The number and times of obligatory prayers

Taken from: fiqh-us-sunnah, by; sayyid saabiq.

Volume 1, Page 81: The Number of Obligatory Prayers

The number of prayers prescribed by Allah is five. Ibn Mahyraiz narrated that al-Makhdaji, from the tribe of Kananah, heard Abu Muhammad--a man in ash-Shams--saying, "The witr prayer is obligatory." He said he went to 'Ubadah ibn as-Samit and informed him of this. 'Ubadah corrected him, saying, "Abu Muhammad is mistaken. I heard the Messenger of Allah, upon whom be peace, say 'Allah has laid five prayers upon His slaves. Whoever fulfills them and does not miss any of them will have a pact with Allah that He will let him enter Paradise. Whoever does not come with them will have no pact with Allah. If He wishes, He may punish him, and if He wishes, He may forgive him." (Related by Ahmad, Abu Dawud, an-Nasa'i and Ibn Majah.) In one version it states, "Or one who comes with a deficiency in them or who degrades their duties." Talhah ibn 'Ubaidullah narrated that a bedouin with unkempt hair came to the Messenger of Allah, upon whom be peace, and said, "O Messenger of Allah, inform me of what Allah has made obligatory on me as regards praying." He said, "Five prayers, unless you do others voluntarily." He asked the Prophet to inform him about fasting, and he said, "The fast of Ramadan, unless you do others voluntarily." Then he asked him about charity...and the Messenger of Allah informed him of the Islamic legislations. The bedouin then said, "By the One who has honored you, I shall not voluntarily add anything to it, nor shall I be deficient in what Allah has ordered me to do." The Messenger of Allah, upon whom be peace, then said, "He will enter Paradise if he is truthful (to what he said)." (Related by al-Bukhari and Muslim.)

Volume 1, Page 82: The Times of the Prayers

Each prayer has its own particular time at which it must be performed. Says Allah, "Prayer at fixed hours has been enjoined upon the believers" (an-Nisa' 103).

The Qur'an itself points to these different times

Allah says, "Pray at the two ends of the day and in some watches of the night. Lo! Good deeds annul evil deeds. This is a reminder for the mindful" (Hud 114). Surah al-Isra' states, "Establish prayer at the setting of the sun until the dark of the night, and (the recital) of the Qur'an at dawn. Lo! The recital of the Qur'an at dawn is ever witnessed" (al-Isra' 78), and "Celebrate the praises of your Lord before the rising of the sun and before its setting. Glorify Him some hours of the night and at the two ends of the day, that you may find acceptance" (Taha 130). This verse specifically refers to the dawn prayer and the afternoon prayer, as it is recorded in the two Sahihs. Jarir ibn 'Abdullah al-Bajali reported, We were sitting with the Messenger of Allah and we looked at the moon on a clear night. The Prophet said, 'You will see your Lord as you see this moon, and you will not be harmed by seeing Him. So, if you can, do not let yourselves be overpowered in the case of prayer before the rising of the sun and its setting,' and he recited the above verse."

Those are the times of the prayers that the Qur'an mentions. From the sunnah, we have the following:

'Abdullah ibn 'Amr reported that the Messenger of Allah, upon whom be peace, said, "The time of the noon prayer is when the sun passes the meridian and a man's shadow is the same length as his height. It lasts until the time of the afternoon prayer. The time of the afternoon prayer is until the yellowing of the sun (during its setting). The time of the evening prayer is as long as twilight. The time of the night prayer is to the middle of a night of medium duration. And the time of the morning prayer is from the appearance of the dawn until the time of sunrise. When the sun rises, abstain from praying, as it rises between the horns of Satan." (Related by Muslim. )

Jarir ibn 'Abdullah narrated that the angel Gabriel came to the Messenger of Allah and said to him, "Stand and pray," and they prayed the noon prayer when the sun had passed its meridian. He then came to him for the afternoon prayer and said,"Stand and pray," and they prayed the afternoon prayer while the length of a shadow of something was similar to the length of the object. Then he came a t sunset and said, "Stand and pray," and they prayed the sunset prayer when the sun had just disappeared. Then he came at night and said, "Stand and pray,"and they prayed the night prayer when the twilight had disappeared. He cameagain when dawn broke (and they prayed the morning prayer). Then Gabriel came on the next day at noon and said (to the Messenger of Allah), "Stand and pray," and they prayed the noon prayer when the length of the shadow of something was close to the length of the object. Then he came for the afternoon prayer and said, "Stand and pray," and they prayed when the shadow of something was twice as long as the length of the object. Then he came at the same time (as the previous day) for the sunset prayer, without any change. Then he came for the night prayer after half of the night had passed ("or," he said, "one-third of the night"). Then he came when the sky was very yellow and said, "Stand and pray," and they prayed the morning prayer. Then Gabriel said, "Between these times are the times for the prayers."

As to the authenticity of the report, it is recorded by Ahmad, an-Nasa'i and at-Tirmizhi. Al-Bukhari observes, "It is the most authentic report concerning the prayer times."

Volume 1, Page 83: The Time for the Noon Prayer (Zhuhr)

The previous two hadith make it clear that the noon prayer begins when the sun passes its meridian and it continues until an object's shadow is approximately the same length as the object itself. If it is extremely hot, it is preferred to delay the noon prayer until it is cooler. This is done in order to retain the humility and awe of the prayer. If this is not the case, it should be prayed early in its time. This opinion is based on the following hadith: Reported Anas, "If it was extremely cold, the Prophet, upon whom be peace, would pray early. If it was extremely hot, he would wait for it to cool down." (Related by al-Bukhari.) Abu Zharr relates, "We were with the Prophet, upon whom be peace, on a journey. When the caller to prayer wanted to give the azhan, the Prophet said 'Let it cool down.' This happened two or three times, until we saw the shadows of the hills. Then the Prophet said, 'The extreme heat is from the fragrance of Hell. If the heat becomes extreme, delay the prayer until it becomes cool." (Related by al-Bukhari and Muslim.) However, this delay does have a limit. According to Ibn Hajr's Fath al-Bari, "The scholars differ over how long one may wait to let the temperature cool. Some say, 'Until the shadow of an object becomes an arm's length,' or 'Until the shadow becomes one-fourth of one's height.' Others say one-third or one-half, and so on. Its ruling is according to its basic principle, and it changes with different circumstances, provided that the prayer is not delayed until the end of its time."

Volume 1, Page 84: The Time for the Afternoon Prayer ('Asr)

This prayer begins in the afternoon when the shadow of an object is of the same length as the object itself, and continues until the sun sets. Abu Hurairah reported that the Prophet, upon whom be peace, said, "Whoever catches one rak'ah of the afternoon prayer before the sun sets and then prays the remainder of the prayer after the sun has set has not missed the afternoon prayer."

The best and most preferred time to pray the afternoon prayer ends when the sun becomes yellowish on the horizon. This is implied by the preceding hadith of Jabir and 'Abdullah ibn 'Umar. To delay the prayer until the sun becomes yellowish, although it is permissiable, is greatly disliked, unless there is some need to do so. Anas reported that he heard the Prophet, upon whom be peace, say, "The following is the prayer of the hypocrite: he waits until the sun is between the horns of Satan, then he gets up and prays four quick rak'ah, and he does not remember Allah therein save a little bit." (Related by "the group," except for al-Bukhari and Ibn Majah.)

Says an-Nawawi in his commentary on Sahih Muslim, "Our companions (the Shafiyyah) hold that the afternoon prayer time can be divided into five categories: the most virtuous time, the preferred time, the allowable time in which there is no disliked aspect, the allowable time that contains some aspect of dislike, and the time that is due to some excuse or necessity. The most virtuous time is at the beginning of the permissible time. The preferred time is until the shadow of an object is twice the length of the object itself. The permissible time without any aspect of dislike is from the time the sun becomes yellowish. The permissible time with some aspect of dislike is from the time the sun becomes yellowish until the setting of the sun. The time of excuse or necessity begins, in fact, at the time of the noon prayer for one who is to combine the noon and afternoon prayers, due to travelling or rain. If the afternoon prayer is made during any of those times, it has been fulfilled properly. If all of those times pass and the sun has set, then one must make up the prayer."

On a cloudy day, it should be prayed earlier in its time. Buraidah al-Aslami reported, "We were with the Messenger of Allah, upon whom be peace, during a battle and he said, "Hasten in praying on a cloudy day, for one who misses the afternoon prayer has destroyed all of his works." (Related by Ahmad and Ibn Majah.)

Of the subjecat, Ibn al-Qayyim says, "Leaving the prayer is of two types: leaving it completely and never praying it (which destroys all of one's deeds), and leaving it during a particular day, which destroys all of the deeds of that day."

Volume 1, Page 85: The Afternoon Prayer is the "Mid-most" Prayer

Says Allah in the Qur'an, "Observe and guard the prayers and the mid-most prayer, and stand with total submission to Allah. Authentic hadith have made it clear that the afternoon prayers is the "mid-most" prayer.

'Ali reported that the Prophet, upon whom be peace, said on the day of al-Ahzab (the battle of the clans), "May Allah fill their graves and houses with fire, as they kept us preoccupied from the "mid-most" prayer until the sun had set." (Related by al-Bukhari and Muslim. Muslim, Abu Dawud and Ahmad have "the afternoon prayer" inserted after "the mid-most" prayer.")

Explaining the context of this hadith, Ibn Mas'ud said, "The idol-worshippers kept the Prophet from the afternoon prayer until the sun had become reddish and yellowish. The Messenger of Allah said, "They kept us preoccupied from the "mid-most" prayer, the afternoon prayer--may Allah fill their bellies and graves with fire."' (Related by Ahmad, Muslim, and Ibn Majah.)

Volume 1, Page 85a: The Time for the Sunset Prayer (Maghrib)

The time for the sunset prayer begins with the disappearance of the sun and lasts until the red twilight ends. 'Abdullah ibn 'Amr reported that the Prophet, upon whom be peace, said, "The time for the sunset prayer is when the sun has disappeared and the twilight has not gone." (Related by Muslim.) Abu Musa related that a man asked the Prophet about the prayer times, and he mentioned the hadith which states that he ordered the sunset prayer when the sun had set and, on the next day, he prayed it when the red twilight was ending and he said, "The time (for the sunset prayer) is between these two times."

An-Nawawi says in his commentary on Sahih Muslim, "It is the opinion of the research scholars of our companions (the Shaf'iyyah) that ... it is allowed to delay it as long as it is twilight. It is allowed to begin the prayer at any time during that period. There is no sin in delaying it from its earliest time." Concerning the earlier quoted hadith in which Gabriel led the prayers and prayed the sunset prayer at the same time on both days, it only shows that it is greatly preferred to perform the sunset prayer as early as possible. This point is made clear by some other hadith:

As-Sa'ib ibn Yazid related that the Messenger of Allah, upon whom be peace, said, "My nation will always be along the natural path as long as they pray the sunset prayer before the stars appear." (Related by Ahmad and at-Tabarani).

In Ahmad's Musnad it is related from Abu Ayyub al-Ansari that the Prophet said, "Pray the sunset prayer when the fasting person breaks his fast and when the stars are about to appear."

In Sahih Muslim it is related from Rafa' ibn Khadeej that "We prayed the sunset prayer with the Messenger of Allah, and one of us would leave (afterwards) and would still be able to see where he shot his arrow, (because there was still so much light left in the sky)."

In Sahih Muslim it is recorded from Salamah ibn al-Aku' that the Messenger of Allah, upon whom be peace, would pray the sunset prayer when the sun had set and disappeared ( behind the horizon).

Volume 1, Page 86: The Time of the Night Prayer ('Isha)

This prayer begins when the red twilight disappears and continues up to half of the night. Reported 'Aishah, "They used to pray the night prayer between the disappearance of the twilight and the final third of the night's beginning." (Related by al-Bukhari.) Abu Hurairah reported that the Messenger of Allah, upon whom be peace, said, "If it were not to be a hardship upon my nation, I would order them to delay the night prayer until a third or a half of the night had passed." (Related by Ahmad, Ibn Majah and at-Tirmizhi, who said it is sahih.) Reported Abu Sa'eed, "Once, we waited for the Messenger of Allah to lead the night prayer until half the night had passed, at which time he came and prayed with us. He said, 'Stay in your places of sitting while the people have gone to their places of lying down (for sleep), for you are in prayer as long as you are waiting for the prayer. If it were not for the weakness of the weak, the illness of the ill and the need of those who have needs, I would have delayed the time of this prayer to a half of the night."

As to the authenticity of this report, it is recorded by Ahmad, Abu Dawud, Ibn Majah, an-Nasa'i and Ibn Khuzaimah. Its chain is sahih). The hadith describes the best time to pray. As for the allowable time and the time due to need, it lasts until dawn. Abu Qatadah reported that the Messenger of Allah, upon whom be peace, said, "There is no negligence in sleeping, but the negligence lies in not praying a prayer until the time of the next prayer has come." (Related by Muslim.) This hadith shows that the time of every prayer continues until the beginning of the time for the next prayer, except for the morning prayer, as all scholars agree that its time lasts only until sunrise.

Volume 1, Page 87: Delay is Preferred in the Isha Prayer

It is most virtuous to delay the night prayer until the end of the preferred time for it, which is half the night. Reported 'Aishah, "One night the Prophet, upon whom be peace, prayed the night prayer after most of the night had gone and most of the people in the mosque had fallen aleep. Then he came out, prayed, and said, "This would be the proper time if it were not a hardship on my nation."' (Related by Muslim and an-Nasa'i.) The Prophet, upon whom be peace, did not do this on a regular basis, as he heard that it would be a hardship on his nation. He would take into consideration the situation of those in the mosque. Sometimes he would hasten in performing the prayer and at other times he would delay it. Said Jabir, "The Messenger of Allah would pray the noon prayer during the hottest time of noon, the afternoon prayer when the sun was clear, the sunset prayer when the sun had gone down, and the night prayer he would sometimes delay and sometimes hasten if he found people gathered (in the mosque). If he noticed that they were lingering, he would delay it. He would pray the morning prayer while it was still dark." (Related by al-Bukhari and Muslim.)

Volume 1, Page 88: Sleeping Before the Night Prayer Is Forbidden

One should not sleep before the night prayer, nor have discussions after it. Abu Barza al-Aslami related that the Prophet, upon whom be peace, loved to delay the night prayer (which was called darkness, al-'atmah) and he hated sleeping before it and talking or discussions after it." (Related by "the group.") In another saying by Ibn Mas'ud, it is reported, "The Messenger of Allah ordered us not to talk after the night prayer." (Related by Ibn Majah.)

The reasons behind this are: sleep may make a person miss the night prayer in its best time, or it may cause him to miss the congregational prayer, and talking and socializing afterwards would cause one to misappropriate a time from which he could greatly benefit. If one wants to sleep and has someone to wake him up, or he is discussing a beneficial matter, then it is not disliked. Said Ibn 'Umar, "The Prophet would discuss with Abu Bakr some of the affairs of the Muslims during the night, and I was with him." (Related by Ahmad and at-Tirmizhi, who said it is hassan.) Reported Ibn 'Abbas, "I slept in the home of Maimunah one night when the Prophet, upon whom be peace, was there. I watched to see how the Prophet prayed during the night. He talked with his wife for a while and then slept." (Related by Muslim.)

Volume 1, Page 88a: The Time of the Morning Prayer (Fajr)

The time of the morning prayer begins with the true dawn and lasts until sunrise. It is preferred to pray it early in its permissible time. Abu Mas'ud al-Ansari reported that the Messenger of Allah prayed the morning prayer in the darkness (of the dawn). Another time, he prayed it when the dawn was shining (or glowing). Then after that, he always prayed in the darkness (of the dawn) until he died." (Related by Abu Dawud and al-Baihaqi. Its chain is sahih.) Said 'Aishah, "Believing women would pray the morning prayer with the Prophet, upon whom be peace, being enveloped in their clothing. They would return to their homes after the prayer and no one could recognize them due to the darkness (of the dawn)." (Related by "the group.")

Rafa' ibn Khadeej related a hadith in which the Prophet, upon whom be peace, said, "Make the morning prayer at daybreak, as your reward will be greater." In another version it states, "Make the morning prayer at the shining (time of the dawn), as your reward will be greater." (Related by "the five." At-Tirmizhi and Ibn Hibban grade it as sahih.) It refers to the time that one finishes the prayer, not the time when one begins it. That is, one should make the recital long so that one is in prayer until the dawn becomes "shiny." This is what the Prophet, upon whom be peace, used to do, for he would recite between 60 and 100 verses. It also means to make sure that the dawn has come.

 

Prayer Number of Units

Fajr :-Early Morning 2

Duhr :-Early Afternoon 4

Asr :-Late Afternoon 4

Maghrib:- After Sunset 3

Isha :- Night 4

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