The prayer time for each Salat is similar to the appointed time for Hajj. This declaration emphasises the significance of providing Salat at designated times.
إِنَّ الصَّلاةَ كَانَتْ عَلَى الْمُؤْمِنِينَ كِتَاباً مَوْقُوتاً
“Verily! Salat is enjoined on the believers at fixed hours.”
(Aayah 103, Surah An-Nisa).
Salat is performed at fixed hours. It is reported that Ibn Abbas (RA) said: The prayer has preformed fixed time, just as the case with Hajj (Ref. Tafsir by Imam Ibn Kathir).
So, what are these prayer times? Let us see?
The hadith about Jibril (AS) leading the Prophet (PBUH) in prayer
Ibn Abbas narrated that the Prophet (PBUH) said, “Jibril (AS) led me in (in Salat) twice at the House (the Kaaba). So he prayed Dhuhr the first time when the shadow was similar to (the length of) the strap of a sandal. Then he prayed Asr when everything was similar (to the length of) its shadow. He prayed Maghrib when the sun had set and the fasting person breaks fast. Then he prayed Isha when the twilight had vanished. He prayed Fajr when fajr (the dawn) began, and when eating is prohibited for the fasting person.
The second time he prayed Dhuhr when the shadow of everything was similar to (the length of) it, at the time of Asr the day before. Then he prayed Asr when the shadow of everything was about twice as long as it. He prayed Maghrib at the same time as he did the first time. Then he prayed Isha, the later one, when a third of the night had gone. He prayed Subh (Fajr) when the land glowed. Then Jibril (AS) turned towards me and said: O Muhammad (PBUH)! These are the times of the Prophets before you, and the time is what is between these two times.”
(Hadith No. 1393, Book of Salat, Sunan Abu Dawud, Vol. 1; Hadith No. 149, Chapters on Salat, Jami’ At-Tirmidhi, Vol. 1).
Explanation of Hadith
This beautiful narration tells us many things.
- We discover that each Salat has a set time period and that each Salat must be offered during specified prayer hours. Jibril (AS) twice guided the Prophet (PBUH) to clarify these times. The first time, he offered prayers at the beginning of each Salat’s time period; the next day, he offered prayers at the conclusion of each Salat’s time period. Insha’Allah, in the discussion that follows, we will get more explicit regarding the beginning and ending times of each Salat.
- We also discover that all other Prophets (predecessors before Muhammad, PBUH) observed the Salat at the designated times.
As I said, we need to talk specifically about every prayer. That will help us understand the above-mentioned hadith better.
B.1. Start time for Salat Al-Fajr
The Salat Al-Fajr prayer timings are very clearly stated in the hadith presented in Section A. The Fajr prayer period begins when dawn breaks, or when food is no longer permitted for those who are fasting. This is the time of day when a tiny line of light may be seen beginning to form in the night’s pitch-black sky (known as Pau phatna in Urdu).
B.2. End time for Salat Al-Fajr
It was narrated from Abdullah bin Amr (RA) that the Prophet (PBUH) said, “The time for Zuhr is so long as Asr has not come. The time for Asr is so long as the sun has not turned yellow. The prayer time for Maghrib is so long as the twilight has not disappeared. The time for Isha is so long as half of the night has not passed. The time for Fajr is so long as the sun has not risen.”
(Hadith No. 1386 (612), Book of Masjids & Places of Prayer, Sahih Muslim, Vol. 2).
C.1. Start time for Salat Dhuhr
After the midday sun has passed the zenith, the Dhuhr prayer period start. There are several narratives that support this. I’ll just mention one of them:
Abu Hurairah (RA) narrated that Allah’s Messenger (PBUH) said, “Indeed for Salat there is a beginning and an end. The start time for the Dhuhr prayer is when the sun passes the zenith, and the end of its time is when the time for Asr enters. The beginning of the time for the Asr is when its time enters, and the end of its time is when the sun yellows (turns pale). Maghrib start when the sun has set, and the end of its time is when the twilight has vanished. The time of Isha starts, the later one, is when the horizon has vanished, and the end of its time is when the night is at its half. The beginning of the time for Fajr is when fajr (the dawn) begins, and its end is when sun rises.”
(Hadith No. 151, Chapters on Salat, Jami’ At-Tirmidhi, Vol. 1).
C.2. End time for Salat Dhuhr
The mentioned in Section B.2 & Section C.1 tell us that end time for Dhuhr prayer is until the time for Asr prayer starts.
D.1. Start time for Salat Al-Asr
It was narrated by Ayesha (RA) that Allah’s Messenger (PBUH) prayed Asr when the sun was in her room and the shadow had not appeared on her wall.”
(Hadith No. 506, Book of the Times, Sunan An-Nasa’i, Vol. 1).
Other narrators claim that the salat Asr prayer time starts when the sun is still high and brilliant. However, the length of the shadow, as indicated in the hadith (in Section A), which occurs when the object’s shadow is the same size as it, is the best method for determining the start of Asr.
D.2. End time for Salat Al-Asr
According to the hadith given in Section A, the Asr time end when the object’s shadow is twice as large as the object itself. According to the ahadith (in Section B.2 and Section C.1), the time for Asr prayer ends when the sun’s colour changes to yellow, or when it begins to pale.
E.1. Start time for Salat Al-Maghrib
According to the narrative in Section A, the Maghrib prayer time begins when the sun sets. The individual who is fasting breaks his or her fast at this moment.
E.2. End time for Salat Al-Maghrib
According to the narrations provided in Sections B.2 and C.1, the time for Maghrib is present as long as the twilight persists. At the conclusion of the day, when the sun has set and the brilliance of the day is transitioning into the blackness of the night, there is a dull light known as twilight. The hour for Maghrib prayer concludes when the sky is completely black and this faint light (the twilight) vanishes.
F.1. Start time for Salat Al-Isha
Returning to the hadith from Section A, we learn that the hour for Isha prayer time begins when the twilight has passed.
F.2. End time for Salat Al-Isha
According to the narrations in Sections B.2 and C.1, the Isha prayer can be performed up to midnight (12 o’clock at night), or up to half of the night.
About some nawafil prayers
In the framework of their prescribed periods, I believe there are two significant nawafil prayers that are worthwhile highlighting.
It was reported from Ibn Umar (RA) that Rasool-Allah (PBUH) said: “Make Witr the last prayer at the night.”
(Hadith No. 1438, Book of Witr, Sunan Abu Dawud, Vol. 2; Hadith No. 998, Book of Witr, Sahih Bukhari, Vol. 2).
It means that Witr must be the night’s final prayer. However, each person may have a different last prayer time. After reading the following hadith, it will be apparent that:
Masruq said: I asked Syeda Aishah (RA), “When Rasool-Allah (PBUH) would pray the Witr?” She replied, “He would do all – he would pray at the beginning of the night, and the middle, and at the end. However, in the later part (of his life), he would pray closer to the time of dawn.”
(Hadith No. 1435, Book of Witr, Sunan Abu Dawud, Vol. 2).
The absence of Witr from Salat Al-Isha should be obvious. After one has offered Isha prayer, the time for Witr prayer begins, and it concludes when the time for Fajr prayer arrives.
Tahajjud prayer is performed at any time throughout the sleeping hours of the night, and it finishes when Fajr prayer begins.
The Qaza (of a) prayer
As of yet, it has become clear that it is essential to offer prayers throughout each (farz) Salat’s designated times. But what happens if someone doesn’t offer their Salat at the allotted time? Insha’Allah, this section will provide a response to this query. Please be aware that the conversation in this area only pertains to farz prayers.
Refer to the hadith that follows:
It was told that Anas (RA) said: Allah’s Messenger (PBUH) said, “Whoever forgets a prayer, let him pray it when he remembers it.”
(Hadith No. 614, Book of the Times, Sunan An-Nasa’i, Vol. 1).
Intentionally or unintentionally,
Qaza prayer is referred to as the prayer that is offered outside of the designated hours. There are two possible explanations for failing to give the prayer on time: either the person failed to do so on purpose, or they accidentally forgot. For those Muslims who believe that you can offer your prayer at a later time whether you miss it on purpose or accidentally (as stated in the hadith cited above), let me be extremely direct and clear:There is no qaza for the prayers that one misses intentionally. Not offering (farz) Salat intentionally is a sin and the only expiation of that sin is to do Taubah and pray Allah for His mercy.
Misses a prayer unintentionally
However, the case is different when someone misses a prayer unintentionally. Refer to following hadith:
Abu Qatadah (RA) narrated: The Prophet (PBUH) was once on a journey, and he sidetracked, so I went with him. He said, “Look”. I responded, “There is a rider; these are two riders; these are three riders….. until we became seven.” He said, “Guard our prayer for us (meaning the Fajr prayer).” But they fell into a deep sleep, and they were only awakened by the heat of the sun. So they stood up and continued for a short while, then they camped and performed Wudu.
Bilal (RA) called the Adhan and they prayed two raka’at (Sunnah) of Fajr, then prayed Fajr and continued to ride. They said to one another, “We have been careless in our prayers.” The Prophet (PBUH) said, “There is no carelessness in sleep, verily carelessness occurs only while one is awake. So if one of you unintentionally misses a prayer, let him pray it as soon as he remembers, and the next day at its time.”
(Hadith No. 437, Book of Salat, Sunan Abu Dawud, Vol. 1).
Explanation of Hadith
This narration tells us many things. Let me point them down:
Only prayers that a person has accidentally missed may receive qaza. There may be a variety of causes for mistakenly skipping a prayer. A qaza prayer can be said for accidentally missing a prayer because you slept past its allotted time, which is also an instance of skipping a prayer.
- The Qaza should be said as soon as one remembers they missed the prayer. The vast majority of academics share this opinion. Another opinion is that the qaza should be presented when the time for that specific prayer arrives the next day. Both points of view are valid and tenable. Personally, I believe that the missing Salat should be offered as soon as one remembers it.
Delaying Farz Prayers
This in no way enables any of us to develop a routine of postponing our farz prayers past the allotted periods. Because they wake up late from sleep, some people have a habitual habit of doing the Fajr prayer well after the sun has risen. This is blatantly negligent. Similar to this, it is impossible for one prayer to make up for all the missed prayers throughout one’s life (the idea of qaza-e-umri). That’s ridiculous.
These bad deeds have currently become widespread among Muslims, which is quite concerning. I say it again: Not offering a Salat at its prescribed time, intentionally, is a big sin; there is no expiation of intentionally missed Salat except Taubah and seeking Allah’s mercy. Qaza can (should) be offered only for Salat which is missed unintentionally.
The prohibited times
There are some time periods in Islam when it is not allowed to offer any Salat. These are mentioned in following hadith:
Narrated Abu Hurairah (RA): Allah’s Messenger (PBUH) forbade the offering of two Salat:
- After Fajr prayer till the sun rises.
- After Asr prayer till the sun sets.
(Hadith No. 588, Book of Times of As-Salat, Sahih Bukhari, Vol. 1).
Combining two prayers
It was told that Ibn Umar (RA) said, “If Allah’s Messenger (PBUH) was in a hurry to travel or some emergency arose, he would combine Maghrib & Isha (prayers).”
(Hadith No. 600, Book of the Times, Sunan An-Nasa’i, Vol. 1).
Explanation of Hadith
It is evident that the Prophet (PBUH) would combine two prayers in unusual circumstances, such as travelling, inclement weather, illness, etc (sometimes he would combine Dhuhr & Asr, at other times he would combine Maghrib & Isha). Examples may be drawn from the prayers that the Prophet and his companions gave together while fighting in several wars. During the Hajj, combined prayers are also observed.
Some people believe that these prayers can be combined at other times than crises. This viewpoint is also supported by a hadith. Please look at this:
It was narrated from Ibn Abbas (RA) that the Prophet (PBUH) used to pray in Al-Madinah combining two prayers: joining Zuhr & Asr, and Maghrib & Isha, when there was no fear nor rain. It was said to him, “Why?” He said, “So that there would not be any hardship on his Ummah.”
(Hadith No. 603, Book of the Times, Sunan An-Nasa’i, Vol. 1).
Explanation of Hadith
Therefore, no one can contest the fact that combining two prayers is a recognised Sunnah practise of our Prophet (PBUH). It is important to remember that the Prophet (PBUH) performed this act so that his Ummah would not endure difficulty after him, making it clear that it is one of the acceptable ways to do Salat. However, as our beloved Prophet (PBUH) only combined two prayers on rare occasions under normal circumstances, it is not advised to make it a regular habit. Instead, these examples may be used as a guideline from time to time. Otherwise, he would act in such a way in an emergency.
Additionally, it should be remembered that when someone gives combined prayers, they should normally be done so in a way that ensures that both prayers are performed within their designated periods and that none of the laws of the Qur’an and the Sunnah are violated. For instance, if Zuhr and Asr are combined, Zuhr should be delayed till after Dhuhr and Asr should be brought forward to before Asr. The time for Asr will have begun by the time Dhuhr is finished, at which point it can be presented immediately. This ensures that all Salat time criteria outlined in the Qur’an and Sunnah are met.
It was told that Abdullah bin Masood (RA) said: I asked Allah’s Messenger (PBUH), “Which action is most beloved to Allah?” He said, “Establishing prayer on time, honouring one’s parents and Jihad in the cause of Allah.”
(Hadith No. 612, Book of the Times, Sunan An-Nasa’i, Vol. 1).
This story teaches us the value of holding prayers at designated times.
Do not be misled by those who make excuses for doing Salat whenever one pleases or making a one-time qaza for all the prayers one has missed during their life. It can’t be that way. We cannot alter the times since they are set in stone. Regardless of the exclusions, they must be adhered to in exactly the same way and spirit as our Prophet (PBUH) and his companions.
Let’s be sincere and make sure that we establish our Salat on time.
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