Precautions About the Correct Time of Imsâk

In the prayer and fasting times prepared by Turkiye Calendar and published also on the websites, the Tamkin Time and the altitude angle of the sun from the shar'i horizon relating to prayer times have not been changed, and the prayer and fasting times have been set correctly. Imsâk time starts at the end of Shar'i night in all four madhhabs. That is, it starts when the whiteness called "Fajr-i sâdiq" appears on one point of the Ufk-i zâhirî, (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 (Ufk-i zâhirî). 

Ahmet Ziya Bey, an Islamic astronomy expert, says in his book "Rub'-i dâira": "Europeans calculate the beginning of Fajr-i sâdiq 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." 

In the book Mukhtasar ilm-i hey'et printed by Ministry of Education in 1898 (h.1316) says, "Imsâk time (vakt-i fajr) is calculated on -19 degrees, and founded by subtracting Tamkin time from Fajr time." 10 minutes of Tamkin is used in all times.

In the textbook named Hey'et-i Felekiyya, written by Mustafa Hilmi Effendi, who is a teacher of astronomy and course of ships in Naval School, and printed by Ministry of Education, ten minutes of Tamkin and -19 degrees was used in the determination of all prayer times.

Kedûsî's book Rub-i Dâire says, (Fajr starts when the upper limb of the sun reaches 19 degrees to the apparent line (Shar-î Ufk))

Ibni Yunus (1009 A.D.) based his calculations of Imsâk on 19 degrees and prepared his tables accordingly.

Ibni Shâtir, lived in the 14th century, took the height of the sun below horizon as 19 degrees and his contemporary Al-Halîlî also calculated his tables upon his data. The tables of prayer times prepared during Ottoman Empire are based on Ibni Shâtir's data about the position of sun below horizon.

Ghazi Ahmed Mukhtar Pasha writes in his books Islâh-ut Takwim and Riyadh-ul-Mukhtar that astronomy experts are agreed on the fact that when the sun is -17 degrees below the horizontal line it is time for dawn and 'Ishâ, and when it is -19 degrees it is time for Fajr (Imsâk).

That is, for centuries, Islamic scholars have agreed that in the Fajr (Imsâk) time height of sun is -19 degrees below the horizon and that all other values are not correct.

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.

Actually, it was informed and confirmed by the document issued by Kandilli Observatory of Bogazici University, no. 1354 dated 08.07.1992 that the position of sun below the horizon has been used for 1400 years to determine the time for Imsâk and Isha prayer, and they were  -17 degrees for Isha (dawn) and -19 degrees for Imsâk (Fajr). It also says in relation to the Tamkin period:

"The period called Tamkin: It is the sum of apparent radius of the sun, the horizontal angle that depends on the altitude of the location, the amount of refraction on the horizon and the duration of time for horizontal parallax of the sun.

According to the calculations, this amount of Tamkin changes 8 to 10 minutes for a certain location for various dates of the year. For this reason, it has become a tradition to accept it as 10 minutes in general, and that it has to be subtracted from the prayer times before noontime, and has to be added for the times for prayers after noontime.

Dr. Muhammed Ilyâs provides valuable information about Fajr and draws schemes for Islamic dawns, Fajr and Shafak in his book A Modern Guide to Astronomical Calculations of Islamic Calendar, Times, Qibla. These writings of his shed light to our subject: "Earlier I also used smaller degrees in Fajr and dawns by following Bagvî. But, later on, under the light of my further research and the knowledge I obtained, I realized that this was wrong. Renowned Malaysian astronomer Sheikh Tâhir uses -20 degrees for Fajr and -18 degrees for 'Ishâ. Offering even the smallest amount of period that nullifies the fast is important. Utmost care is needed. It is acceptable to use 10 minutes of Tamkin for the beginning of Fast."

The followings are some of the documents with their sources issued by the Higher Committee of Religious Affairs by the year 1983 since its foundations on the necessity of using -19 degree of irtifâ'. The links which are still available on the official site of the Presidency of Religious Affairs are also quoted below.

In the first and last pages of "Takwim-i Ziya" calendar, which was prepared jointly by astronomy experts and the Higher Committee of Religious Affairs, and published in 1926 it is written: "This calendar was carefully examined by the Higher Committee of Religious Affairs, and was 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".

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 Imsâk 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 Imsâk 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 Imsâk 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 Imsâk 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.

Imsak times published in Turkiye calendars and in our web sites are all calculated as the same way as mentioned here by using 19 degrees below the horizon and by taking a lead time as long as Tamkin time.

Nobody has changed the times for Tamkin and the sun's altitude below the horizon by the year 1983. All âlims, walîs, Sheih-ul Islâms, muftis, all Muslims have had been performing their prayers and starting their fast at their sher-î times. Even now, all of the Muslims should not keep away from this common agreement (Ijmâ-i Muslimîn) of Muslims.

In an answer given to a question of a reader by Presidency of Religious Affairs dated 13.08.2010 it says:

Prayer times, especially the sun's angle of approaching horizon in the determination of 'Ishâ prayer and Imsâk moment have always been a subject for astronomers. Since the time of Khalifa Me'mûn (198 [813 A.D.]) 'Ishâ and Imsâk times have been determined as 17 degree for 'Ishâ and 19 degree for Imsâk.

In a press release of the Presidency of Religious Affairs dated 17.07.2013 published on web site,, it says:

"Upon the order of the President of Religious Affairs Ahmet Hamdi Akseki a commission headed by Prof. Fatin Gokmen and composed by Kamil Miras, Istanbul Mufti Omer Nasuhi Bilmen, Eyup Mufti Ismail Habib Erzen and Muwakkit Yusuf Ziya Gokce, has decided to base the calculations of Imsâk time on 19 degrees in 1949."

Again in the same web site; 13576 

"On the other hand, Prof. Fatin Gokmen, one of the leading experts on the subject, says: '… as a result of several observations made by different locations and for long periods, they have determined that disappearance of shafak-i akhmar occurs when the sun is 17 degrees below horizon and time of Imsâk occurs at the disappearance of shafak-i abyaz when the sun is approached 19 degrees below the horizon. Observers of later generations have also determined and approved the same and agreed upon 17 and 19 degrees. (Prof. Fatin Gokmen, Sebilurreshad, Vol.III, no. 61)

Again from the same web site; 13576

"… with an aim to act more cautious, some Islamic countries and Muslim populations is getting Imsâk time even earlier by taking 19 degrees as a base for their calculations. Actually, in Masjid-i Haram and Masjid-i Nebî, the two most sacred locations for Muslims the application is the same as this."

In a meeting participated by officials of Religious Affairs Authority and representatives of calendar held in the Presidency of Religious Affairs a memorandum was signed by all including the section manager for calendars and expert authority of the presidency Arif Coklu. The memorandum documented that all agreed on the use of 19 degrees while calculating Imsâk time and it is an acceptable duration for Tamkin of 10 minutes in Turkey.

The result that can be reached by all these sources and even more proofs is that:

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

Calculating with both (mistakes as) by taking the altitude 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 Imsâk (in countries staying between the latitudes of 36 – 42 degrees like Turkey) fasting time starts approximately 15-20 minutes later than correct Imsâk time. Fasts that were shortened by this reason should be repeated.

Views and assertions of those who inform faulted times for Imsâk and say that "18 degrees are assumed as a scientific criterion instead of 19 degrees in line with Islamic principle of easing/facilitating worships while the Tamkin time was removed before Imsâk time in 1982" means to change what the Islamic scholars have said. Because;

With the subjective expression of "in line with the principle of facilitating" actual Imsâk times are made null and baseless and wrong times are presented as Imsâk time by removing Tamkin period.

The principle of facilitating does not mean to "do every thing you enjoyed, do what is easy to do", while in the opposite, it means to utilize the allowances of the religion. These are explained and convened as such by Islamic scholars in their valuable books.

The signs of Imsâk and prayer times are determined by Nass (Qur-ân-I Kerîm and Hadîth-i Sherîfs). Scholars of Islam have explained these and Islamic astronomers calculated times for worships. These are as fixed as the writings on marble and are practiced for centuries and have not been changed by the year 1983.

In the annotation of "Durer-ul Hukkâm" it says, "Rules depending on customs and traditions may change when times are changed. But, the rules that are depending on Nass do not change."

By the same token, in the thirty-ninth article of Mecelle, and in its annotation, it says, "Rules change by time. Rules depending on customs and traditions may change. (But) the rules that are understood by Nass do not change."

So, the Fast worships done by following wrong time of Imsâk that was changed in 1983 by mentioning so called "principle of easiness", are becoming null (Fâsid) because the true times for Imsâk have not been observed.

As is informed in the books of Islamic scholars, it is written in Durr-i Yektâ that, the fasts and evening prayers of those who postpone Imsâk time 3 to 4 minutes and those who haste sunset 3 to 4 minutes, become void (Fâsid).

Those Fasts that were performed by observing the wrong time of Imsâk as proven false by this point, should certainly be made qadâ (repeated).

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