Can you give information about Asr-i Awwal and Sani?

Details of the Question
I belong to Hanafi sect. We know that the last time for praying the Zuhr (Mid-day) prayer is up to the start of the Asr (Afternoon) prayer. What will be the last time for praying the Zuhr prayer?
The Answer

Dear Brother / Sister,

This is a matter of Asr-i Awwal and Sani.

The time of noon is the time which lasts from the sun's reaching its peak until shadows of all things become as long as their original length. However, that is excluding shadow or fay-i zawal (the start of shadow's turning to east and becoming longer). That is the view of Abu Yusuf and Imam Muhammad, and the Imams of the three sects. According to Abu Hanife, though, the end of the Noon Prayer's time is when shadow becomes twice as long as the object's length. There is unanimity that this is the time of the Afternoon Prayer. The Noon Prayer should be performed before that time.

The inclining of the sun from its zenith in the sky to the west is called the time of zawal. The state of the sun when it reaches its zenith is called the time of istiwa. When the sun starts to descend from this point to the west, the time of zewal takes place.

According to the majority of fukuha (scholars of Islamic Jurisprudence), the time of the Noon Prayer ends when shadows of all things become as long as the objects' length. The fay-zawal of the time of istiwa is also added to that. In other words, the shadows of those things at the time of zawal is added to the increasing shadow which is taken as criterion in measuring the length. The proof of this is the following hadith: “Archangel Gabriel led the Noon Prayer of The Prophet when shadows became as long as the objects' length on the second day.” Abu Hanife, on the other hand, based his view that the time of the Noon Prayer continues until shadows become twice as long as the objects' length, on the following hadith: “Perform the Noon Prayer when it has become cool. For the intensity of heat at the time of noon reminds of the heat of Hell.” (Bukhari, Mawakit, 9, 10, Bad'u'l Khalk, 10; Abu Dawud Salat, 4; Tirmidhi, Salat, 5; Nasai, Mawakil, 5; Ibn Maja, Salat, 4). The time when the heat of the sun becomes the most intense in Arabia is the time when shadows become as long as the objects' length.

The evidence as regards the start of the time of the Noon Prayer is this verse: “Establish the Prayer in conformity with its conditions, from the declining of the sun (the time of zawal) to the darkness of the night...” (Qur'an, Al-Isra', 17:78).

The Time of the Afternoon Prayer

The time of the afternoon starts with the instant the time of noon finishes, and ends with the completion of sunset. That's to say, according to the majority of scholars of Islamic jurisprudence, when shadows reach the objects' length excepting the fay-i zawal; and according to Abu Hanife when they reach twice the objects' length, the time of the Afternoon Prayer starts. In the hadith, it is stated: “The one who reaches one rak'a (part) of the Afternoon Prayer before the sun sets, has caught up with the Afternoon Prayer.” (Zaylai, Nasbu'r-Raya, I, 228). However, according to the majority, it is makruh (abhorred) to perform the Afternoon Prayer at the time of the sun's becoming pale. For The Prophet said that hypocrites delay the Afternoon Prayer and finally perform it hastily. (ash-Shawkani, Naylu'l-Awtar, I, 307).

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