Someone from Pakistan wrote to Hazrat Amirul Momineen, Khalifatul Masih Vaa and asked about the time gap between the azan and the iqamah for Fajr prayer. He asked if it was necessary for that time gap to be equivalent to the time required to recite Surah al-Baqarah, “as indicated in a hadith of Sahih al-Bukhari”.
Huzoor-e-Anwaraa, in his letter dated 14 December 2021, provided the following guidance regarding this issue:
“As far as I know, there is no such hadith in Sahih al-Bukhari that mentions that there should be a gap between the azan and iqamah of Fajr prayer equal to the time it takes to recite Surah al-Baqarah. Please send me the hadith from Sahih al-Bukhari that you are referring to, and then I can provide further clarification on this matter.
“Here at Mubarak Mosque, we observe a time gap of 25 to 40 minutes from the appearance of true dawn (Fajr azan) to the start of the prayer, according to seasonal variation. Usually, the time of Fajr azan is one hour and twenty minutes to one hour and thirty minutes before sunrise. This principle is generally followed in moderate weather zones all over the world.
“Due to the progress of science and the development of modern tools, it is now possible to accurately determine the exact timing of dawn, sunrise, sunset, etc. This level of precision was not achievable in earlier times.
“Islam did not prescribe a hard and fast rule for a specific time for prayers, but for the convenience of its followers, it designated a duration for all prayers during which they could be offered. This allows people to schedule congregational prayers at their convenience within the specified time periods.
“Hence, Hazrat Abu Hurairahra narrated that Allah’s Messengersa said, ‘Indeed, for [the time of] salat, [there is a] beginning and an end. The beginning of the time for the Zuhr prayer is when the sun passes the zenith, and the end of its time is when the time for Asr enters. The beginning of the time for Asr is when its time enters, and the end of its time is when the sun yellows [turns pale]. The beginning of the time of Maghrib is when the sun has set and the end of its time is when the twilight has vanished [i.e., the horizon is invisible because of darkness]. The beginning of the time for Isha, the later one, is when the horizon has vanished, and the end of its time is when the night is at its half. The beginning of the time for Fajr is when Fajr begins, and its end is when the sun rises.’ (Jami‘ at-Tirmidhi, Kitab as-salat, Bab ma ja’a fi mawaqiti s-salat)
“Likewise, Sulaiman bin Buraidah narrated that his father said, ‘A man came to Allah’s Messengersa and asked him about the times of salat. He replied, ‘Stay with us for these two days.’ Then, he told Bilalra to say the iqamah at dawn, and he prayed Fajr. Then he told him to do that when the sun had passed its zenith and he prayed Zuhr. Then he told him to do that when the sun was still bright, and he said the iqamah for Asr. Then he told him to do that when the last part of the sun had disappeared, and he said the iqamah for Maghrib. Then he told him to do that when the twilight had disappeared and he said the iqamah for Isha. The following day, he prayed Fajr when there was light, then delayed Zuhr until it was cooler, and waited until it was much cooler before praying Asr, but the sun was still clear, so he prayed Asr later than on the first day. Then he prayed Maghrib before the twilight disappeared. Then he told him to say the iqamah for Isha when one-third of the night had passed, and he prayed, then he said: ‘Where is the one who was asking about the times of salat? The times of your salat are between the times you have observed.’’ (Sunan an-Nasa’i, Kitab al-mawaqit, Bab awwali waqti l-maghrib)
“Based on authentic ahadith, it is evident that the Holy Prophetsa would usually lead the Fajr prayer so long after the start of its prescribed time that a person could recite between fifty to sixty verses of the Quran in that period. In the Fajr prayer, he would typically recite between sixty to a hundred verses. Upon completing the prayer, it would still be quite dark outside, such that individuals standing in close proximity could be recognised but those at a distance could not. (Sahih al-Bukhari, Kitab mawaqiti s-salat, Bab waqti l-‘asr & Bab waqti l-fajr)”