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

When fajr enters, one needs to abstain from the fast’s invalidators

By / 11 July 2013 


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


Wa alaykum salam wa rahmatuLlahi wa barakatuHu,

In his Tafsir v. 1, p. 276, Ibn Kathir related that the companions were lenient on taking the pre-fast breakfast with its time nearing fajr. From them Ibn Kathir cited Abu Bakr, ‘Umar, ‘Ali, Ibn Mas’ud, Hudhayfah, Abu Hurayrah, Ibn ‘Umar, Ibn ‘Abbas, and Zayd b. Thabit.

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,


“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,


“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 v. 3, p. 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,


“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. The Shafiyyah do relate a wajh marjuh that staying away from the fast’s invalidators is not stipulated from the first of the day, as indicated to Imam Nawawi in Minhaj v. 2, p. 150,


“The relied-upon opinion is the condition of abstaining is stipulated from the first of day.”

This seems to be a difference applicable to supererogatory fasting.

And Allah knows best.


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