Times when prayer is forbidden

Bukhari and Muslim have narrated that the Prophet ﷺ said: There is no prayer after the Asr prayer until the sun has set, and there is no prayer after the fajr prayer until the sun rises.

Muslim has narrated that Amr bin Abasa asked the Prophet ﷺ about the prayer and he said: “ Observe the morning 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 the devil, and the infidels prostrate themselves to it at that time. Then pray, for the prayer is witnessed and angels are attendant at it, till the shadow becomes about the breadth of a lance; then cease prayer, for at that time jahannam is heated up. Thereafter when the shadow moves forward pray, for the prayer is witnessed and angels are attendant at it, till you pray the afternoon prayer; then cease prayer till the sun sets, for it sets between the horns of the devil, and at that time the infidels prostrate themselves to it.

The six books of hadith have narrated except Bukhari, on the authority of Uqba bin Amer: Three hours the prophet ﷺ forbid us from praying in, and that we should bury the dead at those times – when the sun rises shining, until it reaches its peak, and at noon, and when it tilts (After Asr) until it sets. 

The mentioned times in the hadith are five:

– After the fajr salah, until the sun rises

– When the sun rises until it reaches it’s peak

– During the time when the sun levels off in the center of the sky

– After the Asr salah until the sun sets

– During the sunset time.

There is also another time that came in Sahih Muslim and that is when the Iqamah for the Prayer is taking place “If the Iqamah is taking place, then no prayer except what is written”.

According to the majority of scholars, the prayers which are prohibited from being observed at these times, are the voluntary (Nawafil). As for Shafii, this is limited to the nawafil which do not have a special cause, or the ones which have a later cause such as Istikharah (performed for seeking the guidance of Allah in personal affairs, marriage and so..).

Abu Hanifa, on the other hand, prohibited all kinds of prayer even the obligatory ones, apart from the Asr prayer and the Funeral prayer.

This is the overall ruling, and there are details for each school of thought which we have summarized as follows:

First- Hanafi School of thought:

Performing voluntary (Nawafil) prayers is disliked that is similar to forbidden (karaha-t- tahreem) at the following times:

1. After dawn, and before the morning prayer, apart from the sunnah that is not disliked.

2. After dawn, till the sunrise, where no nafl or sunnah prayers are to be prayed at this time, even if it is the voluntary that precedes fajr prayer which was missed, because when it is missed, then the sunnah is dropped and not repeated.

3. After the Asr prayer until the sunset

4. After the sunset before Maghrib if it is extended, as for light salah such as two raka’hs then it is allowed as there is no evidence for it being disliked.

5. When the Speaker leaves his alcove to start the sermon (on Friday)

6. When the Iqamah is being said by the Muadhin for the prescribed prayers. An exception is the voluntary prayers that precede fajr, if it is certain that the congregation would not be missed.

7. Before and after Eid Prayer

8. Between Dhuhr and Asr when both are performed together at the time of the second prayer in Muzdalifah, even if it is the sunnah of dhuhr

9. Between Maghrib and Isha which are performed together at the time of the second prayer in Muzdalifah, even if it is the sunnah of Maghrib

10. When the time remaining for the prescribed Salah is short.

If a nafl (voluntary) prayer falls in any of these times, the salah can be observed but with a strong disapproval, hence he must break the prayer and offer it later at the time when prayer is permissible.

The obligatory prayers, Funeral prayer, and the sajdah Tilawah (prostration whilst reading) are not done at the following three periods:

– When the sun begins to rise till it is fully up. As a result if a Muslim observes the morning prayer and the sun comes up while he is praying, his salah becomes invalid.

– When the sun is at its height at midday till it passes over the meridian

– When the sun turns red until it sets, with an exception to the present Asr prayer, which can be observed during the period of sunset, though it is disapproved by way of forbidden.

Secondly: Hanbali’s School

It is forbidden to pray voluntary (nafl) prayers, even if they have a cause at the following three periods:

1- When the sun is rising until it reaches the height of a spear, except the two rak’ah of fajr which can be observed at this time prior to Fajr prayer. However, It also becomes forbidden if observed after this time.

2- After Asr prayer regardless of it being combined with Dhuhr prayer, until the sunset. An exception is the regular sunnah of Dhuhr, which can be performed after an Asr prayer that is combined with Dhuhr.

3 – When the sun is in the middle of the sky, until it comes down, apart from the two rak’ahs of tawaf for they are permissible at these times even though they are nafl. Similarly, the two rak’ah of Tahiyyatul Masjid (The prayer of greeting the masjid) when the imam is giving his sermon.

As for the funeral prayer, it is forbidden when the sun is at its peak in the sky, and when it begins to set until it completely sets, and when it begins to rise until it has completely risen. This prayer is not allowed to take place unless there is an excuse.

Thirdly: Shafi’s School

The nafl (voluntary) prayers which do not have any cause are disliked in a way that is similar to forbidden (karaha-t- tahreem), or those which have a a late cause. The voluntary prayers are not allowed at these following five periods:

1- After the regular time of Fajr prayer until the sun has risen

2 – When the sun comes out until it reaches the height of a spear

3 – After the regular time of Asr prayer, regardless of Asr whether it is combined with Dhuhr or not.

4 – When the Sun is bright yellow until it sets

5 – When the sun is at its peak in the sky until it comes down a little.  An exception from this are the prayers in Makkah which can be observed at any time without any restriction. Similarly, the voluntary prayers observed on Juma’h day while the sun at its peak.

Although the prayer is absolutely forbidden once the Imam has sit on the Minbar onthe day of Jumah, except of Tahiyyatul Masjid. It is also disliked to engage in voluntary prayers while the iqamah for the obligatory prayers is held apart from Juma’ah. As for the Jumah prayer it is forbidden to pray when the Iqama is being said, if it results in missing the second ruku’ (bowing down) with the imam. 

Fourthly: Maliki’s School

Performing voluntary prayers is forbidden in seven periods of time:

1- When the sun starts to rise until it has completely risen

2 – When the sun starts to set until it completely sets

3- During the Khutbah of Juma’ah (based on the unanimous opinion) and the Khutbah of Eid (which is the strongest opinion).

4- When the Imam is coming out to give the khutbah

5 – When there is an insufficient time for the obligatory prayer, be it the regular time of prayer (Ikhtiyari) or the time of people with valid excuse (Daruri).

6- During the time where a missed prayer is remembered

7 – When the Iqamah is being said for prayers led by the official imam.

The nafl prayer is disliked at the following five time of the day:

1 – After dawn until the sun has risen completely, apart from the sunnah of fajr and the shaf’ (post Isha’) prayer, and witr if you haven’t prayed them until dawn, and the funeral prayer and sajdatu at-tilawah in specific circumstances.

2 – After the sun has risen until it reaches the height of a spear

3 – After Asr prayer, until the time when the sun is almost set.

4 – After the complete setting of the sun, until the prayer of maghrib

5 – Before and after the Eid prayer, if it is performed in an open ground (Musalla).

These are the sayings of the four schools of thought, and whichever satisfies the heart then there is no harm in following it, and we are not allowed to censure one another for our respective choice. 

The majority of Fiqh scholars are of the opinion that it is permissible to pray the missed prayers after Fajr prayer and Asr prayer, as learnt from the hadith of Bukhari and Muslim which said: “whoever forgets a prayer, then he should pray it after he remembers, there is no penance except that”.