Detection of the first ray of light at Fajr


In accordance to 2:187, the Fajr starts when we can distinguish the first thread of light from the darkness. However, when I look out of the window at the time given in the Table of the Salat Times, it is always pitch black with not the faintest light to be seen. So what should I follow, the Table or my eyes?


The times for the Salat on your Table are based on astronomical calculations. They are very accurate in pointing out the Salat times for all locations.
In contrast, relying on our own eyes to determine the start of the Fajr is not reliable. This is due to a number of reasons:

1- The strength of the eyesight varies from one person to another. This means that at the same location, people will distinguish the first ray of light at different times.

2- Bad weather conditions will hinder our detection of the first ray of light if we rely on our eyesight.

3- The first ray of light appears on the horizon and not high in the sky. As a result, people who live amid high buildings, and thus cannot see the horizon, will be obscured from seeing the first light.

4- Light pollution due to city lights makes it difficult to detect faint light. People who live in dark rural areas will see the first faint light before people who live in cities with street lights.

The conclusion is that if we rely on our eyesight alone, and wait until we can see the first light with our own eyes, we would not be attaining the correct start of the Fajr Salat, nor the correct end of the Isha Salat. The times of both of these Salat will be shortened considerably. In addition, the times of these two Salat will not be uniform for all people, even if they live in the same geographical area.

The astronomical calculations available to us are independent of weather conditions and are entirely accurate. The astronomical solar calculations are used to determine the times of our Salat, while the astronomical lunar calculations are used to determine the start and end of Ramadan and also the start and end of the months of Hajj.
All astronomical calculations are approved by God for our use:

He is the One who rendered
the sun to emit light and the moon a light, and He determined its phases that you may know the count of years, and for calculation. God did not create this but truthfully. He details the revelations for people who know. 10:5