My Lord! Increase me in knowledge

The 2 asr times?

Posted on: May 14, 2011


Ever wondered why sometimes, in one prayer calendar you find asr prayer time is later than the other? Specially in the west, where people rely mostly on prayer calendar for timings, you find people often confused between the two asr prayer times.  It is because of the difference in the opinions of schools of thought. Most school of thoughts (maliki, shafi’, hanbali’) agree that asr time starts when the shadow of an object is equal to itself. But hanafi school of thought says that it should be prayed when the shadow of an object is twice its height. There are hadiths that prove both opinions are valid. I personally support the first view because i find more evidence in the hadith supporting it. I however respect the other view too.

 But lets keep the school of thought aside and go directly to the prophet’s hadith. Instead of blindly following an opinion, lets go to the source – hadith, because that is where all the imams of different schools of thought have taken from and adviced us to take from too.

Abu Dawood Book 2, Number 0393:

Narrated Abdullah Ibn Abbas:

The Apostle of Allah (peace_be_upon_him) said: Gabriel (peace_be_upon_him) led me in prayer at the House (i.e. the Ka’bah). He prayed the noon prayer with me when the sun had passed the meridian to the extent of the thong of a sandal; he prayed the afternoon prayer with me when the shadow of everything was as long as itself; he prayed the sunset prayer with me when one who is fasting breaks the fast; he prayed the night prayer with me when the twilight had ended; and he prayed the dawn prayer with me when food and drink become forbidden to one who is keeping the fast.

On the following day he prayed the noon prayer (zuhr) with me when his shadow was as long as himself; he prayed the afternoon prayer(asr) with me when his shadow was twice as long as himself; he prayed the sunset prayer at the time when one who is fasting breaks the fast; he prayed the night prayer with me when about the third of the night had passed; and he prayed the dawn prayer with me when there was a fair amount of light.

Then turning to me he said: Muhammad, this is the time observed by the prophets before you, and the time is anywhere between two times.

This hadith clearly tells us that the prophet prayed asr at both times.  On first day he prayed when his shadow was equal to himself and second day when his shadow was twice as his height. This proves that both times are valid. According to my understanding, this is for our convenience and to show us the flexibility in our religion. There are reports where prophet delayed prayer because it was too hot. And reports where he combined both prayers and prayed when zuhr time was ending and asr was starting.

Ibn ‘Abbas reported that the Messenger of Allah (may peace be upon him) combined the prayers as he set on a journey in the expedition to Tabuk. He combined the noon prayer with the afternoon prayer and the sunset prayer with the ‘Isha’ prayer. Sa’id (one of the rawis) said to Ibn ‘Abbas: What prompted him to do this? He said: He wanted that his Ummah should not be put to (unnecessary) hardship.

There is a short time frame (usually 30 – 40 mins) when the shadow moves from once the height to twice the height. One view is that zuhr time ends by then. But some scholars have said during this time, it will not be late to pray zuhr as well as not early to pray asr. It is the ending of zuhr and starting of asr. So, this is a time shared between zuhr and asr prayer.

About strictly sticking to one school of thought?

Saying that you should only stick to one school of thought and not follow the other is baseless. By doing this, you are giving the opinions of a certain imam priority over the words of prophet. People who dont pray behind others following a different school of thought are splitting up the muslims. These Imams respected each other and even prayed behind each other. Although these four imams were blessed with tremendous knowledge, they were no prophets or angels. They were humans who could make mistakes. Don’t blindly follow them. We are followers of Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) and should strive to learn his way, instead of blindly following  a certain imam who came years after. Why have we stopped going to the source? (Quran and hadith) and started relying on what we hear from people around? Before labeling yourself hanafi or shafei and dividing up yourselves, just think what the prophet was? And ask yourselves if there would be any difference in Islam if these four Imams never came?

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20 Responses to "The 2 asr times?"

quite knowledgeable…..thanks for sharing this information

Good read, but i will have to disagree. Following one of the Imams of Fiqh is necessary for every Muslim in this age and was necessary for the Muslims tht were bfore, and will likewise be necessary for Muslims in the future. To say that differences have occurred becoz of these imams is incorrect, because it is a fact that none of the previous Muslims ever had dislike for the followers of other Imams. This is a new fitnah that was introduced by ignorant ppl claiming to follow one of the Four Imams. There was not a single classical scholar ( who had not deviated from the Ahlus Sunnah) that ever was of the opinion that a person should not follow an Imam.

Salam

Thanks for sharing your opinion.
Following is one thing and blind following is another. There is absolutely no problem in following an Imam. What i am against is blind following.
Yes, the previous muslims never disliked followers of other imams because previous muslims had knowledge. Now people don’t.
Its good if anyone wants to follow an Imam but its not a requirement in religion. For me, the Quran and Prophet are enough.

I fully agree, blind following of the imams is unislamic, we can follow any competent jurist, but we have to give priority to Quran and Sunnah. Asr can be performed ealier or later, most jurists prefer the earlier time and some jurists the later time, depending on the circumstances prevailing during their era. However, to say that Asr salaah cannot be performed earlier has been refuted by almost all scholars throughout the Muslim world. May Allah guide us to the straight path.

brother usama

not everyone has to follow an imam from the 4 imams.

Jazak Allah to all for their answers. Whilst I agree that it is not an absoluate must to follow an imam for a learned person but for the general public it is a must to follow an imam and adhere to the teachings of that particular imam. Even the great scholars of our time follow one of the imams to ensure that they remain humble and free of arrogance. One thing we cannot do is to ‘pick and mix’. If you start to ‘pick and mix’, then you will always take the easy option. Let me give you an example; I believe Imam Abu Hanifa says that above a certain amount of gold, one must pay zakat (even though it is for personal use), whist Imam Shafi says that as long as the gold is for personal use, then one does not have to pay any zakat. I hope I have made the situation a little clearer in suggesting that it is best to follow one of the four great Imams. Allah knows best. Jazak Allah Khair.

It is Allah’s Messenger (alayhi salam) we follow entirely, and for this reason we can follow anyone who brings forth the strongest evidence from the Quran and Sunnah from any of the Imams and other than them. This means it is ok to follow all of them at the same time and pick and choose according to the Evidence provided by any of them with the intention to be sincere to Allah.

Anyone who says, it is compulsory to follow a particular one in all matters is like saying there is someone else we have to follow other than Allah’s messenger, and Allah knows best.

salalahu alayhi wasalam.

Wonderful answer Brother Ayub. We fully respect the four imams as well as any other competent jurist, but the truth of the matter is they are human and can err. Quran and Sunnah gets priority and the jurist whose interpretation and evidence is the strongest. Blind adherence to any madhab is not acceptable. Madhab ia a means to an end and not the end in itself. Wasalaam.

As the Hanafi daleel on the payment of Zakaat for personal use is the strongest, other imams agree that you could pay zakat on gold for personal use. This is what jurisprudence is all about. Respect for the views of others is important. Once imam Shafi was performing Fajr salaah near the grave of Imam Abu Hanifa and that particular morning did not perform the Qunoot Nazila as is common with Shafis. Asked why he did not perform Qunoot in Fajr that day, he Imam Shafi replied. “Out of respect for this great Imam Abu Hanifa who lies buried here. Jurisprudence is therefore a matter of opinion based on evidence and interpretation. It could be right or wrong. No need to make a mountain of these juristic opinions. Salaam

Don’t mind but you really don’t know how jurisprudence came into existence and how hadees were collected. This was the reason for 1300 years more than 99% ulema agreed blindly on taqleed cause if u reject opinion of one imam on one issue whole of his jurisprudence lies open to scrutiny and to suspicion of mistaken interpretation unless proven otherwise.

Mm.. when the angel Jibreel said to the Prophet (peace be upon him) that the time is anywhere between the two times.. doesn’t this also make sense that the Angel showed the Prophet (peace be upon him) the time limits of the prayers.. meaning the first day he showed the starting times of the respective prayers and second day he showed till when the prayers must be performed.. then said “the time is anywhere between the two times” and not “any one” of the two times..
We can’t say all are correct.. we need to think!
If you are saying “Islam is not about rational thinking and we must accept things as it is”.. then this is not the kind of taqleed Islam promotes. It encourages us to think but stop (rational) thinking where the Salaf stopped eg. In matters of aqeedah ..

I seek Allah’s forgiveness if I’m wrong.. and protect the Ummah from being misguided. Aameen.

Yes, i see what you are saying. The time has to be in between the two times. But that would make the time for asr really short. God knows best.
And i am not saying its not about rational thinking. Ofcourse it is. The Quran, in many places tells us to think and ponder upon things. Ameen.

Jazak’Allah..

Your article is baseless because you just gave some personal opinion in which encourages people to fatwa shop

usul al fiqh and the position of layman is important to know

Yes there people who go extreme in following madhab hut the other side is people who go extreme in not following a madhab or scholar and just fatwa shop with matters like this

Even on this matter you only picked a few hadith so you didnt even explain the asr mithl properly and gave a wrong explanation of it

The purpose of the article to put out the most common hadith related this matter. It doesn’t encourage people to fatwa shop, it encourages them to seek knowledge and learn directly from what the prophet did. If you have any other authentic hadith in this matter, please share. Also, Can you please provide the right explanation of asr mithl?

My dear brothers, Asr salaah is Asr salaah. It can be performed earlier or later, we have the option as Islam is a practical religion. What majority of the scholars are objecting to is to say that Asr cannot be performed earlier when there are clear cut ahadith to prove it. The prophet (saw) performed Asr mostly in the beginning time and sometimes in the later time. Hence, most jurists prefer the earlier time and some jurists the later time. However, to contend that Asr cannot be performed earlier is rejected by the vast majority of jurists throughout the muslim world. Shukran

fatwa, ulema, hadith, imams, etc, how about Allah’s words of the Quran ? Did Allah forgot to mention the times of prayers ? Isn’t Islam as per Allah’s hadiths ? Will we not be judged as per Allah’s hadiths ? Are Allah’s hadiths not have any priority, value, that they are often bypassed, not taken into account ?

Jazakallah !

Yes prophet (SAS) showed start time and end of asr time… now a dayz it is duty of all scholars to sit together and fix a azan time some where between start and end time and give room for gap between azan and aqamat and fix a single time… instead of creating issue… in our area we have ahle hadees jamat give azan 1 hour b4 sunni jamat .. because of this huge hatred is existing between them… so why not they come to single opinion in accordance with prophets teaching… both azan falls exactly start and end time of asr time… so better choose a single time… which also will not create confusion among non muslim who are in dismay over this difference azan time in different masjid.. as our prophet(SAS) fought for unity and one allah………….

my writing skills is not so impressive … but i tried to give logic …

allah knows best

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