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What Is the Proof That Prayer Is Not Permissible When the Sun Is at Its Zenith?

Answered by Shaykh Yusuf Weltch

Question: What is the textual evidence that prayer is not permissible when the sun is at its zenith?

Answer: In the Name of Allah, the Most Merciful and Compassionate

The Messenger of Allah said, “The prayer is witnessed and attended (i.e. by Angels) until the mid-day and it is certainly a time when the doors of Hell are opened and its fire kindled. So leave the prayer until the shadow appears. [Nasaai]

Uqbah bin Amir al-Juhani narrates, “There are three times which the Messenger of Allah (may Allah bless him and give him peace) would prohibit us from praying or burying our deceased therein: When the sun clearly begins to rise until it has fully risen, when the sun reaches its peak till it begins to decline, and when the sun’s light begins to weaken till it fully sets.” [Muslim]

There are many other narrations in this regard as well.

May Allah bless you
Allahu A’alam

[Shaykh] Yusuf Weltch

Checked and Approved by Shaykh Faraz Rabbani

Shaykh Yusuf Weltch is a graduate from Tarim; a student of Habib Umar and other luminaries; and authorized teachers of the Qur’an and the Islamic sciences.

Who Were the ‘Unbelievers’ Referred to in the Hadith Concerning Sun Worshippers?

Answered by Shaykh Jamir Meah

Question: In a Hadith from Fath al-Bari, there is a Hadith which prohibits praying between the times of sunrise and sunset as that’s when the ‘unbelievers’ prostrated to the sun. Who are these ‘unbelievers’? Did the Arabs also worship the celestial bodies in addition to their idols?

Answer: Wa’alaykum assalam. Thank you for your question.

The major books of hadith commentary do not seem to mention a specific people in regards to the hadith you have mentioned (quoted below). What becomes clear from perusing these texts, as well as major works of tafsir on related verses, is that the reference to the unbelievers prostrating to the sun is general.

Sun worship

Sun worshipping, in one way or another, is a primeval practice and was widespread in many cultures such as Ancient Egypt (Ra), Norse Mythology (Sol), the Romans (Apollo), Greek (Helios), Persia (Magians), Britain and Gaul (Druid’s ‘Mighty Oak’) and various Arabian and the Levant tribes.

Amongst the well-known of the Arabs who worshipped the sun, and who survived in various forms during the time of the Prophet ﷺ, were the Sabeans who worshipped the celestial bodies and historically, a solar goddess named Shams, and in Palmyra, Syria, the Temple of Bal was dedicated to a triad of deities, one being Yarhibol, a sun god.

Mecca was a busy trading center, and the Custodians of the Sacred Sanctuary invited people from all of Arabia to make the holy pilgrimage each year, and these people were encouraged to bring with them their various divinities and deities. It would be very likely that there were sun worshipers among them and this was familiar to the Quraysh.

Sun worshippers in the Quran

In surat al Naml, we find the Hoopoe’s words ‘I have found her [Saba] and her people prostrating themselves to the sun, instead of Allah, and the Satan has beautified their deeds for them, and has prevented them from the way, so they do not take the right path.’ [27:24]

And in al Fussilat, God tells people, ‘Do not prostrate yourselves to the sun, or to the moon. And prostrate yourselves to Allah who has created them, if it is Him whom you worship.’ [41:37]

This again is a general admonishment to all who worship the sun and moon. Imam al Razi in his Tafsir, mentions the Sabeans as an example of those addressed in this verse, indicating that the practice of sun-worship was still part of their religious practise at the time of revelation. Other authors (though the references given need to be verified) have stated that there were Arabs tribes who worshipped the sun and called the sun ‘al Ilaha’ [Taw’il Mukhtalif al Hadith]

Prohibition of praying when the sun rises and sets

Two of the prohibited times for praying is when the sun rises and when the sun sets. This is based on the hadith you mentioned, ‘Observe the dawn prayer, then stop praying when the sun is rising till it is fully up, for when it rises it comes up between the horns of Satan, and the unbelievers prostrate themselves to it at that time.’ … ‘then cease prayer till the sun sets, for it sets between the horns of devil, and at that time the unbelievers prostrate themselves before it.’ [Sahih Muslim]

The reason for the prohibition is three-fold:

a) Because satan puts his head in front of the sun as it rises and sets, so that those worshipping the sun look as if they are prostrating to him.

b) Because Allah Most High and the beloved Prophet ﷺ only want good for the believers so prevent the Muslims from being in such a situation and letting the devil get the upper hand over the believers.

c) Because this was the specific time sun worshippers pray, and the Prophet ﷺ was always keen to distinguish the practice of the Muslims from the practice of other religions.

[Fathul Bari, Sharh Muslim]

In conclusion, the hadith we discussed, as well as some verses of the Quran address sun worshippers in general, though the Prophet ﷺ would have had knowledge of some of these groups, such as the Sabeans, previous nations, and most likely, other Arab tribes, particularly among the outlying Bedouins. And Allah knows best.

Warmest salams
Shaykh Jamir Meah

Shaykh Jamir Meah grew up in Hampstead, London. In 2007, he traveled to Tarim, Yemen, where he spent nine years studying the Islamic sciences on a one-to-one basis under the foremost scholars of the Ribaat, Tarim, with a main specialization and focus on Shafi’i fiqh. In early 2016, he moved to Amman, Jordan, where he continues advanced studies in a range of Islamic sciences, as well as teaching. Jamir is a qualified homeopath.

Is My Prayer Valid if I Finish Praying Outside its Respective Prayer Time?

Answered by Ustadh Tabraze Azam

Question: Assalam alaikum.

If Asr time enters and I am still reading the fatiha of my first cycle of Dhohr prayer is my prayer valid?

Answer: Wa alaikum assalam wa rahmatullahi wa barakatuh,

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

Yes, your prayer is valid, and you do not need to repeat any past prayers which were prayed in such a manner.​ ​[Ibn `Abidin, Radd al-Muhtar `ala al-Durr al-Mukhtar, quoting al-Hawashi al-Sa`diyya; Ibn Nujaym, al-Nahr al-Fa’iq]​

The jurists distinguished between two types of times in the day: (a) complete (kamil), and (b) deficient (naqis). The latter relates to three specific times, and the former, to the rest of the day.

These times are: (1) sunrise, (2) zenith, and (3) sunset. Sunrise and sunset are determined by whether or not the disc of the sun can be directly observed without eye protection or the like, and difficulty; this can be estimated to be around 15-45 minutes, depending on your location and the time of year. As for the zenith, what is intended is the time before it at which the sun is at its highest point in the sky. [Tahtawi, Hashiyat al-Tahtawi `ala Maraqi al-Falah]

During these three times, the jurists explain that it is not permitted to pray. `Uqba ibn `Amir (may Allah be pleased with him) said, “There are three times the Messenger of Allah (Allah bless him and give him peace) forbade us from praying in: during sunrise until the sun rises, when the sun is at its highest point in the sky until it moves, and when sunset begins until the sun sets.” [Muslim]

So Can We Pray During these Times?

The basis is that the prayer needs to be performed in a complete prayer time, void of any dislikedness or deficiency. This consideration only applies to two prayer times, namely Fajr, when the time exits, and `Asr, at the end of its time. The Hanafis ruled that the `Asr prayer would be considered valid if the deficiency entered upon it, as the time is still present, yet the Fajr prayer would not.

​Therefore, if the time ran out during your Fajr prayer, your prayer would be invalidated, and you would need to make it up (qada’) after sunrise. The remaining prayers, however, would be valid even if the time exits as the legal deficiency is not found therein.

Further, this discussion in legal theory (usul) explains why we also cannot perform makeups during these three times of day. [see: Prohibited times for Prayers and Makeup Prayers‏]

Should I Rush Through the Prayer to Finish it on Time?

As for rushing through the Fajr prayer, lest it become invalidated by the rising of the sun, it would appear to be best avoided because:
(1) depending on the amount of remaining time, it won’t be a completely sound prayer (i.e. if necessary actions are omitted), thus,
(2) proper manners would entail making the prayer up— necessarily, according to one position,
(3) the prayer is actually valid according to another school of law, and
(4) it is contrary to the dictates of slavehood and the prayer itself which is supposed to be an intimate moment with the Divine as opposed to a rush of obligatory movements.

Can I Begin Praying Just Before the Time Exits?

Nevertheless, note that it is obligatory to start and finish the prayer within its respective prayer time in view of the ​W​or​ds​ of Allah Most High, “After performing the ritual prayer, continue to remember God– standing, sitting, and lying on your sides– and once you are safe, keep up regular prayer, for prayer is obligatory for the believers at prescribed times.” [4.103]

As such, you should seek repentance for your shortcoming– which includes: leaving the sin, feeling remorse over having committed it, and resolving never to return to it– and then ask Allah to ​facilitate ​​prayers​ on time for you. ​

See also: Is My Prayer Valid If I Only Have the Time to Say the Tahrima before the Time Exits?​ and: A Reader on Tawba (Repentance)

And Allah alone gives success.

قال في رد المحتار: (قوله وقت الظهر) فيه أن الوقت سبب لا شرط وأنه لا بد منه في سائر الصلوات. والجواب أنه سبب للوجوب وشرط لصحة المؤدى وشرطيته للجمعة ليست كشرطيته لغيرها فإنه بخروج الوقت لا تبقى صحة للجمعة لا أداء ولا قضاء بخلاف غيرها سعدية اهـ.

wassalam,

Tabraze Azam

Checked & Approved by Shaykh Faraz Rabbani

The Call to Prayer (Adhan) and Prayer Timings

Answered by Ustadh Tabraze Azam

Question: [1 ] Should the adhan be made at the START of the time when the five prayers becomes permissible, or can it be delayed in order to better fit the timings of the congregational prayers (e.g. making adhan late for Fajr, as its congregational prayer is usually delayed in the Hanafi madhab)? [2] Also, the dua which we say after adhan (.. اللَّهُمَّ رَبَّ هَذِهِ الدَّعْوَةِ التَّامَّةِ), should we only say it after really having heard the adhan, or can it also be said when the adhan “should” have been made according to the time, in an area were adhan can’t be heard.

Answer: Assalamu alaikum wa rahmatullahi wa barakatuh,

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

[1] There would no harm in delaying the call to prayer (adhan) until the recommended times for prayer.

[2] The supplication is normally said after the call to prayer (adhan). If the call to prayer (adhan) is usually given in one’s neighbourhood and one cannot hear it, it would be recommended to give the call to prayer (adhan) oneself — though, it need not be long nor loud. Thereafter, one can say the supplication.

[Haskafi, al-Durr al-Mukhtar; Shurunbulali, Maraqi al-Falah/Tahtawi, Hashiyat al-Tahtawi]

And Allah alone gives success.

Wassalam,

Tabraze Azam

Checked & Approved by Faraz Rabbani

The Hanafi `Asr Time

Answered by Shaykh Faraz Rabbani

Question: When does `Asr time come in according to the Hanafi school? Is it at one shadow length or two?

Answer: In the Name of Allah, Most Gracious, Most Merciful

Walaikum assalam,

There is great difference of opinion within the Hanafi school about the time of Asr. This arose from the fact that both of Abu Hanifa’s main students, Qadi Abu Yusuf and Muhammad ibn al-Hasan, held Asr to come in at one shadow length, contrary to their teacher’s position of two shadow lengths.

As a result of this, though the majority of the texts of the Hanafi school followed Abu Hanifa’s position, there are many major texts that chose the position of his two main students, which is also the position of the other three schools, as mentioned by al-Haskafi in Durr al-Mukhtar and by al-Shurunbulali in Maraqi al-Falah.

As such, both are valid to follow when there is a need, such as if the congregation in your areas prays on the earlier time, as Mufti Mahmoud Ashraf Usmani and scholars in Damascus have explained.

Walaikum assalam,

Faraz Rabbani