Question 1: Why are calendars and imsâkiyes different, why aren't they all the same?
The prayer times were all same in all calendars before the year 1983. However, in 1983 the prayer times and fasting times were ex officio changed. Whichever calendar one looked at, the one of 1982 or the calendars of all earlier years would write correct imsâk (dawn) times and prayer times, but the calculations, methods and rules pertaining correct times were left for the first time in 1983.
The reasons of differences in calendars are two:
The Tamkin Time, which has to be included in the time calculations for scientific and astronomic reasons, was either completely removed or used by shortening the time for some prayer times.
At imsâk time calculations, the altitude, which is the height degree of the sun under the horizon, is brought from -19 degrees to -18 degrees thereby making the sun approach to the horizon.
The following explanations are appeal to the places as Turkey where all times occur in all days of the year.
Until and including the year 1982, nobody; all scholars, walîs, sheikh-ul-islams and muftîs have never changed the Tamkin Time in Turkey; and all Muslims have performed their salât at these shar'i times and started fasting at these times. Every Muslim shouldn't get apart from this ijmâ-i Muslimîn now, either.
One should obey the fasting and salât times approved by Islamic scholars and Muslim astronomy experts.
For these approved times, it is stated in Takwîm-i Ziyâ of 1926: "This calendar has been printed after the examination carried out by the Board of Consultation and a certification granted under the authority of the Great Head Office of the Religious Affairs."
One should learn and obey the fasting and prayer times from Ilmiyye sâlnâmesi prepared by Mashîhat-i Islâmiyya, the-highest council of the Ottoman 'ulamâ', for the year 1334 [1916 A.D.], and the Türkiye'ye Mahsûs Evkat-ı Ser'iyye book no. 14 published by the Kandilli Observatory of the University of Istanbul in 1958.
Throughout centuries until and including the year 1982 all Islamic scholars have adopted the altitude for fajr (dawn) as – 19°, rejecting any other values as 'incorrect values' but some calendars as of 1983 started to use the time for dawn not as Islamic scholars and Islamic astronomy experts unanimously accepted the altitude of the Sun -190 when the whiteness called fajr sâdiq is seen at one of the points on the line of apparent horizon (ufq-i-zâhirî) in the east, but accepted the time when the whiteness is spread over the horizon, and the Sun's altitude is –18° at dawn as Europeans narrate. As a result of this, by taking the Sun's altitude -180 and by eliminating the Tamkîn Time, differences up to 15-20 minutes in İmsâk (dawn) times have occurred (in places such as Turkey, which are among 36-42 degrees). This means, in Turkey the fasting time start 15-20 minutes later than the correct time. Muslims who begin fasting according to such calendars continue eating sahûr meal till 15 to 20 minutes after the deadlines prescribed by the Islamic scholars. Since the fasting performed by following these wrong times are fâsid, they must be made kadâ (performed again).
Islamic astronomy scholar Ahmad Ziyâ Beg (passed away in 1355 A.H.) wrote in his work Rub-i Dâirenin Sûret-i Isti'mâli about Imsâk: "Europeans define the time of dawn as the time when the whiteness completely spread over the horizon line. For this reason they take the altitude of the Sun as 18°. But we know for Imsâk to be the time of the first sighting of whiteness on the horizon, not the time when it spreads around it. That's why we calculate the altitude as 19° because Islamic scholars reported the time of imsâk to be the TIME OF THE FIRST SIGHTING OF WHITENESS ON THE HORIZON, not the time when it spreads around it.)
In other words, when the Sun approaches 19° to the apparent horizon, the time of Imsâk starts. Fatwa is this way. Those who are not mujtahids, do not have the right to change this fatwa. The worships which are not compatible with fatwa are not sahih.
Throughout centuries Islamic scholars have adopted the altitude for fajr as – 19°, rejecting any other values as 'incorrect values'. According to Europeans, dawn (fajr) is the spreading of the whiteness, and the Sun's altitude is –18° at dawn. Muslims' religious tutors are not Christians or people who have not adapted themselves to any of the (four) Madhhabs; our tutors are Islamic scholars.
In the calendars and websites which write wrong times, the angle of the Sun below the horizon was changed from -19° to -18° as explained above without any evidence and the Sun was approximated to the horizon in not only Tamkin Time difference but also in Imsâk Time calculations.
As a matter of fact, with the document of Istanbul University Kandilli Observatory dated 08.07.1992 and number 1354, it is documented that the degrees of the Sun under the horizon and the Tamkin Times during Imsâk and Ish'a times have been applied for 1400 years, in other words, it is -17° for Ish'a and and -19° for Imsâk and confirmed about the Tamkin Time by stating as: "According to the calculations this much time (Tamkin) occurs 8-10 minutes for certain observatory locations in different dates. For this reason, it has been a tradition to consider Tamkin Time as 10 minutes in general and to subtract this much time from the times before the noon time to add on the times after the noon time."
On the first and last pages of the pocket calendar Takwîm-i Ziyâ for 1926 (Hijrî lunar 1344, solar 1305) by Ahmad Ziyâ Beg, it is stated: "This calendar has been printed after the examination carried out by the Board of Consultation and a certification granted under the authority of the Great Head Office of the Religious Affairs." Prayer times approved by a Board composed of eminent Islamic scholars aided technically by an expert astronomer should not be altered. Some details on this topic have been provided by Elmalılı Hamdi Yazır in the twenty-second volume of the magazine Sabîl-ur-reshâd.
Question 2: We know that the worships have to be performed at their prescribed times in order them to be accepted. How should we act against different calendars and Imsakiyes?
We should definitely perform our fasts and prayers by obeying correct times because the prayers performed before their definite times and making so is a grave sin. As a matter of fact, Ibni Nujaym Zayn-ul-Âbidîn states in his book Kabâir and Saghâir, "Performing fard salâts before or after their prescribed times [by following the calendars which narrate wrong times] is a grave sin."
The İslamic astronomy scholars whose names and works fill editions of books, have confirmed the information narrated by Islamic scholars through Kur'an-i Kerim and hadish-i sherifs by uncountable number of observations convenient with the signs related to prayer times in celestial globe and left them as a legacy and as a trust for us. They have also written the calculation methods and rules for determining prayer and fasting times. These methods and rules have been traditionally used for centuries. They have not left any ground for question or doubt. In the calendars and websites that narrate correct times, the prayer and fasting times are calculated with these methods and rules and are published.
In case if the fasting and prayer times are different, it is a definite rule narrated by Islamic scholars that we have to perform our worships at their prescribed times. The correct is only one. The measures of that correct are the methods and rules narrated by Islamic scholars. It is a scientific fact that if the times are calculated with these methods and rules, the same correct time will be found. It is a clear fact that if these methods and rules are truly followed without any deviation or comment, the application will be correct; but by narrating some correct information but adding some inappropriate things, personal judgment, comments, thoughts or opinion, will definitely lead to wrong results.
In order a salât to be sahih, it is a must and fard to perform it in its prescribed time and to know that it is in the prescribed time and no to have any doubt about the time. There is a fiqh rule written on page 342 of Radd-ul-muhtar of Ibni Âbidîn, at the 1307 A.H. printing at Matbaa-yi âmira, and on page 40 of 2nd edition of its Ahmad Davudoglu translation and in the book Fat'h-ul-qadîr: "In order a salât to be sahih, it is a must and fard to perform it in its prescribed time and to know that it is in the prescribed time. If one performs with having some doubt on the time and later if he/she understands that it was in the prescribed time, this salât will not be sahih." While Ibni Âbidîn is mentioning this, the book writes, "It has been conveyed the same in Nûr-ul-îzâh and other books as well. It says the same at the intention chapter of Al-Ashbâh, too." Besides, it is written the same way in Shâfiî Al-Anwâr and Mâlikî Al-Mukaddamatul-iziyye explanation and in Mîzân-ul-kubra.
All prayer times we publish in our internet sites and Turkiye Calendar in various languages are the times of four true Madhhabs.
If the sources of those calendar and site publishers who publish different Imsâk and prayer times are the books of Ehl-i Sunnat scholars and Islamic astronomy experts, there will not be any problem and the prayer times will match with ours. But, if the times are not matching and if there are differences in between, it is understood that only one of them is correct. We insistently state that ours are correct by referring the names and even some edition and page numbers of the works of Islamic scholars and Islamic astronomy experts. We have been applying these times not by our own ideas, opinions, thoughts or comments but with calculations narrated and communicated by EHL-I SUNNAT SCHOLARS and books of Islamic astronomy scientists applied for over 1400 years without making any change on their METHODS AND RULES. When the statements of those scholars are obeyed, the differences will have been eliminated and UNANIMITY ON THE RIGHT will have been provided.
Question 3: Can the times be changed considering the difficulties and needs of the people?
In some calendar they say, "In order to eliminate the difficulties experienced in regions and to help people for making the worships easier, we exercised discretion (although the time occurred)," by eliminating the true Ishâ and Imsâk times, an application which has never been communicated in any books of Islamic scholars and Islamic astronomy experts but made up by themselves with the name of making it easier thereby making the prayers and fasts of people void.
The worships can't be adapted to traditions. They cannot be changed with customs. The traditions have to be adapted to Islam and this is very easy.
As the way it cannot be said the harams will be halâl if they are committed with good intentions, the times of real Ishâ and starting fasting cannot be eliminated by saying "…by considering the difficulties and needs of workers, students, civil servants, artisans, etc…" with the intention of helping such people.
Being sahih or not of worships depends on their conditions. It is a condition and fard to obey correct times in both, fasting and prayers. It is also certain with Nass (with Qur'an-al Karîm and hadith-i sherifs). Performing the salâts before or after their prescribed times is harâm. Such worships performed before or after their correct times become fâsid (null).
Although in "EXPLANATION" section at the beginning of some calendars published in Europe, the USA, etc., it is said, "Almighty Allah declares, 'Undoubtedly, the salât has been fard with [prescribed] times. (Nisa 4/103" and with statements such as "For this reason, as it is not permissible to perform prayers before their times, it is not permissible to leave after their times, either", and although they communicate that performing prayers before or after their times will be against Nass (Qur'an-al Karîm and hadith-i sherifs), still their applications are contrary to these rules which have been communicated by Nass (Qur'an-al Karîm and hadith-i sherifs). Since the most important condition, the "time condition" of salât and fast is eliminated with the changes made; these will not be sahîh (acceptable).
It is stated in the annotation of Durer-ul-hukkâm, "The rules based on tradition and custom can be changed with the change of time. The rules based on Nass, proofs, cannot be changed in time." By the same token, it is stated at the 39th chapter of Majalla and in its annotation, "Rules change in time. The rules based on tradition and custom change. The rules based on Nass never change in time." Prayer times are certain by Nass (Qur'an-al Karîm and hadith-i sherifs). So, they never change.
The people who mention sayings as 'there is no difficulty in religion, there is easiness', have been quitting a lot of fard worships. The real format of this saying is, fulfilling all commands of Allahu ta'âlâ is easy, He has not command anything difficult. Otherwise, it doesn't mean that Allahu ta'âlâ forgives the things that are difficult to the nafs and that everybody should do whatever is easy for him. It doesn't mean that He [Allahu ta'âlâ] is Compassionate and He accepts all.
In case if time occurs, in the subjects of problems as Ishâ becomes late and Imsâk becomes early, the rules communicated by Islamic scholar are not for changing the times according to people's desire and to make the worships easy and comfortable but for them to use the easiness existing in the religion. The meaning of saying there is no difficulty in the religion means this. In other words, it means Allahu ta'âlâ commanded the easy. Otherwise, it doesn't mean that everybody should do what he likes, and they should not do what comes difficult to their nafs.
The difficulties and problems the people face while they have been performing their worships increase the glory of the worships very much. The living styles such as working, resting, sleeping and home needs can be put an order by hours. Prayer times should be based on at this order. Doing so is both easy and very valuable as explained below. Muslims are responsible to perform their worships as the Islamic scholars communicate.
The followers of Ahkâm-i islâmiyya (Rules of İslam) are like those jewelers who are dealing with lovely diamonds and valuable rocks. Their work is less but earnings are very much. Sometimes their one-hour work yields the earning of hundreds of thousand years. The reason of this is that the deed suitable with Ahkâm-i islâmiyya is acceptable and grateful by Allahu ta'âlâ and He loves it very much.
TIME CALCULATION DIRECTORATE