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Thursday 1st of December 2022
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Why do the Shī‘ah perform the five daily prayers in three periods?

Why do the Shī‘ah perform the five daily prayers in three periods?

 

 

 

Reply: In order to clarify this point, we had better examine the views of jurists [fuqahā] in this regard first:

1. All Muslim groups agree that in ‘Arafah[1] one may perform both noon [uhr] and afternoon [ar] prayers successively without any interval between them, and in Muzdalifah[2] it is also permissible to say sunset [maghrib] and night [‘ishā’] prayers at the time of ‘ishā’ prayer.

2. The anafīs say: Performing uhr and ‘ar prayers successively with no interval between them and performing ‘ishā’ soon after maghrib are permissible only in ‘Arafah and Muzdalifah. That is, one is not allowed to do so except in these two occasions.

3. The Ḥanbalīs, Mālikīs and Shāfi‘īs say: It is permissible to perform uhr and ‘ar prayers successively or maghrib and ‘ishā’ prayers one after another with no interval between them while traveling in addition to the two stated cases (i.e., in ‘Arafah and Muzdalifah). Some of these groups also say that it is permissible to perform two prayers successively at emergency cases such as rain, sickness, or fear of enemy.[3]

4. The Shī‘ah are of the opinion that each of uhr and ‘ar prayers, and maghrib and ‘ishā’ prayers has a specific time and a common time:

a. The specific time for uhr prayer extends from the beginning of the religiously prescribed noon [uhr ash-shar‘ī] (i.e. time of decline from the meridian [waqt az-zuwāl]) up to the time when one completes the four rak‘ahs of uhr prayer. During this limited period of time, only uhr prayer can be performed.

b. The specific time for ‘ar prayer is a limited period of time preceding maghrib. It extends from the first rak‘ah until the end of the fourth rak‘ah of ‘ar prayer.

c. The common time for uhr and ‘ar prayers is the period between the end of the specific time for uhr prayer and the beginning of the specific time for ‘ar prayer.

The Shī‘ah position is that during this common time, one can perform uhr and ‘ar prayers one after the other with no interval between them. The Ahl as-Sunnah, however, believe that the period allotted exclusively to uhr extends from the beginning of ẓuhr ash-shar‘ī [waqt az-zuwāl] up to the time when the shadow of an object becomes as long as itself and in this period performing ‘ar prayer is not permissible. They add that the period between the end of uhr prayer and the beginning of maghrib is allotted exclusively to ‘ar prayer in which performing uhr prayer is not permissible.

d. The time allotted exclusively to maghrib prayer extends from the commencement of the religiously prescribed sunset (maghrib ash-shar‘ī) up to the time when one completes the three rak‘ahs of maghrib prayer and in this period, performing other than maghrib prayer is not permissible.

e. The time allotted exclusively to ‘ishā’ prayer is a limited time which precedes the religiously prescribed “midnight” which encompasses only the time for the four rak‘ahs of ‘ishāprayer, and in this period, performing other than ‘ishā’ prayer is not permissible.

f. The common time for maghrib and ‘ishā prayers extends from the moment which marks the end of the time allotted exclusively to maghrib prayer up to the beginning of the time allotted exclusively to ‘ishā’ prayer.

According to the Shī‘ah, in the common time one is allowed to perform maghrib and ‘ishā’ prayers one after the other with no interval between them.  The Ahl as-Sunnah, however, say that the period which extends from the beginning of maghrib to the declension of aurora [zuwāl ash-shafaq] is the time allotted exclusively to maghrib prayer and in this period performing ‘ishā’ prayer is not permissible. And they say that the period between the declension of aurora and the religiously prescribed “midnight” is allotted exclusively to ‘ishā’ prayer in which performing maghrib prayer is not permissible.

The conclusion is that according to the Shī‘ah view, when the religiously prescribed noon [uhr ash-shar‘ī] begins, we may perform uhr prayer and perform ‘ar prayer immediately afterward. We may also delay uhr prayer and perform it before the time allotted exclusively to ‘ar prayer provided that our performing of uhr prayer ends before the beginning of the time allotted exclusively to ‘ar prayer and we can perform ‘ar prayer afterward. As such, we can perform uhr and ‘ar prayers successively though it is recommended to perform uhr prayer after the declension (from the meridian) and ‘ar prayer when the shadow of every object becomes equal to itself in length.

Also, we may perform maghrib prayer as soon as the religiously prescribed sunset [maghrib ash-shar‘ī] begins and perform ‘ishā’ prayer immediately afterward. We may also delay the performance of maghrib prayer till before the beginning of the time allotted exclusively to ‘ishā’ prayer provided that we finish performing maghrib prayer before the arrival of the time allotted exclusively to ‘ishā’ prayer and we can perform ‘ishā’ prayer afterward. As such, we can perform maghrib and ‘ishā’ prayers successively though it is recommended to perform maghrib prayer after the religiously prescribed sunset and ‘ishā’ prayer after the declension of the aurora from the west.

This is the Shī‘ah’s view. As for Ahl as-Sunnah, they say it is not permissible to successively perform uhr and ‘ar prayers or the maghrib and ‘ishā’ prayers at any place or time. The bone of contention, therefore, is the performance of two prayers at all times and places so that both prayers are performed in the time of one of them just like performing two prayers successively in ‘Arafah and Muzdalifah.

5. All Muslims agree that the Holy Prophet () had offered these two prayers in succession, but this tradition is interpreted in two ways:

a. The Shī‘ah say that what is meant by this tradition is that one is allowed to perform uhr prayer at its appointed time and perform ‘ar prayer immediately after uhr prayer. Similarly, one is allowed to perform maghrib prayer at its appointed time and perform ‘ishā’ prayer immediately after maghrib prayer. And this ruling is applicable without such restrictions like time, place or condition; rather, it is permissible at any time and place.

b. The others say that what is meant by this is that one can wait for a while and perform uhr prayer at the end of the period of the time allotted exclusively to it and offer ‘ar prayer at its initial period. Also, one can wait for a while and perform the maghrib prayer at the end of the period allotted exclusively to it and offer ‘ishā’ prayer at its initial period.

In order to clarify this point, we shall examine the pertinent traditions to prove that what the traditions say about offering two prayers in succession [jam‘] is consistent with what the Shī‘ah say. That is, one can offer the two prayers at the time of the other, and not in the end of the period of the time allotted exclusively to it and the other one at its initial period.



[1] ‘Arafāt: a plain about 21 kilometers north of Mecca where pilgrims have to stay from noon to sunset on the 9th day of Dhū’l-Hijjah (Day of ‘Arafāt) as one of the hajj rites. [Trans.]

[2] Muzdalifah: a place where pilgrims [ujjāj] have to stop to pick up 70 pebbles which are to be thrown on the symbols of Satan in Mīnā. [Trans.]

[3] Adapted from Al-Fiqh ‘ala’l-Madhāhib al-Arba‘ah, “Kitāb a-alāh, al-Jam‘ bayn a-alatayn Taqdīmān wa Ta’khīrān.”

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