Times of Muslim Prayers
Fatwa No: 82253

  • Fatwa Date:20-7-2000 - Rabee' Al-Aakhir 18, 1421
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Question

Why are Muslims obliged to pray at a certain time? Fajr, Thuhr, ‘Asr, Maghrib and ‘Isha.

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  sallallaahu  `alayhi  wa  sallam ( may  Allaah exalt his mention ) is His slave and Messenger.

All acts of worship performed by Muslims are limited and prescribed by Allah and His Prophet  sallallaahu  `alayhi  wa  sallam ( may  Allaah exalt his mention ). No one is allowed to add or subtract anything to or from them. Anyone who believes that he has a right to legislate something in the Sharee’ah means that he claims some rights of Allah for himself.

All of Allah's legislations whether in worship or in other matters contain much wisdom and knowledge that may be known by some people while others are not aware of them.

Muslims are obliged to believe and follow the commands of Allah whether they understand the wisdom of those commands or not. The five prayers are in the forefront of the commands of Allah. He demands that His slaves perform the five prayers at their fixed times as prescribed in the Quran and the Sunnah of the Prophet  sallallaahu  `alayhi  wa  sallam ( may  Allaah exalt his mention ).

Allah Says (what means):

• {And when you have completed the prayer, remember Allah standing, sitting, or [lying] on your sides. But when you become secure, re-establish [regular] prayer. Indeed, prayer has been decreed upon the believers a decree of specified times.} [Quran 4:103]

• {Establish prayer at the decline of the sun [from its meridian] until the darkness of the night and [also] the Qur'an of dawn. Indeed, the recitation of dawn is ever witnessed.} [Quran 17:78]

The latter verse gives the guidelines for the times of the five prayers. The Prophet  sallallaahu  `alayhi  wa  sallam ( may  Allaah exalt his mention ) made them very clear as Jibreel (Gabriel)  may  Allaah  exalt  his  mention had taught him.

The Prophet  sallallaahu  `alayhi  wa  sallam ( may  Allaah exalt his mention ) said: “Angel Jibreel (Gabriel)  may  Allaah  exalt  his  mention came to me and said, "Stand and pray", and they prayed the Thuhr prayer when the sun had passed its meridian. He then came to him for the ‘Asr prayer and said, "Stand and pray", and they prayed the ‘Asr prayer while the length of a shadow of something was similar to the length of the object. Then he came at Maghrib and said, "Stand and pray", and they prayed the Maghrib prayer when the sun had just disappeared. Then he came at night (i.e. ‘Isha) and said, "Stand and pray", and they prayed the ‘Isha prayer when the twilight had disappeared. He came again when dawn broke (and they prayed the Fajr prayer). Then Jibreel, may Allah exalt his mention, came on the next day at Thuhr and said (to the Messenger of Allah), "Stand and pray", and they prayed the Thuhr prayer when the length of the shadow of something was close to the length of the object. Then he came for the ‘Asr prayer and said, "Stand and pray", and they prayed when the shadow of something was twice as long as the length of the object. Then he came at the same time (as the previous day) for the Maghrib prayer, without any change. Then he came for the ‘Isha prayer after half of the night had passed ("or," he said, "one-third of the night"). Then he came when the sky was very yellow and said, "Stand and pray", and they prayed the Fajr prayer. Then Jibreel  may  Allaah  exalt  his  mention said, "Between these times are the times for the prayers.” [Ahmad]

From the above mentioned pieces of evidence, it becomes clear that the times of the prayers are decided from Allah and the Muslims follow the commands of Allah only. Following the legislation itself is a good act, and a person is only rewarded for his intention to follow the commands of Allah and that intention is a sign of true faith.

However, there is much wisdom behind fixing the times for the five prayers; some of them are below:

1. A person is in dire need to be in continuous contact with his Lord, remembering Him, glorifying Him, supplicating Him and asking Him to meet his needs. A human being is always prone to carelessness and forgetfullness. Moreover, he is busy trying to make a living. So, Allah legislated the five prayers at fixed times so the person becomes alert and leaves all daily matters to spend some moments now and then alone with his Creator, The Only One Who can help him.

Allah has established those moments at times that are appropriate; times when the person is not busy with life's daily activities; periods to rest from such.

When the person awakens, for instance, and starts his day with the Fajr prayer, it is indeed an act that recalls the Oneness of Allah, as one praises Him and shows sincerity to Him; to Him only. All these are great meanings, which are vital to the person to help him start his day in harmony and peace.

Between the Fajr prayer and the next established prayer, Allah granted time; a period enough for the person to engage in his daily activities. It is actually the time best suited for this. Then Allah prescribed the Thuhr prayer to awaken the person after being very much engaged in daily activities. This is another opportunity to again come near to his Lord, to praise Him and worship Him.

Next, Allah prescribed the 'Asr prayer at the beginning of the afternoon activities. Then, He prescribed Al-Maghrib, which comes at the end of the daylight and the beginning of the nighttime; the second half of the day.

Finally, He prescribed ‘Isha prayer as a conclusion to the person's daily work activities and to a period of rest and voluntary worship.

2. This helps the person to plan ahead wisely in the use of his time, allotting each portion of the day its particular work and devotion.

For more benefit, please refer to Fataawa 84124.

Allah knows best.

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