Answered by Shaykh Rami Nsour
Question: If one follows the madhab of imam Malik, is it permissible to do imsak, i.e. stop eating 10 to 15 minutes before the time of fajr comes in.
Every Ramadhan the local mosque adds an extra column to the prayer times schedule. Next to the fajr times it says imsak. Imsak is about 10 to 15 minutes before fajr time comes in. I’ve been told that it is not obligatory but recommended to stop eating around this time.
In some online fatwas this is mentioned as being an act of extremism and an innovation in Islam. Although these Shuyukh do not represent the Maliki madhab, I’m still uncertain of the truth. What would be your advice concerning this matter?
Answer: In the Maliki madhab it is recommended to stop eating a short time before the entrance of the dawn (fajr) time. This is based on the action of the Messenger of Allah (peace and blessings be upon him) who would stop eating before dawn the amount of time it would take to read 50 verses.
If a person were to eat right up until the entrance of dawn, the fast would technically be correct but they would have left the recommended Sunna. Once should exercise caution though in eating close to the dawn time. This caution is especially needed when you are not sure about the entrance of the time, such as when it is cloudy or you are in a valley.
And Allah knows best.