How Can I Pray on Time With My Very Busy Job and Very Long Hours?

Answered by Ustadh Faraz A. Khan

Question: I am a night shift nurse. I do twelve hour shifts, 5 nights a week (up to eight shifts in a row) for two different hospitals. When I get off I must commute home right away to help get the kids dressed, fed, and off to school so that my wife can get ready for her job and be there by 0800. She gets home at 1630-45 to get the kids supper while I get ready to work. I sleep all day- from about 0800 to 1630. My unit floors are too busy to break at the proper times for prayer. Ok, you see my question yet? I sleep hard. All day. Waking up several times during the day is not the safest way for me to care for my patients all night. I become groggy and unfocused. I need some practical solutions for my salat difficulties.

Answer: I pray this finds you in the best of health and faith.

May Allah ease your affairs and grant you success in all your endeavors. I pray the following is of benefit.

The Prayer: Our Appointment with the Divine

The prayer (salat) is our connection (sila) with Allah Most High. It is the most important practice in our faith, and it gives meaning to our worldly endeavors, which are empty and meaningless without the prayer.

One of the most salient features of the prayer is that it be performed in its proper time, as to delay a prayer past its time without a valid excuse is a major sin.

Allah Most High states in the Qur’an: “Verily the prayer has been enjoined on believers as an obligation in fixed, appointed times.” (4:103)

In addition, the very first chapter of Imam Malik’s renowned hadith collection, the Muwatta’, is “The Book of the Prayer Times.” According to the commentator Imam Zurqani, Imam Malik placed it at the beginning before the chapters on purification since the prayer time is the very basis of the prayer being obligatory. Once the time enters, then purification becomes obligatory, so the time is of utmost importance. [Zurqani, Sharh al-Muwatta’]

And within that chapter, Imam Malik relates a beautiful hadith in which our Master Umar (Allah be well pleased with him) wrote to his governors:

“Verily, the most important of your affairs in my estimation is the prayer. So whoever learns it properly and vigilantly performs it within its appointed times has preserved his very religion. And whoever fails to perform it on time, he will be even more careless with everything else.” [Muwatta’]

This is very telling insight on the part of our Master Umar, who saw that if one is neglectful of the prayer with respect to performing it on time, such a person will be even more neglectful with his other tasks, whether relating to this life or the next. The prayer grounds our affairs and provides stability whereby all our endeavors will fall into place and be successful, inshaAllah.

And recall that our Master Umar is the one about whom our Messenger (Allah bless him and send him peace) said, “Had there been a prophet after me, it would have been Umar.” [Tirmidhi, Ahmad]

Some Practical Tips for Your Schedule

(a) When you are at work, take a break to pray. Everyone at work can take bathroom breaks. When it is time to pray, simply take a bathroom break, make wudu, and quickly perform the prayer.

If things are very busy, then omit the sunna prayers and just do the obligatory prayers (fard and wajib), e.g., the 3 rakats of maghrib; the 4 rakats of isha and the 3 rakats of witr, without the 2-rakat sunna prayers. For fajr, however, do both the sunna and obligatory prayers.

Also, you can wear khuffs [or thick socks that fulfill the conditions for wiping], and wipe over them instead of washing your feet. This will save time in wudu.

(b) When you are at home in the day, get your rest in the morning and then wake up towards the end of the time of zuhr, before it ends. Pray zuhr on time, and then wait until asr comes in. As soon as it enters, pray asr as well. Then if you want, go back to bed until it’s time for work.

I know it is difficult, but try your best. This is spiritual struggle (mujahada) for the sake of Allah alone. He loves to see us put our full effort to serve him, especially with the prayer. You will find immense blessings (baraka) in your life, inshaAllah. Be patient and steadfast, and show Allah you love Him. In return, you get nothing short of His love, and eternal bliss.

As the poet said, “My friend, roll up your sleeves! And never forget death, for doing so is clear misguidance.”

Do your best. I pray Allah makes it easy for you to establish your prayer, and that you find its fruits in both abodes. Amin.

And Allah alone provides success.


Faraz A. Khan

Checked & Approved by Faraz Rabbani

What are the Rulings Regarding Delaying a Necessary (Wajib) Element of the Prayer and Supplications When Bowing (Ruku’) and in Prostration (Sujud)?

Answered by Shaykh Faraz Rabbani

Question: In a fard prayer, I learned that it is necessary to not delay the wajib parts of the salah (Acc. to Sh. Yaqoubi). So, along those lines, I learned from various sources some of the adhkar and du’as that should be made at different times of the salah, such as when one is in sujud, or after the tashahhud, etc. But, a friend of mine raised the point that those prayers and adhkar are SUNNAH, and thus of lesser degree than the wajib and fard, so is it permissible, as far as you know, to do recite those things in the fard prayer, or should they be done in extra prayers because doing them may be delaying the wajib?

Answer: Walaikum assalam,

The detail of what Sayyidna Shaykh Yaqoubi, Allah preserve him, mentioned is that is it necessary (wajib) not to interrupt or delay the prayer with that which is not of it unnecessarily for the extent of more than an integral or the prayer (=the extent of 3 tasbihs).

Therefore, for example, if one stood day-dreaming after one’s recitation, without reciting, for more than the extent of three tasbihs (=saying Subhan Allah at normal pace), one will have left this wajib. Of course, things like coughing, or pausing a moment in reflection of the meaning of the verses are not of this. [IbnAbidin, and Mufti Mahmoud Usmani’s personal explanation]

There is a specific wajib, related to this, which is to stand up from the tashahhud [1] after the first sitting of a 3 or 4 rakat prayer immediately. Here, an unnecessary delay of more than the time it takes to say “Allahummasalli`ala Muhammadin wa`ala Aali Muhammad” would entail leaving a wajib. [Ibn Abidin]

As regards to the supplications in ruku and sujud, there is some detail regarding them:

1. What is a confirmed sunna in the bowing and prostration is their respective tasbihs, [2] three times. It is important not to do this less than three times because Ibn Abidin mentions that the principles of the Hanafi school and the evidence would imply that it is necessary (wajib) to do both tasbihs three times.

However, he notes, the transmitted position of the school is that doing so is a confirmed sunna, and leaving a confirmed sunna even once without excuse is blameworthy, though not quite sinful. Making it a habit is sinful, because it is considered leaving the inveterate way of the Prophet (Allah bless him and give him peace), who said, “Whoever leaves my way (sunna) is not of me.” That is, is not of those who follow my example fully.

2. Supplications in bowing and prostration are not a confirmed sunna. They are recommended, however, without disagreement, in supererogatory prayers. [Maraqi al-Falah, Ibn Abidin]

As for the obligatory prayer, it is disliked for the imam to supplicate while bowing or prostrating, after the confirmed sunna tasbihs, because the imam has been ordered not to elongate his prayer, and this is considered part of elongating one’s prayer. However, what Ibn Abidin quotes from Sharh al-Munyaindicates that it is not disliked for the follower or one praying the obligatory prayer alone to make these supplications.

This is what I learned from Shaykh Muhammad Jumu`ah, and have seen from the practice of leading Hanafi scholars whose knowledge I respect.

3. Note, also, that it is a confirmed sunna to supplicate in the final sitting after sending blessings on the Prophet (Allah bless him and give him peace), before the final salams. Any supplication is minimally sufficient, though it is best to choose a transmitted supplication.

If one supplicates from oneself it should not be for worldly matters, for such supplications invalidate the prayer, because the Prophet (Allah bless him and give him peace) said, “Verily, no human speech befits this prayer of ours.” Worldly matters are things on can ask humans for, such as, “Allah marry me to so-and-so,” or, “Allah I need a new Lexus.” [Maraqi, Ibn Abidin]

And Allah knows best.


Faraz Rabbani

[1] The tashahhud is to sayat-Tahiyyatlillah… in the first and final sitting.

[2] This is to say:Subhana Rabbiy a’l`Adheem while bowing, and Subhana Rabbiy a’lA`la while prostrating.