- When exactly must one stop eating and drinking if one is going to fast?
- Is it the adhaan of Fajr when the muezzin says Allaahu akbar, or what is the exact time?
- What should I do if the cup is at my mouth and I am drinking and the call to prayer begins?
The majority are of the view that sahoor should stop when dawn breaks. This is the view of the four imams, and the majority of fuqaha’, and was also narrated from ‘Umar and Ibn ‘Abbaas.
Shaykh ‘Abd al-‘Azeez ibn Baaz (may Allaah have mercy on him) was asked: What is the ruling on the fast of one who hears the adhaan of Fajr but continues eating and drinking?
What the believer must do is to abstain from things that break the fast, eating and drinking etc., when it becomes clear to him that dawn has broken, if the fast is an obligatory one such as in Ramadaan and fasts in fulfillment of vows or as an act of expiation, because Allaah says (interpretation of the meaning):
“and eat and drink until the white thread (light) of dawn appears to you distinct from the black thread (darkness of night)”
If he hears the adhaan and knows that this is the call for Fajr prayer, he must stop eating. If the muezzin gives the call to prayer before dawn breaks, then he does not have to stop eating, and it is permissible for him to eat and drink until it is clear to him that dawn has come.
If he does not know whether the muezzin gives the call to prayer before or after dawn, then it is better and safer for him to stop eating when he hears the adhaan, but it does not matter if he drinks or eats something during the adhaan because he does not know whether dawn has broken.
It is well known that those who live in cities where there are electrical lights cannot know whether dawn has come at the time when it breaks, but they can follow the adhaan and timetables which give the time of dawn, hour and minute, in accordance with the words of the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him): “Leave that which makes you doubt for that which does not make you doubt.” And he (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) said: “Whoever avoids doubtful matters will have protected his religious commitment and honour.” And Allaah is the Source of strength.
from Fataawa Ramadaan, compiled by Ashraf ‘Abd al-Maqsood, p. 201
The answer to this question was also explained by Shaykh Abdul Muhsin Al-Abbadd (Hafidhahullah) when explaining the following hadeeth:
عَنْ أَبِي هُرَيْرَةَ قَالَ: قَالَ رَسُولُ اللهِ صلى الله عليه وسلم إِذَا سَمِعَ أَحَدُكُمُ النِّدَاءَ وَالإِنَاءُ عَلَى يَدِهِ، فَلاَ يَضَعْهُ حَتَّى يَقْضِيَ حَاجَتَهُ مِنْهُ.
Narrated Abu Hurairah (May Allah be pleased with him ): Allah's Messenger ( Sallahu alayhi wa salam) said: If any of you hear the call for Fajr and in your hand is a vessel, don’t put it down until you finish taking what you need from it."
Sunnan Abu Dawud (2350) graded as being Hasan Saheeh by Al-Albani (Rahimahullah)
Shaykh Abdul Muhsin Al-Abbadd (may Allah preserve him) said,
"The title here asks a question. Does the person continue to drink or remove the glass from his mouth and stop drinking? The answer: If this is the Athan which the person relies on for knowing the entrance of Fajr and he's already drinking, then he can continue. However he shouldn’t start to drink after the Athan has been called. "
So what we understand from the hadeeth is:
When a person hears the adhaan of Fajr, his fasting begins and time for eating and drinking has ended. This is in general.
However, if the person was already drinking before the adhaan and there is some drink in his mouth, he can consume or swallow it. Moreover, he can drink what is left in his glass that he is holding in his hand.
What is impermissible to do is - Hastening and starting to drink when you hear the adhaan. It is permissible to continue but not start.
Having cup in the mouth and waiting to hear the adhaan and then drinking - that is not permissible as well.
Moreover, this permissibility of continuing applies only for drinking from glass and not eating food. This is important.
"Taking what you need from it." This refers to drinking water from the glass, but this doesn’t apply to food. (Explanation of Sunnan Abu Dawud)
Both quran and sunnah have explained when it is best to start fasting and to break your fast:
You stop eating when it is clearly obvious that it is fajir time or the end of sunset. You may continue eating after the first call to prayer, untill the muathin calls right before prayer, or the second athan. If you have food in your mounth or you are about to eat somthing, you may continue and your fasting will start right after you are done.
Details and evidence:
The words of Allah Almighty, "'Eat and drink until you can clearly discern the white thread from the black thread of the dawn. Then complete the fast until the night appears." (2:187)
later, the prophet explained the hadith to his ummah to avoid confusion to what this means:
It is related that 'Adi ibn Hatim said, "When it was revealed, 'Eat and drink until you can clearly discern the white thread from the black thread', I got a black string and a white string and put them under my pillow. I began to look at them during the night, but it was not clear to me. In the morning I went to the Messenger of Allah, may Allah bless him and grant him peace, and mentioned that to him and he said, 'That means the blackness of the night and the whiteness of the day.' 1817- sahih bukhari:book of fasting"
When you are in a country where athan is called, you begin fasting at the last athan before fajr, so its the second athan when he calls right before prayer:
It is related from 'A'isha, "Bilal used to call the adhan whilst it was still night, and the Messenger of Allah, may Allah bless him and grant him peace, said 'Eat and drink until Ibn Umm Maktum calls the adhan. He does not call the adhan until it is dawn.'" Al-Qasim said, "The time between the two adhans was only long enough for this one to go up and that one to come down. Malik muttawa, book 3- book of prayers"
Even though bilal used to call for prayer, it was permissible to keep eating untill Ibn maktum (the second muathin) did athan right before prayer.
and lastly, if you have a cup of water of food in your hand and you were right about to eat/drink it, it is permissible to do so:
It was narrated that Abu Hurayrah (may Allaah be pleased with him) said: The Messenger of Allaah (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) said: “If one of you hears the call (to prayer) and the vessel is still in his hand, let him not put it down until he finished with it. Abu Dawood, 2350”
But one must keep in mind that the resoning behind this hadith is because of the ayah in the quran mentioned above that says to stop eating when its distinctly past dawn or sunset. So this does not mean that you may eat and drink when its past dawn, only when the athan is called, since it dosent truley determine whether dawn has passed or not. If you have a vessel in your hand and you are in a foreign country and you are relying on the sun, then it would not be permissible to continue eating and drinking, since it is distinct that suhoor time is over.
Just an addition to the answer provided, it is preferred to delay suhur as much as possible and hasten to break fast as much as possible.
The Prophet (S) said: "Hasten the breaking of the fast and delay the Suhoor". [Sahih al-Jami`]
Zaid ibn Thabit reported: "We ate Suhoor with the Messenger of Allah and then we got up for the prayer. He was asked: 'What was the amount of time between the two?' He responded: '[The time it would take to recite] fifty ayat."' [al-Bukhari and Muslim].
'Amr ibn Maimun adds: "The companions of Muhammad (S), would be the first to break the fast and the last to eat their Suhoor." [al-Baihaqi, Abdur-Razzaq and al-Haithami; Sahih]
The Prophet (S) said: "We, the Prophets, have been ordered to hasten breaking the fast, delay the Suhoor, and to put our right hand on the left one in prayer". [Sahih al-Jami`]