Prayer Times

The times of the prescribed prayers are 5:

  1. The time of fajr (subh) is from the entrance of true dawn until right before sunrise.
  2. The time of zuhr is from immediately after midday (zawal) until the time when the shadow of any object is twice its own length, or according to another opinion equivalent to its own length excluding the amount of shadow at midday. Imam Tahawi preferred the second opinion, which is the opinion of the two companions (Abu Yusuf and Muhammad)
  3. The time of asr is from the point on which there is a disagreement until right before sunset.
  4. The time of maghrib is from that point (sunset) until the disappearance of the red twilight according to the position given for the legal verdict (fatwa).
  5. The time of isha and witr is from that point until right before fajr. One may not pray witr before isha due to the condition of praying them in the correct order.


The following times are recommended (mustahabb):

  • For fajr, when light begins to appear (isfar);
  • For zuhr in the summer, when the weather becomes cooler;
  • For asr, to delay it until before the sun changes;
  • For zuhr in the winter and for magrib [always], to pray as soon as the time enters;
  • In cloudy weather, to pray asr and isha as soon as the time enters; while for other prayers, to delay them somewhat.


There are three times of the day in which any prayer that was obligatory before these times is rendered invalid if performed in these times:

  • At sunrise,
  • At midday,
  • At sunset, except for asr of that day.


It is disliked to pray voluntary prayers in the following times:

  • The three times mentioned above;
  • During a religious sermon (khutba);
  • Before the obligatory prayer of fajr, except for the two rakahs of sunna;
  • After the obligatory prayer of fajr is performed, without exception [until after the disliked time of sunset];
  • After the asr prayer is performed, until sunset.


It is not valid to combine any two obligatory prayers in one prayer time, except at Arafat and Muzdalifah; that is, the pilgrim on hajj may combine zuhr and asr [in the time of zuhr on the Day of Arafa], and delay magrib until the time of isha at Muzdalifah.


[1] ‘True dawn’ refers to the horizontal white line that spreads across the horizon, as opposed to ‘false dawn’, which is the vertical light that appears earlier and is followed by the darkness (hence its name). The difference between the two, as well as the difference between the disappearance of the red and white twilight after sunset, is said to be 3 degrees (normally 12 minutes). However, other factors could affect the time difference, such as location and latitude. Also, with respect to modern tables of prayer timings, the 18 degrees for fajr is more precautionary and should therefore be used, especially for fasting.


[2] That is, at the start of sunrise, when the top of the disc first emerges above the horizon, the time of fajr is expired.


[3] The most accurate method of determining midday is to dig a straight stick into even ground (i.e., at a 90 degrees angle) and note its shadow. If it continues to shorten, it is not yet midday. Once it ceases to shorten, it is midday and, hence, it is disliked to perform prayer at this time. After that, once the shadow begins to lengthen, the time of zuhr has entered.


[4] That is, the length of the still shadow at midday, that has ceased to shorten and not yet begun to lengthen, is excluded when determining the end of zuhr and beginning of asr.

[5] That is, when the disc of the sun is completely is below the horizon, the time of asr has expired and the time of maghrib begins.


[6] This is the opinion of the two companions (Abu Yusuf and Muhammad), as stated in many classical Hanafi works and the position of legal verdict (fatwa) for the Hanafi school. The opinion of Imam Abu Hanifah, however, is that the end of maghrib (and hence the beginning of isha) occurs later, namely with the disappearance of the white twilight after sunset. This opinion is also a reliable position in the school, as it is given precedence in the Ikhtiyar, Ibn Abidin seems to support this opinion in terms of its legal strength. At the end of his discussion, however, he affirms the opinion of the two companions, citing numerous works that explicitly state it as the position of legal verdict. His main reasoning is that the practice of most Muslim lands in his time corresponded with it.


[7] If, however, one does so out of forgetfulness, or prays them in order yet later realises that isha was later invalid, then he does not need to repeat the witr prayer since such excuses are deemed acceptable.


[8] That is, it is recommended for men to pray at these times, unless doing so would entail missing the congregation, as that takes precedent. For women, it is recommended to pray fajr while it is still dark, and the remaining prayers after the men’s congregation has finished. Some hanafi scholars, however, have maintained that for women, it is recommended to pray all five prayers at beginning of their times since they do not pray in congregation.


[9] That is, it is recommended for the men to delay fajr until a time before sunrise such that, if one realised that his prayer was invalid, he would have enough time to perform ghusl (if needed) and repeat the prayer at the same pace which he performed it the first time, and still finish before sunrise. The recommended delay is to both start and end the prayer once light has appeared.


[10] That is, such that one can look at its disc without harm. To delay the prayer to this point is deemed prohibitively disliked (makruh tahriman), even for a sick person or a traveller. The recommended delay is to before this time, as it allows one to pray extra voluntary prayers beforehand, since it is disliked to do so after having prayed asr.


[11] Namely, to somewhat delay fajr, zuhr, and maghrib, so as to ensure that the time has truly entered.


[12] That is, one cannot perform make-up prayers during these three times, nor a prostration of recital for a worse recited before these times, all of which would be invalid and sinful. If, however, something becomes obligatory (or mandatory) within one of these three times, its performance within that time would be valid. For example, if a funeral procession arrived for its prayer (janaza) within such a time, the prayer is performed therein, and that would not be disliked at all. If a worse of prostration were recited in such a time, the prostration could be performed therein, as it would be valid yet mildly disliked (makruh tanzihan). It would be better to delay the prostration until after that time. If a person on hajj or umrah initiated a tawaaf within such a time, then the mandatory (waajib) two rakaats to be performed upon the completion would be valid therein, yet prohibitively disliked (makruh tahriman) and hence sinful. Therefore, one must wait until the time ends before performing that prayer. Finally, it would be prohibitively disliked (makruh tahriman) to perform any voluntary prayer in one of these three times, even one with a specific cause such as the two rakaats of greeting the mosque.


[13] That is, until the sun is approximately one or two spears length (a spear is about 12 hand-spans, or 3m) above the horizon. This is roughly 15-20 minutes after sunrise.


[14] That is, when the shadow stops shortening, yet before it starts lengthening. Hence, if one performs an obligatory or mandatory prayer during this time, such that any part of the prayer (before completion of the last integral) falls in this short span of time, the prayer itself is rendered invalid. This is roughly, 7-10 minutes before zuhr.


[15] That is, at the dimming of the sun during the last portion of the day before sunset, such that one can look at it without any harm to the eyes. An exception is asr of that day, which remains valid even during that time and hence obligatory to pray, despite the sin entailed in delaying it to this time. This is roughly 15-20 minutes before sunset, although it depends on certain factors such as latitude and time of the year.


[16] That is, specifically once the imam appears or stands up for it, until after the prayer itself is completed. Another time in which it is disliked to perform voluntary prayers is after sunset, before the performance of the obligatory (fard) prayer of maghrib so as not to delay the prayer much, as that is deemed mildly disliked (makruh tanzihan). Also, it is also prohibitively disliked (makruh tahriman) to delay the maghrib prayer until the time when “the stars are numerous in appearance” (perhaps 40 minutes or so after sunset, although this depends on certain factors such as latitude and time of the year), as it is to delay the isha prayer until half of the night has passed. ”Night” refers to the period from sunset until true dawn.


[17] That is, after the time of fajr enters (true dawn), yet before the actual performance of the obligatory fajr prayer.


[18] For the time periods of (a) between true dawn and sunrise, and (b) between the performance of asr and the dimming of the sun before sunset, make-up prayers can be performed therein but not voluntary prayers, nor the mandatory (wajib) two rakats to be performed on completion of tawaf. It would be prohibitively disliked (makruh tahriman) to do them in these times. Rather, one must wait until (a) after the post-sunrise time period in which prayers are also disliked, and (b) after sunset (maghrib).


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Tayyib HMC FInder

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