Assalaamu alaykum. I live in Bangladesh. There is an uncommon practice here in the mosques. That is, most of the mosques here pray the Fajr congregational prayer right before sunrise (ten minutes before only). As a result, many a times, when I finish the congregation, I see that the daylight has appeared! If I accidently miss one raka'ah (unit of prayer), then I have to pray the other raka'ah while the sky is almost bright! So I started praying in my home at the starting moment of the Fajr time, which is about 30-45 minutes before the congregation prayer in the mosque. Is that okay?
All perfect praise be to Allaah, The Lord of the Worlds. I testify that there is none worthy of worship except Allaah and that Muhammad, sallallaahu ʻalayhi wa sallam, is His slave and Messenger.
There is no doubt that delaying the Fajr prayer until the sun has almost risen (ten minutes before sunrise) is a significant delay and that it is impermissible to delay the prayer as such if it is known that part of the prayer would be performed after the end of the prescribed time for the prayer, namely after sunrise. There is no problem with you performing the prayer individually at the beginning of its time in this case, and you may also join the congregational prayer if you wish when it is held, and that would count as a voluntary prayer for you. You can also suffice with the prayer that you have performed individually.
The scholars stated that performing the prayer at the beginning of its time individually should be given priority over delaying it in order to pray it in congregation if the delay is significant. They advised that it is better for the person to perform the prayer twice in this case; to pray individually at the beginning of its time and then join the delayed congregational prayer, as stated in the authentic hadeeth cited in Saheeh Muslim.
Imaam An-Nawawi wrote:
“As for performing the prayer at the beginning of its time individually for the person who has already performed ablution or delaying it so as to attend the congregational prayer, there are three views: the first is that it is better to perform the prayer individually at the beginning of its time, the second is that it is better to delay the prayer so as to pray in congregation, and the third is that both are acceptable... However, we can reconcile these different views and say that if the delay is significant, then it is better to pray individually at the beginning of the time, and if the delay is insignificant, then it is better to wait for the congregation. The scholars held different views as to whether this person should only pray individually or pray again with the congregation. If he prays individually and then joins the congregation, then this is the best thing to be done in this regard according to the hadeeth cited in Saheeh Muslim and other books.” [Rawdhat At-Taalibeen]
The hadeeth to which Imaam An-Nawawi referred was cited in Saheeh Muslim. It has been narrated that the Prophet, sallallaahu ʻalayhi wa sallam, said, “What will you do if you stay among people who delay the prayer?” He (Abu Tharr) said, “What do you command me to do?” He, sallallaahu ʻalayhi wa sallam, said, “Offer the prayer on time, then go about your business. Then if the iqaamah (second call to prayer) for that prayer is said and you are in the masjid, then pray (with them)...” [Muslim]
Ibn Qudaamah wrote:
“If the person is inside the mosque and the iqaamah is being raised and he has already performed the prayer individually, then he should still join the congregational prayer. In brief, whoever has performed the obligatory prayer and then witnesses the congregational prayer being held, it is recommended for him to repeat the prayer, be it any obligatory prayer, provided that the iqaamah is raised in the mosque while he is already there or that he enters the mosque during the congregational prayer. This view is adopted by Al-Hasan, Ash-Shaafiʻi, and Abu Thawr. If the iqaamah of the Fajr or ʻAsr prayers is raised and the person is outside the mosque, then it is not recommended for him to enter the mosque (if he has already performed the prayer)...” [Al-Mughni]
Allaah knows best.
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