Q: As Salaamu Alaikum warahmatullah wabarakatuh Sheikh,
may Allah reward you abundantly and increase you the ability to always help the Ummah. Ameen!
my question is, I heard one of the scholars mentioned that, stopping eating about 5 minutes before Fajr (when fasting) is a form of bid’ah. I found the following hadith in Bukhari: Narrated Anas: Zaid bin Thabit said “We took the sahoor with the Prophet (saw). Then he stood for prayer.” I asked, “What was the interval between the sahoor and the adhan?” He replied “The interval was sufficient to recite fifty verses of the Qur’an.” Reciting 50 verses should take about 5 or 10 minutes, even more. So how is it a bid’ah to stop eating 5 minutes before fajr? can you please clarify this for me?. Jazaakum Allahu so much khair sheikh.
Time: Monday August 8, 2011 at 3:37 am
A:وعليكم السلام ورحمة الله وبركاته
May Allah (SWT) reward you for seeking clarity on this matter as it relates to fasting.
In the Quran Allah (SWT) states: And eat and drink until the white thread (light) of dawn appears before you 9which is) distinct from the black thread (darkness of the night) … 2:187
While the hadith you presented states: Narrated Anas: Zaid bin Thabit said “We took the sahoor with the Prophet (saw). Then he stood for prayer.” I asked, “What was the interval between the sahoor and the adhan?” He replied “The interval was sufficient to recite fifty verses of the Qur’an.”
And yet another hadith states: three matters are within the character of the mursaleen: hasten in opening the fast, delaying sohoor and usage of the miswak.
قوله عليه الصلاة والسلام : ثلاث من أخلاق المرسلين : تعجيل الإفطار وتأخير السحور والسواك
In making sense of your query in light of the above, we must note the following:
Some modern day scholars have made it bid’ah to stop eating and thereafter thinking that to stop eating exactly 5 minutes prior to the time of beginning the fast is a ‘must’ and not doing so would somehow invalidate the fast. For the above hadith and ayah are not linked to the aspect of minutes. For some it may take 4 minutes to recite 50 or so versus, for others it may take seven to ten minutes. Thus, this whole discussion should not limit itself to mere minutes. The more significant matter ought to be: what is the best time for a fasting person to stop eating?!
Based on the explanation of the above verse and ahadith, the uluma have deduced in part the following: Stop before the time enters. Do so with ease and comfort. Stop early enough where no doubt exists in your mind as to the start time of your fast. Also, the reason for stopping a few moments early is to allow for a slight variation in clocks, etc. Sometimes our clocks are off by a minute or two, thus, to stop a little early as you indicated would be beneficial and more virtuous and safe. If you wait too long, you would be in doubt as to your fast, and Allah (SWT) wants us to stay away from doubt (hadith.) To delay may also lead to possibility that you step into the forbidden time of eating, negating your fast.
Thus, the scholars are unanimous, stop eating before the fasting time enters in a manner that would keep you comfortable, but not so early that you violate the essence of the above Hadith. Islam is a balance, and we must be balanced in how we function, this too is part of ibadah. Stopping early (without me specifying a time/minutes) also can assist you in making some quality ibadah before the fajr time sets in, dua, etc
I would keep with the 50 ayah (mutawasil ayah of the Quran) rule as an added benefit to the quality of your fast. I would not hold on to it as the only way to start the fast. It functions as a virtues action.
May Allah (swt) accept all of our fast, ameen.
Allah Certainly Knows Best.