By: Mowlana Aftab Haider
9 June 2016
There is no dispute among Muslims that we have to pray 5 prayers in a 24 hour day.
But do these prayers have 5 times?
In the Quran there are at most 3 verses which are considered to speak about “times of salaah”.
Two of these verse directly refer to the times of salaah. These are:
Verse 78 of Surah Israa Which Says:
قِمِ الصَّلاَةَ لِدُلُوكِ الشَّمْسِ إِلَي غَسَقِ اللَّيْلِ وَقُرْءَانَ الْفَجْرِ إِنَّ قُرْءَانَ الْفَجْرِ كَانَ مَشْهُوداً
“Establish salaah at the declining of the sun until the darkness of the night, and Quran of the Dawn. Indeed the recitation at Dawn is ever witnessed.”
“Duluqish shams” can be:
When sun reaches its climax (zawaal) and moves from there.
This verse directly speaks about salaah as it says “Establish salaah…”
And it then outlines 3 times of salaah being at midday (declining of the sun), night and dawn.
Verse 114 of Surah Hud says:
وَأَقِمِ الصَّلاَةَ طَرَفَيِ النَّهَارِ وَزُلَفاً مِنَ اللَّيْلِ
“And establish salaah at the two ends of the day and at the approaching of the night.”
Again this verse refers to 3 times.
Then there are scholars who consider Verses 17 and 18 of Surah Rum to also refer to the times of salaah even though this verse does not directly use the word “salaah” itself.
Verse 17 and 18 of Surah Rum says:
فَسُبْحَانَ اللَّهِ حِينَ تُمْسُونَ وَحِينَ تُصْبِحُونَ
“So glory be to Allah, when you enter the evening and when you enter the morning.”
وَلَهُ الْحَمْدُ فِي السَّمَاوَاتِ وَالأَرْضِ وَعَشِيّاً وَحِينَ تُظْهِرُونَ
“And to Him belongs praise in the heavens and the earth, and at nightfall and when you are at midday.”
If you consider this verse to refer to times of salaah, then it effectively covers:
– Evening which is magrieb
– Morning which is Fajr
– Night which is Isha
– Midday which is both Thur and Asr
This verse at best thus refers to 4 possible times of salaah.
Thus the Quran does not refer to 5 specific times of salaah anywhere.
Be this as it may, Sunni and Shia believe that there are 5 times of salaah from the Sunnah of the Prophet (sawa) in that he performed these 5 salaahs at 5 different times.
So where is the dispute?
Though the Prophet (sawa) performed it like this, did he allow for the salaah to performed by doing Thur and Asr together and Magrieb and Isha together?
Most Sunni ulama say its generally not allowed unless you have a valid excuse (like travelling, heavy rain, illness, etc.)
But Shia narrations state that permission is allowed under normal circumstances to join Thur and Asr as well as Magrieb and Isha. There are some Sunni scholars who agree with Shia on this point as well as they base their view on Sunni narrations that state that the Prophet (sawa) allowed it without excuse and even performed salaah in this manner without any specific reason.
While performing salaah at 5 different specific times by delaying Asr to later in the afternoon and delaying Isha to later at night can have merit in itself, the performance of the salaah through combining Thur and Asr as well as combining Magrieb and Isha as a daily practise is perfectly in keeping with the teachings of Quran and Sunnah.