Question # 88: I have seen in some calendars that during Ramadan there is a column called Al-Imsak time, which is around ten minutes or so before the Fajr prayer. Is there any basis for this in the Sunnah?

bismi-llahi r-raḥmani r-raḥīm,

Assalamu ‘laikum warahmatullahi wabarakatuh,

All praise and thanks are due to Allah (سبحانه و تعالى), and peace and blessings be upon His Messenger (صلى الله عليه و سلم).

Dear questioner,

First of all, we implore Allah (سبحانه و تعالى) to help us serve His cause and render our work for His sake.

Shorter Answer: The idea of being on the safe side by stopping eating and drinking a certain time before Fajr, such as ten minutes before, is bid’ah. The publishing of heading for ‘imsak’ (stopping time for eating and drinking) on some Ramadan timetables is something that is contrary to Islam.

The hadith of Anas (رضي الله عنه) indicating the period between the adhan and suhoor was as long as it takes to recite fifty verses, only indicates that the Prophet (صلى الله عليه و سلم) used to eat suhoor at this time before the adhan, and not that he (صلى الله عليه و سلم) started to fast and stopped eating and drinking at this time before Fajr. It is like saying, “I ate suhoor two hours before Fajr.” This does not mean that you started fasting from that time; rather you are simply stating what time you ate suhoor.

Long Answer: Shaykh Ibn ‘Uthaymeen (may Allah have mercy on him) said: “This is a form of innovation, and there is no basis for it in the Sunnah. Indeed, the Sunnah contradicts it, because Allah (سبحانه و تعالى) says in the Qur’an:  “…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 Sawm (fast) till the nightfall” (Soorah al-Baqarah, 2:187)

And the Prophet (صلى الله عليه و سلم) said: “Bilal gives the adhan at night, so eat and drink until Ibn Umm Maktoom gives the call to prayer.” The narrator said: Ibn Umm Maktoom was a blind man who did not give the call to prayer until someone said to him, ‘Morning has come, morning has come.’” (Reported Al-Bukhari and Muslim)

This lmsak (time to stop eating and drinking) which some people regulate is an addition to what Allah (سبحانه و تعالى) has enjoined, and so it is invalid and it is extreme and the Prophet (صلى الله عليه و سلم) said: “Ruined are those who indulge in extremism, ruined are those who indulge in extremism, ruined are those who indulge in extremism.” (Muslim)” (Fatawa Arkanul-Islam)

Shaykh Ibn Baaz said: “I do not know of any basis for [the time to stop eating and drinking before Fajr]…” (Majmoo’ Fataawa Ibn Baaz)

[As for the hadith, where] Al-Bukhari narrated from Anas that Zayd ibn Thaabit (رضي الله عنه) said: “We ate suhoor with the Prophet (صلى الله عليه و سلم), then he stood up to pray.” I [Anas] said: “How long was there between the adhan and suhoor?” He said: “As long as it takes to recite fifty verses.”, [it] indicates that the Prophet (صلى الله عليه و سلم) used to eat suhoor this amount of time before the adhan, not that the Prophet (صلى الله عليه و سلم) started to fast and stopped eating and drinking this amount of time before Fajr. There is a difference between the time of suhoor and the time of stopping eating and drinking. This is clear, praise be to Allah. It is like saying, “I ate suhoor two hours before Fajr.” This does not mean that you started fasting from that time, rather you are simply stating what time you ate suhoor. What may be understood from the hadeeth of Zayd ibn Thaabit (رضي الله عنه) is that it is mustahabb to delay suhoor and it is not mustahabb to stop eating and drinking a while before Fajr. (Abu Bakr al-Jassaas in Ahkaam al-Qur’an) (Shaykh Muhammad Saalih al-Munajjid)

Allahu A’lam (Allah (سبحانه و تعالى) knows best) and all Perfections belong to Allah, and all mistakes belong to me alone. May Allah (سبحانه و تعالى) forgive me, Ameen.

Wassalaam