I have contacted a few of the people of knowledge concerning some of the differences found in the Ramadan timetables, especially in relation for the timing of Salaatul Fajr. I have also read a few articles and books on the topic written by recognized Muslim astronomers. Considering the great amount of differences in opinion on the matter – which all sides have a strong argument for – I would suggest not declaring any of the timetables that are based on certain verdicts of scholars and Muslim astronomers to be absolutely wrong or to declare that the prayer/fasting which are based upon such timetables are absolutely invalid since each opinion is based upon thorough scholarly research and astronomical studies.
In regards to the timetables that are 15 degrees based, then some of the shuyookh have deemed that to be more accurate to follow.
Shaykh Abdul-Hameed al-Hajooree, hafidahullah, said,
“There are high possibilities that Ummul Quraa calculations according to majority of the scholars are erroneous in relation to the time of the prayer [for Fajr] since they have based their calculations upon 18 degrees and some calculations upon 19 degrees while the real time for dawn could only be upon 15 degrees as some astronomers have mentioned to me when I sat with them. Also, we have seen some of the verdicts of the scholars [stating this]. Therefore, the best source in this affair is the ISNA North America calculation. Professor Sa’ad Khathlan gave reference to it and we came to see for ourselves that its calculations are correct. It is 15 minutes approximately after the Ummul Quraa timing [for Fajr].”
Also the classical opinion in this matter is that the Ummul Quraa calculations should be regarded and this is the verdict of the Mufti Abdul Azeez Aali-Shaykh, Ash-Shaykh Saalih Al-Fawzaan, Shaykh Saalih Aali-Shaykh, and others.
Ash-Shaykh Abu Salaah Al-Afghani hafidahullah was asked the following,
“The people here [in Canada] have differed with regards to the timetables. Should we use the Ummul Quraa calculation as our source of reference since there are a number of different calculations here in Canada especially in relation to the time of Fajr?”
“If the brothers there are in difference of opinion among themselves, then they should rely upon the Ummul Quraa calculations as a way to solve the khilaaf [difference].”
Likewise I sent a question to Shaykh Ali at-Tuwajiri hafidahullah regarding the different calculations being used here in Canada in which he hafidahullah replied by saying,
“The brothers should come together and agree upon a specific [timetable]. In all cases the timetable that should be used is the most accurate and precise in comparison to others. Therefore, look into the matter and whatever you find is [most] accurate, then all praise to Allah, or else if that is not possible, then you should make an attempt to observe for yourself when dawn comes in and when the sun rises and depending upon what you have observed, make a timetable for your location.”.
Therefore after researching into the matter, what we found to be the most accurate out all of the timetables in Toronto from what we have seen so far is the 15 degrees based calculations, especially in relation to the western climate for the time of Fajr. This is since it suits the approximated time between dawn and sunrise and the amount of hours of the day with the hours of the night and actually coincides with the Ummul Quraa calculations for the Eastern climates.
In regards to the moonsighting.com calculations, then they are also regarded except that their timings are based upon approximation which they add some minutes as a means of precaution. For example I noticed today their timing for the maghrib prayer was delayed five minutes from sunset. Also, there is a high possibility that their timing for dawn has been made ten minutes earlier than the actual dawn timing due to precaution and approximation.
In conclusion, the Muslim should be cautious concerning this matter by refraining from eating 15 minutes the time of dawn when using the later timetables and should delay 15 minutes praying Fajr when using the earlier timetables. This suggestion is from the angle of being on the safe side although what we deem to be the closest to being correct from the calendars in Toronto are the ones that are 15 degrees based for the timing of Fajr.
Note: The suggestion I mentioned above regarding being cautious in relation to the different timetables is the suggestion of some of the scholars.
Ash-Shaykh Muhammad bin Saalih al-Uthaymeen, rahimahullah, was asked the following,
“In the month of Ramadan there are differences between the imams of the masaajid concerning the time of Fajr. Note that these masaajid have with them timetables that have been produced by [Muslim] astronomers which the government has accepted. However, the imams of these masaajid do not follow these timetables, especially in relation for the time of Fajr, and as a result, they make the adhaan for Fajr 15 minutes after the calculated timing found on the timetables. Also, keep in mind that due to the electricity light [found in the city], they aren’t capable to go out and observe the actual timing for Fajr. Therefore, what is your advice for them and what is your stance concerning what has been brought forward by the [Muslim] astronomers in regards to their calculations? May Allaah reward you with good”.
“There is no doubt that astronomers have their expertises in regards to astronomical calculations. However, Allah said,
‘… and eat and drink until the white thread (light) of dawn appears to you distinct from the black thread (darkness of night)’ [2:187]
Therefore, as long as it hasn’t become clear that Fajr has entered, a person could continue eating and drinking. However, the issue nowadays for those residing in cities or for those who live in the villages that have electricity light is that they won’t be able to witness when Fajr actually enters due to the great amount of electricity lights [found in the city]. Therefore, out of caution a person should refrain from eating and drinking once the timing that is found on the timetables enters. As for the salaat, then he should as well take precautions concerning it, meaning he shouldn’t haste to pray. Rather, he should wait, and alhamdulilah him delaying in order to make sure the timing has entered isn’t considered to be delaying the prayer from its fixed timing. So in this scenario, he should take precautions for both his fast and his prayer; in regards to the fast, he should refrain from eating according to the timing mentioned on the timetables, and in regards to the prayer, he should take precautions by delaying praying until he is certain that the timing of Fajr has entered.”
Ash-Shaykh Bin Baz, rahimahullah, was asked the following question,
“Some people say that the timetables aren’t accurate. Therefore, [they say] it is permissible to eat five or ten minutes after the adhaan has been made [, so is this correct?].
“What is appropriate is that the believer takes precautions [to be on the safe side concerning the timings]”.
AbuFajr AbdulFattaah Bin Uthman