him, “It is morning, it is morning.” And then Allaah¹s Messenger, sallallaahu alaihi wa sallam, said, “If one of you hears the call to Prayer and the vessel is in his hand, then let him not put it down until he has fulfilled his need from it.”
    So Allaah, the Mighty and Majestic, spoke truly when He said at the end of those Aayahs relating to Fasting:
    Allaah desires to make things easy for you, and He does not desire to make things difficult for you.
    and
    And that you should complete the number of days, and that you should glorify Allaah by mentioningtakbeer for His having guided you, and that you should be thankful.

    So therefore from the Fiqh that is to be criticised, and which runs contrary to this Sunnah, is that a person says, “If someone hears the Adhaan and has some food in his mouth, then he must spit it out.” So this is over strictness, and (ghuluww) exceeding the limits in the Religion, and the Lord of all of the creation admonished us, and reminded us, in His Book and in the Sunnah of His Prophet, sallallaahu alaihi wa sallam, that we should not exceed the due limits in our Religion. So He said, in the Noble Quraan:
    O people of the Book! Do not exceed the limits in your religion, and do not say anything about Allaah except the truth.

    And our Messenger sallallaahu alaihi wa sallam, said to us, or he, sallallaahu alaihi wa sallam, said, “Beware of (ghuluww) exceeding the limits in the Religion. Because those who came before you were destroyed by their exceeding the limits in their Religion.”

    So when Allaah¹s Messenger, sallallaahu alaihi wa sallam, has made it clear to us that there is in the matter of a persons taking suhoor, latitude and a margin of ease, to the extent that he said, “If one of you hears the call to Prayer whilst the vessel is in his hand, then let him not put it down until he has completed his need from it.”
    So it is opposition to Allaah and to the Messenger that a person says that one who hears the adhaan whilst he has food in his mouth must spit it out upon the ground. This is not from the Sunnah. Rather this is contrary to theSunnah, and is contrary to the clear command of the Messenger, sallallaahu alaihi wa sallam,.

    And I have been asked many times, so I will not leave the need for such a question, but rather I will precede you in it, by stating that this hadeeth is to be found in some of the most famous books of the Sunnah. From them being theSunan of Aboo Daawood, and it is the third book from the well-known six books. The first of which is Saheehul-Bukhaaree, the second being Saheeh Muslim, and the third being the Sunan of Aboo Daawood.

    This hadeeth is to be found in it, and it is likewise reported by Aboo Abdullaah al-Haakim in his Mustadrak, and it is likewise reported by the Imaam, the Imaam of the Sunnah Ahmad ibn Hanbal, rahimahullaah, in his tremendous book known as the Musnad of Imaam Ahmad.
    So the hadeth is not a strange hadeeth, rather it is a well-known hadeeth, and was reported by the Imaams of thesunnah in the early times, and with an authentic chain of narration.

    So here I say, to conclude this talk, since perhaps some of you have questions, which we will answer if Allaah wills, so I conclude it with his, sallallaahu alaihi wa sallam, saying “Allaah loves that His allowances be acted upon just as He loves that His prescribed duties be carried out,” and in one narration, “Just as He hates that disobedience to Him be committed.”

    So there are two narrations, “Allaah loves that His allowances be acted upon just as He loves that His prescribed duties be carried out”, and the second narration is, ” as He hates that disobedience to Him be committed.”

    So therefore the Muslim should not practice false piety, and (as a result) refrain from obeying the Prophet,sallallaahu alaihi wa sallam, in that which he encouraged us upon and clarified to us.
    And what has been said is sufficient, and all praise is for Allaah, the Lord of all of the creation.”

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