Chapter 3: Time of Salat
How can you recognize the times of Salah?
1. Each Salah has a specific appointed time
Verdict: It has been established by unanimous agreement that the five daily prayers should be performed at their respective appointed times.
Allah (SWT) says: “. . . but when ye are free from danger, set up Regular Prayers: For such prayers are enjoined on believers at stated times.” [4:103]
Ubadah ibn as-Samit narrated, the Messenger of Allah said, “Allah has obligated five prayers. Whoever excellently performs their ablutions, prays them in their proper times.” [Malik and Ahmed]
2. Times of each Salah
Ibn Abbas narrated that the angel Jibril led the Prophet to teach him the prayer times. On the first day he prayed all the prayers at the beginning of their respective times and on the second day he delayed the prayers until just before the end of their times for all prayers except maghrib where he instead prayed it on both days at the same time, and then said: ‘. . . the time of each Salah is between these two times.” [Tirmidhi]
This hadith offers us the options of praying anytime between the two timings—we have times and windows within which we can perform each prayer.
Abdullah ibn Amr in Al ‘Aas narrated the Messenger said, “The time for Duhr prayer is from when the sun has passed it zenith and a man’s shadow is equal in length to his height, until the time for ‘asr comes. The time for ‘asr lasts until the twilight has faded. The time for ishha last until midnight. The time for subh [fajr] prayer last from the beginning of the pre-dawn so long as the sun has not yet started to rise. When the sun starts to rise, then stop praying, for its rises between the two horns of the Shaytan.” [Muslim]
What are these times and and windows for each prayers?
Salaat Al Duhr
The start time: by unanimous agreement, duhr start when the sun declines from its zenith. So, the sun moves from the east, then hits the center of the sky, and when it declines from the center [zenith/meridian] of the sky towards the west that is when the duhr prayer starts. If you are standing, your shadow will be stretching towards the west, and will shrink.
When does the window of opportunity to pray duhr during its appointed time end? It ends when the shadow is the height of the object plus the excess/extra shadow. Excess shadow in Arabic is called “Dhel Al Zawaal”. [This is the opinion of the majority of the scholars Malik, Shafi’I and Ahmed]
2nd opinion of Abu Hanifa—regarding when the duhr prayer window of opportunity ends is when the shadow of the object is is twice that of the object. The hadith that they rest their case on is that of Abu Hurayrah who narrated that the Messenger of Allah (saw) said, “When it is hot delay the dhuhr salah till it cools down, for the intensity of heat is from the exhalation of hell.” [Bukhari and Muslim] So, according to this opinion, delaying duhr prayer is better.
When is the preferable time to pray duhr? Delay it in the summer and hasten with it in the cooler seasons.
Anas narrated “The Messenger used to hasten with duhr Salah when the cold intensifies [in winters], but when the heat intensifies [in the summer] he would pray it in cooler times.” [Bukhari]
Prohibited times to pray duhr: Prohibited time is the when the sun is at its zenith/meridian/center of the sky. Some even delay the adhan until it is cooler—if it is in climate that is favorable and you are in an atmosphere that is comfortable then it is preferable to do it as early as possible.
[Q. Some Masajid fix the time for Salat al-duhr for the congregational prayer/jama’ah. So can we pray at the beginning of its time, or should we wait unitl the jama’ah time? If you are at work for instance, and you can pray at the early time then do so. If you can still make it to the congregational prayer as well, then do so and pray it again]
2. The time of ‘asr salah
Start time: by unanimous agreement the time of ‘asr begins when the time of duhr ends at the end of the duhr salat, depending on either of the opinions of when the duhr ends.
[Q. Can we switch between the schools of thought for convenience? No! You need to maintain an opinion based on evidences, unless you do not have a specific affiliation with a specific school of thought in which case just follow the congregation or the opinion of the majority of scholars.]
End time: It lasts as long as the sun has not set, i.e. until it has not reached the horizon. The moment the sun hits the horizon you have missed it.
Abu Hurayrah [raa] narrated that the Messenger of Allah [saw] said, “He who has caught [prayed] one rak’a of ‘asr before the sun set has caught his ‘asr.” [Bukhari and Muslim]
Time of prohibition: when the sun is on the horizon and is setting. If you start before it reaches the horizon—by about one inch [one spear] before it hits the horizon you can continue your salaah. If you can’t actually see the sun then you can estimate based on the calendar. Estimate to the best of your ability as possible. If you are able to catch one raka’a before the sun hits the horizon, you should as Abu Hurayrah narrated, the Prophet (saw) said, “He who has caught [prayed] on rakah or ‘asr before the sun set has caught his ‘asr.” [Bukhari]
Preferable time for ‘asr: the earliest the better [opinion of Malik, Shafi’i and Ahmed], and Abu Hanifa is of the opinion to delay it has long as the sun has not changed its color.
3. The time of Maghrib Salah
The start time: by unanimous agreement, the time of al maghrib begins when the disc of the sun has completely set, i.e. when sun is completely below the horizon. Note: the glare does not matter even though it is bright [there’s a glare], what matters is that the actual disc of the sun is completely below the horizon.
Narrated ‘Abdullah bin Abi Aufa “We were traveling with Allah’s Apostle and he was fasting, and when the sun set, he said to (someone), “Get down and mix Sawiq with water for us.” He replied, “O Allah’s Apostle! (Will you wait) till it is evening?” The Prophet again said, “Get down and mix Sawiq with water for us.” He replied, “O Allah’s Apostle! It is still daytime.” The Prophet said again, “Get down and mix Sawiq with water for us.” So, he got down and carried out that order. The Prophet then said, “When you see night falling from this side, the fasting person should break his fast,” and he beckoned with his finger towards the east.
Video 1 [time lapse of sun setting—time of prohibition of performing Salah is when sun hits the horizon [at 0.17 seconds in the video] and while it sets]
Video 2 [at 0.46 seconds you can see the glare as the sun has completely set—this is when Maghrib starts, refer to the hadith above narrated by ‘Abdullah bin Abi Aufa]
The end time:
First opinion [Malik, Shafi’i]: Maghrib has no extended time after the sun has set, just enough time to perform wud’u, adhan, iqamah, and five rakahs [3 fardh, and 2 sunnah]—around 15-20 minutes in length.
Ibn Abbas, “…except maghrib where he instead prayed it on both days at the same time.” [Tirmidhi]
Second opinion: Maghrib ends when the twilight disappears from the horizon. But scholars differed over the actual twilight. For this they had two opinion:
1. The read twilight according to Shafi’I in the old madhab, and Ahmad and the muhaditheen and the majority of people today
“…maghrib time lasts until the evening glow disappears,” [Abu Dawood]
“…the last tme for maghrib is when the horizon becomes dark.” [Abu Dawood]
Abdullah ibn ‘Amr [raa]: “…the time for maghrib last unitl the twilight has faded.” [Muslim]
2. The white twilight, according to Abu Hanifah
As the glow starts to disappear, it turns orange to red, and then as the red twilight dissipates, there is a white twilight which looks like a belt above ht horizon. Above the white twilight is a blue twilight which is a mixture between blue, purple and white.
Videos: Twilight and Horizon [focus on how the colors in the horizon change after sunset, this is called the twilight]
The preferable time: by unanimous agreement, right after sunset.
Recommendation: sometimes the companions would pray two rakahs sunnah before maghrib after the adhan. This is preferable. The Prophet (saw) said, “Pray before maghrib, pray before maghrib, pray before maghrib. For whoever wishes.” You can pray them either in the masjed or home.
4. Time of Isha Salah
About this prayer, Abu Hurairah (Raa) narrated that the prophet (saw) said: “No Salat (prayer) is heavier (harder) for the hypocrites than the Fajr and the Isha prayers, but if they knew the reward of these Salat (prayers) at their respective times, they would certainly present themselves (in the mosques) even if they have to crawl.”
Why? Because you are fighting , in the case of fajr the comfort and warmth of the bed, and in isha you are fighting sleep. Buraidah (raa) reported: The Messenger of Allah (saw) said, “Convey glad tidings to those who walk to the mosque in the darkness. For they will be given full light on the Day of Resurrection.” [At-Tirmidhi and Abu Dawud]
Start time: by unanimous agreement, it starts after the twilight disappears –but as we have seen with Salat al maghrib there is a different of opinion regarding the twilight that marks the end of al maghrib and beginning of isha. According to Imam Malik, the end of al maghrib does not constitute the beginning of isha, rather there is a buffer zone. It starts when it is dark [dark twilight] and the stars can be seen [if the sky is clear].
The end time:
First opinion: Abu Hanifah who says, as long as the dawn has not risen yet. So, ends when Salat Al Fajr begins.
Second opinion: Malik, Shafi’i and Ahmad say it is until the first third of the night or the first half [which is the strongest opionion], and as necessity until fajr time.
Q. What is half of the night? Does it mean midnight? No. Calculate the time from sunset until fajr and then divide by half—where the half point falls at is the first half of the night.
The preferable time/s:
First Opinion: Shafi’i is of the opinion that the best time is to perform it at the beginning of its respective tims.
Second Opinion: Abu Hanifah, Maalik, and Ahmad are of the opinion that it is best to dealy the isha to just before one third or half of the night has passed. As evidence they use the hadith by the prophet (saw) when he delayed the Isha to the extent that the companions slept in the masje. When he saw them he came out and prayed isha and said, “This is the time for salat al isha except I do not want to create hardships for my ummah.”
Abu Hurayrah narrated, the Messenger said: “If was not afraid of creating hardship I would have ordered to delay isha to just the first third or half of the night.” [Tirmidhi and Nisa’i]
When there are less worshippers the value of the worship goes up [like fasting in summer rather than winter]. But if delay means poor quality, then early is better.
Q.Which is better for me for Isha—to delay it or pay in congregation in the masjed? Of course in congregation in the masjed.
5. Fajr salat
Starts: When the true dawn starts not the false dawn [check out this video about false dawn]. The false dawn occurs when the sun has not yet hit the horizon so what you see is but the reflection of the sun rays. The true dawn is when you see the white thread in the horizon, you will see it on this video at 0.11 seconds. More information False and True Dawn.
Here is a picture of false dawn.
Another picture of false dawn from National Geographic.
Picture of true dawn:
Time of prohibition: Can’t pray when the sun has started to come up in this video it starts 0.11 seconds into the video . You have missed fajr if you pray at this time, and it will be considered Qada—make up [which has to be performed after the sun has completely risen].
1) First Opinion Al Ghalas: darkness of Fajr, so early hour of Fajr time when it is still kind of dark. In other words, although bright in the horizon it is not bright outside. [Malik, Shafi’I, and Ahmad]
Abu Musa narrated, “He [the messenger of Allah (saw)]offered fajr salat at daybreak when the people could hardly recognize one another.” [Muslim]
Jaber narrated: “…and fajr He (the messenger) used to offer it during Ghalas time (when it was still dark).” [Bukhari and Muslim]
2) Second Opinion Isfar: Brightness of the fajr, when it is bright enough you can see [Abu Hanifah]
Rafi’ bin Khadeej narrated the Messenger said, “Pray Fajr during Isfaar time, for its greater for your reward.” [Tirmidhi]
What is the reason for this difference of opinion regarding preferable times? Because the prophet (saw) practiced both depending on the crowd in the masjed. If he saw them rush, he would rush, and if they came slow he would delay. Furthermore, in winter it is convenient to start early as the day is short, whereas in the summer delay as the day is long.
Forbidden Time of Salaah
These times are forbidden for Salat except for the fard salawat.
Ubadah ibn ‘Amir narrated, “there are three times at which Allah’s messenger used to forbid us to pray or bury our dead: when the sun begins to rise till it is fully up, when the fun is at its height at midday till it passes the meridian, and when the sun darws near to setting till it sets.” [Muslim]
Abu Sa’d al-Khudr narrated, “I heard the messenger of Allah saying: “No salah is to be offered after the morning salah until the sun rises, or after ‘asr salah until the sun sets.” [Bukhari and Muslim]
1) After fajr : after your salaat al fajr you cannot pray until after sunrise. “There should be no salah performed after fajr until the sun rises.” If you pray salat al fajr, then do not pray anything else until the sun rises.
2) When the sun rises: you cannot pray the sunnah or make qad’a for the sunnah while the sun is rising, but you have to wait until the sun has fully risen and is a spear length from the horizon.
3) When the sun is at the zenith[middle of the sky]: this is 5-10 minutes before duhr. Even salat al duha should be prayed during this time either, but must be prayed before this time.
4) After asr: no salah [after your asr salah] when the sun has hit the horizon, is setting. Only after it has completely set, can you pray. Exception is if there is a need like Tahiyyat Al Masjed [two units offered when you enter into the Masjed—not applicable to a Maslah] or Istikhara [prayer requesting guidance] but should be avoided if it is the prohibition time. Abu Sa’eed al-khudri prophet (saw) said, “No salaat is to be offered after the morning salat until the sun rises, or after asr saat unitl the sun sets.” (Bukhari and Muslim)—this is according to Shafi’i madhab.
5) When sun is setting: while the sun is sinking behind the horizon. The prophet (saw) said, “The Shaytan goes in the direction o fthe sun so that it rises or sets between his two horns and those who prayed to the sun prayed in the direction of the Shaytan.”
Note: by unanimous agreement all scholars do not dispute that praying during sunrise and sunset is prohibited even if it is Fardh [like ‘qada of obligatory prayer] or Nafl like Tahiyyat Al Masjed.
Why are there forbidden times to pray in our religion? Prophet (saw) did not give us a specific reasons but scholars could hardly prevent themselves from speculating on the issue. Among the interesting interpretation that scholars have come up with, always open to dispute of course, is that it prevents Muslims from living the life of monks—a monastic life, dedicated to worship only. Islam is a religion that calls for a balance in the spiritual and worldly—so not praying at specific times points to the relevance of tending other things, like interacting with family. Everything ought to be given its right. Also, another interpretation is that the actual sunrise and sunset are specific time when idol worshippers prostrate to the planets and the sun and we have been prohibited from resembling them.
Scenarios for times of Salat
In places like Scandinavia the sun may be present for four months, and there is no distinction between night and day. There are three opinion on this topic:
The people are not obligated to perform the salawat, meaning they only pray the ones that they have distinguish the signs for in this case in the video—duhr and asr. This is a radical opinion, but the evidence for it is very strong, but does not necessarily mean it is the right one.
Most acceptable opinion among people is that they follow the closest region that is normal [in the sense that they have the signs for the five daily prayers] and follow their timings.
What about if people do not have access to technology? They need to estimate the time for the 5 prayers, and distribute them evenly. Evidence is the hadith of Ad-Dajjal, the prophet (saw) said, “The first day of his arrival will feel like an entire year. The second will be like a month. Then like a week and the rest of his day will be like ours.” The companions asked how they will make the salah during that time, and the Prophet (saw) said, “Estimate.”
2) If someone prays Salah before its beginning time for convenience would it be acceptable?
No, this is not acceptable. He can make up for it, but praying before the time of the prayer has started is not permissible.
3) If someone delays her salah until her period starts, is she accountable for that salah?
It is hard for a sister to know the onset of her period, she goes by dates of course but there is always a margin of error. No, she is not accountable unless she delays it to the very last minute when the window of opportunity for a specific salah closes.
4) If a woman [student of working] becomes pure from her period during the time of one the prayers but was unable to shower until later during the day, or later that night, is she accountable for this delay?
If it will not cause hardship to her, then she should make up for those missed prayers.
5) Is it still obligatory to perform a fard salah, even during the prohibited times?
Savor the Sweetness of the time of salah:
1) Salah was divided throughout the day and the night so that you don’t feel bored.
2) Wisdom of following the times of salat to prevent it from being a routine—you become conscious of the value of your salat so you’re always on top of the changes of time and seasons.
3) You will find this spiritual break when you really need it, it’s a time out for relief, to seek help, assistance and strength. Even to relieve yourself from the stress of life. Remember to always ask for strength for your salah.
4) Our religion is a balanced religion, between daily and spiritual activities.
Try to observe the sun for two full days
Wake up early before fajr, and watch for the white thread
Use an object to mark the shadows throughout the day, to determine the beginning of the time of each salah.
Use that same object next day to determine the end of time of each salah
Watch as the sun goes down , and praise your Lord as you see the variation in the colors through the horizon.
Can you identify the end of maghrib and beginning of isha according to the difference opinions.
Q. Did you wake up for fajr today? If not then why? possible answers death by snooze, slept late, did not make the intent to get up etc.
Q. Devise a plan to help others wake up for fajr. Be creative.
More videos for you to enjoy:
2) See if you can tell through looking at the time lapse of day and night in this video and identify, false dawn, true dawn, glare at Maghrib, twilight and white twilight
3) Time lapse of four days of sunrise and sunset