Chapter Eight: On the Times of the Prayers and Their Names

[This chapter deals with the recognition of the times of prayer. It is an individual obligaiton for every legally responsible person to know their times if he can do that. If he cannot do that, as when someone is blind, he follows someone else. The "time" designates the amount of time allotted for an act of worship in the Shari'a. It is either the time of performing it or the time of making it up. The time of performing is either the optional (ikhtiyari) time, meaning the time in which a legally responsible person can choose when to perform the prayer at any part of it, or it imperative (daruri) time.

The optional can be either the time of excellence or the time of leeway. As regards the prayer, what is meant by it in the usage of the people of the Shari'a it a body of rak'ats and prostrations, which are transmitted from the supplication (which is the linguistic meaning) since it contains the Fatiha which contains the supplication, which is "Guide usÉ" other suras than the Fatiha, and it is that whose obligation is known from the Deen as necessity. The one who denies it is an apostate and is asked to repent. If he repents, he is alright. Otherwise he is killed. It is like that with the one who denies the rest of the pillars of Islam which are: the shahada, zakat, fasting and hajj.]

Its preconditions

There are five preconditions for its being obligatory: are:

  1. Islam,
  2. Adulthood
  3. Sanity
  4. Lack of bleeding from menstruation and lochia, and
  5. The arrival of the time of the prayer.

[ 'Iyad adds hearing the call to prayer.]

It is one of the greatest acts of worship because it was prescribed in Heaven during the Night Journey. That was in Makka a year before the Hijra as opposed to the rest of the laws. They were prescribed on earth. There is disagreement about how it was obliged. 'A'isha said that they were prescribed as two rak'ats at home and in the journey and then it was confirmed in the journey and increased to four when someone is resident. It is said that four rak'ats were obliged except for Maghrib, which was three and Subh, which was two. Then in the journey they were shortened to two rak'ats. As for knowing the names of the prayers, that is also obligatory because it is by their names that there is distinction and specification because if the prayer is not specified, then the prayer is invalid.]

8.1. Subh

8.1a. Its name

According to the people of Madina the middle prayer is the early morning prayer, namely the dawn prayer.

[It is evident that a multiplicity names is indicative of the honour of the named. There are four names given to this prayer: as-Subh, al-Wusta (the middle), al-Fajr and al-Ghada. Subh is derived from sabah, which is whiteness since it becomes obligatory at this time. Fajr is derived from infijar (bursting forth) since it is obliged when dawn breaks from the darkness of the night.]

8.1b. The Beginning of its time

The beginning of the time for this prayer is when dawn breaks and the light spreads out in the extreme east, going from the qibla to behind the qibla, [1] until it rises up and fills the whole horizon.

[ The beginning of its ikhtiyari time is when dawn breaks and the light of dawn which comes from the light of the sun spreads out. It is It sometimes rises from the extreme east and sometimes elsewhere and follows it. The place of its breaking is the place where the sun rises. This excludes the false dawn which is the whiteness like the tail of a wolf, which thins and does not spread. It has no jurisdiction.

The light of dawn continues until it fills up the entire horizon. Ibn 'Umar thought this was unclear and said that the author said that the light is in the extreme east and so it is clear that it rises in the extreme east. "Going from the qibla to behind the qibla" means that it rises from the qibla. It might give rise to the idea that the qibla has a behind, but it is not like that. Al-Ujhuri replies that the qibla and the east are the same. It is what is opposite the west. "Behind" means the middle. When the qibla is hidden from him, he faces the east and puts the west behind him. Then he is facing it because his deviation from the qibla is slight.

[1. This must necessarily refer to North Africa, where the author lived. The commentators are not sure of the exact meaning of this phrase.]

8.1c. The end of the time

The end of the time is when the light has got very bright so that someone ending the prayer says the salam just as the edge of the sun appears over the horizon.

[ The end of the time of Subh. This is derived from that fact the end of the ikhtiyari time for Subh is sunrise, and it is the well-known position of Malik. Ibn 'Abdu'l-Barr said that it is that on which the people act. 'Iyad attributes it to all the scholars and Imams of fatwa. On that basis there is no daruri time for Subh. In the Mudawwana, which is approved, and on whose basis the author of the Mukhtasar proceeds, the ikhtiyari time is from the rising of true dawn until the upper brightening, and the end is when the upper brightening leaves and it is that time in which faces can be seen in a place without a roof or covering by someone with average sight. Then the daruri time of Subh is from the beginning of the upper brightening to the first part of sunrise.]

8.1d. Its scope

Any time between these two points is acceptable but the beginning of the time is the best.

[It is established that the time of the Subh prayer is the breaking of dawn and the end ot the time is the clear brightening. The prayer can occur in any of that time if he is not excessive because the beginning and end of time subject to choice are equal unless it is negated by a constriction. However if he thinks that he will die before he does it if he does not occupy himself with it, then there is agreement that he rebels by leaving it because the wide time then becomes constricted in respect of him, i.e. whoever thinks that he will die during the time must pray early in that time. If he does not pray in that time in which he must pray, he sins whether he dies or not. In this respect, other impediments to prayer which occur are the same as death, like menstruation. If a woman delays and the impediment occurs, she does not make it because the lack of making up does not negate the wrong action.

Then it is affirmed that the ikhtiyari time is all the same unless it is negated by a constriction, but you should know that they vary in excellence. The early part is absolutely better, whether in summer or winter, individually or in a group. It is like that according to Malik and most of the schools in order to obtain the virtue of the time. The basis in this is that it is sound that the Prophet used to pray Subh when it was still dark as did the Rashidun khalifs.]

8.2 Dhuhr

8.2a The time of dhuhr

The time of dhuhr is from when the sun has passed the zenith, and that is when the shadows start to get longer.

[The beginning of the time where there is choice is when the sun begins to decline and has passed the zenith. Then the shadows begin to increase as the sun moves. It is known was "zawal": that comes from the fact that  when a stick it set upright, it is that point between the increase and decrease of the shadow. and so it not simply the shadow cast, but has to do with its increase.]

8.2b. Delaying Dhuhr

It is recommended to delay the prayer in summer until the shadow of an object reaches a quarter of the length of that object added to the length of its shadow at noon.

[ Al-Fakhani says that it is delayed in the summer rather than the winter, in a group or individually. Ibn Naji said, "His words 'in the summer' are not understoof. It can be like that in the winter." Delay is recommended until the time mentioned about the shadow. The shadow is not measured from its root, but from the shadow after noon. However that is an unusual linguistic usage. The well-known usage is that the shadow (dhill) is until midday comes and the shadow is after it is called fay'.]

8.2c. In Mosques

It is also said that this practice is only recommended as far as mosques are concerned so that more people can catch the prayer, and that it is better for a man praying by himself to do the prayer at the beginning of the time.

[ This delaying is said to be only about mosque, so that people can join in the prayer. As for someone on his own, it is better to pray at the beginning of the time because there is no benefit in delaying it.]

8.2d. In intense heat

It is also said that it is better to delay the prayer until it is a little cooler when the heat is fierce even if you are praying by yourself since the Prophet, may Allah bless him and grant him peace, said, "Delay the prayer until it gets a little cooler because the fierceness of the heat is from the flames of Jahannam."

[ This is when the intensity of heat abates. So there are three positions about waiting for the cooling in the case of Dhuhr. Either it is absolutely recommended to delay it for individual and the group, or the recommendation is confined to mosque for the group, and the third is to make a distinction between strong heat and other times, and so it is recommended in the case of intense heat for both the group and the individual.

The expression in the Muwatta' is that the Messenger of Allah said, "When the heat is fierce, then delay the prayer until it gets cooler, for scorching heat is from the blast of Jahannam." It means to wait for some shade and to the intensity of the heat to abate. The hadith about hastening the prayer is abrogated by this hadith. It is that the Messenger of Allah prayed Dhuhr at midday at the time of intense heat.]

8.2e. The end of the time

The end of the time of Dhuhr is when the shadow of an object is the same length as that object in addition to the length of its shadow at noon.

[ This is the end of the ikhtiyari time for Dhuhr. The consideration of day here is from sunrise to sunset, as opposed to the day in fasting which begins when dawn breaks.]

8.3. 'Asr

8.3a. The beginning of 'Asr and end of Dhuhr

The beginning of the time of 'Asr is the end of the time of Dhuhr

[The beginning of the ikhtiyari time of 'Asr is the end of the ikhtiyari time of Dhuhr. On this basis, they share in the same time for the amount of four rak'ats or 'Asr shares with Dhuhr at the end of its time for the amount of four rak'ats. According to the first, if Dhuhr is delayed until the time of 'Asr begins and Dhuhr is done at the beginning of the time, he incurs no wrong action. According to this, if someone prays 'Asr at the end of the first length, it is invalid. According to the second, if he prays 'Asr while there still remains the time for four rak'ats of the time of Dhur at the beginning of the second length, he commits a wrong action since he does it before the time of the other has ended.]

8.3b. The end of the time of 'Asr

Its end is when the shadow of an object is twice the length of that object in addition to the length of its shadow at noon.

[ This is the end of the ikhtiyari time of 'Asr.]

8.3c. Another view

It is also said that if, standing upright facing the sun with your eyes looking straight ahead, you can see the sun, then the time of 'Asr has arrived. If you cannot see the sun the time has not yet begun. If the sun has descended right into your field of vision you are well into the time. According to Malik, may Allah have mercy on him, the time for 'Asr lasts until the sun begins to turn yellow.

[ Another view of the beginning of the time: this is with the head slightly bowed but not properly bowed (proper bowing is when the eyes are facing the ground.) Then if the sun comes into your line of sight, it is 'Asr. Some people deny that the author said this since its speaker is not known. The reply to him is that the arrival of the time is not known because this not apply at all times because the sun is high in the summer and low in the winter.

In defining the end of the ikhtiyari time of 'Asr from the transmission of Ibn al-Qasim, it is when the sun begins to turn yellow in the earth. The position of the school is that it is better to perform 'Asr in the beginning of the time.]

8.4. Maghrib

8.4a. The time of Maghrib

The time of Maghrib - also known as the prayer of the one who is resident, meaning that a traveller does not shorten it but prays it in the same way as someone who is resident - is at sunset.

[This is the ikhtiyari time. The Maghrib prayer has two names. This is because it occurs at sunset, and the other name is ash-Shahid, meaning resident. This is because the traveller prays it the same as the resident. Al-Fakhani said that its reason that Maghrib is called Shahid is because the traveller does not shorten it as is the case with Subh. 'Abdu'l-Wahhab reported that it is heard but it is not analogous because Subh is not so-named.]

8.4b. Its Time

When the sun has completely disappeared below the horizon, the prayer is due and it should not be delayed. This moment is the time for this prayer and it should not be delayed beyond it.

[ What is observed in that is the disappearance of its body and circular orb, not its traces and its rays. Ibn Bashir said that this applies to a location where there are no mountains. When there are mountains, he looks towards the east and when darkness appears, that is an indication of its setting. When it disappears and sets, i.e. we can no longer see it because of the intervening barrier between us and it, then its time has begun and the prayer is not delayed. Maghrib only has one ikhtiyari time. When it is delayed, it moves into its daruri time. The well-known position is that it is not extensive. Indeed the amount required for doing it after the preconditions of its time exist is narrow. It is permitted for the one who obtains its preconditions of purity, sutra, facing qibla, the adhan and iqama, to to delay doing it for the necessary time required to achieve its preconditions. It is also said that its time extends to to the disappearance of the red twilight. Al-Baji and many of the people of the School prefer it because of what is in the Muwatta' where he says, "When the redness has gone, then the 'Isha' prayer is due and you have left the time of Maghrib," and what is in Muslim of the words of the Prophet, "The time of Maghrib lasts as long as the red twilight has not gone."]

8.5. 'Isha'

8.5a. Its name

[The ikktiyari time for 'Atama or 'Isha', and Isha' is the recommended name for it because it was used in the Noble Book. A group of scholars, including Imam Malik, dislike calling it 'Atama . As for what is related in the Muwatta', the Musnad of Ahmad and the two Sahih collections from the hadith of Abu Hurayra, "If they had known what is in 'Atama and Subh, they would have come to them, even crawling" where it is called 'Atama, that clarifies that it is permitted and not unlawful to call it that, and there is no contradiction with ithe fact that it is disliked.]

8.5b. The time of 'Isha'

The time of the prayer of darkness or 'isha', the latter being the better name for it, is when the redness remaining in the sky from the remaining rays of the sun. When all yellowness and redness has gone, the time of 'isha' has arrived. No attention need be paid to any whiteness which may remain on the western horizon.

[ The time of 'Isha' is when the redness in the direction of the sunset has disappeared, not the entire west, as the author states. Note that he mentioned yellowness first, even though it is later than redness. However, in Arabic the waw (and) does not demand sequence.

The comment about the whiteness is in reference to the statement of Abu Hanifa that the "shafq" (twilight) is the whiteness. Our evidence is what ad-Daraqutni related that the Prophet said, "The twilight is the redness. When the twilight departs, then the prayer is obligatory." This is the beginning of the ikhtiyari time.

8.5c. The end of its time

The time for 'Isha' extends from this time until a third of the night has passed for those who want to delay doing it because of working or some other good reason.

[ It ends with the first third according to the well-known position. Ibn Habib said that it extends to the middle of the night. It can be delayed for someone with an excuse, like work, and it should only be delayed from its early time by those with excuses. Other people, even if they are alone, should hasten to perform the 'Isha' prayer at the beginning of it its time. This is recommended.]

8.5d. Delaying in the mosques

It is better to do it as early as possible although there is no harm in delaying it a little in mosques to allow time for people to gather.

[ "There is no harm" means it is recommended to delay the prayer in the mosques to allow people to gather. The author's premise is weak, and it is preferred that it is always advanced to the beginning of the time.]

8.5e. After the prayer

Sleeping before doing 'Isha' is disliked and so is talking after it unless there is a good reason for it.

[Ibn 'Umar said, "It is disliked to talk after it more than it is disliked to sleep before it because the person might miss the virtues of the prayer of Subh in group or miss its time or miss rising for tahajjud and dhikru'llah in the night. An exception to that is discussing knowledge and acts of nearness to Allah. Exceptions to are is also the bridegroom, the guest and the traveller, i.e. someone who has arrived from a journey or is going on a journey, and whatever need demands like talking connected to someone's best interests, like buying and selling.]

8.6. Daruri Times

[The Shaykh spoke about the ikhtiyari time and not the daruri time. Subh was already mentioned. The daruri time of Dhuhr begins at the beginning of the second length and that of 'Asr begins with the yellowing and ends at sunset, although 'Asr is particular to four rak'ats before sunset. This time is daruri for it in particular so that if you pray Dhuhr in that time, it is making it up. It begins in Maghrib is when it can be finishing without negligence, i.e. follows finishing it. it. That of 'Isha' begins with second third of the night and ends when the dawn rises. The last of it is the amount of four rak'ats,as there is between Dhuhr and 'Asr.

These times are called daruri tmes because it is not permitted to delay the prayer until them except for the people of necessity (darura), and the people of necessity are menstruating women, a woman with bleeding on account of childbirth, the unbeliever, the apostate, the child, the mad person, the person who is unconscious, the sleeper and theone who forgets. So when the impediment is removed from any of those, he prays in the daruri time and incurs no wrong action. Anyone who prays in these times except those with an excuses are disobedient.]

Return to Home Page

Return to Index

Previous Page

Next Page