The Messenger of Allāh (sallAllāhu ʿalaihi wa sallam) prohibited the Muslims from praying in the periods after the Fajr prayer until the sun has completely risen, and after the Asr prayer until the complete setting of the sun — with which comes the adhān for the Maghrib prayer.
In a hadīth reported in Sahīh Muslim (no. 832), upon the authority of ʿAmr Ibn ʿAbasah As-Sullamī (radhiyAllāhu ʿanhu) who asked regarding the prayer; Allāh’s Messenger (sallAllāhu ʿalaihi wa sallam) responded: “Pray the morning prayer, and then cease praying until the sun rises and has become high — for verily when the sun rises, it rises between the two horns of Satan, and that is when the Disbelievers prostrate towards it.”
“And then pray! For verily the prayer is witnessed and attended [by the angels] until the length of the shadows are equal to the breadth of a spear — then cease praying for verily at that time the Inferno of Hell is heated up. Then when the shadow expands, pray — for verily the prayer is witnessed and attended [by the angels] until you pray ʿAsr.”
“And then cease praying until the sun has set — for verily the sun sets between the two horns of Satan, and that is when the the Disbelievers prostrate towards it.”
Explanation of this Hadīth:
- The Messenger of Allāh (sallallāhu ʿalaihi wa sallam) mentioned: “Pray the morning prayer.” This is the Fajr prayer, and after the entrance of the time of Fajr, one may pray Fajr and the supererogatory Sunnah prayer for Fajr until the sun starts to rise. At this point the time for Fajr is over. It is not generally permitted to pray until the sun has fully risen — clear and proud over the horizon.
- If you reach the Masjid and you do not have time to pray the two rakaʿahs for the Sunnah of Fajr as the Fajr Jamāʿah is starting, then you should join the Jamāʿah and make up the Sunnah prayer afterwards — although it is better to do so before the sun starts to rise. This is permitted, as evidenced by various authentic narrations which shall follow.
- Once the sun has risen, and is clearly aloft in the sky, one may pray the Dhuhā prayer and the Shurūq prayer and any other optional rakaʿāt, until the time when “the length of the shadows are equal to the breadth of a spear.” This refers to the very short window of time immediately before the Dhuhr prayer when the sun is at its highest point in the sky, before it has started descending towards the West. At this point the shadows of objects are almost invisible or extremely short — like the breadth of a spear which is only a centimetre or two. At this point, it is not permitted to pray any prayer. However this period only lasts 2-10 minutes so it is easy to avoid.
- The Messenger (sallallāhu ʿalaihi wa sallam) said: “Then when the shadow expands, pray.” So, as soon as the sun moves past its zenith, which is the highest point in the sky, it starts to fall westwards. At this point, the shadows of objects start to lengthen, and it is now that the adhān for Dhuhr is called, and you may once again pray any prayer.
- Then the Messenger (sallAllāhu ʿalaihi wa sallam) mentions that we may pray from the time of Dhuhr all the way till we have finished the prayer of ʿAsr, and then we must “cease praying until the sun has set”. The signals for when the ʿAsr time ends are two:
- When the sun becomes bronzed and deeply yellow.
- When an object’s shadow is twice the object’s length. For example; if a spear is 2 metres long, its shadow will be 4 metres long.
- So from the time of Dhuhr, one may pray any prayer until they have completed praying ʿAsr — and then they must refrain until the sun has set. At this point the adhān for Maghrib is called, and they can once again resume praying optional and obligatory prayers.
Can we pray Tahiyyat Al-Masjid after Fajr or ʿAsr?
The question arises: if we enter a mosque after Fajr or after ʿAsr, do we pray the two rakaʿahs for Tahiyyah Al-Masjid as has been obligated upon us, or do we refrain from prayer due to these being the Forbidden Times?
The Imām and the Mujaddid, ʿAbdul-ʿAzīz Ibn Bāz mentioned in response to this dilemma:
“To pray [the Tahiyyah Al-Masjid] is preferable. This is what is correct because it is from those things that possess reasons [for exception from the rule]. So, the Sunnah is that the one who enters the mosque is to pray two rakaʿahs — even in the Time of Forbiddance before the [entrance of the time of] Maghrib, or before the sun has fully risen. There is no harm in any of this, due to the saying of the Prophet (sallallāhu ʿalaihi wa sallam): “When one of you enters the mosque, then he should not sit until he has prayed two rakʿahs.” The authenticity of this hadīth is agreed upon.
And when a man entered the mosque and sat whilst the Prophet (salallāhu ʿalaihi wasallam) was delivering the Khutbah, he said: “Stand! And pray two rakaʿahs,” and this happened whilst the Imām was delivering his sermon.
So the conclusion is: that the Sunnah for the entrant to the masjid — even in the forbidden times such as [after] ʿAsr, or before [the rising and setting] of the sun — is that he prays two rakaʿahs. This is what is correct from the sayings of the Scholars because [the Tahiyyat al-Masjid] is from those affairs that possess [exceptional] reasons.
This is as opposed to the one who is already sitting in the Masjid: he does not stand and pray after ʿAsr — or the one who is sitting after Fajr: he does not stand and pray until the sun has risen. As for the one who enters, and he arrives after the ʿAsr prayer in order to sit until Maghrib, or to listen to a lecture — or he arrives after the Fajr prayer to listen to the lectures — then this one should pray two rakʿahs before he sits. This is what is correct due to the generality of the authentic ahādīth from the Messenger of Allāh (salallāhu ʿalaihi wasallam), and because the [worshipper] did not intend imitation of the Disbelievers — rather he prayed due to the command of the Prophet (salallāhu ʿalaihi wasallam) to pray two rakʿahs. This is what carries most weight, and this is what is correct. Yes.
And likewise the Eclipse Prayer: if the sun is eclipsed after ʿAsr, the people pray — even it is after ʿAsr during the Forbidden Time — because the Eclipse Prayer possesses [exceptional] reasons, as evidenced by the saying of the Prophet (sallAllāhu ʿalaihi wa sallam): “Verily the sun and the moon are two signs from the signs of Allāh, and they do not eclipse due to the death of any person, and nor due to his birth — so if you see it, then pray and supplicate.”
So he commanded with the [Eclipse] Prayer when either of them is seen to eclipse — and this [command] encompasses the time of forbiddance and the outside of that time. So if the sun eclipses after ʿAsr, the people still pray. This is what is correct. Yes.” (End of the speech of Ibn Bāz from his website)
So we see that Imām Ibn Bāz (rahimahullāh) has connected the forbiddance of praying at those aforementioned times, to what the Messenger (sallallāhu ʿalaihi wa sallam) mentioned regarding the Disbelievers praying at those times. Therefore, Imām Ibn Bāz sees that if a person is praying a particular prayer that possesses exceptional reasons — such as the Eclipse Prayer or the Tahiyyat Al-Masjid — then he may pray them since he is not praying them at those times for the sake of those times themselves. However, if a person is praying a purely optional prayer which possesses no exceptional circumstances, then Imām Ibn Bāz deems this to be harām and an imitation of the Kuffār who used to specify those Forbidden Times for prostration.
Additionally, the great scholar and jurist, Imām Ibn ʿUthaimīn (rahimahullāh) was asked regarding this matter. He responded as follows:
“The most correct saying in regards to the Forbidden Times, and the forbiddance of praying therein; is that it is for those purely optional prayers which possess no reasons [to except them]. For example; the person who is sitting in the masjid reciting, or sitting and listening to a religious reminder (or similar such things), and then he thinks it becoming to stand and pray — then this is harām (impermissible) for him to do in the Forbidden Times.
And the Forbidden Times as we know are:
– From the Fajr Prayer until the rising of the sun by a spear’s length [above the horizon], and this amounts to roughly a quarter of an hour or a third of an hour after the sun has cleared the horizon.
– And the second time is: before the Zawāl (when the sun starts to fall away to the West from its zenith) by 10 minutes or so — until the sun starts to move to the West [which is the start of Dhuhr].
– And the third time is: from the ʿAsr prayer until the sun has set.
And what is meant by: “From the Fajr prayer,” and “from the ʿAsr prayer,” is that it is in relation to the completion of the prayer by an individual — not in relation to the completion of the prayer in congregation (Jamāʿah). So if it is decreed that the congregational prayer (Jamāʿah) has taken place, and you did not pray [with them]; then upon you is to make up the prayer, and there is no harm upon you since you have not yet prayed ʿAsr.
The preponderant saying regarding the prayer that is forbidden during the Forbidden Times is that it is forbidden to pray those purely optional prayers that have no exceptional reasons. As for the prayers that have reasons, then there is no forbiddance from doing them — rather a person may pray them whenever he finds an [adequate] reason to do so — and from these is the Tahiyyah Al-Masjid. So if you enter a mosque after the ʿAsr prayer to listen to a reminder or to wait for the Maghrib prayer or other similar reasons; then do not sit until you have prayed two rakaʿahs, due to the overarching meaning of the saying of he (sallAllāhu ʿalaihi wa sallam): “When one of you enters the mosque, then he should not sit until he has prayed two rakaʿahs.”
And this applies whenever you come to the mosque — whether you come to the mosque only a short while after the ʿAsr prayer, or whether you arrive at the mosque as the sun is setting — verily you should not sit until you have prayed two rakaʿahs.
And likewise is the case if a person has an affair for which he wishes to pray the Istikhārah prayer, and he says: “Verily this affair… I will have to delay the [Istikhārah] prayer until the end of the Forbidden Time…”
So in this situation, he should pray and seek Istikhārah — and there is no harm in this due to the presence of an [exceptional] reason. And likewise, if he makes ablution (wudhūʾ) in the Forbidden Time, then he should pray the Sunnah prayer after the ablution.
Similarly, if he prays in his mosque and then goes to another mosque and finds them still praying, then he should pray with them — even if this is after the ʿAsr prayer or the morning prayer — for verily the Prophet (sallallāhu ʿalaihi wa sallam) led the people in prayer whilst in Minā, and when he had finished he saw two men, so he (sallallāhu ʿalaihi wa sallam) said to them: “What has prevented you from praying with us?”
They said: “O Messenger of Allah. We prayed in our dwellings.”
So he (sallallāhu ʿalaihi wa sallam) said: “If you pray in your dwellings, and then you come to a congregational prayer, pray with them and it will be for you a superogatory prayer.”
So the conclusion is that the forbiddance of praying optional prayers is for those optional prayers that do not have any [exceptional] reason. As for the optional prayers that have reasons, then there is no forbiddance from this. Whenever a reason is found, in whichever hour of the night or day, then the prayer should be prayed — so long as the [exceptional] reason is present.” (End of the speech of ʿAllāmah Ibn ʿUthaimīn — taken from his website.)
So we see that Imām Ibn ʿUthaimīn (rahimahullāh) also agrees that as long as there is a valid reason to pray, and the prayer is not purely optional; then you may pray even in the times where prayer would be normally forbidden. He brings an additional example of the Istikhārah prayer, which is the prayer that a person prays when faced with a choice and he wishes for Allāh (ʿAzza wa jall) to guide him to the most beneficial option, and to prevent him from choosing the option that is harmful to his life and his Hereafter.
Ibn ʿUthaimīn also gives more detail regarding the actual start of the Forbidden Time, and he mentions that it starts from when a person completes his own ʿAsr or Fajr prayer — not when the congregational (Jamāʿah) prayer is completed. This is because a person may accidentally miss the prayer in congregation and thereby have to make it up by themselves.
He also mentions that a person may continue praying in the morning once the sun has clearly risen above the horizon — and he says that the sun should be clear of the horizon by a spear’s length. This means that if you were to place a spear into the ground, and place it between you and the horizon; the sun would appear to be above the tip of the spear in your vision. He says that this is roughly 15 or 20 minutes after the sun has risen.
The great scholar and sage, Imām Ibn Qayyim Al-Jawziyyah (rahimahullāh) states in his book Iʿlām Al-Muwaqqiʿīn:
“And the hadīth regarding the forbiddance of praying in the Forbidden Times is broad and general, and the ʿAsr prayer of one’s day is excepted from [the forbiddance] by consensus. And provable by textual evidence is the exception for making up the missed or forgotten prayer; and likewise the Sunnah prayers that have connected reasons are excepted, just as the Prophet (sallAllāhu ʿalaihi wa sallam) made up the Sunnah prayer for Dhuhr after ʿAsr, and he (sallAllāhu ʿalaihi wa sallam) approved of the one who made up his Sunnah prayer for Fajr after the Fajr prayer — and he let him know that it was the Sunnah for Fajr.
And he (sallAllāhu ʿalaihi wa sallam) approved of a person who had prayed in his dwelling and then came to the mosque where they were [still] praying the Jamāʿah, to join them and for that prayer to be for him a superogatory prayer — and he said this regarding the Fajr prayer, which is the original reason of the hadīth [of the Forbidden Times].
And he ordered the one who enters the mosque while the Imām is delivering the sermon to pray the Tahiyyah Al-Masjid before he sits.”
(Ibn Al-Qayyim Al-Jawziyyah (d. 751.H). Iʿlām Al-Muwaqqiʿīn (1st Ed., Vol.4, pp 153-155). Dammam, KSA: Dar Ibn Al-Jawzi.)
So here Imām Ibn Al-Qayyim (rahimahullāh) brings a few more examples of the Messenger (sallallāhu ʿalaihi wa sallam) allowing and encouraging prayer even during the Forbidden Times — including the making up of the Sunnah prayer after the connected Fard prayer has already passed.
How to make up the Sunnah prayers after Fajr or ʿAsr
The two rakaʿahs of Sunnah prayer for Fajr are usually to be prayed before the Fajr prayer; but if one finds that he does not have time to pray those two rakaʿahs because the congregation is starting or has already started, then he may pray them directly after the Jamāʿah instead.
However, if the sun has started to rise by the time he has finished praying Fajr, then it is better to wait until the sun has fully risen and is clear of the horizon before making up the two rakaʿahs of Sunnah for Fajr. This can be gleaned from the following hadīth reported by Imām Al-Bukhārī (no. 595):
Upon the authority of ʿAbdullāh Ibn Abī Qatādah; from his father [Abū Qatādah], who said: “We travelled with the Prophet (sallAllāhu ʿalaihi wa sallam) one night, when some of the people said: ‘If only you would rest with with us, O Messenger of Allāh.’
So he said: ‘I fear that you will sleep through the Fajr prayer.’
So Bilāl said: ‘I will wake you all.’
So they all fell asleep, and Bilāl rested his back upon his riding beast, and his eyes overpowered him, and so he too slept. Then the Prophet (sallAllāhu ʿalaihi wa sallam) awoke and the rim of the sun had risen [over the horizon], and he said: ‘What of your statement O Bilāl?’
He replied: ‘I have never experienced a sleep such as this one!’
He (sallallāhu ʿalaihi wa sallam) said: ‘Verily Allāh seized your souls when He wished, and He returned them when He wished. O Bilāl — stand, and give the adhān for the people to pray.’
Then he made ablution (wudhūʾ) — and when the sun had fully risen and become bright, he stood and he prayed.”
(Sahīh Al-Bukhārī, no. 595)
Here we see that Allāh’s Messenger (sallallāhu ʿalaihi wa sallam) performed ablution, and then only prayed once the sun had completely risen and become bright — proving that although it is permitted to pray during the Forbidden Times as long as the prayer has an adequate reason, it is better to delay till after the Forbidden Time if there is no immediate need to pray at that particular time.
In this case, the Messenger (sallallāhu ʿalaihi wa sallam) and the Companions had already missed the legislated time for Fajr so there was no need to rush in making it up — whereas the one who enters the Masjid must pray the Tahiyyah Al-Masjid before sitting down, and the one who sees the eclipse should pray the Eclipse Prayer before the situation passes.
When asked regarding this issue, Imām Ibn Bāz (rahimahullāh) responded:
“Whoever misses the Sunnah of Fajr, then it is legislated that he may perform them after [the Fajr prayer]. If he prays them after the sun has arisen, and is high [above the horizon]; then this is better — due to it being authentically reported that the Prophet (sallAllāhu ʿalaihi wa sallam) commanded with that.
And if he prays them [directly] after the Fajr prayer then that is permissible for him, because it is established that the Prophet (sallAllāhu ʿalaihi wa sallam) saw a man praying after the [Fajr] prayer — so he said to him: ‘Do you pray the morning prayer (Fajr) as four [rakaʿahs]?!’
So he responded: ‘O Messenger of Allāh! Verily that was the Sunnah prayer for Fajr, which I did not pray before the [Fajr] prayer.’
So the Prophet (sallallāhu ʿalaihi wa sallam) remained quiet with that. And this proves that there is no harm in making it up, and this is excluded from the hadīth: ‘There is no prayer after the Morning Prayer…’
The Sunnah [rakʿahs] of Fajr are excepted from this hadīth which generally prohibits from praying after the Fajr Prayer — if they are prayed in order to make them up after the [Fajr] prayer.
And if he delays them until the sun is clearly risen, then this is better — but some people might forget them if they delay, and so if they pray them immediately after the [Fajr] prayer, then there is no harm caused, inshā Allāh.” (End of the speech of Ibn Bāz — Taken from his website)
- It is forbidden to pray purely optional prayers that have no overriding reason in the Forbidden Times.
- It is permitted to pray any prayer which has an overriding reason, including the Tahiyyah Al-Masjid, the Eclipse Prayer, and the making up of superogatory (Sunnah) prayers.
- It is preferable to delay the prayer till the end of the Forbidden Time if the prayer is not urgent or time-sensitive. For example, the Tahiyyat Al-Masjid needs to be prayed when you enter the mosque and so should not be delayed. But the making up of the Sunnah prayer for Fajr can wait till after the sun has fully risen, and so it is better (but not obligatory) to wait until then.
And Allāh knows best.
Translated by Abdullāh Abdul-Wāhid Alam
27 June 2022 — Edition 1.0