Assalamu alaikum, I’d long heard/been told that the myriad of prayer calculation programs out there that Muslims use usually via computer though now also via smartphone, etc., to calculate the times of the five daily prayers are in many cases, and for a variety of reasons I won’t get into here, wrong. And the prayers that they are usually wrong about are Dhuhr and Maghrib, though I’ve also heard some people say that they aren’t good as far as determining Fajr either. Or, I’ve heard that you just really shouldn’t rely on them at all and that you should learn to determine the times of the prayers for yourself. Which is good, unless of course, you’re blind, like me, or you spend your day indoors or are otherwise in a situation where you are not able to determine the times of the prayers via the sun, etc.
So anyway, I’d previously added a few minutes of safety for Dhuhr and Maghrib, adding 30 minutes for Dhuhr and 10 minutes for Maghrib, the thinking being that at least in this way, even if I have a few extra minutes added in, at least I could be reasonably sure the times of the prayers had come in.
However, this past weekend, I decided to set the prayer program I’d been using back to its defaults and see how close it was to being accurate. I can’t vouch for the other 4 prayers, however it seems to be a bit off for Maghrib. My husband was headed off to the masjid for Maghrib prayer and I asked him to look outside as the Adhan on the program was sounding and I wanted to know if the time for the prayer had come in or not. As he was going out the door he said that the sun had not yet set and to give it a few more minutes suggesting to probably wait another 5 minutes or so before praying. At which point I came back in here and reset my prayer times program back to what I’d originally had it set at.
I use the prayer times program via Islamic Finder which is the same program/schedule that our masjid uses. I’ll need to ask my husband if anyone in the masjid goes and looks outside before making the Adhan, especially, say, during Ramadan when people are breaking their fasts, especially since before, when I’m at the masjid, I break my fast when the Adhan goes off. Now I’m a little worried as I’m not sure if they’ve been making sure the sun’s actually set before making the adhan and hence telling everyone to break their fast, or if they are just going by what the schedule on the paper says. At any rate, I’m not going to worry about it now. I feel like as I’m blind and can’t tell if the sun has set, if I’m at home, I just wait until I’m certain the sun has set, when at the masjid, if the person is making adhan, I just leave the responsibility up to them, and pray Allah accepts my fast, as even at home I truly don’t know if the sun has set and can only wait until I’m resonably sure the sun has indeed set.
Anyway, just wanted to put that out there as I’m sure I’m not the only person who’s faced this issue. I personally use the calculations as a guide and not a “hey let’s jump up and pray right this minute” kinda thing. Though there are people in my house that are waiting with baited breath for the prayer time to come in so I add a few minutes of safety as I described above for this purpose.