Question 199: Assalamualaikum. Is the time of Asr like that of the Hanafi school, or like all of the others? What are the prayer times (i.e. the due time for obligatory prayers)?
Answer 199: There are three time periods allocated to every one of the five daily prayers that are as follows:
1- The specific period: the period in which no other prayer can be performed.
2- The common period: the period in which you can perform Dhuhr and Asr or Maghrib and Isha prayers. It must be noted that their order must be observed (at noon, the Dhuhr prayer must be done before Asr, and at night, the Maghrib prayer must be done before Isha).
3- The time of merit: The period which praying in has more thawab or reward.
Due Time for Zuhr and Asr Prayer
The due time for offering the Zuhr and Asr prayers is from midday to Maghrib (sunset) and the time for Zuhr prayer is reserved from its beginning to the extent required for offering it according to the circumstances of the person offering the prayer, and, like wise, Asr is reserved for the last, while the time between them is common to both.
Due Time for Maghrib and Isha Prayers
The due time for the Maghrib and Ishã’ prayers in ordinary circumstances is from Maghrib (evening) till midnight, out of which the time for Maghrib prayer is reserved from its beginning to the extent it is required for offering it, and the Ishã’ prayer for the last according to the circumstances of the person offering the prayer, and the time between them is common to both.
If a person does not offer both the (Maghrib and Ishã’) prayers until midnight in case of emergency due to sleep, forgetfulness, menstruation, etc., or deliberately, it is more cautious for him to offer both the prayers upto the beginning of the morning with the intention of what he owes.
In case the time left for beginning of the morning is not sufficient for offering both the prayers, he should, by way of precaution, offer the Ishã’ prayers. It is more cautious to offer both the compensatory prayers in succession after the due time.
The due time for offering the morning (Fajr) prayers is from the early dawn to sun-rise. The preferred time for offering the Zuhr prayer is from midday to the time the shadow of the stake of the sun-dial equals the stake, while the last preferred time for offering the Asr prayer is when the shadow of the stake of the sun-dial becomes double of the stake, but the beginning of the preferred time for offering the Asr prayer is when, according to the more evident opinion, the shadow reaches four feet, or 4/8 of the stake, though it is not far from being likely that its beginning should be after the due limit for offering the Zuhr prayer.
Preferred Time for Maghrib and Isha Prayers
The preferred time for offering Maghrib prayer is from the sun-set to the disappearance of the twilight, which is the redness in the western horizon. That is also the beginning of the preferred time for offering Ishã’ prayers which lasts upto one-third of the night. Its time is divided into several parts: before the disappearance of the twilight and after the one-third to middle of the night
Preferred Time for Morning Prayer
The preferred time for offering the Morning Prayer is from early dawn to the appearance of the eastern twilight. Perhaps its appearance is interrelated with the time of day break, aurora and lightening of the morning which has come in the religious texts.
The reservation of time (for a particular prayer) means that it would not be valid to offer another prayer at that time as due, but there is no hindrance in offering a prayer which is not a partner in that time as the compensatory prayer for that or any other day. Likewise, there is no hindrance in offering a prayer which is a partner in that time after one had fulfilled what was due in that time.
If a person offers Asr prayer before Zuhr prayer, but there is ample time left for offering four Rak’ats, it would be valid to offer Zuhr prayer during that time as within the due time.
Likewise, if a person offers Zuhr prayer before midday under the impression that its due time has arrived, and then the due time arrives before its completion, there shall be no hindrance in offering the Asr prayer after finishing the prayer and it is not obligatory to delay it until the passage of time required for offering four Rak’ats. Rather if the entire Asr prayer is offered during the time of Zuhr prayers, according to the strong opinion, it would be valid, in the same way as when a person believes that he has offered Zuhr prayer and so offers the Asr prayer, but later it transpires that he had not offered (Zuhr prayer), though the entire Asr prayer had taken place during the time reserved for the Zuhr prayer. But caution must not be given up in case he could not find a part of the common time (Zuhr and Asr prayers).
Taking what was said regarding the asr prayer and the period of performing it into consideration, one must say that generally speaking, the period of Dhuhr and Asr prayer is from Dhuhr till Maghrib. The duration required to perform a Dhuhr prayer after the Dhuhr time begins is the specific time of Dhuhr prayer meaning that performing asr prayer in this period is not accepted. Also, the duration required to perform an Asr prayer just before sunset is the specific period of Asr prayer.
The period between the two specific periods explained is the common period for Dhuhr and Asr prayers and in other words, performing these two prayers in this period is allowed, although the Dhuhr prayer must be performed first.
The time of merit for Asr prayer starts when the specific period of Dhuhr prayer ends and continues until the shadow of the indicator (shakhes) increases by twice the size of the indicator. Therefore, what is meant when it is said “the beginning of Asr prayer time”, is the beginning of the time of merit for the Asr prayer.
For further information on this issue, please refer to the follwing answers:
Index: The Daily Nafilah Prayers & Their due time, answer 018.
Index: Men and Women: Covering body in prayers, answer 594.
Index: Number of things which invalidate the prayer, answer 547.
Index: Do we have to pray in Arabic language, answer 010.
Index: The Secret of Prayer / Sirr us-Salat, answer 589.
 . Tahrir al-Wasilah of Imam Khomeini, Vol. 1, Chapter on Preliminaries of Prayer.
 . If one realizes that he/she is performing Asr prayer before Dhuhr prayer, he/she must change his/her intention to Dhuhr prayer and finish the prayer and then perform the Asr prayer and it very good for him/her to perform the Asr prayer once again (but it isn’t necessary). Tawdihul-Masael (Imam Khomeini’s annotation), vol. 1, pg. 405.
 . Therefore if one delays his Dhuhr prayer until the specific period of Asr prayer, the Dhuhr prayer wil be qadha, and he must perform the Asr prayer in that period, and compensate for his Dhuhr prayer later; Tawzih al-Masael of Maraja’ (annotated by Imam Khomeini), Vol. 1, Q. 731.
 . Tahrirul-Wasilah, vol. 1, kitabul-salah, muqaddamatul-salah, al-muqaddamal-ula, issues 6,7 and 8, pg. 112; Imam Khomeini, Tawdihul-Masael, issue 731.
 . Although at first Imam Khomeini says that the time of merit for the Asr prayer is when the shadow of the indicator reaches 4/7th of its length, but later in the issue he says that it doesn’t seem far to say that the beginning of its time begins after the specific time of the Dhuhr prayer. (Tahrirul-Wasilah, vol. 1, pg. 112, issue 6).
 . Any kind of a pole-like object that is vertically put on a horizontal ground is called a shakhes/indicator. A good example would be a stick that is put into the ground vertically.
The shakhes is used to tell when the sun begins its decline, which is also the sign of the Dhuhr prayer time. If a straight stick or the like are put into the ground, as Dhuhr time draws near, the shadow of the stick will recess, until it totally perishes. The shadow then begins to grow again on another side of the stick. This indicates the beginning of the sun’s decline and the beginning of the Dhuhr prayer. It has also been said that the time of merit for the Dhuhr prayer is from the beginning of the sun’s decline, until when the shadow of the shakhes reaches the length of the shakhes. For instance, if the shakhes is 10 cm long, when its shadow reaches 10 cm, that is the end of the time of merit for the Dhuhr prayer; (Tahrirul-Wasilah, vol.1, kitabul-salah, muqaddamatul-salah, al-muqaddamal-ula, issue 6; Urwatul-Wuthqa (with Imam Khomeini’s annotations), pp. 272-273; Mohammad Hosein Fallahzadeh, Amuzesh Feqh, pp. 125 and 126).