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How Can I Keep Up with My Prayers in My Busy and Hectic Life?

Answered by Shaykh Irshaad Sedick

Question

I do shift work, and I’m by myself in the office. We do not get breaks, and all we get is ten minutes, sometimes. My working shift sometimes falls on a Friday, making it impossible to attend the mosque for Friday prayer. I’m busy with my family at home, and I help my wife and do other things at home. I pray when I get a chance, and sometimes I miss them completely, which I do not want.

Is it a major sin to miss prayers unwillingly and not from ignorance?

Answer

In the Name of Allah, the Most Merciful and Compassionate.

May Allah guide us to that which pleases Him, forgive us for our shortcomings, and alleviate our difficulties, Amin.

Allah says: “O believers! Do not let your wealth or your children divert you from the remembrance of Allah. For whoever does so, it is they who are the ˹true˺ losers.” [Quran 63:9]

Thank you for your important question. In general, one should exhaust every means to pray on time. The demands of modern-day life and careers are challenging for everyone but do not permit us to forsake Allah’s rights over us. Allah does not demand much, but the five obligatory prayers are critical and only help us cope with our busy lives.

Based on your description, except perhaps the Friday prayer at the mosque, you need to pray on time, and Allah knows best. If you are allowed a ten-minute break, you could fulfill the obligatory components of your prayer in three of those minutes. Beyond that, you must be allowed bathroom breaks, and one of these could be used for your prayer.

Family is important, but the One who gifted you that family is more important. It can be challenging, but Allah will assist you if you seek His assistance, in sha Allah.

Importance of the Prayer

The prayer is of central importance in Islam, and trying to perfect one’s prayer is a life-long objective of every believer. It is the purest act of worship through which slavehood to Allah Most High is expressed.

Every believer must perform the five obligatory (fard) prayers every day from puberty onwards. If any of these are missing, one will be accountable for them on the Day of Judgement.

Therefore, all missed prayers must be made up – regardless of the reason behind them being missed. One must also repent from any prayers missed due to negligence.

The Messenger of Allah, Allah bless him and give him peace, said, “The first thing a servant will be taken to account for on the Day of Judgement from his deeds is the prayer. If the prayers are in order, he is successful and saved. Otherwise, he is ruined and has failed.

The Lord – Infinitely Generous and Lofty is He – will say [to the angels], ‘Look; does my servant have any voluntary worship which can compensate for the deficiencies in his obligatory worship?’ Then the rest of his works will be treated in the same way.” [Abu Dawud]

The above narration also highlights the importance of the sunna prayers and voluntary worship.

Joining Prayers for Important Needs

Some Hanbali scholars mention joining prayers for hardship (haja). These hardships generally include everything that would allow one to skip going to Jumu’a. [Kashshaf al Qinaʿ, Bahuti]

Although this position does not exist in the Shafi’i School, it does resonate with the opinions of many Shafi’is who allow joining for need (haja). The Shafi’is explicitly mentions that giving emotional support to a patient is an excuse for missing Jumu’a. [Bushra al-Karim, Ba‘Ishn]

In your particular scenario, I do not see a need for you to practice joining prayers, except if it is genuinely impossible to pray on time at work, and Allah knows best.

Please also: Joining Prayers at Work

I pray this is of benefit.

[Shaykh] Irshaad Sedick
Checked and Approved by Shaykh Faraz Rabbani

Shaykh Irshaad Sedick was raised in South Africa in a traditional Muslim family. He graduated from Dar al-Ulum al-Arabiyyah al-Islamiyyah in Strand, Western Cape, under the guidance of the late world-renowned scholar, Shaykh Taha Karaan.

Shaykh Irshaad received Ijaza from many luminaries of the Islamic world, including Shaykh Taha Karaan, Mawlana Yusuf Karaan, and Mawlana Abdul Hafeez Makki, among others.

He is the author of the text “The Musnad of Ahmad ibn Hanbal: A Hujjah or not?” He has served as the Director of the Discover Islam Centre and Al Jeem Foundation. For the last five years till present, he has served as the Khatib of Masjid Ar-Rashideen, Mowbray, Cape Town.

Shaykh Irshaad has thirteen years of teaching experience at some of the leading Islamic institutes in Cape Town). He is currently building an Islamic online learning and media platform called ‘Isnad Academy’ and pursuing his Master’s degree in the study of Islam at the University of Johannesburg. He has a keen interest in healthy living and fitness.

This answer was collected from Seekersguidance.org. It’s an online learning platform overseen by Sheikh Faraz Rabbani. All courses are free. They also have in-person classes in Canada.