Question # 24: Can you please explain the times during which prayer (salah) is forbidden?


bismi-llahi r-raḥmani r-raḥīm,

Assalamu ‘laikum warahmatullahi wabarakatuh,

All praise and thanks are due to Allah (سبحانه و تعالى), and peace and blessings be upon His Messenger (صلى الله عليه و سلم).

Dear questioner,

First of all, we implore Allah (سبحانه و تعالى) to help us serve His cause and render our work for His sake.

Shorter Answer: The jurists agreed that there are three time-segments in which prayer is detestable, namely: i) When the sun begins to rise until it is fully up; ii) When the sun is at its height at midday until it passes over the meridian; and iii) When the sun draws near to setting until it sets. Additionally, the other times at which it is detestable to perform voluntary prayers, are: iv) after performing the obligatory prayer of the ‘Asr; and v) after performing the obligatory prayer of the Fajr.

Long Answer: The jurists agreed that there are three time-segments in which prayer is detestable, namely:

  1. When the sun begins to rise until it is fully up.
  2. When the sun is at its height at midday until it passes over the meridian.
  3. When the sun draws near to setting until it sets.

It is detestable to perform prayer at any of these times because the sun-worshipers worship it during them so Muslims have been forbidden to perform prayer at these times so that they may not do something that those polytheists do. It has been narrated on the authority of ‘Uqbah Ibn’ Amir (رضي الله عنه), who said, “The Messenger of Allah (صلى الله عليه و سلم) forbade us to perform prayer or bury our dead people at three times: when the sun begins to rise until it is fully up, when the sun is at its height at midday until it passes over the meridian, and when the sun draws near to setting until it sets.” (Muslim)

It has also been narrated on the authority of Ibn ‘Umar (رضي الله عنه) that the Messenger of Allah (صلى الله عليه و سلم) said, “Let no one of you wait and perform prayer when the sun rises or when it sets, because it rises between the two horns of the devil.” (Muslim)

[In another hadith, ‘Abdullah b. ‘Amr reported: The Messenger of Allah (صلى الله عليه و سلم) said: The time of the noon prayer is when the sun passes the meridian and a man’s shadow is the same (length) as his height, (and it lasts) as long as the time for the afternoon prayer has not come; the time for the afternoon prayer is as long as the sun has not become pale; the time of the evening prayer is as long as the twilight has not ended; the time of the night prayer is up to the middle of the average night and the time of the morning prayer is from the appearance of dawn, as long as the sun has not risen; but when the sun rises, refrain from prayer for it rises between the horns of the devil. (Muslim)]

There are other times at which it is detestable to perform voluntary prayers, as follows: after performing the obligatory prayer of the ‘Asr and after performing the obligatory prayer of the Fajr. It has been narrated by Al-Bukhari and Muslim that [Abu Hurairah (رضي الله عنه) is reported to have said that] Prophet (صلى الله عليه و سلم) said, “There is no prayer after the Fajr Prayer until the sun rises, and there is no prayer after the ‘Asr Prayer until the sun sets.”  The prayer forbidden in this hadith is the voluntary one, as it is permissible to make up for any of these two prayers after its due time is over, because it is a debt that must be paid for Allah. (‘Al-Fiqhul-Muyassaru minal-Qur’ani was-Sunnah’ by Muhammad M. ‘Abdul-Fattah)

However, there is some disagreement among jurists about the prohibition of prayer after ‘Asr prayer because of the conflicting traditions. First is the tradition of Abu Hurayrah (رضي الله عنه) [narrated above]. The second is the tradition of ‘A’ishah (رضي الله عنه) who said, “The Messenger of Allah (صلى الله عليه و سلم) never relinquished two prayers in my house, neither secretly nor publicly, two rak’ahs before the dawn prayer and two rak’ahs after ‘Asr”. (Al-Bukhari) Those who preferred Abu Hurayrah’s tradition upheld prohibition, while those who preferred ‘A’isha’s tradition, or held it to have abrogated the other, for it was an act that he (صلى الله عليه و سلم) used to undertake up to the time of his death, upheld permissibility. Umm Salama (رضي الله عنه), however, relates a tradition that opposes ‘A’ishah’s tradition, as it states “that she saw the Messenger of Allah (صلى الله عليه و سلم) praying two rak’ahs after ‘Asr and asked him about them. He said, ‘Some people of ‘Abd al-Qays visited me and kept me from praying the two rak’ahs after Dhuhr, and these are those two rak’ahs“. (Muslim) (‘Bidayat al-Mujtahid wa Nihayat al-Muqtasid’ by Ibn Rushd)

The Muslim person should know that it is permissible for one to make up for missed prayers at such (forbidden) times. This is based on the Prophet’s hadith: “If anyone misses a prayer out of oversleeping or forgetfulness, he must perform it once he remembers”. (Related by Al-Bukhari and Muslim)

It is also permissible for one to perform the two rak’ahs of tawaf at such times, as the Prophet (صلى الله عليه و سلم) said: “Do not prevent anyone from circumambulating this House (i.e. the Ka’bah) and from performing prayer any moment he desires by day or by night.”‘ (Related by At-Tirmidhi who deems it a sahih hadith)

According to the most acceptable opinion of scholars, it is permissible at these times to perform prayer that have special causes, such as Funeral Prayer (Salat al-Janazah), Mosque Greeting Prayer (Tahiyyat al-masjid) and Eclipse Prayer (Salat al-Kusoof). There are legal proofs supporting this permissibility which are considered specific exceptions to the general rule of forbidding performing prayer at such times. Thus, forbidding performing prayer at such times means that it is forbidden to perform prayer with no special reason. Accordingly, it is not permissible to perform a supererogatory prayer, which has no specific reason, at such times.

Furthermore, it is permissible to perform the two supererogatory rak’ahs of the Fajr Prayer after performing the Fajr Prayer. It is also permissible to perform the two supererogatory rak’ahs of the Dhuhr Prayer after performing the ‘Asr Prayer based on the hadith of Umm Salama (رضي الله عنه). (‘AI-Mulakhkhas AI-Fiqhi’ by Dr. Salih AI-Fawzan)

Allahu A’lam (Allah (سبحانه و تعالى) knows best) and all Perfections belong to Allah, and all mistakes belong to me alone. May Allah (سبحانه و تعالى) forgive me, Ameen.

Wassalaam