This is the first prayer of the day at dawn. Islamic tradition distinguishes two different times for dawn: when the first light appears at the horizon, rather vertical (like the “tail of a wolf” as tradition says), and then, after this first light disappears,مواقيت الصلاة فى الرياض when the light of the early day spreads horizontally across the horizon.
The first dawn is called “Subh Kadhib” or “Fajr-al-Mustateel” and the second “Subh Sadiq” or “Fajr-al-Mustatir”. Fajr is to be prayed at the second dawn, Subh Sadiq. However, as we explain below, adjustments have to be made for higher latitudes where the glow of the day never disappears in summer and never appears in winter.
Zuhr or Duhur:
The midday prayer just as the sun declines after having reached its highest position in the sky (zenith). Zuhr is prayed five minutes after zenith.
The mid-afternoon prayer. The time of this prayer is determined according to the length of the shadow of a stick planted in the ground. According to the major schools of jurisprudence in Islam: Maliki, Shafi’I, Hanbali, Hanafi and Ja’afriyah (Shia), the length of the shadow with respect to that of the stick is calculated differently (factors varying from one to two). We give below the details of these various options. All these traditions are legitimate and worthy of respect. We leave the choice of the school to the user.
The prayer at sunset. However, physical factors such as refraction and also material factors like the height of a building in a city or the spread of this city lead us to fix the time of this prayer 3 minutes after the theoretical time of sunset as it appears in newspapers. The Shia tradition sets the Maghrib prayer 17 minutes after the theoretical setting of the sun. In our tables, we have retained only the first option: 3 minutes after sunset.
The night prayer at dusk. Just as for Fajr, Islamic tradition distinguishes two times of dusk, both called “Shafaq”. After sunset, the sky is first ablaze with a red colour. This is “Shafaq al Ahmar”. Later, the red colour disappears, leaving room for a whiteness of the sky. This is “Shafaq al Abyad”. The duration of these phases increases with altitude. The major schools of Islam fix the Isha prayer either at the disappearance of Shafaq al Ahmar or at the disappearance of Shafaq al Abyad. Both traditions are legitimate and, like for Asr, we leave the choice to the user. However, as for Fajr, adjustments are necessary for Isha at higher latitudes when Shafaq al Abyad almost never disappears in summer. In such cases we can either use a combination of Shafaq al Ahmar and Shafaq al Abyad called “Shafaq General” or use other methods that have the consensus of the Islamic community. We will explain these methods in the following.
Let us note one last point: whereas the prayer times for Zuhr, Asr and Maghrib are rather well defined in the Holy Koran and in the Hadiths, and thus allow an exact mathematical formulation, such is not the case with Fajr and Isha. The description of both in the Koran and in the Hadiths leaves a margin of interpretation, and hence for different formulations. For this reason, we take good care in what follows to explain the method that we have adopted in order to calculate these two moments of prayer specially.