How Early Can We Pray Isha?

Answered by Ustadh Tabraze Azam

Question: As salamu alaykum,

I usually follow the Muslim World League prayer times, which places isha time at 17 degrees. This means, however, that Isha is well after 11 PM in the summer where I live. This can be especially difficult during Ramadan, because of tarawih, but even on normal days this is quite late if we have to get up early for work. Is there a valid opinion for praying Isha earlier?

Answer: Wa alaikum assalam wa rahmatullah,

Yes, the position of the Two Companions (sahibayn) is that `Isha time enters once the redness leaves the sky. This position is followable, particularly in situations such as yours.

There is discussion as to the specific number of degrees their position would equate to, and according to some sightings, twelve degrees would seem to be the earliest. If you are reasonably able to make some sightings yourself, this would be best.

Consider also effectively “joining” between `Isha and Fajr by praying the former at the end of its time, and the latter at its beginning. Do the best you can, and ask Allah Most High for facilitation and ease.

Please also see: Delaying Isha Until Shortly Before Fajr and: When Does `Isha Time End, and Is it Disliked to Pray it After Midnight?

And Allah Most High alone knows best.

[Ustadh] Tabraze Azam

Checked & Approved by Shaykh Faraz Rabbani

Ustadh Tabraze Azam was born and raised in Ipswich, England, a quiet town close to the east coast of England. His journey for seeking sacred knowledge began when he privately memorized the entire Qur’an in his hometown at the age of 16. He also had his first experience in leading the tarawih (nightly-Ramadan) prayers at his local mosque. Year after year he would continue this unique return to reciting the entire Quran in one blessed month both in his homeland, the UK, and also in the blessed lands of Shaam, where he now lives, studies and teaches.

Photo: REUTERS/Yagiz Karahan

When Does `Isha Time End, and Is it Disliked to Pray it After Midnight?

Answered by Ustadh Tabraze Azam

Question: Assalam’aleykum,

I am confused on the rulings about the Isha time. When does it finish? When is it preferred to pray the Isha prayer?

Answer: Wa alaikum assalam wa rahmatullahi wa barakatuh,

I pray that you are in the best of health and faith, insha’Allah.

The time for the `Isha prayer is from the disappearance of the twilight of Maghrib until the break of dawn, namely Fajr. [Shurunbulali, Maraqi al-Falah]

When Is it Recommended to Pray `Isha’?

It is recommended to pray `Isha after a third of the night has passed. In fact, there are two positions on this issue: (1) it is to be prayed before one third of the night has passed, and (2) it is to be prayed after one third of the night has passed.

The night is legally considered to begin from the entrance of Maghrib time and last until the entrance of Fajr. The specific time of day this equates to would vary based on the time of year. Midnight (i.e. 12am) is perhaps the halfway point of the night in some places during some parts of the year, yet not in others.

When Is it Disliked to Pray `Isha’?

Thereafter, the jurists mention that it is permitted to pray `Isha up to the end of the first half of the night, and delaying it beyond that is disliked. For example, if Maghrib entered at 8pm, and Fajr at 4am, the middle of the night would be at 12am.

The dislikedness here, however, is differed upon. In his al-Qunyat al-Munyat li Tatmim al-Ghunya, Zahidi noted that delaying the prayer until after one half of the night has passed is prohibitively disliked (makruh tahriman), and this is what Ibn Nujaym chose in his Bahr, and also Shurunbulali in his Maraqi.

However, Ibn Amir Haj deemed doing so to be somewhat disliked (makruh tanzihan) in his commentary on the Munya, Halbat al-Mujalli, and Ibn `Abidin appeared to follow him in his Radd al-Muhtar. He based this upon Imam Tahawi’s statements in Sharh Ma`ani al-Athar in which Tahawi states that praying after half the night has passed is lesser in virtue than praying both before half the night and before one third.

What If I’m Praying Alone?

Nevertheless, the discussion above is in reference to the congregational prayer as the legal reasoning given by the jurists is that praying later in the night lessens the congregation as it is more difficult for people to attend.

As for somebody who is praying alone, then the dislikedness does not apply to them in the first place, and this is what Ibn `Abidin relates from Khayr al-Din al-Ramli. Further, if there is an excuse, then the dislikedness also does not apply as the jurists mention.

Despite this, it would still be superior for the one praying alone to do so before half the night passes as there are other wisdoms in this, namely ensuring that one actually prays the obligatory prayer in its respective time, and fulfilling the sunna of avoiding unnecessary worldly activity at night.

And Allah alone gives success.

في مراقي الفلاح: ( و ) ابتداء وقت صلاة ( العشاء والوتر منه ) أي من غروب الشفق على الاختلاف الذي تقدم ( إلى ) قبيل طلوع ( الصبح ) الصادق لإجماع السلف اهـ.

و فيه: ( و ) يستحب ( تأخير ) صلاة ( العشاء إلى ثلث الليل ) الأول في رواية الكنز وفي القدوري إلى ما قبل الثلث قال صلى الله عليه و سلم ” لولا أن أشق على أمتي لأخرت العشاء إلى ثلث الليل أو نصفه ” وفي مجمع الروايات التأخير إلى النصف مباح في الشتاء لمعارضة دليل الندب وهو قطع السمر المنهي عنه دليل الكراهة وهو تقليل الجماعة لأنه أقل ما يقوم الناس إلى نصف الليل فتعارضا فثبتت الإباحة والتأخير إلى ما بعد النصف مكروه لسلامة دليل الكراهة عن المعارض والكراهة تحريمية اهـ.

في رد المحتار: قوله: (إلى ثلث الليل) كذا في الكنز والمختار والخلاصة وغيرها. وعبارة القدوري: إلى ما قبل ثلث الليل، وهما روايتان كما في الشرنبلالية عن البرهان، فلا حاجة إلى التوفيق بما في البحر ولا بما في الدرر.
قوله: (كره) أي تحريما كما يأتي تقييده في المتن، أو تنزيها وهو الاظهر كما نذكره عن الحلبة.
قوله: (لتقليل الجماعة) يفيد أن المصلي في بيته يؤخرها لعدم الجماعة في حقه. تأمل رملي: أي لو أخرها لا يكره.

في شرح معاني الآثار: حدثنا علي بن معبد، وأبو بشر الرقي قالا: ثنا حجاج بن محمد، عن ابن جريج، قال: أخبرني المغيرة بن حكيم، عن أم كلثوم بنت أبي بكر، أنها أخبرته عن عائشة أم المؤمنين، رضي الله عنها أنها قالت: ” أعتم النبي صلى الله عليه وسلم ذات ليلة حتى ذهب عامة الليل , وحتى نام أهل المسجد ثم خرج فصلى وقال: «إنه لوقتها , لولا أن أشق على أمتي» ففي هذا أنه صلاها بعد مضي أكثر الليل , وأخبرني أن ذلك وقت لها. فثبت بتصحيح هذه الآثار , أن أول وقت العشاء الآخرة , من حين يغيب الشفق إلى أن يمضي الليل كله , ولكنه على أوقات ثلاثة. فأما من حين يدخل وقتها إلى أن يمضي ثلث الليل , فأفضل وقت صليت فيه. وأما من بعد ذلك إلى أن يتم نصف الليل , ففي الفضل دون ذلك. وأما بعد نصف الليل ففي الفضل دون كل ما قبله. وقد روي أيضا عن أصحاب رسول الله صلى الله عليه وسلم في وقتها أيضا , ما يدل على ما ذكرنا


Tabraze Azam

Checked & Approved by Shaykh Faraz Rabbani