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?

Details of the Question
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?
The Answer

Dear Brother / Sister,

When a Companion asked the Prophet what the most virtuous deed was, he said, "It is the prayer performed on time." (Bukhari, Mawaqit 162)

"Allah’s contentment and pleasure is present for the prayer performed at the beginning of the time for that prayer and Allah’s forgiveness is present for the prayer performed at the beginning of the time for that prayer." (Tirmidhi, Mawaqit 13)

In fact, as it is understood from the hadiths above, in general, we can say that it is mustahab (recommended) to perform the prayer at the beginning of the time for that prayer. However, in the sunnah of the Prophet, it is regarded more virtuous to perform some prayers at a later time than the beginning of the time for those prayers taking into consideration the season, climate and similar causes. For instance, some of the narrations regarding the night (isha) prayer are as follows:

“The Prophet Loved to delay the night prayer to the time called atama (the time when the first one-third of the night passed) and he disliked sleeping before it and speaking after it." (Bukhari, Mawaqit 13-20,  Muslim, Masajid 218-225; Nasai, Mawaqit 20)

“Allah’s Messenger once delayed the night prayer to the half of the night. Then he came to us turning his face toward us – it is as if I see the brightness of his ring now – and said, "People performed the prayer and went to sleep. You get the reward of the prayer as long as you stay awake and wait for the prayer." (Bukhari, Mawaqit 25, 40; Muslim, Masajid 223)

"If I did not want to cause trouble for my ummah, I would order them to delay the night prayer until the first one-third of the night passed." (Tirmidhi, Mawaqit 10)

Accordingly, Hanafis regard it mustahab to delay the night prayer until the first one-third of the night passed, mubah (permissible) until half of the night passed and makruh (abominable) after half of the night passed. Some Hanafi scholars regard it makruh tahrimi while others regard it makruh tanzihi. However, it is necessary to state that delaying it is mustahab in winter. In summer, it is mustahab to perform the night prayer at an earlier time since the nights are short in summer.

As for the other issue in the question,

When the time for a prayer starts, the prayer of the previous time is missed. When that prayer is performed, it is performed as missed (qada) prayer. That is, when the time ends, the time for that prayer ends, too.

One of the fards (conditions) of prayer is the starting of the time for that prayer. For instance, we cannot perform the noon prayer before the time for the noon prayer starts. The time for performing a prayer starts with the starting time for that prayer and ends when the time for the next prayer starts. We can perform the prayer between those two times.

Suppose that you delayed the noon prayer. The time for the afternoon prayer was near. You started to perform the noon prayer. While performing the first rakah of the noon prayer, the time for the afternoon prayer started. What should you do? You should complete the prayer because the following is stated in a hadith, “A person who reaches one rakah of a prayer is regarded to have reached that prayer.” According to Hanafi and Hanbali madhhabs, if a person reaches the takbir of iftitah at the stated fixed time of a prayer, he is regarded to have reached the whole prayer. (Vehbe Zuhayli, İslam Fıkhı Ansiklopedisi, v. 1 p. 400.)

However, it is necessary t be careful when one performs the morning prayer and the afternoon prayer. It is not permissible to perform prayers while the sun is rising in the morning and when it is setting in the evening so as not to resemble those who worship the sun. Therefore, it is necessary to finish the morning prayer 1 or 2 minutes before the sun rises and the afternoon prayer before the sun sets.    

It is necessary to be careful not to delay the afternoon prayer near the sunset. It is makruh to perform the afternoon prayer when the time for the sunset is near. Although it is abominable, it is permissible.  

The time for the morning prayer starts with imsak and ends with the sunrise. However, according to Hanafis, it is better to perform it near the sunrise; according to Shafiis, it is better to perform it a little while after imsak.  

If the sun rises while performing the morning prayer and before it finishes, the prayer is invalidated according to Hanafis. It is necessary to perform it again after the time of karahah. 

If a prayer is performed in the last ten minutes of that prayer time and when the next prayer time starts, the next prayer is performed, it becomes valid for the noon prayer and the evening prayer. If someone does so due to a necessity, the prayer is regarded valid. Our Prophet delayed the noon prayer and then performed the afternoon prayer just after it during a journey.  

However, it is more virtuous to perform prayers at the beginning of the fixed prayer time. One can perform the prayer even at the latest time; it is necessary to miss a prayer.

Questions on Islam

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