What is the importance of time for prayer (salah)?
"Prayers were placed at the best times. Therefore, perform dua (supplication) after prayers."
There are five fard prayers: morning (fajr), noon (zuhr), afternoon (asr), evening (maghrib) and night (isha).
Time is the primary condition for the validity of a prayer.
A prescribed prayer can be performed from the starting time of that prayer to the ending time. A person gets great rewards when he performs a prayer on time.
Ibn Mas'ud asked the Messenger of Allah (pbuh) what the deed that pleased Allah most was. The Messenger of Allah said, "It is the prescribed prayer performed on time."
The most virtuous and rewardful prescribed prayer is the one that is performed as soon as its time starts. The following is stated in a hadith:
"Perform the prescribed prayer when its time starts. For, the virtue is in the first part of the time."
The following is stated in another hadith:
"The first time period of a prescribed prayer is a means of attaining the consent of Allah, the middle time period for the mercy of Allah and the last time period for the forgiveness of Allah."
A prescribed prayer that is not performed on time becomes a missed (qada) prayer; it is a responsibility for a person.
Performing missed prayers relieves a person of the responsibility but it does not give him the grace, perfection and otherworldly benefit given by a prayer performed on time.
In fact, skipping a prayer without a valid excuse makes a person responsible. Performing it later relieves a person of the responsibility but it does not eliminate the sin of ignoring his duty of worship and procrastinating his duty.
The time for the morning prayer starts with imsak (pre-dawn) and ends when the sun rises. However, according to Hanafis, it is more virtuous to delay it until it starts to gleam slightly; according to Shafiis, it is more virtuous to perform it earlier, when it is still dark.
It is more virtuous to perform the morning prayer late; therefore, it is not performed just after imsak.
Besides, the adhan is called when it is time to start the prayer, not at the time of imsak; the adhan is called before the prayer so that people will know the time and come to the mosque.
It is permissible to perform the morning prayer as soon as the time for imsak starts. It is not necessary to wait for the adhan.
If the sun rises while performing the morning prayer and before the prayer ends, the prayer is invalidated according to Hanafis. It is necessary to perform it again after the time of karahah ends.
If a person who cannot perform the morning prayer on time performs it as qada after the sun rises and after the time of karahah ends, he needs to perform both the sunnah and fard of the morning prayer.
The time for the noon prayer starts with zawal (when the sun moves away from its peak). That is, when the shadow of an object on earth starts to lengthen toward the east on a sunny day, it is the starting time of the noon prayer.
The sun that rises forms a shadow toward the west on a stick placed upright on the ground. As the time passes and the sun moves, this shadow starts to get shorter. Finally, the shortening of the shadow stops for a while. This time is called the time of istiwa. At that time, the sun is in the middle of the sky. After that, the shadow starts to get longer toward the east. The time when the shadow starts to get longer toward the east is called the time of zawal. At that time, the time for the noon prayer starts.
We said that the shortening of the shadows of things stopped during the time of istiwa and that they started to move toward the east with the time of zawal. This stable shadow of things before the time of zawal is called fay az-zawal.
There are two narrations about the end of the time of the zuhr (noon) prayer:
According to Abu Hanifa, the time of the noon prayer starts from the time of zawal and ends when the shadows of things become twice their length plus fay az-zawal. This time is called asr ath-thani.
According to Imam Muhammad, Imam Abu Yusuf and the imams of the other three madhhabs, the time of the noon prayer ends when the shadows of things become as long as their length plus fay az-zawal. This time is called asr al-awwal.
As a precaution, it is necessary not to delay the noon prayer to the time of asr ath-thaani and to perform the afternoon (asr) prayer before the time of asr ath-thani.
The time for the Friday prayer is the same as the time of the noon prayer.
According to the two views mentioned above, the time for the afternoon prayer is from the end of the noon prayer time to the time when the sun sets.
It is the time from the sunset to the time when the redness seen in the horizon disappears. (This is the view of Imam Abu Yusuf and Imam Muhammad.)
According to another view, it goes on until the redness appearing after the sunset disappears after the whiteness following it disappears. (Abu Hanifa's view)
The time for the night prayer starts when the time for the evening prayer ends and goes on up to the time of the real dawn.
According to the following hadith, the time for the witr prayer is the same as the time for the night prayer: "Allah Almighty added a prayer to you; it is witr. Perform it after the night prayer up to the time of dawn."
The witr prayer is wajib according to Abu Hanifa and sunnah dependent on the night prayer according to Imam Abu Yusuf and Imam Muhammad.
Both views regard it necessary to be performed after the night prayer; it is not permissible to pray it before the night prayer.
Its time starts after performing the night prayer and goes on up to the time of real dawn. It can be performed before or after the witr prayer. It is not appropriate to perform it before the night prayer.
A person who arrives at the mosque while the tarawih prayer is being performed in congregation needs to perform the fard of the night prayer first; he can follow the imam for the tarawih prayer after that.
Its time starts about 45-50 minutes after the sunrise, that is, after the time of karahah ends and goes on up to the time of istiwa.
The tarawih and eid prayers that are missed are not performed later.
In the morning, man virtually finds a new life and has the bodily strength necessary to perform the activities to earn his living. The one that gives him this livelihood and bodily strength and that will make him successful in his efforts to earn his living is Allah Almighty. Therefore, man is obliged to perform the morning prayer in order to thank Him for the bounty of health He has given him and to ask His help in his worldly efforts.
Man benefits from the bounties of life, health and intellect, given to him by Allah, from dawn to dusk. Thanks to these bounties, he becomes successful in his worldly affairs. The noon and afternoon prayers are fard for him so that he will thank Him for his achievements and he will prevent these activities from making his spirit in heedlessness and grief.
The evening prayer is rendered fard so that the daily activities and efforts that are about to end as the evening approaches will be ended with a spiritual worship as an expression of thanks for the benefits and profits obtained that day.
Then, man will go to the realm of sleep. Before entering this realm, which is a sample of death and is regarded as a period of peace and resting, to end the daily life with a holy worship, to enter that realm with divine pleasure and spiritual awareness, to take refuge in the mercy and forgiveness of Allah will be a sign of a nice ending; that is why the night prayer is performed.
On the other hand, in the life of man and the beings around him, there are five different phases: birth, growing up, stagnation, growing old and death.
Our Creator orders us to perform five prayers a day in return for these phases so that we will establish a nice balance between our material and spiritual beings and our work. We cannot thank Him enough for being obliged to perform such a worship that includes such holy and material benefits.
The wisdoms behind the division of prayers into five times are not only the ones that we have mentioned above.
The following explanations of Badiuzzaman Said Nursi clarify the issue:
"Just as the second-hand, minute-hand, hour-hand, and day-hand of a clock which tells the weeks look to one another, are examples of one another, and follow one another, so too the revolutions of day and night, which are like the seconds of this world - a vast clock of Almighty Allah - and the years which tell its minutes, and the stages of man's life-span which tell the hours, and the epochs of the world's life-span which tell the days look to one another, are examples of one another, are like one another, and recall one another.
The time of Fajr, the early morning: This time until sunrise resembles and calls to mind the early spring, the moment of conception in the mother's womb, and the first of the six days of the creation of the heavens and earth; it recalls the Divine acts present in them.
The times in which it is makruh to perform prayers are called the times of karahah.
There are two types of karahah times:
1 - Times during which it is makruh to perform all kinds of prayers whether fard or supererogatory (nafilah).
2 - Times during which it is makruh to perform supererogatory prayers but permissible to pray other prayers.
There are three times like that:
1 - The time period starting with the sunrise to the time when the rays of the sun starts to dazzle the eyes in the morning. This time period is from the sunrise to about 45-50 minutes after the sunrise.
2 - The second karahah time is between the time of istiwa and zawal. That is, from the time when the sun is in the middle of the sky to the time when it starts to move to the west.
3 - From the time in the afternoon when the sun starts to turn yellow and does not dazzle the eyes to the time when the sun sets is also karahah time.
That is, it is necessary not to delay the afternoon prayer to the time when the rays of the sun start to turn yellow, the time of karahah.
* If the afternoon (asr) prayer is delayed to the time of karahah, it is not skipped; only the fard of it is performed. Even if a person manages to start the afternoon prayer with the takbir of iftitah before the sun sets and the sun sets while he is praying, his prayer will be valid. The prayer is regarded to have been performed. This is peculiar to the afternoon prayer only.
* The reason behind the karahah of these times is the fact that fireworshippers worship at these times.
* It is better to utter salawat, to supplicate and to glorify Allah at these times than to read the Quran.
Along with the three time periods mentioned above, there are nine more time periods when it is makruh to perform supererogatory prayers:
1 - It is makruh to perform supererogatory prayers after the time of imsak and before performing the morning (fajr) prayer. Only the two-rak'ah sunnah of the morning prayer is performed in this period; no other supererogatory prayers are performed.
2 - Supererogatory prayers are not performed after performing the fard of the morning prayer. Even the sunnah of the morning prayer cannot be performed after the fard of the morning prayer is performed.
3 - After performing the fard of the afternoon prayer.
4 - Before performing the fard of the evening prayer.
5 - While the sermons of the Friday and eid prayers are recited.
6 - Supererogatory prayers are not performed when iqamah is recited for the Friday prayer.
7 - It is makruh to perform supererogatory prayers before the eid prayer whether at home or in the mosque.
8 - Supererogatory prayers are not performed after the eid prayer is performed in the mosque. However, they can be performed at home.
9 - It is makruh to perform a supererogatory prayers when a fard prayer starts. However, the sunnah of the morning prayer can be performed if there is no risk of missing the congregation.
We have mentioned that it is more rewarding and virtuous to perform the five daily prayers as soon as their times start.
However, in the sunnah of the Messenger of Allah, it is regarded more virtuous to perform some prayers a bit later than the starting time considering various states like the season, climate, etc.
These times, during which it is regarded more virtuous to perform daily prayers, are called mustahab times in fiqh.
To perform prayers at mustahab times is a virtue that needs to be observed by men like praying in congregation. What is mustahab for women is to perform prayers at home after men finish performing prayers in congregation in the mosque. However, they can perform the morning prayer early without waiting for men to finish performing it in congregation in the mosque.
Let us see the mustahab times for each prayer:
It is mustahab for men to wait for the dawn to become a bit bright for the morning prayer. It is called isfar.
The criterion for the morning prayer to be delayed is as follows: If the wudu of a person is broken while performing the morning prayer, there should be enough time for him to make wudu again and perform the morning prayer easily before the sun rises. Accordingly, the morning prayer should be performed 15-20 minutes before the sun rises.
The Prophet encouraged people to wait for isfar by saying, "Wait for it to get a bit bright for the morning prayer."
It is useful to wait for it to get a bit bright; it will enable more people to come to the mosque and perform the morning prayer in congregation. Besides, it becomes easier to obtain more rewards and virtues thanks to isfar.
The following is stated in a hadith: "A person who waits in the mosque until the sun sets after performing the morning prayer receives rewards as if he has freed four slaves."
It is useful to delay the morning prayer a bit so that more rewards and virtues will be obtained and more people will come to the mosque.
According to Hanafis, it is mustahab to delay the morning prayer whether a person is a traveler or a resident, in summer or in winter, whether he performs the prayer individually or in congregation.
* According to Shafiis, it is more virtuous to perform the morning prayer a little before the daybreak, when it is dark. Performing the morning prayer in the dark before it starts to get bright is called taghlis.
Hanafis regard taghlis as mustahab only for the morning prayer of the first day of eid al-adha for the hajjis in Muzdalifa.
It is mustahab to delay the noon prayer a bit to a cooler time in summer whether one is in a cold or hot country. The following is stated in a hadith: "Cool the noon a bit because the heat of the noon is a flame from Hell."
It is mustahab to perform the noon prayer as soon as its time period starts in winter, spring and fall. For, the Prophet always performed the noon prayer early in cool and cold seasons.
It is mustahab to delay the afternoon prayer to the time just before the color of the sun starts to change in both winter and summer. The Messenger of Allah delayed the afternoon prayer when the sun was white and clear.
It is mustahab to perform the evening prayer as soon as its time period starts in all seasons whether in summer or winter.
It is permissible to delay it a bit owing to reasons like illness, traveling or meal being ready. However, it is not permissible to delay it much.
It is mustahab to delay the night prayer to the first one-third of the night or the middle of the night. There are several hadiths about performing the night prayer late.
The following is stated in a hadith: "If it did not cause trouble to my ummah, I would delay the night prayer to the first one-third of the night or the middle of the night."
It is mustahab to delay the night prayer to the last half of the night but it is makruh to delay it more.
The Messenger of Allah liked delaying the night prayer. He regarded it makruh to go to bed before performing the night prayer because of the risk of being unable to wake up. After performing the night prayer, he did not like talking about worldly matters. He said, "There is no use in staying up and talking unnecessarily after the night prayer."
The reason why the Messenger of Allah prohibits his ummah from talking unnecessarily after the night prayer is to enable the believers to close their book of deeds with worshipping and to have a nice ending for the day.
However, if they mention Allah, utter tasbihat and talk about religion and belief after the night prayer, they are not included in the prohibition of the Prophet. They do not prevent the book of deed from being closed with a good deed.
It is mustahab to delay the night prayer in winter because nights are long in winter.
In summer, it is mustahab to perform the night prayer as soon as its time period starts so as not to decrease the number of the people joining the congregation.
It is mustahab for those who can wake easily to delay the witr prayer after sleeping, toward the end of night.
The following is stated in a hadith: "Those who can wake up should sleep after the night prayer and then wake up to perform the witr prayer. For, the angels are present in the prayers that are performed in the middle of the night. Those who cannot wake up for the witr prayer after sleeping should perform it immediately after the night prayer."
Those who regularly wake up in the middle of the night to perform supererogatory prayers should delay the witr prayer. Thus, they attain more thawabs.
As the following verse indicates, it is fard al-ayn to perform each prayer in its stated time: "For such prayers are enjoined on believers at stated times." Therefore, it is not permissible to perform two daily fard prayers in the time period stated for one fard prayer together according to Hanafis.
For, combining two daily fard prayers in the same time period can be possible by performing one prayer before its time (taqdim) or after its time ends (ta'khir). None of them is permissible. It is not permissible to perform a prayer before its stated time starts. It is not permissible to delay a prayer to a time after its stated time ends, either. It is not regarded as performing it on time.
This rule has two exceptions only peculiar to hajjis:
One of them is jam at-taqdim (early combination) in Arafat.
The other is jam at-ta'khir (late combination) in Muzdalifa.
For, the Prophet combined the fard prayers in those places.
On the day of Arafa (one day before the eid al-adha), the fard of the afternoon prayer is performed after the fard of the noon prayer before the time period for the afternoon prayer starts. For this prayer, which is performed behind an imam with a big congregation, one adhan and two iqamahs (one for the noon the other for the afternoon prayer) are called. Thus, the two prayers are separated from each other. Supererogatory and sunnah prayers are not performed between them.
The necessity of performing this prayer behind an imam with a big congregation is the view of Abu Hanifa.
Imam Abu Yusuf and Imam Muhammad hold the view that it is permissible for a hajji to combine these two prayers individually.
In Muzdalifa, the fards of the evening and night prayers of that day are performed together with one adhan and one iqamah at the time of the night prayer. There is no need for the second iqamah since the time for both prayers has started.
According to Imam Shafii, it is permissible to combine the noon and afternoon prayers and the evening and night prayers in the form of both taqdim and ta'khir while traveling.
In the world, the time for a day including the night is 24 hours. There are some areas in the world where nights and days last for months and weeks like the Polar Regions and places where the sun sets and then rises immediately after it sets, that is, where the night does not exist. How will people who live there perform five daily prayers? How will they perform fasting?
There are two views regarding how to perform prayers in those places: one is the view of fatwa and the other is the view of taqwa.
According to the first view, time is necessary for the validity of a prayer. The obligation to perform a prayer does not occur. For, according to a general rule of fiqh, "The reason for a daily prayer is the start of its time. If the time does not come, there is no reason to perform it. So, that prayer is not performed."
Owing to this decree, those who live in the Poles and places with extreme times perform the prayers whose time periods they meet. They do not have to perform the prayers of the times that do not occur. They will not be held responsible for them. It is like the lack of responsibility of a person with no feet for not washing his feet in wudu. The responsibility of a prayer whose time does not occur is removed.
Second view: Regarding places like the Poles where days and nights are much longer than usual places, some Islamic scholars adopt the way of caution and taqwa so as not to deprive Muslims of the abundance and rewards of worshipping.
Accordingly, those living in places with extreme times like the Poles perform their prayers in the same time periods as the people living in the closest place to them on the same meridian. They perform their fasting similarly.
The scholars who hold this view base their views on the hadith stating that during the days of Dajjal (Antichrist), the times of prayers are calculated. (see Maraq al-Falah, p. 53, İst. 1327)
As it is seen, it is implied in the hadith that if a day lengthened to one year, 5 daily prayers should be performed by calculating based on 24 hours. That is, it is possible to perform prayers by calculating in the Poles instead of abandoning them saying that the time for the prayer does not occur. This is more appropriate in terms of being cautious. Thus, Muslims will not be deprived of the abundance and light of worshipping.
Those who say that five daily prayers can be performed through the way of calculation in the Poles also say that in the places where the times for the morning, night and witr prayers do not occur since the sun rises immediately after it sets, the responsibility of performing those prayers is not removed; they have to be performed afterwards. The reason for a prayer is time but the real reason is the order of Allah. Allah says, "Perform prayers."
Therefore, every Muslim is obliged to perform prayers five times a day. The prayers whose times do not occur have to be performed afterwards.
The ijtihad of Imam Shafii is like that.
The same thing is valid for fasting, too. Although it is possible to see the moon in some places, the times of imsak and iftar do not occur. While some scholars say the responsibility of a person to fast is removed in such places, others say it is necessary to fast through calculation as it is the case with prayers.
- What are the mustahab times for performing five daily prayers? For instance, the morning prayer (fajr) can be performed up to the time of sunrise. What about the other prayers?
- Is it a sin to perform the prayer at the end of the time for that prayer? Can the prayer be performed as soon as the adhan is recited?
- Can the noon prayer be performed five minutes before the time period for the afternoon prayer starts?
- Will you give information about the afternoon (asr) prayer?
- If the next adhan is called while performing a prayer, will that prayer be valid?
- The Times of Prayers
- Until how many minutes before the end of the time period for a prayer is it permissible to pray?
- Can the sunnah prayers that are abandoned due to some obligations be performed as qada (missed) prayers afterwards?
- When and how are the missed (qada) prayers performed? Are the sunnah prayers performed as well?
- What is the importance of sunnah prayers? Is it enough to perform only fard prayers?