Timing of ‘Isha’ prayer in regions where the red afterglow (or twilight) does not disappear until very late

We are Saudi students who have been sent to study in the UK, specifically in the city of Birmingham. Nowadays, with the beginning of summer, we are faced with the problem of a long time between the beginning of the time for Maghrib and the beginning of the time for ‘Isha’. Every year there are arguments among the Muslims about what to do. Some mosques to pray ‘Isha’ 90 minutes after the time for Maghrib begins, whilst others wait until the red afterglow disappears, for a period of up to 3 hours on occasion! Which causes hardship for people, especially as the night is so short. On days like this, the Muslims in the student halls of residence pray ‘Isha’ in two congregations: the first group prays after 90 minutes, based on the following: (a) Shaykh Ibn ‘Uthaymeen (may Allah have mercy on him) said in one of his khutbahs that the longest time between the beginning of Maghrib and ‘Isha’ is one hour and thirty-two minutes; (b) based on a fatwa from one of the famous shaykhs in Saudi Arabia; (c) the red afterglow does not disappear all night in some regions and during some seasons of the year; (d) some mosques and Islamic centres rely on the 90-minute idea; (e) the Two Holy Sanctuaries (al-Haramain) follow this system. As for the other group, they pray later, based on the following: (a) the fatwa of the Standing Committee which says that each prayer should be offered at the time prescribed in sharee‘ah, in accordance with the signs described in sharee‘ah (if night is distinct from day); (b) a fatwa from another famous shaykh in Saudi Arabia, in which he affirmed that the 90-minute idea is based on mistaken ijtihaad; (c) some mosques and Islamic centres do that; (d) the timetable that is approved by the Muslim World League. But in fact the timetable of the MWL causes us hardship and difficulty during some seasons of the year. We follow the prayer timetable to be found on the following link:
http://www.islamicfinder.org
which gives all timetables according to the well-known calculation methods; it is also possible to customise it. As we have not found, on the Internet or elsewhere, any research on this issue that is based on clear evidence from the Qur’aan and Sunnah, we are waiting for you to give us an adequate discussion and clear answer, by means of which we ask Allah to unite people and bring us together on the basis of truth concerning this issue. May Allah reward you with good.

Praise be to Allaah.

Firstly:

One of the conditions of prayer being valid, on which there is consensus among the scholars, is that the time for the prayer should have begun. Allah, may He be exalted, says (interpretation of the meaning): “Surely the Prayer is prescribed to the Believers at specified timings” [an-Nisa’ 4:103].

Shaykh ‘Abd ar-Rahmaan as-Sa‘di (may Allah have mercy on him) said:

That is, it is obligatory and it has a specific time and is not valid if offered at any other time. These are the times that are established and well known to Muslims, young and old, knowledgeable and ignorant.  Continue reading

Times of prayer and fasting in the polar regions

I am a non muslim who currently live in a muslim country.  It is my understanding that the 5 daily pryers as well as the times for feasting during the ramadhan are according to sunrise and sunset.  My question : How do a muslim may deterine the appropriate times for the prayers and begin feasting if he/she lives near the artic circle where nights and days can be quite long depending of the season.
My thanks for your answer and continue your work.  It helps me understand a few things about islam as well as understand what our local staff were talking about.

Praise be to Allaah.

We thank you for this question and we appreciate your interest in the prayer times in Islam. In answer to your question, those who live close to the Arctic Circle, where they have continual night or continual day for several months, should look to the closest city to them where night and day are distinct in each twenty-four hour period, then they should do the five daily prayers based on the timing in that city.

Your interest in the matter and your keenness to ask questions and find out gives us the hope that you will embrace this religion and practise its rituals. We wish you well and hope for guidance for you. Continue reading