Answered by Sidi Tabraze Azam
Question: I think that the recommended times for salah are only regarding prayer in congregation, (i.e. to make the fajr yellow,to wait for dhohr when it’s summer,to hasten it when it’s cold etc) but when praying alone then the default ruling applies, which is to pray as soon as the time prayer enters. Is this understand correct?
Answer: Wa alaikum assalam wa rahmatullahi wa barakatuh,
I hope you are in the best of health and spirits insha’Allah.
The recommended times apply, more generally, to the congregation. Thus much of that which is mentioned in this regard refers to setting the best time for the congregation at the mosque.
Though we can take some of the general principles as several of the works of our school mention a number of the recommended times applying to the one praying alone and in congregation. For example, it would be recommended for the man to pray Fajr in brightness (isfar), even when praying alone and the lady to pray in darkness (ghalas); it would be recommended to hasten Maghrib after the call to prayer (adhan) in order to avoid delaying it and so on.
Nevertheless, these times are merely recommended and one can pray at any time without dislike. If one prayed as soon as the time entered out of hastening to the worship of one’s Lord, this would be out of praiseworthy practice. One is not expected, nor obliged, to pray as soon as the time enters.
In previous ages, people would use the sun, shadows and the like to determine the prayer times. Consequently, the jurists explained that one should, for example, hasten `Asr in cloudy weather as one may enter into the disliked time without knowing. Though, practically, in our times, we can use a reliable prayer calendar.
[Shaykh Zada, Majma` al-Anhur fi Sharh Multaqa al-Abhur; Tahtawi, Hashiyat al-Tahtawi `ala Maraqi al-Falah; al-Halabi, Ghunyat al-Mutamalli fi Sharh Munyat al-Musalli]
And Allah knows best.
Checked & Approved by Faraz Rabbani