In our quest for Khushu, it is essential that we know all the rulings pertaining to the prayer, in order that we may perfect our prayers. Hence, we must acquaint ourselves with what is permissible and what isn’t. By knowing what is forbidden, we can avoid it. By knowing what is obligatory and what is permissible we can perform it in order to reap the rewards.
From these rulings is the disallowed prayer times. Certain times throughout the day have been prohibited by the Prophet to pray in.
There are five times during the day in which prayer is forbidden:
- From the real dawn until sunrise: the only prayer allowed during this time is the fajr prayer.
One cannot pray nawafil, or superogatory prayers without a valid reason. We will discuss valid reasons at the end of this piece.
The Prophet peace be upon him said, “when the dawn breaks, no prayer is to be performed except the two raka’hs of the fajr prayer.” (Ahmad, Abu Dawud, and others)
And in another hadith, “No prayer should be performed after the fajr prayer until the sun rises,” (Bukhari and Muslim)
- From sunrise until the sun reaches the height of a spear above the horizon:
Uqbah ibn Amir narrated, “there are three times at which Allah’s Messenger (peace and blessings be upon him) forbade us to perform prayer or bury our dead; when the sun begins to rise until it is full up…” (Muslim)
- When the sun is at its height at midday until it passes over the meridian: this time is commonly known as zawwal, when the shade stops or is still. In the Hadith of Uqbah ibn Amir, (above) the second period of time mentioned is, “when the sun is at its height at midday until it passes over the meridian,” (Muslim)
- From the time of Asr until the sun sets: for the Prophet said, “…no prayer should be performed after the Asr prayer until the sun sets.” (Bukhari and Muslim)
- When the sun starts setting until it sets:
In the aforementioned hadith of Uqbah ibn Amir, the third time in which it is forbidden to pray is, “when the sun draws near to setting until it sets.”
However, in these times, it is permissible to make up obligatory prayers that one has missed with a valid excuse. For example, if one oversleeps fajr time, and wakes up as the sun is rising, they may make up the fajr at that time. For the Prophet said, “If anyone misses a prayer out of oversleeping or forgetfulness, he must perform it once he remembers.” (Bukhari and Muslim)
One may also pray voluntary prayers that are specific to a certain time. For example, if one wishes to pray the prayer of repentance, he may do so, otherwise his determination to repent may pass, or his regret may fade. Similarly, if one needs to make istikhara, and the time for the decision will pass if he delays the prayer, he may pray it in the forbidden times.
In the forbidden times, it is permissible to make tawaf, and to pray the two units of prayer following tawaf if one completes his tawaf in that time. For the Prophet 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.” (Tirmidhi, Saheeh)