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Sunni Muslims Are Fasting Ramadan ‘Wrong’: Popular American Scientist

Popular American astrophysicist Neil deGrasse Tyson stirred up a controversial debate on Twitter when he told Sunni Muslims they were breaking their Ramadan fasts too early.

Popular astrophysicist Neil deGrasse Tyson is in hot water with Sunni Muslims on social media after telling them they are breaking their Ramadan fasts ‘too soon’.

The Muslim holy month of Ramadan began on Monday 6 or Tuesday 7 May – depending on the country. During Ramadan, practicing Sunni Muslims fast from sunrise to sunset, with the exception of the young, elderly and sick, in addition to pregnant and breastfeeding women and travelling people.

Tyson, a popular American science writer and television personality, offered his own interpretation of the Ramadan fast on Monday.”

The Quran says plainly that daytime fasting during Ramadan ends at ‘dark’ not at sunset,” Tyson claimed in a tweet. “‘Dark’ is a good match for the end of twilight.”

He explained that in countries along the equator, this would mean that Sunni Muslims were breaking their fast 15 minutes early. In middle latitude countries – including most of Europe and the Middle East – Sunni Muslims have been breaking their fasts 30 minutes early, according to Tyson.

Tyson said, Muslims in higher latitudes could be breaking their fast 45 minutes earlier.

Tyson’s claims – if true – would come as quite a shock to many Sunni Muslims, especially the unlucky few who are located in higher latitudes already fasting for around 20 hours a day.

Sunni Muslims on Twitter immediately rushed to reply to the tweet, which many found absurd, especially as the astrophysicist is neither a Muslim nor a scholar of Islam.

Some Sunni Muslims jumped in to try to offer corrections of Tyson’s Quranic interpretation.

“No, professor, it uses the word ‘layl‘, which precisely [sic] means the second part of the day that follows the daytime,” replied Ahmet Tunc Demirtas. “It starts with the sunset.

“When Tyson doubled down on his interpretation in response, one Twitter user offered a tongue-in-cheek response in classical Arabic: “When did you become a scholar in the science of tafseer [Quranic exegesis], Neil?

“The Quranic verse Tyson appears to have been referring to is located in the al-Baqara chapter of the Quran, in which it is stated: “Then complete the fast up to the night.

“Sunni Muslims interpret this to mean they must break their fast at sunset.

Shia Muslims however do wait until the last rays of light have left the sky in order to break their fast, typically around 15 minute after Sunnis break their fast.Others took to ridicule in their responses to Tyson’s claims.

source: alaraby

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  1. Kazi Vicaruddin

    Is Tyson a jew or a christian.
    All monolithic religions – judaism, Christianity and Islam – always have the belief that the new day starts at sunset; so that the new day starts then and not at 12 mid night as in Gregorian which is really a solar day and not lunar day. So the jewish shabth starts at sunset and not mid night.
    May be Tyson is an atheist who does not believe in God or thinks he and his ancestors came from aprs, and his future generation will turn up as unknown creatures. We muslims – sunni and others – believe that we should break the fast at the end of the day; and as the true brethren of the jews, break our fast at sunset.
    Tyson can fast from sunrise to end of twilight before night actually sets in.


  3. I am totally agree with this scientist

  4. Tyson is 100% right in his interpretation of the Quranic verse. Night means night especially when it says complete the fast up to the night. If I am travelling “to” another city, I can’t say I have reached the city untill I crossed it’s borders. It’s the same with this verse, you can only break your fast when you have entered the night and not before and that should also be the time of Maghreb prayers.
    In the muwatta of the Sunni Iman Malik, it says clearly that Umar and Uthman used to wait to break their fast until it was pitch dark.
    So, what are we mourning about?


    A note for all 3 groups:

    – Traditional Mazhabies,

    – Qurani Socialists / Lexiconists,

    – Quran Alone Muslims.

    1. Fasting is compulsory for the Month of Ramadan.

    – 2.187 “…Therefore, those of you who witness the month shall fast IT,…” IT> the whole month.

    – ‘Ramadan’ – the ward used in Quran as PROPER NOUN. So, the meaning of the word has nothing to do with ‘Month of Ramadan’

    – count of month is 12. Allah says ‘month of Ramadan’. So Ramadan is one of them and it repeats itself in every 12 months.

    – it is a lunar month. You can witness only Lunar months through Allah’s Creation. You can’t witness a solar month > that is just a human calculation.

    2. Fasting is compulsory only for the month.

    – not LESS number of days.

    – not MORE number of days > if Allah does not set the limit (Fast IT) then some people would fast the full year.

    – there is make up fasting if you miss and in lieu fasting but other then that no other fasting.

    3. Fasting is till the night and not till Sunset.

    – 2.187 “…..Then you shall maintain the fast UNTIL the night.”

    – Sunset and Sunrise do not define night.

    Some people use 22.61, 31.29, 39.5, 74.33-34 to define night but that is not correct. GHURUB is SUNSET (50.39, 20.130) and LAYL is NIGHT (10.67, 25.47, 34.18, 73.20, 79.29, 91.1-4)

    11.114 “….. (at) the APPROACH of the NIGHT…..” approach of the night is not the night. 1st ray of light to Sunrise and Sunset to last ray of light are the two approaches of night and not the night itself.

    4. Three Salah times and Fasting time is beautifully depicted in this image.


    Wish you all success in Fasting the month of Ramadan.

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