When to stop eating: tulu’ al-fajr or later?

Question:

As salamu alaikum. I would like to ask and be sure what I am doing is correct in regards to fasting in Ramadan. Does one need to stop eating before fajr time enters or before sunrise as it can be a large gap from the start or fajr to sunrise. Jazakallah.

Country: England

Answer:

Wa alaykum salam wa rahmatuLlahi wa barakatuHu,

In his Tafsir v. 1, p. 276, Ibn Kathir related that the companions were lenient on the taking of the pre-fast breakfast and its time bordering fajr. From them are Abu Bakr, ‘Umar, ‘Ali, Ibn Mas’ud, Hudhayfah, Abu Hurayrah, Ibn ‘Umar, Ibn ‘Abbas, Zayd b. Thabit, and also many from the generation of the tabi’in.

When fajr enters, one needs to abstain from the fast’s invalidators [mufattirat: eating, drinking, and sex]. This is the opinion of Imams Shafi’i, Abu Hanifah, Malik, Ahmad, and the majority. (Sharh al-Muhadhdhab v. 6, p. 304) This view is supported by what Imam Muslim related in his Sahih v. 7, p. 202 on the authority of Ibn ‘Umar that the Prophet (sallaAllahu alayhie wa sallam) said,

إن بلالا يؤذن بليل فكلوا واشربوا حتى تسمعوا تأذين ابن أم مكتوم

“Verily, Bilal gives the adhan at night, so eat and drink until you hear Ibn Umm Maktum giving adhan.”

Thus, Bilal gave the first adhan; and then, Ibn Umm Maktum called it at the first of tulu’ al-fajr. Furthermore, eating and drinking took place between the two; while Ibn Umm Maktum’s was the one by which people knew to stop.

There is another view related from Hudhayfah and others that they considered the time to be slightly later. In Sharh al-Muhadhdhab v. 3, p. 45, in the discussion on prayer times, Imam Nawawi related from Shaykh Abu Hamid that according to Hudhayfah, Abu Musa al-Ash’ari, Abu Mijlaz, and A’mash night extends until tulu’ al-shams; and accordingly, the fajr prayer is a nighttime prayer and one fasting may eat until tulu’ al-shams as well.

The second view is supported by what Imam Ahmad related in his Musnad v. 38, p. 382 from Zirr b. Hubaysh,

قال تسحرت ثم انطلقت إلى المسجد فمررت بمنزل حذيفة بن اليمان فدخلت عليه فأمر بلقحة فحبلت وبقدر فسخنت ثم قال ادن فكل فقلت إني أريد الصوم فقال وأنا أريد الصوم فأكلنا وشربنا ثم أتينا المسجد فأقيمت الصلاة ثم قال حذيفة هكذا فعل رسول الله صلى الله عليه وسلم قلت أبعد الصبح قال نعم هو الصبح غير أن لم تطلع الشمس

“He [Zirr] said, ‘I ate my pre-fast breakfast and then set out for the mosque. I passed by Hudhayfah’s house, and entered upon him. He ordered a bite to eat and said, ‘Come and eat.’ I replied that I wanted to fast. And he stated in return that he intended the same. So we ate and drank and then went to the mosque. The prayer was performed. Then, Hudayfah said, ‘Allah’s Messenger (sallaAllahu alayhie wa sallam) acted in this manner.’ I said, ‘Is it after subh?’ He replied, ‘Indeed, it is subh besides that the sun has not risen.’”

In Ithaf 3/98, Busayri mentioned that Abu Ya’la narrated it and its narrators are thiqat. Similarly, Nasa’i and Ibn Majah (the wording is Nasai’s) related on the authority of Zirr,

قلت لحذيفة أي ساعة تسحرت مع رسول الله صلى الله عليه وسلم قال هو النهار إلا أن الشمس لم تطلع

“I said to Hudhayfah, ‘At which time did you have the pre-fast breakfast with Allah’s Messenger (sallaAllahu alayhie wa sallam)?’ He replied, ‘It was day except for that the sun had not risen.’”

Some have interpreted Hudhayfah’s hadiths. Some said that they are abrogated. Some said that they are specific to a case of one uncertain of whether or not fajr has entered. Furthermore, even if taking the hadith on its zahir, the first hadith from Hudhayfah seems to have happened outside of Ramadan as both Zirr and Hudhayfah expressed that they were intending to fast, while in Ramadan there is no option but to fast.

According to the Four Schools the time is as stated in the first view above, the fatwa is on that; while we can see that the other view does have a basis as well, while probably not for Ramadan.

And Allah knows best.

Shafiifiqh.com Fatwa Dept.