In The Name of Allaah, The Most Merciful, The Bestower of Mercy.
The Mu’adh-dhin Is Relied Upon
Al-Allaamah Abdullah Bin Muhammad Bin Humaid [may Allaah nhave mercy upon him] was asked: “When does the one stops eating and drinking; is it whilst the Adhaan (of Fajr) is being called or after the Adhaan has been called?”
Answer: The Islamic legislation commands cessation of (eating and drinking) when fajr arrives (i.e. when a person is certain that Fajr has entered), whether before the Adhaan or after the Adhaan (i.e. whether he hears the Adhaan being called after he is already certain that fajr has entered or whether he heard it thereafter after already being certain that it has entered). That is because Allaah said: “And eat and drink until the white thread (light) of dawn appears to you distinct from the black thread (darkness of night), then complete your Saum (fast) till the nightfall.” [Surah Al-Baqara: Ayah: 187]
However, the common practice is that the Mu’adh-dhin does not call the Adhaan except when fajr arrives. So when it is the case that it has being legislated to (cease eating and drinking) when the Adhaan is called, then it is incumbent to stop and not eat. Therefore, stop eating when the Adhaan begins, because in the majority of cases the Mu’adh-dhin does not call the Adhaan except when fajr arrives, especially the Mu’adh-dhin of Masjid Al-haraam (i.e. the Kabah). (see footnote a) (1)
Calling The Adhaan Four or Five Minutes Before Fajr As a Precaution
Imaam Muhammad Ibn Saalih Al-Uthaymeen [may Allaah have mercy upon him] stated: This precaution is not legislated and indeed the Prophet [peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him] said, “The over-stringent ones are destroyed”. (see footnote b) It is incorrect because if they take this precaution in relation to the fasting, they will commit a mistake or a misdeed. That is because many people get up and pray Fajr when they hear the Mu’adh-dhin. Therefore, the one who hears the A’dhaan of the Mu’adh-dhin before Fajr and starts praying might have prayed before the right time and prayer before its right time is incorrect. So in this regard, the Musalloon [performers of the prayer] have been wronged. Likewise, the Saa’imoon [i.e. those who intend to perform the fast on that day] are wronged because he [Mu’adh-dhin] prevents them from eating and drinking despite the fact that it is permissible [i.e. eating and drinking until the correct time of Fajr]. He commits an offence against the Saa’imoon because he prevents them from that which Allaah has made permissible for them, and he commits an offence against the performers of the prayer when they pray before the right time of Fajr and this is a nullifier of the prayer. Therefore, it is obligated on the Mu’adh-dhin to fear Allaah [The Mighty and Majestic] and follows- whilst aspiring to establish what is correct- that which the Book and Sunnah guides to. (2)
Footnote a: NB: Abu Huraira [may Allaah be pleased with him] reported that Allaah’s Messenger [peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him] said, “When one of you hears the call to prayer while eating the pre-fasting meal and his vessel is in his hand, let him not put it down until he fulfills his needs from it”. [Sunan Abee Daawud 2350]
Footnote b: The Messenger said, ‘’The over-stringent ones are destroyed’’: Imaam Nawawi (rahimahullaah) said: ”The over-stringent ones are those who look too deeply (into affairs) and are excessive- those who exceed the Hudood [prescribed legislated sharia boundaries] in their statements and actions.” [Source: Saheeh Muslim Hadeeth Number 2670 & Saheeh Muslim Bi-Sharh An-Nawawi Vol 16, Page 180 & page 220. Publisher Dar Al-Kotob Al-Ilmiyyah 1st ed 1421AH (Year 200)]
Also, we witness the extremism of those whose Ramadhaan time tables – in the name of precaution – compels the people to stop eating at the wrong time and thus deprive them of the opportunity to eat and drink to their satisfaction before the beginning of the fast. Therefore, follow the time tables of the Masaajid of Sunnah.
[Ref 1: Al-Fataawaa Wad-Duroos Fil-Masjid Al-Haraam. Pages 473-474]
[Ref 2: An Excerpt from ‘Majmoo Fataawaa. 19/295]