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An Important Cautioning About Different Prayer Times

Prayer times that are published in the various printings of 'Turkiye Calendar’ in different languages, in the Turkey and Europe editions of 'Turkiye' daily newspaper, in imsâkiyes, (which lists the prayer times peculiar to holy Ramadân,) and in the web sites such as www.namazvakti.com and www.turktakvim.com are calculated and prepared in accordance with 'Ilmiyye salnamesi' calendar, which was published in 1334 (1916 A.D.) under the supervision of 'Mesihat-i islâmiye', the highest ranking board of Ottoman scientists and Islamic scholars, and by using the system written in the book 'Türkiyeye Mahsûs Awqât-i-sher-'iyya', which was published in 1958 by Kandilli Observatory of Istanbul University.

Calculating and determining the times of daily prayers require possessing profound Islamic knowledge. Fiqh scholars wrote the narrations of mujtahids in their ‘Fiqh’ books. It is permissible to calculate the communicated times. It is important, however, that the prayer times determined by calculation are subject to the approval of Islamic scholars. For example, in "Takvim-i Ziya" calendar, which was published in 1926 it is written: "This calendar was carefully examined by the Higher Committee of Religious Affairs, and published with the ratification of the Department of Religious Affairs." In religious matters, the prayer times that were approved by Islamic scholars and Islamic specialists in astronomy must be used. Elmalili Hamdi Yazir gives details on this matter in the 22nd volume of his periodical "Sebil-ur-reshad".

We have witnessed that the prayer times calculated with observations and calculations by our calendar committee which consists of real religious scholars and astronomy experts by using the most up-to-date tools are the same as the calculations done by Islamic scholars for centuries using a quadrant (Rub'-i dâira). The Period of Tamkin peculiar to the highest point of a city cannot be changed. If the Period of Tamkin is reduced, the noon and afternoon prayers will have performed before their prescribed times. And the fasting will have started after Suhoor (pre-dawn meal during Ramadan) time is over. These prayers and fasting are not Sahih. Until 1982, nobody changed period of Tamkin and the angles of sun from the horizon belonging to prayer times; all scholars, Walis, Shaikh-ul-Islams and all Muslims have performed all of their prayers by considering Tamkin periods and started their fasting considering Tamkin periods for centuries.

Now, too, the Muslims should perform their prayers and their fasting according to Shar’i times without breaking with the unanimity of Muslims.

Everybody accepts that the calendars before 1983 were not wrong. There is no argument on this subject, either. As a matter of fact, it is stated in a circular dated 30th March 1988 no: 234-497 sent to all mufti offices as, “There is a Tamkin difference between calendars before 1983 and the new application. So, the application before 1983 was not wrong.”

In the prayer and fasting times that are prepared by "Turkiye Calendar” and published in Turkiye Daily and on web sites the Tamkin time and the altitude angle of the sun from the shar’i horizon belonging to prayer times have not been changed the prayer and fasting times have been set correctly. There is only one Period of Tamkin for every city. Period of Tamkin is used to find sher’i time from the correctly calculated time of any salât. In short, definition of Period of Tamkin: It is the period bringing the times found by the astronomic formulas according to astronomic horizon to the shar’i times stated by Islamic scholars in their books as prayer times with the signals of earth sphere.

Period of Tamkin is not used for every salât separately. As stated above the Period of Tamkin, of which application is communicated as an obligation for the rising and setting of the sun, is compulsory for imsak, ish’a and all other prayer times, too. It is written in ‘Durr-i yekta’ that fasting and evening prayer won't be accepted if the imsâk (the beginning time of fasting) is extended for 3 to 4 minutes, i.e. if the person intending to fast continues eating and drinking, or if he starts performing the evening prayer three to four minutes earlier than the shar'î sunset (shown on the calendars that are prepared by taking the Period of Tamkin into consideration.)

Imsak time starts at the end of Shar’i night in all four madhhabs. That is, it starts when the whiteness called “Fajr-i sadiq” appears on one point of the horizontal line on the east. Fasting starts at this time, too. That is, it starts when the upper limb of the sun approaches 19 degrees to the apparent line. For centuries, Islamic scholars have agreed that the Fajr height is -19 degrees and that all other figures are not correct.

Ahmet Ziya Bey, an Islamic astronomy expert, says in his book "Rub'-i dâira": "Europeans calculate the beginning of Fajr-I sadiq the time when whiteness completely disseminates on the horizontal line. For this reason they take the height of the sun as -18 degrees. But we calculate the first time when the whiteness appears on the horizontal line. For this reason, we find the height of the sun -19 degrees. Because Islamic scholars communicated that the beginning of imsâk is not when whiteness is spread out around the horizontal line but when it first appears on the horizontal line." So, centuries ago Islamic scholars understood that during the imsâk the upper (preceding) limb of the Sun should be at minus (-) 19 degrees below the horizon and other values are not acceptable. This is a fact stated in a fatwâ. (Fatwâ is a conclusive explanation wherein an authorized Islamic scholar answers Muslims' questions). Non-mujtahids do not have the right to change the fatwâ. Acts of worship that are not performed in accordance with the fatwâ are not sahîh (valid). Muslims have to follow Islamic scholars not Christians and la-Madhhabi people in religious affairs.

As a matter of fact, in 1958, the Presidency of Religious Affairs had given an answer to a columnist by saying, “… When it comes to imsak time; you say that ‘The British, Americans and French people have adopted this time as the time when the sun is 18 degrees below the horizontal line’ in your article. I wonder what worship these three Christian nations have at imsak time that they would accept this degree as the basis. Even if they have done so, why to follow foreigners in this matter while the Islamic rules for the mentioned time were set by Islamic astronomy experts? The imsak time is the moment when the rising of Fajr starts (that is, the moment when the whiteness appears as a point on the east horizon). The former astronomers (the all early Islamic astronomy experts) accepted this moment as 19 degrees of the sun below the horizon. This means that the time accepted by Islamic astronomers is not -18 degrees but -19. The prayer times have to be calculated according to this and the calculations in our calendar are based on this” they declare and the imsak time is calculated by logarithmic and trigonometric with these formulas and calculating the Period of Tamkin, too, they sent to the abovementioned author of the newspaper.

The imsak times calculated without Period of Tamkin and accepting the height below the horizontal line as -18 degrees are wrong.

Calculating with both (mistakes as) by taking the height of the sun below horizon as -18 degrees and by eliminating the Period of Tamkin completely makes around 15-20-minute difference in times of imsak (in countries staying between the latitudes of 36 – 42 degrees like Turkey) fasting time starts approximately 15-20 minutes later than correct imsak time.

Misunderstandings about imsak are done for the night (Ish’a) prayer time, too.

According to the Imâmeyn (Imam-i Ebu Yusuf and Imam-i Muhammed) and the other three Madhabs, night prayer begins when the redness disappears from the horizontal line, that is to say, when the upper (following) limb of the Sun is minus (-) 17 degrees below the horizon. No alterations are permissible in the calculations of prayer times or in the given values in degrees whereby the Sun should be below the horizontal line at the time of imsâk or the beginning of night prayer.

The change made on the night (Ish’a) prayer time with no reason:

In order to calculate the Ish’a time correctly, that is, the redness on the west horizon to disappear, the obligatory Period of Tamkin has to be added on the Ish’a time calculated by astronomic formula. Because, as is the case in the rising and setting of the sun, if the Period of Tamkin is not added on the time found by astronomic formulas, the redness on the west horizon will not disappear. In order the redness on the west horizon to disappear the Period of Tamkin has to be added. Otherwise, the Ish’a prayer will have started earlier. Because of the elimination of the Period of Tamkin with no reason differences have occurred between 1982 and earlier times’ calendars and 1983 and following years’ calendars and websites stating wrong times (in countries staying 36-42 degrees of latitudes as Turkey up to 10 minutes) and the Ish’a praper is performed before its time enters.

For this reason it is not permissible to change Periods of Tamkin and eventually times of prayers. It is also not correct to understand the words Tamkin period, which definitely must be used in the calculation of prayer times, as a time of safeguard by only looking at its meaning literally. Removing the periods of Tamkin partially or totally means changing the times of Imsak and prayer.

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