If the alternative prayer time follows Makkah time during extreme period, why the schedule is not the same?

Some people asked, “if the alternative prayer time follows Makkah time during extreme period, why the alternative prayer time schedule uploaded in this website is not exactly the same?

Let us discuss this issue by first considering case study for 15 August 2011. First of all, let us see what is the prayer time schedule* for Makkah:

  • Islamic Finder: 15; Mon; 4:39; 5:58; 12:26; 3:48; 6:52; 8:52.
  • Islami City:       15; Mon; 4:40; 5:59; 12:25; 3:47; 6:51; 8:10.
  • * Noted: the numbers shown above are date; day; Fajr; sunrise; Duhr; Asr; Maghrib; Isha, respectively.

Afterward, let us see what is the astronomical calculation show us. Referring to the source: www.timeanddate.com-link1 and link-2: for 15 Aug 2011, it says:

  • Twilight start  : 04:41 (corresponds to Fajr).
  • Sunrise          : 05:59 (corresponds to end of Fajr).
  • Noon              : 12:25 (corresponds to few minutes before Duhr).
  • Sunset           : 18:51 (corresponds to Maghrib).
  • Twilight  ends: 20:10 (corresponds to Isha).

I think we can agree that the first sources (Islamic Finder and Islami City) and the second source (timeanddate) are agree well, which means the applied Makkah time at Makkah found at both sources (Islamic Finder and Islami City) is correct with respect to astronomical calculation.

Now, let us see what is mentioned in the alternative prayer time table developed in Trondheim as uploaded here or here in this website. It says: 15; Mon; 05:28; 5:38; 6:56; 13:29; 16:45; 19:48; 21:06 for date; day; Fajr; sunrise; Duhr; Asr; Maghrib; Isha respectively. According to this schedule, we start fasting (also Fajr prayer) at around 5:30. It means there is “approximately one hour” difference with the real Makkah time as shown before. Why?

The answer can be found here. Please scroll down of the box at the right hand side and find “Time Zone”. It says Norway follows CET (UTC+1). This is the standard adopted time and valid during winter. While in summer, Norway applies DST (Daylight Saving Time), such that follows CEST (UTC+2). Noted: CET: Central European Time, CEST: Central European Summer Time, and UTC: Coordinated Universal Time. In short: the “true time” for Norway is during winter. While the “false time” for Norway is during summer, when there is one hour correction from the true time. Example is. If today (15.08.2011) the clock shows 05:30, then the true time is actually 04:30. With this regard, then the alternative time developed in Trondheim is in fact adopting the Makkah time.

Ok… But, why the difference is approximate one hour instead of exactly one hour, if the reason for the difference is due to the DST (Daylight Saving Time)? Well… there are several answers:
  • The very obvious reason is due to accuracy of the calculation when implementing round up procedure in the computer code. But this should be in the order of 1 minute.
  • The not so obvious reason, but it is significant and important, but also probably the most difficult to understand is because of the difference position of both cities (Makkah and Trondheim) relative to the reference longitude line of the time zone. You may see this map to evaluate what I meant. Makkah is located at 39°49′0″E=39.8167°E and its reference longitude line for UTC+3 is 37.5°E — 52.5°E. Makkah position relative to 37.5°E is 2.3167°. While, Trondheim is located at 10°23′36″E = 10.3933°E and its reference longitude line for UTC+1 is 7.5°E — 22.5°E. Trondheim position relative to 7.5°E is 2.8933°. Now, the difference between these two cities is 0.5766°. In time unit, it is equal to 138.384 seconds or 2.3 minutes. Because Trondheim is located more eastern to the reference longitudinal line as compared to Makkah, then logically the time in Trondheim will goes first and then afterward Makkah with time difference of 2.3 minutes. Therefore, we have approximately 1 hour and 2-3 minutes difference between the prayer time in Makkah and the (adopted Makkah) prayer time in Trondheim.

Why we need to perform such complicated approach? Why we don’t just apply the time in Makkah directly? It is much simpler, isn’t it? Well… the answer should be logic for anyone. The reason is we have to be consistent! Consistent in which sense? Well… When we in Trondheim developing the adopted Makkah time for Trondheim, we did not look it at solely for Trondheim, but for bigger area, e.g. Norway or even Scandinavia. Now, let us imagine a world globe ball. Then point your finger to an arbitrary location (let say around the equator line, to make it simpler). Afterward, you turn the globe such that it rotates just exactly like the earth rotate in its axis, i.e. it goes from West to East. Opposite to that, your finger actually points to the Eastern part first and then the Western part. And also the time to make adzan (call for prayer) should be the Eastern part first and then the Western part. Now, if whole Norway has the same time zone (in fact yes), then the adzan should be performed consecutively, from the Eastern part of Norway until to the Western part of Norway. It should be consecutively, not at once! If we apply exactly the time in Makkah directly, then it is absolutely in any where of Norway, they will make adzan all at once! If it is happen, we fail to be consistent with the nature of the earth rotation as Allah SWT has been created.

However, fortunately, there is simpler approach. By setting the longitude as the same as the local area (e.g. Trondheim) and setting the latitude as the same as Makkah latitude, and then perform the astronomical calculation, then we will end up with the same result as if we make correction above.

Please make a note, that the time of Makkah is adopted only during the extreme (abnormal) period. The definition of extreme (abnormal) period are as follows (all are the same).

  • when we do not have the true night,
  • when we always have red-cloud, whether at all sky, or at eastern horizon, or at western horizon.
  • when we cannot differentiate between the end of Maghrib, the beginning and end of Isha, and the start of Fajr. All are blend together.
  • when the sun never goes down more than 18 degree below horizon.

If we have perfect night, then we apply the local time correctly according to local astronomical phenomena. In addition, there is 30 days transition between the normal and extreme period.


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