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Is it better to pray Fajr on time or later (i.e. 30-40 mins before sunrise)?

Answered as per Hanafi Fiqh by Askimam.org

 In my current city (Montreal, QC, Canada), today 6th August 2014, starting time of salat-ul-fajr was 3:45 a.m. and sun rises at 5:45 a.m. Few Arab brothers in our masjid want to pray fajr salat with jama’at as early as possible, e.g. 4.00 a.m.(after 15 minutes of starting time). While others, mostly from Indian subcontinent, want to pray about 30~40 mins before the sun rises.

Each and every time, it is difficult for the imam to convince the Arab brothers on setting/changing the jama’at time. Considering the fact that many brothers are working in the morning and many of them want to pray ishraq, setting the jama’at time of salat-ul-fajr 30~40 minutes before sunrise is convenient for them. On the other hand, Arab brothers show the proof from the Quran (e.g. Sura Nisa, ayah # 103 Innas salata kanat a’alal mu’minina
kitabam maukoota.) that we should pray as soon as the salat time comes in.

Many of them wake up early/work late night, pray tahajjud and it is difficult for them to wait an hour long to pray salat-ul-fajr with jama’at. Practically it is observed that number of musallis in fajr salat is more when jama’at time is set 30~40 minutes before sun rise. We would appreciate, if you kindly put some light on this topic with reference to Quaran & Hadith, so that we can convince our musallis. 


In the Name of Allah, the Most Gracious, the Most Merciful.

As-salāmu ‘alaykum wa-rahmatullāhi wa-barakātuh.

It is important to understand that there is a difference of opinion regarding the recommended (mustahab) time for praying fajr. According to the Hanafī madh`hab, it is best to pray later and not right after the time fajr comes in[1], whereas other madhāhib choose to pray right at the initial time of fajr.[2] Nevertheless, we opine that one should pray about 30-40 minutes before the time for fajr ends, especially when it allows more people to attend the jamā`ah.

In regards to the verse you have mentioned:

إِنَّ الصَّلَاةَ كَانَتْ عَلَى الْمُؤْمِنِينَ كِتَابًا مَوْقُوتًا 

Indeed, prayer has been decreed upon the believers a decree of specified times. [Al-Nisā’, 103]

Using this verse in order to insist that one should pray each and every prayer right when its time comes is against the actual meaning of the verse. Great mufassirūn such as Imam ibn Al-Kathīr (rahimahullāh) and Imam Abū Bakr al-Jassās (rahimahullāh) have provided commentary on the verse above stating that the verse simply means that Allāh Ta`ālā has provided a set timeframe for each prayer which shifts every time another prayer comes in without specifying the beginning or ending in the verse itself. In other words, the meaning of the verse is that each prayer has an allotted time wherein one may pray it. This is further substantiated by narrations from the Sahābah like `Abdullāh ibn Mas`ūd and `Abdullāh ibn `Abbās (radiyallāhu `anhumā). The actual Arabic references have been provided in the footnotes below for the Arab brothers.[3]

Furthermore, there are certain prayers which are delayed according to majority of the madhāhib, such as the Zuhr prayer during very hot days. Consider the following hadīth mentioned in various books of ahādīth such as the narration below mentioned by Imam Bukhārī in his Sahīh:

قَالَ رَسُولُ اللَّهِ صَلَّى اللهُ عَلَيْهِ وَسَلَّمَ: «أَبْرِدُوا بِالظُّهْرِ، فَإِنَّ شِدَّةَ الحَرِّ مِنْ فَيْحِ جَهَنَّمَ»

Allah’s Messenger (ﷺ) said, “Pray Zuhr prayer when it becomes (a bit) cooler as the severity of heat is from the raging of the Hell-fire.” [Bukhārī, 538, Book regarding Times of the Prayers]

You may also refer to the following narration mentioned in Sahīh al-Bukhārī as well where the Messenger of Allāh ﷺ delayed the `Ishā’ prayer and further expressed his desire that he wishes everyone delays the prayer to that time:

قَالَ ابْنُ جُرَيْجٍ: قُلْتُ لِعَطَاءٍ وَقَالَ: سَمِعْتُ ابْنَ عَبَّاسٍ، يَقُولُ: أَعْتَمَ رَسُولُ اللَّهِ صَلَّى اللهُ عَلَيْهِ وَسَلَّمَ لَيْلَةً بِالعِشَاءِ، حَتَّى رَقَدَ النَّاسُ وَاسْتَيْقَظُوا، وَرَقَدُوا وَاسْتَيْقَظُوا، فَقَامَ عُمَرُ بْنُ الخَطَّابِ فَقَالَ: الصَّلاَةَ – قَالَ عَطَاءٌ: قَالَ ابْنُ عَبَّاسٍ -: فَخَرَجَ نَبِيُّ اللَّهِ صَلَّى اللهُ عَلَيْهِ وَسَلَّمَ، كَأَنِّي أَنْظُرُ إِلَيْهِ الآنَ، يَقْطُرُ رَأْسُهُ مَاءً، وَاضِعًا يَدَهُ عَلَى رَأْسِهِ، فَقَالَ: «لَوْلاَ أَنْ أَشُقَّ عَلَى أُمَّتِي، لَأَمَرْتُهُمْ أَنْ يُصَلُّوهَا هَكَذَا»

Ibn Juraij said, “I said to `Ata’, ‘I heard Ibn `Abbas saying: Once Allah’s Messenger ﷺ delayed the `Isha’ prayer to such an extent that the people slept and got up and slept again and got up again. Then `Umar bin Al-Khattab (radiyallāhu `anh), stood up and reminded the Prophet ﷺ of the prayer.’ `Ata’ said, ‘Ibn `Abbas said: The Prophet ﷺ came out as if I was looking at him at this time, and water was trickling from his head and he was putting his hand on his head and then said, ‘Hadn’t I thought it hard for my followers, I would have ordered them to pray (`Isha’ prayer) at this time.’ [Bukhārī, 570, Book regarding Times of the Prayers]


From the above narrations, it is clear that one cannot simply say that every single prayer must be performed at its initial time. This is not only against the tafsīr of the verse above but also against authentic narrations of the Messenger of Allāh ﷺ as well.

Before we conclude, we would like to provide a few narrations in support of our stance:

1) It is narrated in the Jāmi` of Imam Tirmidhī that the Messenger of Allāh ﷺ said:

أَسْفِرُوا بِالفَجْرِ، فَإِنَّهُ أَعْظَمُ لِلأَجْرِ.

Perform Fajr when there is some light, for indeed its reward is greater (at that time). [Tirmidhī, 154, The Book on Salāh]

2) It is narrated in Sharh Ma`āni al-Āthār of Imam al-Tahāwī that Jābir bin `Abdullāh (radiyallāhu `anh) said:

كَانَ النَّبِيُّ صَلَّى اللَّهُ عَلَيْهِ وَسَلَّمَ يُؤَخِّرُ الْفَجْرَ كَاسْمِهَا

The Messenger of Allāh ﷺ would delay fajr as is evident from (the meaning of) its (i.e. fajr’s) name. [Sharh Ma`ānī al-Āthār, 1064]

The above two narrations point out that Fajr prayer should be delayed. The next point we would like to make is that when delaying to a certain time results in the increase of the number of musallīs, it is better to delay to that time. This is substantiated by the following narration mentioned in the Sunan of Imam Abū Dāwūd:

عَنْ أُبَيِّ بْنِ كَعْبٍ، قَالَ: صَلَّى بِنَا رَسُولُ اللَّهِ صَلَّى اللهُ عَلَيْهِ وَسَلَّمَ يَوْمًا الصُّبْحَ، فَقَالَ: أَشَاهِدٌ فُلَانٌ، قَالُوا: لَا، قَالَ: أَشَاهِدٌ فُلَانٌ، قَالُوا: لَا، قَالَ: «إِنَّ هَاتَيْنِ الصَّلَاتَيْنِ أَثْقَلُ الصَّلَوَاتِ عَلَى الْمُنَافِقِينَ، وَلَوْ تَعْلَمُونَ مَا فِيهِمَا لَأَتَيْتُمُوهُمَا، وَلَوْ حَبْوًا عَلَى الرُّكَبِ وَإِنَّ الصَّفَّ الْأَوَّلَ عَلَى مِثْلِ صَفِّ الْمَلَائِكَةِ وَلَوْ عَلِمْتُمْ مَا فَضِيلَتُهُ لَابْتَدَرْتُمُوهُ، وَإِنَّ صَلَاةَ الرَّجُلِ مَعَ الرَّجُلِ أَزْكَى مِنْ صَلَاتِهِ وَحْدَهُ، وَصَلَاتُهُ مَعَ الرَّجُلَيْنِ أَزْكَى مِنْ صَلَاتِهِ مَعَ الرَّجُلِ، وَمَا كَثُرَ فَهُوَ أَحَبُّ إِلَى اللَّهِ تَعَالَى»

Ubay ibn Ka`b (radiyallāhu `anh) narrates: The Messenger of Allah () led us in Fajr prayer one day and he said: Is so and so present? They said: No. He (again) asked: Is so and so present? They replied: No. He then said: These two prayers (Fajr and Asr) are the ones which are most burdensome to hypocrites. If you knew what they contain (i.e. blessings), you would come to them, even though you had to crawl on your knees. The first row is like that of the angels, and if you knew the nature of its excellence, you would race to join it.

And a man’s prayer said along with another is purer than his prayer said alone, and his prayer with two men is purer than his prayer with one. And however more there are, it is more pleasing to Allah Ta`ālā. [Abū Dāwūd, 554, The Book of Prayer]

Not only is this narration specifically regarding Fajr time, but The Messenger of Allāh ﷺ explicitly mentioned that the more people there are for jamā`ah, the more pleasing it is in the eyes of Allāh Ta`ālā.

In any event, the issue of performing Fajr in the beginning time or ending time is about afdaliyyat (being preferable). This issue should be amicably addressed while maintaining harmony in the congregation. The issue should not lead to disunity and acrimony, which is harām. It is principally incorrect to adopt something harām (fights, disputes, etc.) in order to uphold a preferable act.

May Allāh Ta`ālā keep the hearts of all Muslims united. Ameen.

And Allah Ta’āla Knows Best

Bilal Mohammad

Student Darul Iftaa
New Jersey, USA

Checked and Approved by,
Mufti Ebrahim Desai.


[1] (ويستحب الإسفار بالفجر)؛ لقوله صلي الله عليه وسلم: أسفروا بالفجر فإنه أعظم للأجر، قال الترمذي: حديث حسن صحيح. والإسفار: الإضائة

(اللباب، ج ٢، ص ١١٩، دار البشائر الإسلامية)

وأما إذا لم يجمعهما: فالأفضل الإسفار. وذالك لما حدثنا محمد بن بكر قال: حدثنا أبو داود قال حدثنا إسحاق بن إسماعيل قال حدثنا سفيان عن ابن عجلان عن عاصم بن عمر بن قتادة بن النعمان عن محمود بن لبيد عن رافع بن خديج رضي الله عنه قال: قال رسول الله صلي الله عليه وسلم: أصبحوا بالصبح، فإنه أعظم لأجوركم.

(شرح مختصر الطحاوي، ج ١، ص ٥٢٣، دار البشائع الإسلامية)

[2] والصبح: وأوله الفجر الصادق…لكن إذا أسفر خرج وقت الاختيار وبقي الجواز. والأفضل أن يصلي أول الوقت

(عمدة السالك، ص ٦٦، دار ابن حزم)

[3] وقوله تعالى: إِنَّ الصَّلاةَ كانَتْ عَلَى الْمُؤْمِنِينَ كِتاباً مَوْقُوتاً قال ابن عباس: أي مفروضا، وقال أيضا: إن للصلاة وقتا كوقت الحج، وَكَذَا رُوِيَ عَنْ مُجَاهِدٍ وَسَالِمِ بْنِ عَبْدِ اللَّهِ وَعَلِيِّ بْنِ الْحُسَيْنِ وَمُحَمَّدِ بْنِ عَلِيٍّ والحسن ومقاتل والسدي وعطية العوفي. قَالَ عَبْدُ الرَّزَّاقِ:

عَنْ مَعْمَرٍ عَنْ قَتَادَةَ إِنَّ الصَّلاةَ كانَتْ عَلَى الْمُؤْمِنِينَ كِتاباً مَوْقُوتاً قَالَ ابْنُ مَسْعُودٍ: إِنَّ لِلصَّلَاةِ وَقْتًا كَوَقْتِ الْحَجِّ وَقَالَ زَيْدُ بْنُ أَسْلَمَ إِنَّ الصَّلاةَ كانَتْ عَلَى الْمُؤْمِنِينَ كِتاباً مَوْقُوتاً قَالَ:

مُنَجَّمًا كلما مضى نجم جاء نجم، يَعْنِي كُلَّمَا مَضَى وَقْتٌ جَاءَ وَقْتٌ.

(تفسير ابن كثير، ج ٣، ص ٢٠٩، دار ابن الجوزي)

قالَ اللَّهُ تَعَالَى إِنَّ الصَّلاةَ كانَتْ عَلَى الْمُؤْمِنِينَ كِتاباً مَوْقُوتاً رُوِيَ عَنْ عَبْدِ اللَّهِ بْنِ مَسْعُودٍ أَنَّهُ قَالَ إنَّ لِلصَّلَاةِ وَقْتًا كَوَقْتِ الْحَجِّ وَعَنْ ابْنِ عَبَّاسٍ وَمُجَاهِدٍ وَعَطِيَّةَ مَفْرُوضًا وَرُوِيَ عَنْ ابْنِ مَسْعُودٍ أَيْضًا أَنَّهُ قَالَ مَوْقُوتًا مُنَجَّمًا كُلَّمَا مَضَى نَجْمٌ جَاءَ نَجْمٌ آخَرُ وَعَنْ زَيْدِ بْنِ أَسْلَمَ مِثْلَ ذَلِكَ قَالَ أَبُو بَكْرٍ قَدْ انْتَظَمَ ذَلِكَ إيجَابَ الْفَرْضِ وَمَوَاقِيتِهِ لأن قوله تعالى كِتاباً معناه فرضا وقوله مَوْقُوتاً مَعْنَاهُ أَنَّهُ مَفْرُوضٌ فِي أَوْقَاتٍ مَعْلُومَةٍ مُعَيَّنَةٍ فَأَجْمَلَ ذِكْرَ الْأَوْقَاتِ فِي هَذِهِ الْآيَةِ وَبَيَّنَهَا فِي مَوَاضِعَ أُخَرَ مِنْ الْكِتَابِ مِنْ غَيْرِ ذِكْرِ تَحْدِيدِ أَوَائِلِهَا وَأَوَاخِرِهَا

(أحكام القرآن للجصاص، ج ٢، ص ٣٧٤م دار الفكر)

This answer was collected from Askimam.org, which is operated under the supervision of Mufti Ebrahim Desai from South Africa.

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