Allah Ta’ala has stated: « Verily, salaat (prayer) restrains from shameful and evil deeds. » (29: 45). However, for that salaat to be effective, it must be accomplished at its prescribed time. “For such prayers are enjoined on believers at stated times.” (4: 103). According to a narration from Bukhari, if salaat is accomplished within its time, it has no equal as far as reward is concerned. And if there is anything which needs safeguarding, it is well and truly salaat. “Guard strictly your (habit of) prayers, especially the Middle Prayer; and stand before Allah in a devout (frame of mind).” (2: 238). “Successful indeed are the believers, those who humble themselves in their prayers.” (23: 1-2)
Whether in summer or winter, during a journey or at home, on dry land, at sea or in the air, salaat has to be established at its appointed time. That is why it is imperative for a Muslim to ascertain the different times of salaat. Only then can he establish it as ordained.
The Qur’an has indicated bearings for prayer times, but the exact description of the times of salaat is given in the ahadiths. Fajr prayer (Morning Prayer) thus begins at dawn, when the first light of day appears on the horizon. The time of fajr lasts until the appearance of the sun’s orb, which heralds the day. It is makrooh (disapproved) to perform salaat immediately after the appearance of the sun until some fifteen minutes later.
Zohar salaat (second prayer) starts after zawaal (prohibited time). At the zenith or istiwa (highest point of the sun) it is prohibited to perform salaat five minutes before and five minutes after the istiwa. The time of zohar will last until the shadow of an object is twice the length of the object. It is then that Asr prayer (third prayer) starts, when the length of the shadow is more than twice the length of the object. The time of Asr lasts until the disappearance of the sun’s orb at the horizon. At sunset, it is makrooh to perform salaat. However, if Asr salaat has not yet been accomplished, it is then preferable to perfom it at that time, instead of performing it in qadha mode (replacing it after its time).
The time of maghrib salaat (fourth prayer) starts after the disappearance of the sun’s orb and ends with the disappearance of white light on the horizon. The time of the Esha prayer (fifth prayer) starts when the glow of sunset has disappeared, and ends with the dawn, at sehri time. It is however, makrooh to perform Esha prayer after the second half of the night.
The timetable giving the salaat times has been prepared on the basis of these considerations. And that is why salaat cannot be accomplished before Zawwal, as an example. In this perspective, in order to simplify your task, we have prepared a perpetual timetable for salaat which is available for sale in our libraries. Different times relating to different locations can be found therein.
The Qibla (direction of Kabah at Makkah)
In order to complete the salaat harmoniously, one must especially respect the prescribed time as well as the direction. It is imperative to ascertain the approximate direction of the qiblah before starting the salat. In Port-Louis, it lies at 23.54 degrees of North-East. The qiblah lies near the North-North East. At this stage, one must not allow oneself to be carried away by extreme precision or the magnetic North. What is important is the approximate direction of the qiblah and not the exact degree. The Messenger of Allah (saw) has clearly stated in these terms: “The qiblah lies between East and West.” (Mustadrak). From Madinah Munawwarah, the exact direction of the qiblah is the South, at some 3.21 degrees towards the West. That is the reason why, in determining the direction of the qiblah, a variation of 45 degrees is allowed.
There is therefore no need to change the direction of your mosque (masjid) or that of your muswallah (prayer rug) at home if the variation in the direction of Makkah is less than 45 degrees. As regards Mauritus, one must look for the direction of the North and then of North North East in order to establish the direction of the qiblah.
Sunset can be used as a reference point in determining the direction of the qiblah. The sun sets in the West, and so the North must lie at some 90 degrees east of sunset point. At night, look for the Southern Cross, and therefore the North will be in the opposite direction. And the Almighty Creator has not left us in a void; He has set some markers: “And marks and sign-posts; and by the stars (men) guide themselves.” (16: 16). And if you are in the Northern Hemisphere, use the North Star as a reference point.
The earth goes round, the sun follows its course and the fixed stars can be used by us as reference points. During summer, the day lengthens, and the night is shortened, and changes in time schedules are certainly a sign of Allah Ta’ala. “He merges Night into Day, and He merges Day into Night, and He has subjected the sun and the moon (to His Law). Each one runs its course for a term appointed.” (35: 13)
All this has been done to indicate the times and days of prayer. So therefore, let ius establish the salaats at their fixed times and if we happen to miss them, let us perform them later on the same day. May Allah Ta’ala grant us the determination to accomplish our five prayers regularly, the most priceless gift of the Supreme Lord. (Ameen)
The Benefits of Salah
Allah Ta’ala has stated: “Verily, the prayer is enjoined on the believers at fixed hours.” (4: 103). According to a narration from Bukhari, if the prayer is performed at its prescribed time, its reward has no equal.
Compulsory (Farz) Prayers
Compulsory salah (prayers) yield greater rewards and merits than other prayers. Hence, whether one is on a journey or at home, on firm ground or else-where, one must accomplish salah at its prescribed time. In that perspective, to facilitate your task, we have prepared a salah timetable which is available on web: islam-qna.org.
Sunnah salah go along with farz salah. The sunnah muakkadah prayers are almost compulsory. The Prophet (saw) never missed muakkadah salah, even when he was on a journey. The twelve daily muakkadah salah form an important requirement and are not optional.
The narration of Bukhari clearly indicates this fact: “He has accomplished in prayer what was prescribed for him.” Its reward is a house in Paradise. Muakkadah salah are as follows: 2 rakaah before Fajr, 4 before and 2 after Zohar, 2 after Maghrib and 2 after Esha. Abandoning them would constitute a sin.
In addition to compulsory salah, it is recommended to perform sunnah ghair muakkadah salah as follows: 4 rakaahs before Asr and 4 rakaahs before Esha. We can thus benefit from the dua of the Prophet (saw): “May Allah have mercy upon whoever performs 4 rakaahs before Asr.” (Abu Dawood)
Fifteen minutes after sunrise, one can perform twice 2 rakaah of Ishraaq salah. If one has remained seated since Fajr salah, this salah will then make one benefit from one Hajj and one Umrah.
When the sun’s heat has intensified and it is around 9:00 am or 10:00 am, one can accomplish 2, 4, 8 or even 12 rakaahs of nafil salah. It has been reported in a hadith of Abu Dawood that human anatomy consists of 360 joints. On each joint, one sadaqah (voluntary alms) is due. However, the 2 rakaahs of Chast Salah are compensation enough for all the 360 sadaqahs.
This salah is accomplished after Maghrib salah. One can perform two rakaah of nafil salah thrice, and one can go up to 20 rakaahs at the rate of 2 rakaahs each. Its reward is equivalent to having spent 12 years in ibaadah.
The most excellent nafil salah is the one performed during the last part of the night. From 2 to 12 rakaahs can be performed, although most of the time the Prophet 9saw) performed 8 rakaahs. Nevertheless, even 2 rakaahs are also acceptable. The invocations (du’as) made at the time of Tahajjud are answered.
To wake up in the last part of the night and prostrate oneself before one’s Creator and to shed tears before Him with sincerity is a communion which is unparalleled. The Prophet (saw) did advise his son-in-law Ali (ra) to perform Tahajjud salah before going to bed in case he could not wake up in the night. It is advisable to perform 2 rakaahs at least before going to sleep, it will help you to be excluded from the group of heedless people.