The Times of Prayers

The stated times are fard for fard prayers and their sunnah prayers, witr prayer, taraweeh and eid (religious festival) prayers. The fard prayers are fajr-morning prayer, zuhr–noon prayer, asr-afternoon prayer, maghrib-sunset prayer and isha-nightfall prayer. The jumua prayer replaces the noon prayer on Friday. It is necessary to know the times of prayers so that they will be valid when they are performed. These times are appointed by the Quran and Sunnah.

1) The Time of the Fajr-Morning Prayer

The time period between the second fajr and the sunrise is the time of morning prayer. The second fajr (the break of dawn) is brightness that spreads out at the east horizon in the morning. With this brightness, the time of the morning prayer starts, the time of isha-nightfall finishes, and the time for fasting begins. So, this brightness is called as fajr as- sadiq (the real dawn). The opposite of this is the first fajr. This is a whiteness whose both sides are dark, and that spreads out like a longitudinal line in the middle of the east horizon upwards. This whiteness disappears in a short time, and darkness follows it. Then, the second fajr rises. This first fajr is called as fajr al-kadhib (the false fajr) because it does not show the actual morning, and it is not real brightness. This fajr is accepted as night. With this brightness, neither the time of the isha-nightfall prayer finishes, nor the time of the morning prayer starts. During this time, drinking and eating are permissible for those who want to fast.

For, our Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) stated the following; “There are two kinds of fajr; One is (fajr as-sadiq) in which eating and drinking (for fasting) are forbidden, and prayer is licit/permissible. The other is (fajr al-kadhib) in which eating and drinking (for fasting) are licit/permissible, and the morning prayer is forbidden (As-San’ani, Subulus-Salam, 2. impression, n.d., I,115). The time of the morning prayer is from the rise of second fajr to the sunrise (Bukhari, Mawaqit, 27; Abu Dawud Salat, 2; Ibn Maja, Salat, 2; Nasai, Mawaqit-Times, 15; Ahmad Ibn Hanbal, II, 210, 213, 223)).

2) The Time of the Zuhr-Noon Prayer

The time of the noon prayer starts when the sun starts to move to the west from its zenith in the sky and continues until the shadow of everything is as long as that thing. The shadow of the objects when the sun is at its zenith (fay az-zawal) is not included in it. This time of the noon is called as the first afternoon (asr al-awwal). This is the view of Abu Yusuf, Imam Muhammad, Shafii, Malik and Ahmad bin Hanbal. According to Abu Hanifa, the time of noon prayer continues until the shadow of objects doubles except fey az-zawal (the shadow of an object when the sun is at its zenith). With this, the time of noon prayer finishes, and the time of the afternoon prayer starts. This is called asr ath-thani (the second afternoon).

Muslims who come to Mecca from all over the world to perform their worship of pilgrimage (Hajj) should try to perform their prayers in the Kaaba.

In order to calculate the fold of the shadow of the objects, the length of the shadow of the objects at the time of zawal is taken as basis, and it is added to the extended shadow.

The evidence of the most of the fiqh scholars is the following hadith; When Gabriel (Peace be upon him) was teaching the times of prayers to the Prophet, he performed the noon prayer on the second day when the shadow of everything was as long as their height. (Abu Dawud, Salat, 2; Tirmidhi, Mawaqit-Times-, 1; Nasai, Mawaqit,6, 10,15; Ibn Hanbal, I, 383, III, 330; Malik, Muwatta, Salat, 9).

As for Abu Hanifa’s evidence, it is the following hadith; “Perform the noon prayer when the weather gets cool. For, the intensity of the temperature reminds the temperature of Hell (Bukhari, Mawakit, 9, 10, Adhan, 18). The time of the highest temperature in Arabia is the time when the shadow of everything is as long as their length. So, it is regarded as ‘recommended (mustahab)’ to delay the noon prayer to coolness in summers. (al-Mawasil, al-Ikhtiyar, I, 38, 39; Zuhayli, ibid I, 508).

The time of Jumua-Friday prayer is the same as the time of the noon prayer.

3) The Time of the Asr-Afternoon Prayer

The time of the afternoon prayer starts when the time of noon prayer finishes, and  finishes with the sunset. According to the most of the Islamic scholars (mujtahid), when the shadow of everything becomes as long as their height, and according to Abu Hanifa, twofold of their height, the time of the afternoon prayer starts. It continues until the sunset according to the consensus of Islamic scholars. For, the Prophet (PBUH) stated the following: “A man who manages to perform a rak'ah of the afternoon prayer before the sunset, he is regarded to have caught the afternoon prayer.” (Malik, Muwatta, Wuqut-Times-, 5; Abu Daw’ud, Salat, 5; Ibn Maja, Salat, 2; Ahmad Ibn Hanbal, II, 236, 254).

According to the most of the Islamic scholars, it is makrooh to delay the afternoon prayer to the time when the sun gets yellow. For, the Messenger of Allah stated the following; “Prayer performed at this time is the prayer of hypocrites. For, a hypocrite sits and waits for the sun. When it enters between the two horns of Satan (when the sun is about to set), he performs the afternoon prayer very quickly as four rak'ahs, and he mentions Allah a little (Malik, Muwatta, Qur’an, 46).”

According to the most of the Islamic scholars, the middle prayer mentioned in the Qur’an is  the afternoon prayer. The evidence is the following hadith narrated by Hz Aisha; “The Messenger of Allah recited the verse, ‘Guard strictly your habit of prayers especially the middle prayer (al- Baqara, 2/238), and said, ‘The middle prayer is the afternoon prayer.” (Abu Dawud, Salat, 5; Ibn Hanbal, V, 8; Ibn Kathir, Mukhtasaru Tafsiri Ibn Kathir,thq. M. Ali as-Sabuni, Beirut 1981, I, 218). The reason why the afternoon prayer is called the middle prayer is because it is between two prayers of night and two prayers of daytime.

4) The Time of the Maghrib-Sunset or Evening Prayer

The time of the evening prayer starts with the complete setting of the sun globe, and finishes with the disappearance of the twilight. According to Abu Hanifa, the twilight is a whiteness that appears after the redness on the west horizon in the evening. According to Abu Yusuf, Imam Muhammad, the other three sects (Shafii, Maliki, Hanbali), and another narration from Abu Hanifa, the twilight is a redness appearing on the horizon. When this redness disappears, the time of evening prayer finishes. The evidence is the following statement of Ibn Umar: “The twilight is the redness on the horizon.” (as-San’ani, Subutus-Salam, I, 106). The accepted fatwa in Hanafis is Abu Yusuf and Imam Muhammad’s view.

5) The Time of the Isha-Nightfall Prayer

The time of the isha prayer starts with the end of the twilight, and continues until the second fajr (the break of dawn). With the break of the second fajr, the time of isha finishes. The evidence is the following hadith narrated by Ibn Umar; “The twilight is the redness. When it disappears, it becomes fard to perform the prayer. (as-San’ani I, 114) Another evidence is the following hadith narrated by Abu Qatada; “There is no fault in the state of sleeping. The fault belongs to a man who has not performed the prayer until the time of the next prayer starts.” (Muslim, Masajid, 311).

It is recommended to delay the isha prayer until the third of the night passes. It is permissible to delay the isha prayer until the half of the night,  and it is makrooh to delay it until the second fajr if there is no any excuse. For, in a such situation, There is a risk of missing the prayer.

The beginning of the time of the witr prayer is after the isha prayer, and it ends shortly before the second fajr.

For a man who is not sure whether he can wake up or not, it is more meritorious to perform the witr prayer before sleeping. Yet, for a man who is sure that he is going to wake up, it is more meritorious to delay it until the end of the night.

According to the preferred view, the time of taraweeh is after the isha prayer and continues until the morning prayer. Taraweeh prayer can be performed both before the witr and after it. However, if taraweeh is performed before the isha prayer, it needs to be performed again. The time of the eid prayers starts after the karahah time ends after the sunrise and continues until the time of istiwa (the time of the zenith point of the sun on the sky). If the eid al-fitr prayer cannot be performed because of an excuse before the time of istiwa on the first day, it can be performed on the second day up to the time of istiwa; it cannot be performed on the third day even if there is no excuse. As for the eid al-adha prayer, it can be performed on the second day if it cannot be performed because of an excuse on the first day. If it cannot be performed on the second day either, it can be performed on the third day up to the time of istiva. Delaying eid prayers to the second or third day without any excuse is a nasty deed. These eid prayers can never be performed after the time of istiva and zawal. Furthermore, they have no qada (they cannot be performed afterwards) (for the times of the prayers, see Ibn al Humam, Fath al-Qadir, I, 151-160; Ibn Abidin, Radd al-Mukhtar, I, 321-342; al-Maydani, al- Lubab, I, 59-62; ash-Shirazi, al-Muhazzab, I, 51-54; Ibn Qudama, al-Mughni, I, 370-395; az-Zuhayli, ibid I, 506, ff).

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