What is the decree about missed (qada) prayers? When and how are they performed? How should one say niyyah (intention) for them?

Details of the Question
What is the decree about missed (qada) prayers? When and how are they performed? How should one say niyyah (intention) for them?
The Answer

Dear Brother / Sister,

Missed (qada) prayers need to be performed in the same way as they were missed. A missed morning prayer is performed as two rak'ahs, noon prayer as four rak'ahs, afternoon prayer as four rak'ahs, evening prayer as three rak'ahs and witr prayer as three rak'ahs. 

There is no particular time or place for any of the missed prayers. That is, there is no restriction like "the missed afternoon prayer is to be performed in the afternoon." It can be performed whenever you want. However, it is necessary not to perform them during the times called karaha. It is not regarded nice to perform a prayer at the following times: up to 45 minutes after the sunrise, up to 45 minutes before the sunset and when the sun is at the top (up to 30 minutes before the time of the noon prayer).

How to perform missed prayers:

To perform a fard prayer at its prescribed time is called ada, to perform a fard prayer after its prescribed time ends is called qada, to perform an invalidated prayer again is called iada.

A prayer is missed either deliberately or due to an excuse. It is a major sin to miss a fard prayer deliberately. It is necessary to avoid doing something like that. If a person makes such a mistake, he needs to perform that missed prayer as soon as possible. If that person dies before performing that missed prayer, he will be accounted for it in the hereafter.

When a person performs a missed prayer, he will be relieved of the debt but he needs to repent and ask forgiveness from Allah for the sin of missing the prayer. It is necessary both to perform the missed prayer and to repent.  

The prayers that are missed due to forgetting, sleeping or a legitimate excuse must be performed as soon as one remembers or the excuse ends.

The prayers that are missed due to certain excuses are not performed afterwards. The menstruation and puerperium periods for women, epileptic states lasting long enough to cover the time period for five daily prayers or hysteria attacks are excuses like that. In fact, it is haram for a woman who is in menstruation or puerperium to perform prayers; it is not permissible.

Performing the fards of the missed five daily prayers is fard, the witr prayer is wajib and the sunnah prayer is sunnah. Only the missed sunnah prayer of the morning prayer is sunnah to perform when it is performed with its fard before the noon time on the same day. If the missed fard prayer of the morning prayer is performed after the noon time or later, the sunnah prayer of the morning prayer is not performed; only the fard prayer is performed.

Some sunnah prayers of the daily prayers that cannot be performed in time are performed later. For example, if a person skips the first sunnah prayer of the noon prayer in order to perform the fard prayer in congregation, he needs to perform it after the last sunnah prayer of two rak'ahs. If a person cannot perform the first sunnah prayer of the Friday prayer because the Friday sermon starts, he needs to perform it after the fard prayer of the Friday prayer. If a person performs the first sunnah prayer of the noon or Friday prayer as two rak'ahs in order to perform the fard prayer in congregation or to listen to the Friday sermon, he needs to perform it after the fard prayer as four rak'ahs again. The other sunnah prayers of the daily prayers are not performed later if they are not performed in time. For example, if the sunnah prayers of the afternoon prayer and night prayers are not performed before the fard prayer, they are not performed afterwards.

How are missed prayers performed?

A person who has missed six daily prayers or more prayers does not have to perform the missed prayers in order, or the missed and daily prayers in order. He can perform the missed prayers any time except the three time periods of karaha, when it is makruh to perform prayers. For, there is not a certain time to perform missed prayers. For instance, a missed afternoon prayer can be performed after a night prayer; a missed night prayer can be performed after a noon prayer.  

When performing missed prayers, there is no need to determine to which date they belong. Since this is very difficult, it is convenient to apply the easier one.

A qada prayer is performed by intending (making niyyah) as follows:

For example, "I intend to perform for Allah the fard of the first noon prayer I could not perform in time" or “I intend to perform for Allah the fard of the last noon prayer I could not perform in time." Thus, the qada prayers are begun to be performed from the first one or the last one that was not performed in time; in both ways, the missed prayers decrease in a certain order.

Since it is easier, it is also adequate to intend as follows: “I am performing a noon or afternoon prayer I missed.

When a missed prayer is performed, first adhan then iqamah is called. If more than one qada prayer is performed, one adhan is sufficient for all of them, but it is sunnah to call separate iqamahs for every fard prayer.

A person who does not know exactly how many prayers he missed has to perform prayers according to his reasonable prediction. If he cannot predict the number of his missed prayers, he continues to perform missed prayers until he believes that he has no missed prayers left unperformed.

Those who missed the same prayer can perform this prayer in congregation. However, those who missed different prayers cannot perform them in congregation; they have to perform their prayers separately.

Missed prayers need to be performed at home if it is possible. If these prayers were missed without an excuse, it is inconvenient to show it to other people since it is a sin.

How to intend (make niyyah) while performing missed prayers?

A person who missed a lot of prayers and does not know which prayer to perform should make niyyah as follows: "I intend to perform for Allah the fard of the first (or the last) noon prayer I could not perform in time." If a person intends like this, he will perform either the first or the last missed prayer, determining the time too.

(see Mehmed PAKSU, Açıklamalı İslam İlmihali, Nesil Yayınları, 2002, p. 342 and 344)

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