Several people have asked about the time at which the first jummah prayer is held at ICOI during this time of the year. The prayer sermon starts at 12:30pm and Zuhr on the official calendar is around 12:50 so how is permissible to do this? And now during Ramadan, ICOI is holding three jummahs with one at 12? Is that allowed and why?

Asking this question is good because it is evidence that people are interested in understanding the teachings of Islam, and want to take personal responsibility for their deeds. Although the Quran and the Sunnah are the primary source of guidance, we also rely on the scholars to help apply the teachings in the most practical manner.

The jurists have differed on the earliest time for the Jummah prayer and have come down to two groups of opinions :

1- Abu Hanifa, Malik, and Shafii’:
They said that the time of Zuhr beings after the sun descends from its zenith (Zawal)

and it ends when an object’s shadow equals its length at the time of Zawal. They used two evidences for their opinion:

a. Hadith located in Sahih Muslim, number 860, stating that Salamah ibn al-Akwa’a said: “We used to pray Jummah with the Messenger of Allah SAW when the sun passed its zenith, then we would go back and try to find shade.”

b. Hadith located in Sahih Al-Bukhari, number 904, that Anas Ibn Malik said, “we used to pray Jummah when the sun had passed the meridian.”

2- Ahmad ibn Hanbil and others like Ibn Raahawayh:

They agreed It is permissible to pray before the sun passes the meridian, the time for Jummah starts before the time for Zuhr.

They also have some evidences from the Sunnah and the actions of some Sahabah.

Located in Sahih Muslim, No. 858, that Jaabir ibn ‘Abd-Allah said: We used to pray with the Messenger of Allaah SAAW, then we would go back and let our camels, used for carrying water, rest. Hasan said: I said to Ja’far: At what time was that? He said: When the sun passed its zenith.

In the Book of ( Kashaf Al-Qena’a) that covers the Hanifi school, he stated, that Abullah ibn Sydan Al-Sulamy said “I prayed Jummah behind Abu-Bakr and his Salah and his Khutbah used to be before the sun passed the meridian. I prayed Jummah behind Umar Ibn Al-Khatab and his salah and khutbah were when the sun passes the meridian,and Uthman’s salah and khutbah were even after that, however I haven’t seen anyone criticizing the action of the other and I have never heard the sahabha arguing about that.“

It was also reported by Ibn Masoud and Jabir and Sa’eed and Mua’awiyah.

The jurists had different opinions on that, which is absolutely fine, because we should look at these differences as an aid for us. Sufiyan al-Thawri said, “scholars have seen those differences as an aid in practicing the religion”. He also said, “if you see a man following a matter in which the scholars have different view points on, then don’t forbid him from what he is doing.”

Also Ibn Al Qayyim said, “the difference between people is something very normal, they have to have it because of the disparity of their motives, understanding, and determinations. Then he added and said that, “the blameworthy differences are what cause enmity among people.”

So the conclusion is to pray Jummah after Zawwal according to the majority of the jurists, and if it becomes necessary due to circumstances such as facility restrictions or parking constraints etc, then it is better to use the opinion of imam Ahmad ibn Hanbil. Also remember that Aisha said that “whenever the Prophet was given the choice between two matters he would pick the easiest as long as its not haram.“


Zakat should be distributed amongst the eight causes according to the needs of the community. How to evaluate the needs and priorities of the community is discussed in a separate Fatwa.

The rich are required to give more as a result of our religion requiring everyone to provide 2.5% from their designated assets. So a rich person will provide more dollars than a middle class person. However, there is no imposition of additional donation requirements on the rich, rather just encouragement to them to give more from sadaqa. It should be noted that those who are required to pay Zakat are those who have the nisaab, which in our currency is approximately $3,500-$4,000.

I. What does the Quran say

Allah says in the Quran “Alms are for the poor and the needy and those employed to manage the funds, for those whose hearts have turned to truth and belief recently, for those in slavery (and for the freedom of captives) and in debt, and for Fighters for the cause of Allah and for the wayfarer ordered by Allah, and Allah is All knowing All Wise”

Allah stated the seventh category of Zakat to be fi-sabil Allah, which means in the way of Allah, and the linguistic meaning of the word according to Ibn –AlAthir “sabil” means way, and sabil Allah is the way that leads to the pleasure of Allah. So it’s a general term that covers all the deeds we do for the cause of Allah. However, if you use it in an unmodified manner then the literal meaning will be to fight for the cause of Allah. That difference between the grammarians regarding the meaning of the word is what caused the jurists to differ regarding this seventh category.

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We can discuss how Muslims in western nations have progressed in income and wealth creation over the last few decades. But then we would also have to discuss how the cost of real estate in western nations may have outpaced the growth of income over the same period, what implications that has for affordability of building a masjid, and how this weighs on the priorities for the different categories of Zakat. We can then also discuss what implications there are when the cost of land in one city is three times the cost of land in another city less than 20 miles away with no significant difference in income for people with similar professions living in those two cities (other than occasionally wealthier people), thereby changing the affordability of building a new masjid by the community in the more expensive city, even though it may be needed.

We can certainly debate and discuss these questions. But in my mind the key issue seems to be that Zakat money, whose primary purpose is to be spent in the local community, is potentially being diverted from the local community to non-local communities (primarily internationally). It seems if each community gave the obligatory Zakat to the local masjid, and the masjid then distributed it equally over time to all eight categories of Zakat based on need, there would be no poor, there would be no shortage of Islamic institutions, and there would be no debate on relative priorities of Zakat usage.

As an example, preliminary calculations suggest that the Zakat money from the greater Irvine community alone could be greater than ten million dollars per year. However, ICOI gets less than one hundred thousand dollars in Zakat contributions annually, which seems to be less than 1% of what the Zakat obligation potentially is. If the obligatory money is being donated as Zakat, where does this money go? It seems like a lot of it goes elsewhere, and we debate what to do with the little that is left behind.

Why does that happen, when our scholars clearly tell us to spend on our community first? Is it because the local masajid are not trusted to distribute this correctly? Is it because the Shuyukh are not in agreement about what categories to use it for, and that uncertainty causes people to decide individually where to send Zakat money? Is it because we have so many charitable institutions trying to collect and administer Zakat on their own that efforts are duplicated with multiple food banks, clothing assistance charities, etc, within 5-10 miles of each other? Should we not consolidate this through regional Islamic Centers where it could have greater scale and effectiveness?

My opinion is that if we, as local Muslim communities (including local Religious leaders) established a uniform system of Zakat education, collection, and distribution that was transparent to the community, and based on the rules of Fiqh, more Zakat money would flow into the local system, thereby increasing the ‘size of the pie’ significantly. As a result, there would be plenty of money to address the needs of the poor, and promote our faith through the sponsorship of infrastructure, institutions, and teachers, all in parallel, in our local communities. This is particularly important when we think about the future generations whose needs are different than the previous ones. If in debating the uses of our collective donations we end up not building Islamic centers or infrastructure that address the needs of the next generation with real community centers, there is the danger that there may not be very many local people to collect Zakat from in the not so distant future.

What are the permitted ways of determining the beginning and end of Ramadan?

Scholars hold different opinions regarding the issue of sighting the new moon of Ramadan. Some say that sighting the new moon in one country is sufficient for all other countries to start fasting. Other scholars said It is binding for all countries, if two upright Muslims informed that another two upright Muslims sighted the moon.
Other scholars say that countries far away from each other cannot depend on each other’s sighting of the new moon. Many scholars hold this opinion, which is based on a Hadith narrated by Ibn `Abbas (may Allah be pleased with them both) in the Sahih Muslim (1087). Al-Nawawi commented on the Hadith saying: Each country should depend on its own sighting. Kuraib narrates that Umm Al-Fadl bint Al-Harith sent her son (Al-Fadl) to Mu`awiyah (may Allah be pleased with him) in Sham. Al-Fadl said, “I went to Sham and fulfilled her need. Then Ramadan was about to begin while I was there. I saw the new moon on Saturday night. Then I returned to Madinah by the end of the month. `Abdullah ibn `Abbas (may Allah be pleased with them both) asked me about the moon saying, ‘When did you sight the new moon?’ I replied, ‘We sighted it on Saturday night.’ He asked: ‘Did you sight it yourself?’ I said, ‘Yes, and other people sighted it too. They observed fast and so did Mu`awiyah.’ He said, ‘But we sighted it on Sunday night and we will continue fasting until we finish thirty days or sight the next moon.’ I

asked, ‘Do you not depend on the sighting of Mu`awiyah?’ He said, ‘No, that is what the Messenger of Allah (peace be upon him) commanded us to do.’” Based on this hadith, sighting the new moon in a country far away does not apply, especially if both countries do not share the same hours of night, the night ends in one country before it begins in the other.

The Islamic Fiqh Academy issued a decision that sighting the new moon is the only valid way, and that astronomical calculations based on the relation between the moon, the earth, and the sun can be only used as a guide.

A third opinion declares that astronomical calculations are decisive and dependable, and this is the opinion of the European Council for Fatwa and Research.

Some Muslims may start fasting with other countries, like Gulf or Middle-Eastern countries, as long as sighting the new moon was established according to Shari`ah. They may also seek to sight the new moon in their own country or in a nearby country, since long distances nullify the ruling. Astronomical calculations can also be of great help, especially in this age of scientific advances. It is said that if a needle is sent to space, it can easily be found, let alone the moon which has already entered into its new phase, as it can be seen two or three hours after entering it. Thus, there are various options for Muslims in your country and there is no need for them to disagree. Those who adopt the opinion that says long distances from a country prohibit one from following its timing of the new moon are adopting a strong opinion. Those who adopt the opinion that says sighting the new moon in one country is binding on other countries are also adopting a strong opinion. Those who depend on astronomical calculations to verify or establish the birth of the new moon are also on the right. In case the new moon was seen while astronomical calculations prove it can never have entered its new phase on that date, the sighting is given preference. Although the European Council gives preference to astronomical calculations, if a group of people sighted the new moon, their opinion is given preference over astronomical calculations.

This is a summary of opinions in this regard and we advise Muslims to avoid disagreements and disputes. Muslims should discuss the matter together and agree to adopt one of the methods we listed above, for all are opinions of great scholars.

ICOI follows the ISNA calendar. To read how ISNA and the Fiqh Council of North America determines dates, please click here.