Hyderabad: Of late, there has been serious discussions every Ramzan over when exactly does the time to stop eating sehri starts and the day’s fast begins. Similar discussions also take place over iftar timings.
While some Muslims feel that traditionalists are too particular about the start of fast and end of sehri, most Muslims say that stretching the sehri time too much can risk the fast itself.
The late Israr Ahmed, a renowned Muslim scholar, had quoted verses from the Quran in one of his sermons: “And eat and drink until the white thread (light) of dawn appears to you distinct from the black thread (darkness of night), then complete your Saum (fast) till the nightfall.”
Scholars say that this means that there should be enough light in the sky to differentiate between the colours in the night.
“With artificial lights, this would be extremely difficult for people, especially those living in the city. The ambient lights would make it impossible,” says Maulana Afzal Barkati, head, Madarsa-e-Barkatiya.
Moulana Shaiykh Ismail of Hyderabad says that traditionalists put too much emphasis on the timing. He quoted a Hadith wherein the Prophet instructed his companions: “The Azaan (call to prayer) of Bilâl should not prevent you from eating Sahûr (predawn meal) because he gives Azaan at night, therefore keep eating and drinking until you hear the Azaan of Abdullah b. Umm Makktum. He (Abdullah b. Umm Makktum) gives Azaan when Fajr comes.”
He argues that according to this Hadith, one can eat sehri till the call for morning prayers is heard. Moulana Mohammed Farooq Quadri, Khatib of Masjid-e-Noor, said that there was nothing wrong in being careful about the timings.
“Some people now argue there is nothing wrong in eating sehri till the completion of morning Azaan. This is not a good practice,” he said. The Moulana, who advocates forbearance in sehri, said that modern technology ensures we can get the exact daybreak time. “It is safer to end sehri a few minutes before this time,” he said.
Maulana Afzal Barkati said that in countries like Saudi Arabia, Azaan is said at the point of daybreak. “In India, we use sirens to signal the end of sehri time, while they say Azaan. People who lean towards the Saudi Wahhabi ideology blindly try to follow that system, not remembering that the system is different,” he says.
Mansoor Ali Ishaq, an IT professional, said in the olden days, timings for sehri and iftar was followed on the presumption that there was no equipment available for accuracy. “These days we can get the actual timings for sehri and iftar from information available with various sources, including the Met department which can give accurate sunrise and sunset timings, so one does not have to depend on sirens to begin and break the fast,” he says....