What is the grace period for performing salaah? Sometimes I’m at work and because I have to report to my superiors, I may not be able to perform Zuhr Salaah at the required time. I may read about 1 hour later than expected. Please advise what is the grace period for Fajr, Zuhr, Asr, Magrib, and Isha. Also what time is the preferred time to perform Tahajjud.
Approximately an hour and a half before sunrise, a whiteness appears on the eastern horizon which rises vertically like a column, this is known as the false dawn or (As Subh Al-Kaazib). This whiteness disappears after a short while and another whiteness emerges from the east spreading left and right on the entire eastern horizon which does not move up vertically. This is known as the true dawn or As Subh As-Sadiq. The time for the Fajr prayer begins with the appearance of the true dawn and lasts till the sun rises. When the sun begins to rise (even it is a small edge) the time for the Fajr prayer has terminated.
The desirable (mustahab) time to say the morning prayer is when the light of the dawn spreads and there is sufficient time to offer the prayer with ease according to the sunnah and there is also ample time after the prayer enabling one to repeat it in the event of any error in the prayer said earlier. It is disliked (makrooh) to delay the Fajr prayer close to sunrise.
The preferred time for the Tahajjud prayer is in the last portion of the night. The practice of the Prophet (S.A) was that he would sleep until it was the last part of the night and then he would stand for Tahajjud, ending it just before the true dawn, i.e. the time for Fajr salaah. This is preferred, however Tahajjud salaah can be performed at any time after midnight until the true dawn.
The Zuhr prayer begins as soon as the sun starts declining, when the shadow of an object equals to its real size and continues until the shadow of an object reaches twice its size besides the original size. This is the opinion of the great Imam, Abu Hanifa and there are sufficient evidences for it in many traditions. Many scholars from among the other Imams of Fiqh have stated that the ending time for Zuhr salaah is when the shadow of an object reaches one of its size besides the original size. In order to practice precaution in one’s acts of worship, one should perform salaah during this time to be away from all doubts.
When the time for Zuhr comes to an end, then the time for Asr begins. Hence, according to those who hold the view that Zuhr finishes when the shadow of an object reaches one of its size besides the original, they say that upon its termination Asr salaah begins. As for those who say that Zuhr finishes when the shadow reaches twice of its size, they say at this time Asr begins.
As I mentioned before, to be cautious in one’s Ibaadah (acts of worship) one should adopt an opinion wherein there are no differences between the scholars of Fiqh. As such in this case it would be better to begin performing the Asr salaah based on the termination of Zuhr time when the shadow reaches twice its size. The time for Asr lasts until sunset. However, when the sun goes down deep and the sunshine becomes faint and pale, the prayer of Asr becomes undesirable. It should therefore be offered before such a time.
The Maghrib salaah begins as soon as the sun has set and continues until the disappearance of the white glow on the horizon. When the sun sets, a redness is left on the western horizon and is known as the Shafaq Al-Ahmar i.e. red twilight. After the fading away of this redness, a whiteness prevails. This is called Shafaq Al-Abyadh (white crimson), then the whiteness also disappears and the whole sky appears uniform in shade. The time for Maghrib prayer lasts till the ‘white crimson’ lasts.
It is however commendable and preferred to perform Maghrib at its early time. It would be undesirable and disliked to delay it from its beginning time without a valid excuse. When the ‘white crimson’ on the horizon has disappeared, then the time for salaatul Isha has entered, and is allowed until midnight. The time then extends until the true dawn but will be undesirable (makrooh) to perform it at this time without a valid reason.
And Allah knows best.
Mufti Waseem Khan
This answer was collected from DarulUloomTT.net, which is operated under the supervision of Mufti Waseem Khan from Darul Uloom Trinidad and Tobago.