Reconciling two ahaadeeth about time for ‘Asr prayer
Fatwa No: 356692

  • Fatwa Date:1-1-2018 - Rabee' Al-Aakhir 14, 1439
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Question

Assalaamu alaykum. We have a hadith wherein Jibreel (Gabriel) instructed the Prophet, sallallaahu ‘alayhi wa sallam, to pray the ‘Asr before the length of the shadow of an object becomes twice its height, but there is another hadith which states that the ‘Asr can be prayed as long as the sun does not turn yellow. So when does the time of necessity end? Is it when the shadow of an object becomes twice its height or when the sun turns yellow? How can we reconcile these two hadith?

Answer

All perfect praise be to Allah, the Lord of the worlds. I testify that there is none worthy of worship except Allah and that Muhammad, sallallahu ‘alayhi wa sallam, is His slave and Messenger.

Shaykh Ibn ‘Uthaymeen  may  Allaah  have  mercy  upon  him reconciled between the two ahaadeeth in question in his book Ash-Sharh Aml-Mumti‘. He said:

"The most likely correct view in this regard is in the hadeeth narrated on the authority of ‘Abdullah ibn ‘Amr ibn Al-‘Aas, may Allah be pleased with him, who related that the Prophet, sallallahu ‘alayhi wa sallam, said, 'The time of the ‘Asr is as long as the sun has not turned yellow.' This mostly extends beyond the time when the shadow of everything is twice its height. This addition is acceptable because the hadeeth was cited in Saheeh Muslim, and it is the statement of the Prophet, sallallahu ‘alayhi wa sallam.

Regarding the hadeeth about Jibreel, it can be interpreted to mean that he started leading the Prophet, sallallahu ‘alayhi wa sallam, in prayer when the shadow of everything became twice its height, and that upon finishing the prayer, the Sun had turned yellow, especially in the winter, when the time of the ‘Asr prayer is shorter. Whether this attempt to reconcile between the two ahaadeeth is correct or not, we have to act upon the addition because it includes the short wording as well. Hence, we can say that the time of the ‘Asr lasts until the sun turns yellow.

The evidence that the time of the ‘Asr lasts until sunset is the statement of the Prophet  sallallaahu  `alayhi  wa  sallam ( may  Allaah exalt his mention ): 'Whoever catches up with a unit of prayer of the ‘Asr before the sun sets, then he has caught up with the ‘Asr.' This is an explicit text which underlines that the time of the ‘Asr extends until sunset. However, it may be interpreted to refer to the time of necessity in order to reconcile between this hadeeth and the other texts indicating that the time of the ‘Asr is until the sun turns yellow.

Someone may ask why we did not act upon this hadeeth given that it has an addition to hadeeth of Abdullah ibn 'Amr and the like, given that the addition should be acted upon; since it includes the short wording and not vice versa. The answer is that the Prophet, sallallahu ‘alayhi wa sallam, specified the time of the ‘Asr in the hadeeth narrated by ‘Abdullah ibn ‘Amr by saying 'as long as the sun has not turned yellow.' So we reconcile between the two ahaadeeth by saying that the phrase, 'as long as the sun has not turned yellow' refers to the preferred time (also called the choice time) and the phrase, 'until sunset' refers to the time of necessity.

If someone asks: What is the time of necessity? The answer is: it is the time when a person is compelled to delay the prayer beyond its preferred time.

For example, if someone gets caught up in doing something that is unavoidable, such as if he is injured and engages in cleaning and bandaging his wound. He is able to pray before the sun turns yellow but it involves hardship. If he delays the prayer to the time shortly before sunset, then he has prayed on time and bears no sin for the delay because it is a time of necessity. If a person had to delay the prayer until its time of necessity for a valid reason, there is no harm on him and it is considered to have been prayed on time."

The preferred time means the time during which the person is given the choice to perform the obligatory prayer at his convenience whether he performed the prayer in the beginning, middle, or end of this time. On the contrary, the time of necessity is particularly for those who are excused to delay the prayer, and it is impermissible for the Muslim to delay the prayer deliberately until this time without a valid excuse.

According to many scholars, the ‘Asr's time of necessity starts with the end of the preferred time, i.e. when the shadow of everything becomes twice its height, or when the sun turns yellow according to the correct view reported on the authority of Imaam Ahmad, and it lasts until sunset. Ibn Qudaamah says in Al-Mughni:

"If the shadow of the object is twice its height, this marks the end of the preferred time of the ‘Asr. There are different reported views of Imaam Ahmad regarding the end of the preferred time of the ‘Asr. It was narrated that the end of the preferred time of the ‘Asr is when the shadow of every object is twice its height. This was the opinion of Maalik, Ath-Thawri, and Ash-Shaafi‘i, as evidenced by the hadeeth narrated on the authority of Ibn ‘Abbaas and Jaabir, who related that the Prophet, sallallahu ‘alayhi wa sallam, said, 'The time is between these two.' Moreover, it was narrated on the authority of Imaam Ahmad that the Prophet, sallallahu ‘alayhi wa sallam, said, 'The time of the ‘Asr is as long as the sun does not turn pale (yellow).' [Ahmad] This was the more likely correct view reported on the authority of Ahmad, as underlined by a group of scholars..." [Al-Mughni]

Allah knows best.

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