Question # 63: What is the latest time for Isha prayer?
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).
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 Isha’ prayer continues up to half of the night; however, it is best to pray it in the first third of the night. As for the allowable time and the time due to need, it lasts until dawn. However, one should not sleep before the night prayer, nor have discussions after it.
Long Answer: The Isha’ prayer begins when the red twilight disappears and continues up to half of the night. Reported ‘Aishah (رضي الله عنه), “They used to pray the night prayer between the disappearance of the twilight and the final third of the night’s beginning” (Related by al-Bukhari) Abu Hurairah (رضي الله عنه) reported that the Messenger of Allah (صلى الله عليه و سلم) said, “If it were not to be a hardship upon my nation, I would order them to delay the night prayer until a third or a half of the night had passed.” (Related by Ahmad, Ibn Majah and at-Tirmidhi, who said it is sahih.) Reported Abu Sa’eed (رضي الله عنه), “Once, we waited for the Messenger of Allah to lead the night prayer until half the night had passed, at which time he came and prayed with us. He said, ‘Stay in your places of sitting while the people have gone to their places of lying down (for sleep), for you are in prayer as long as you are waiting for the prayer. If it were not for the weakness of the weak, the illness of the ill and the need of those who have needs, I would have delayed the time of this prayer to a half of the night.” As to the authenticity of this report, it is recorded by Ahmad, Abu Dawud, Ibn Majah, an-Nasa’i and Ibn Khuzaimah. Its chain is sahih).
The hadith describes the best time to pray. As for the allowable time and the time due to need, it lasts until dawn. Abu Qatadah reported that the Messenger of Allah (صلى الله عليه و سلم) said, “There is no negligence in sleeping, but the negligence lies in not praying a prayer until the time of the next prayer has come.” (Related by Muslim) This hadith shows that the time of every prayer continues until the beginning of the time for the next prayer, except for the Morning Prayer…
However, one should not sleep before the night prayer, nor have discussions after it. Abu Barza al-Aslami related that the Prophet (صلى الله عليه و سلم) loved to delay the night prayer (which was called darkness, al-‘atmah) and he hated sleeping before it and talking or discussions after it.” (Related by “the group”) In another saying by Ibn Mas’ud, it is reported, “The Messenger of Allah ordered us not to talk after the night prayer.” (Related by Ibn Maj’ah)
The reasons behind this are: sleep may make a person miss the night prayer in its best time, or it may cause him to miss the congregational prayer, and talking and socializing afterwards would cause one to misappropriate a time from which he could greatly benefit. If one wants to sleep and has someone to wake him up, or he is discussing a beneficial matter, then it is not disliked. Said Ibn ‘Umar (رضي الله عنه) said, “The Prophet would discuss with Abu Bakr some of the affairs of the Muslims during the night, and I was with him” (Related by Ahmad and at-Tirmidhi, who said it is hasan) Reported Ibn ‘Abbas, “I slept in the home of Maimunah one night when the Prophet (صلى الله عليه و سلم) was there. I watched to see how the Prophet prayed during the night. He talked with his wife for a while and then slept.” (Related by Muslim) (‘Fiqh Us-Sunnah’ by As-Sayyid Sabiq)
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.