Will you give information about the afternoon (asr) prayer?

Details of the Question
I perform the afternoon (asr) prayer, seventy-two minutes after the adhan in summer and thirty-six minutes after the adhan in winter. Is it permissible to do so?
The Answer

Dear Brother / Sister,

The Time of the Afternoon (Asr) Prayer:

The time of the afternoon prayer starts when the time of the noon prayer finishes and ends when the sun sets. That is, according to the majority of fiqh scholars, when shadows of things reach the objects' length except fay az-zawal and according to Abu Hanifa, when they reach twice the objects' length, the time of the afternoon prayer starts.

The following is stated in a hadith:

"The one who reaches one rak'ah of the afternoon prayer before the sun sets has caught up with the afternoon prayer." (Zaylai, Nasbu'r-Raya, I/228).

However, according to the majority of the scholars, it is makruh to perform the afternoon prayer at the time of the sun's becoming pale. For, the Prophet said that hypocrites delayed the afternoon prayer and finally performed it hastily. (ash-Shawkani, Naylu'l-Awtar, I, 307)

To perform the afternoon prayer at asr al-awwal is the view of Imam Abu Yusuf, Imam Muhammad and the view of other madhhab imams. To perform it at asr ath-thani is the view of Abu Hanifa.  It is possible to act in accordance with either view. However, the widespread view in Turkey is to perform it at asr al-awwal.

WAQT (TIME)

In Arabic, the noun waqt is derived from the verb waqata; it means to determine a time. As a noun, waqt means time, period, process. The plural of waqt is "awqat".

Time is a cause for some deeds of worshipping to become fard. Fard does not occur until its time starts. For instance, the start of the month of Ramadan is a cause for fasting to become fard. The following is stated in a hadith: "When you see the crescent (of the month of Ramadan), start fasting, and when you see the crescent (of the month of Shawwal), stop fasting." (Bukhari, Sawm, II; Muslim, Siyam, 4,18) On the one hand, the time for the fard fasting is determined by the Quran as follows: "So everyone of you who is present (at his home) during that month should spent it in fasting." (al-Baqara, 2/185) On the other hand, the time for the daily fasting is the period from dawn to sunset. This period is determined by the following verse of the Quran: "Eat and drink, until the white thread of dawn appear to you distinct from its black thread; then complete your fast till the night appears." (al-Baqara, 2/187)

In the worshipping of hajj, along with other conditions, the month of Dhul-hijjah needs to start and it is necessary to be present at Arafat on the day of Arafah in ihram. Therefore, if a person goes to Hejaz but dies before the days of hajj, hajj does not become fard for him.

As for zakah, along with the conditions of being a Muslim, sane, pubescent and having nisab amount of wealth apart from vital needs, it is necessary for a lunar year to pass. If a person becomes poor or dies before this period passes, zakah does not become fard for him.

Time is one of the conditions of prayer. There are six fard acts before starting a prayer: a) Cleanliness form spiritual impurity, b) Cleanliness form material impurity, c) Covering the parts of the body that are necessary to be covered, d) Turning toward the Kaaba, e) Time, f) Intention. They are also called "the conditions of prayer".

There are certain times determined for fard prayers and their sunnahs, witr prayer, tarawih prayer and eid prayer. The fard prayers are the morning (fajr), noon (zuhr), afternoon (asr), evening (maghrib) and night (isha) prayers. The Friday prayer replaces the noon prayer on Friday. A prayer that is performed before its time period starts is not valid; a prayer that is delayed to the time period after its determined time becomes a missed (qada) prayer. The following is stated in the Quran: "For, such prayers are enjoined on believers at stated times." (an-Nisa, 4/103).

Hz. Jiibril (Gabriel) taught the Prophet (pbuh) the times of the prayers as follows: Jabir narrates: "Jibril came to the Prophet (pbuh) and said, “Stand and offer the prayer.” He prayed the zuhr prayer at the time when the sun began its descent from its zenith. Jibril came to him again at the time for the asr prayer and said, “Stand and offer the prayer.” He prayed the asr prayer at the time when the shadow of every object was equal to its height. Then, Jibril came to him at the time of sunset and said, “Stand and offer the prayer.” He prayed the maghrib prayer at that time. He offered the isha prayer at the time the light disappeared from the horizon. The angel came to him for the fajr prayer at the first light of dawn. On the second day, Jibril came to him again for the zuhr prayer and said “Stand and offer the prayer.” He prayed the zuhr prayer at the time when the shadow of every object was equal to its height. Jibril came to him again at the time for the asr prayer and said, “Stand and offer the prayer.” He prayed the asr prayer at the time when the shadow of every object was equal to double its height. Then, Jibril came to him at the time of sunset and he offered the prayer at the same time he did before. Jibril came to him again for the isha prayer after a half of the night or maybe a third of it had passed and he offered the prayer. Then, Jibril came to him at the time the sky had turned very yellow and said “Stand and offer the prayer.” Then, he offered the fajr prayer. Then, Jibril said: “Between the two times is the time for Fajr prayer." (Bukhari, Mawaqit, 24, Adhan, 162; Tirmidhi, Salat,1; Ahmad b. Hanbal, I, 382, III, 330, 331, 352, IV, 416; ash-Shawkani; Naylu'l Awtar, I, 300). Bukhari says this hadith is the soundest hadith regarding the times of prayers. The hadith indicates that the prayers except the evening (maghrib) prayer has two times; in other words, they can be performed between two times. (ash-Shawkani, ibid, I, 300)

PRAYER TIMES

1- The time of the morning (fajr) prayer:

It starts with fajr as-sadiq (the real dawn) and continues up to the sunrise. Fajr as-sadiq is the whiteness in the horizon that spreads breadth-wise. The opposite of it is fajr al-kadhib (the false fajr); it is a whiteness that spreads out longitudinally upwards in the middle of the sky like a wolf tail. It is called fajr al-kadhib because darkness comes after this whiteness. The decrees about time are dependent on fajr as-sadiq, like the start of fasting, beginning of the time period for the morning (fajr) prayer and end of the time period for the night (isha) prayer. Hz. Prophet stated the following: "There are two dawns: the first is the one which makes eating haram for those who fast and allows performing the morning prayer. The other is the one that makes it unlawful to perform the morning Prayer and allows eating for those who fast." (as-Sanani Subul as-Salam, 2nd edition, I, 115). The first time mentioned in the hadith is fajr as-sadiq and the second one is fajr al-kadhib. In the hadith that is reported in Muslim from Abdullah b. Amr, it is stated that the time for the morning prayer starts with dawn and continues up to the sunrise. The time period after the sunrise to the beginning of the noon prayer is regarded as vacant time when fard prayers cannot be performed.

2- The time of the noon (zuhr) prayer:

The time for the noon prayer starts with when the sun reaches its peak and continues until the shadow of things becomes equal to those things. However, the shadow or (fay az-zawal) is not included in it. This is the view of Abu Yusuf, Imam Muhammad, and the imams of the other three madhhabs. According to Abu Hanifa, the time of noon prayer continues until the shadow of objects doubles. It is unanimously agreed that this time is the time for the afternoon (asr) prayer. The noon prayer must be performed before it.

When the sun starts to move toward the west from its peak, it is called "time of zawal". When the sun reaches the middle of the sky, that is, its peak, it is called "time of istiwa". When the sun starts to move toward the west from this point, "time of zawal" occurs.

According to the majority of the fiqh scholars, the time for the noon prayer ends when the shadows of things become as long as their length. Fay az-zawal of the time of istiwa is also added to it. That is, the shadow that things have at the time of zawal is added to its shadow's length. The evidence for this is the following hadith: "On the second day, Jibril made the Prophet pray the noon prayer when the shadow of every object was equal to its height." When Abu Hanifa says the time of the noon prayer ends when the shadows of things become twice their length, he bases his view on the following hadith: "Perform the noon prayer when the weather gets cool. For, the intensity of the temperature reminds the temperature of Hell." (Bukhari, Mawaqit, 9, 10, Bad'u'l Khalq, 10; Abu Dawud Salat, 4; Tirmidhi, Salat, 5; Nasai, Mawaqit, 5; Ibn Majah, Salat, 4). In Arabia, the time when the heat of the sun is the most severe is when the shadows of things are as long as their length.

The evidence for the beginning time of the noon prayer is the following verse: "Establish regular prayers at the sun's decline." (al-Isra, 17/78)

3- The time of the afternoon (asr) prayer:

The time for the afternoon prayer begins when the time of the noon prayer ends and it continues up to the sunset. The afternoon prayer time begins, according to most of the fiqh scholars, when the shadows of the things are as long as themselves and according to Abu Hanifa, when they are twice as long. The following is stated in a hadith: "The one who reaches one rak'ah of the afternoon prayer before the sun sets has caught up with the afternoon prayer." However, according to the majority of the scholars, it is makruh to perform the afternoon prayer at the time of the sun's becoming pale. For, the Prophet said that hypocrites delayed the afternoon prayer and finally performed it hastily. (ash-Shawkani, Naylu'l-Awtar, I, 307)

4. The time of the evening (maghrib) prayer:

The time for the evening prayer begins when the sun sets ends with the disappearance of dusk. The evidence for it is the following hadith: "The time for the evening prayer is until dusk disappears." (as-San'ani, ibid, I, 106)   According to Abu Yusuf, Imam Muhammad, Hanbalis and Shafiis, dusk is the redness on the west of the horizon. For Abdullah b. Umar said, "Dusk is redness." (as-San'ani, ibid, I, 114)

According to Abu Hanifa, dusk is the whiteness that continues in the horizon after the redness. After this whiteness, the whiteness that will continue constantly will appear. His evidence is the following hadith: "The end of the time for the evening prayer is when dusk gets dark. (Zaylai, ibid, I, 230)

5- The time of the night (isha) prayer:

According to the view on which fatwa is based in Hanafis, and the other madhhabs, the time for the night prayer begins with the time when red sunset glow disappears and continues up to the time just before fajr as-sadiq  The evidence is the following hadith reported from Abdullah Ibn Umar: "Dusk is redness. When dusk disappears, it becomes fard to perform night (isha) prayer." (as-Sanani, ibid, I, 114)

On the other hand, the preferred time for the night prayer goes on until one-third or half of the night passes. For, the Messenger of Allah stated the following: "If it were not difficult for my ummah, I would order them to delay the night prayer until one-third or half of the night passes."(ash-Shawkani, ibid, II,11). Anas stated that Hz. Prophet delayed the night prayer to the middle of the night and performed it after that. (ash-Shawkani, ibid, II,12). The following is reported from Hz. Aisha: "Once, the Prophet delayed the night prayer so much that the people in the mosque slept. Then, he came and led the prayer. He said, 'If it were not difficult for my ummah, this is the time for the night prayer." (Bukhari, Mawaqit, 24; ash-Shawkani, ibid, I, 12).

The beginning time for witr prayer is after the night prayer. The last time for witr is a little time before the time for the morning prayer starts. (see Hamdi Döndüren, Delilleriyle İslâm İlmihali, İstanbul 1991, 313 ff.)

The time for Friday prayer is the same as the time for noon prayer. The following is reported from Anas b. Malik (r.a): "Hz. Prophet led the Friday prayer when the sun tended toward the west." (Bukhari, Jumua, 16; Abu Dawud Salat, 216, 217; Ibn Majah, Iqama, 84). If the Friday prayer is not performed in time, the noon prayer of that day is performed as qada. Ahmad b. Hanbal says the Friday prayer can be performed before the time of the noon prayer while Imam Malik says it can be performed after the time for the noon prayer ends. (as-Sarakhsi, al-Mabsut, II, 24; Ibnu'l-Humam, Fathu'l-Qadir, I, 412, 413)

Hamdi DÖNDÜREN

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