Prayer times and calendar explained One of the most popular features on our website is the daily prayer times with Islamic date, which is why it’s on the top of every page. We also provide the full prayer timetable for the year. We’re often asked where these come from, and why there are sometimes differences between mosques, so here we try to explain. Islamic calendar The Islamic calendar has 12 lunar months, each month beginning with the sighting of the new Moon. Each month is either 29 or 30 days long, so there are 354 or 355 days in the lunar year – shorter than solar year, which is why Islamic dates appear earlier each year compared to the Western calendar. Diaries or apps that give the date and time of the new Moon can’t be relied on for determining the Islamic date, because these are not based on the sighting of the new Moon. Sighting depends on many factors, such as how many hours old the new Moon is, where it is in the sky after sunset, and of course the weather. So, Islamic dates are known only approximately in advance; any calendar may be off by a day, depending on when the new Moon is actually sighted. There are several methods for producing Islamic calendars; we currently use the Umm al-Qura Islamic calendar, and adjust it if the new Moon is sighted on a different day. For key Islamic dates, such as the start of Ramadān (the ninth month of the Islamic calendar, which is the month of fasting), the end of Ramadān, and the start of Hajj, we wait for news of the sighting of the new Moon, then post this on the front page of our website. Prayer times There are five daily prayers, explained below; all of these can be prayed in congregation (jamā‘ah) in the East London Mosque. London Unified Prayer Timetable Several Mosques and Islamic centres in London agreed to a common prayer timetable, known as the London Unified Prayer Timetable. Of course, this is a voluntary initiative; each Mosque or centre is free to determine its own timetable. How the prayer times are calculated Fajr This is between daybreak and sunrise. The daybreak time is based on the work of Hizbul Ulama. The sunrise time is taken from Her Majesty’s Nautical Almanac Office, with 3 minutes taken off for safety to allow coverage of the whole M25 region. The jamā‘ah (congregational prayer) time at the East London Mosque is 30 minutes after the start time (15 minutes in Ramadān). Zuhr Zuhr is after the Sun passes its highest point. The time is taken from Her Majesty’s Nautical Almanac Office, with 5 minutes added to ensure the sun has cleared its zenith. The jamā‘ah time at the East London Mosque is 12.45pm during the months of British Winter Time (i.e. GMT), and 1.30pm during the months of British Summer Time. On Fridays, instead of the Zuhr jamā‘ah there is the special Jumu‘ah (Friday) congregational prayer, at about 1.00pm in British Winter Time, and about 1.45pm in British Summer Time. The prayer is preceded by a sermon, which starts about 30 minutes before the prayer. ‘Asr ‘Asr is calculated with either one shadow length (non-Hanafi), or two shadow lengths (Hanafi) – known as Mithl 1 and Mithl 2 respectively. The times are taken from Her Majesty’s Nautical Almanac Office. The jamā‘ah time at the East London Mosque is about 15 to 30 minutes after Mithl 2. Maghrib This is after the sun sets. The sunset time is taken from Her Majesty’s Nautical Almanac Office, with 3 minutes added for safety to allow coverage of the whole M25 region. The jamā‘ah time at the East London Mosque is 7 minutes after the start time (15 minutes in Ramadān). ‘Ishā This begins after dusk. The time is based on the work of Hizbul Ulama. The jamā‘ah time at the East London Mosque is about 15 to 30 minutes after the start, but never before 7.30pm throughout the winter months. FAQs Where are these prayer times valid? If you are within the region enclosed by the M25, which is all of London and more, then you can use these times. The jamā‘ah (congregational) times only refer to the East London Mosque; other Mosques and centres decide their own times for the jamā‘ah. I live in London but my local Mosque has different times, what should I do? You should follow your local mosque, but you can tell them about the London Unified Prayer Timetable in case they don’t know about it. I live outside the area of your timetable, what should I do? You should follow your nearest mosque. However, if it’s more than 20 miles to your nearest mosque, then it might be better to get a timetable calculated for your location. Visit moonsighting.com for further information. Why are there big differences between some mosques for Fajr, especially in the summer? Determining the first light of day for Fajr (and the beginning of darkness for ‘Ishā) is not easy, especially during long summer days in northern latitudes. Scholars have approached this problem in various ways, which is why there are differences between timetables. ALL timetables can only give an approximation for Fajr times, as the first spreading light of dawn is greatly affected by atmospheric conditions over a large area, which can change a lot from day to day. People are continuing to study this issue, which will hopefully lead to more accurate methods in the future.