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The Timings of Salat

 

Allah has prescribed salat for five times a day and has also fixed the timing of each salat. Thus it is clear that this obligation will be discharged when each salat is performed on its proper time. Allah proclaims:

إِنَّ الصَّلاةَ كَانَتْ عَلَى الْمُؤْمِنِينَ كِتَاباً مَوْقُوتاً (نساء : 103)

(Translation of meaning) “Verily salat has been enjoined upon the believers as a time-bound obligation” (Nisa: 103). Once the companions asked the prophet (sallAllahu ‘alayhi wa sallam) about the most virtuous deed. He replied that the performance of salat on its proper time was the most virtuous deed (Al-Bukhari and Muslim). Allah has expressed His severe displeasure for those who are not punctual in the performance of their salat:

فَوَيْلٌ لِلْمُصَلِّينَ (4) الَّذِينَ هُمْ عَنْ صَلاتِهِمْ سَاهُونَ (5) (الماعون : 4،5)

(Translation of meaning) “So woe be to those musalleen (worshippers) who forget their salat” Al-Ma’oon: 4-5).

 

  1. The time of the fajr prayer: The time of the fajr salat [dawn prayer] starts from the break of the true dawn and extends till little before sunrise.
  1. The time of Zohr salat: The time of zohr salat [post-meridiem prayer] starts with the decline of the sun from the meridian and extends till the shadow of an object under the sun becomes equal to its length. However, in hot summers is desirable to delay the salat from its starting time, in order to observe Khushu (devotion) in salat.
  1. The time of the Asr salat: The time of the asr salat [late afternoon prayer] starts as soon as the time of the zohr salat ends and remains till a little before the sunset. Allah’s Messenger, (sallAllahu ‘alayhi wa sallam) recommended that even if one completed only one rak’ah (cycle) of the asr salat before the sunset he will be deemed to have completed the full asr salat. Nevertheless, he emphasized that in a cloudy weather one should hasten to perform it lest the time expires unknowingly.
  2. The time of the maghrib salat: The time of the maghrib salat starts immediately after the sunset and extends till the disappearance of the shafaq [afterglow on the western horizon]. It is desirable to hasten in the performance of the Maghrib prayer because its time span is too short. Allah’s Messenger, (sallAllahu ‘alayhi wa sallam) said:

«لَا تَزَالُ أُمَّتِي عَلَى الْفِطْرَةِ، مَا لَمْ يُؤَخِّرُوا الْمَغْرِبَ حَتَّى تَشْتَبِكَ النُّجُومُ»

My community shall stick to the law of nature, the correct Islam, so long as it does not delay the Maghrib prayer till such time as the stars appear on the sky (Abu Dawood, Ahmad).

 

  1. The time of the isha’ prayer: The time of the isha’ salat [night prayer] starts from the disappearance of the afterglow from the western horizon and extends up to midnight. Allah’s Messenger, (sallAllahu ‘alayhi wa sallam) said: had I not felt it hard upon my community I would have ordered that the isha prayer be delayed till the one-third or one-half of night (Tirmizi, Ibn Maja, Ahmad). The timings described in these narrations are the best and proper. Some theologists have extended the time of isha’ over the whole of night time but a little before the break of dawn. However, because the believers are enjoined to pray in Jama’at [congregation] and because any delay in this prayer may cause inconvenience to the common people, it is desirable to perform it in its early time.  It is better to perform each salat except Isha salat in its early time. Once the Prophet (sallAllahu ‘alayhi wa sallam) was asked about what deed was the most virtuous, he replied the performance of salat in its early time (Abu Dawood, Tirmizi, Ahmad). Delaying salat without a valid reason is improper and sinful. A true believer gets prepared for prayers as soon as he hears the adhan [call to prayers]

Times when it is Forbidden to Offer Salat:

During the course of day and night there are certain points of time when the performance of salat, even of nafl salat [optional prayers], is forbidden. They are:

  1. From the completion of the fajr salat till the sunrise.
  2. When the sun is rising. Wait for 10 minutes till it has fully arisen.
  3. Shortly before the start of zohr salat time when the sun is parallel to one’s head, i.e. a little before it’s recline. On Fridays though one can perform a nafl prayer at this point too.
  4. From the end of the asr salat till the sunset.

In addition to these forbidden points of time there are certain other occasions when performance of the nafl prayers is forbidden:

  1. When the adhan is being called.
  1. Before and after the performance of the prayers on Eidul Fitr and Eidul Adha.
  1. Whenever the time available for the performance of a fardh salat [obligatory prayer] is too short and it appears that if a nafl salat is offered the time for the fardh salat will lapse. However, the jurists have permitted the performance of certain specific nafl salats like the salatul hajah [prayer for the fulfilment of one’s need] or tahiyyatul masjid [prayer in veneration of the masjid] on such points too.

 

Adhan: Call to Prayers

Adhan refers to a prescribed set of declarations and affirmations which are recited aloud to signify the call to a particular prayer. Great virtue has been ascribed to this call of Adhan. Allah’s Messenger, (sallAllahu ‘alayhi wa sallam)  said:

«لَوْ يَعْلَمُ النَّاسُ مَا فِي الْأَذَانِ وَالصَّفِّ الْأَوَّلِ، ثُمَّ لَمْ يَجِدُوا إِلَّا أَنْ يَسْتَهِمُوا عَلَيْهِ لَاسْتَهَمُوا عَلَيْهِ»

Had the people known what virtue it means to join the first row after hearing the adhan they would have found no way of doing so except by drawing of lots so they would have drawn the lots (Bukhari). In another narration the status of the muezzin [callers to prayers] has been described in these words:

«إِنَّ الْمُؤَذِّنِينَ أَطْوَلُ النَّاسِ أَعْنَاقًا يَوْمَ الْقِيَامَةِ»

On the Day of Judgment, the callers to prayers will be the tallest of all. (Ahmad, Muslim)

 

اللہُ اکبر اللہُ اکبر اللہُ اکبر اللہُ اکبر ،أشهدُ اَن لَا إلٰہ اِلاّ اللہ اشھد ُان لاَ الٰہ الاّ اللہ،أشھَدُ اَنّ محمداً  رسول ُاللہ ،اَشھَدُ اَنّ محمداً رَسُولُ اللہ ،حَیَّ عَلی الصَّلاَۃِ ،حَیَّ عَلی الصَّلاَۃِ ،حَیَّ عَلی الفَلاحِ،حَیَّ عَلی الفَلاَح،اللہُ اکبَر اللہُ اکبر ،لَا الَہ اِلاَّ اللہ

The English translation of the words of adhan runs like this:

Allah is the greatest; Allah is the greatest; Allah is the greatest; Allah is the greatest

 

“I testify that there is no ilah [god] but Allah; I testify that there is no ilah but Allah

 

“I testify that Muhammad is Allah’s Messenger (sallAllahu ‘alayhi wa sallam); I testify that Muhammad is Allah’s Messenger (sallAllahu ‘alayhi wa sallam)

 

“Hasten to the prayer; hasten to the prayer

 

“Hasten to the success; hasten to the success

 

“Allah is greatest; Allah is greatest

 

“There is no ilah but Allah.

 

In the call to fajr prayer after the words: “Hasten to success” these words are recited twice: الصَّلَاةُ خَيْرٌ مِنَ النَّوْمِ “The prayer is better than sleep”.

If a person hears the adhan he should repeat the same words himself. When the muezzin says: “Hayya alassalha” and “Hayya alalfalah” the hearer should say: لَا حَوْلَ وَلَا قُوَّةَ إِلَّا بِاللَّهِ “La haula wa la quwwata illa billah”. After the adhan is over one should venerate Allah’s Messenger (sallAllahu ‘alayhi wa sallam) and pray for him. The Prophet (sallAllahu ‘alayhi wa sallam) recommended that if a man hearing the call to prayer recites this supplication in my favour I shall intercede on his behalf on the Day of Judgment:

(اللَّهُمَّ ربَّ هَذِهِ الدَّعْوَةِ التَّامَّة، وَالصَّلَاةِ الْقَائِمَةِ، آتِ مُحَمَّدًا الْوَسِيلَةَ وَالْفَضِيلَةَ، وَابْعَثْهُ مَقَامًا مَحْمُودًا الَّذِي وعدتَه)

[Translation] “Oh my God the Creator of this perfect mission and this standing prayer bestow upon Muhammad the high status [in Paradise] and virtue and raise him to the praiseworthy position which Thou hath promised him”.

Iqamat: Call to the Standing Congregation

This is repetition of the words of adhan when the congregation stands for the performance of the prayer. Here, after حَيّ على الْفَلاح “Hayya alassalah” these words are added: قَدْ قَامَتِ الصَّلَاةُ ” Qad qamatissalah” [the salat is in order]. Saying takbeer once as well as repeating it twice both are permissible.

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