Dear brothers and sisters,
In our last few khutbahs, we have reflected upon some of the basics taught by Islam, basics such as the concept of Tawheed as a foundation to our emaan, or about the brotherhood and sisterhood that all of us Muslims share together. Today's khutbah, however, isn’t aimed to reflect on a topic or
an issue, but rather to educate us on prayers. So, today’s topic of interest is going to be “Times, places and conditions when prayers are not prescribed” Yes, you read it right... while we are to pray five times a day obligatory and then we can perform voluntary prayers if we feel like it, there are times in a day, or places in this world, or circumstances during which, prayers are not prescribed or outright, forbidden. So, let's tackle each category one-by-one. Times when its not allowed to pray There are three times in a day when performing salat is haram:
1. When the sun is seen rising
2. At the time of Zeenat when the sun is at the highest peak
3. The time of sun set. The time of sunrise begins when you start seeing the tip of the sun from the east of the horizon and it ends when sun has risen to a point where a full circle of sun can be appreciated. The easiest way to figure out is to check whether the sun that you see if it still looks pale or not (The sun doesn’t become yellow bright suddenly... it takes time). The time of sunrise roughly last 15 min. Similarly, the time of sunset begins when the circle of the sun starts to touch the western horizon and it becomes pale. The time ends when it disappears completely, and this takes roughly 15 mins. Right after this, maghrib starts. These two times are proved by hadith mentioned in Al-Bukhari (548) and Muslim (1371) narrated by
Ibn ‘Umar RA who said: The Messenger of Allah (SAW) said: “When the top edge of the sun has risen, then delay praying until it has risen above the horizon, and when the lower part of the sun has set, delay praying until it is fully set.” So, praying during sunrise is haram and praying during sunset is haram. What about the time between fajr till sunrise and asr till sunset? E.g., if today, sunrise begins at 7:00am, but let's say someone prayed at 6 30am... can one pray a voluntary prayer between 6 30 till 7 am before sunrise starts? Similarly, what if someone prays asr at 5 pm and maghrib is at 6:45 pm, should they be able to pray anything after praying asr until 6 30 pm, before the sunset begins? The answer to this is shown in the report narrated by al-Bukhari (547) and Muslim (1367) from Ibn ‘Abbas RA, who said: “Some trustworthy men bore witness in my presence, the most trustworthy of whom in my view was ‘Umar, that the Prophet (SAW) forbade praying after Fajr until the sun had risen and after ‘Asr until
the sun had set.” Imam Hanbali was of the view that this hadith means we can’t pray any sunnahs or nafl at all once the time of fajr or asr begins, except the two sunnah rakat that come before the two obligatory rakats of fajr while Imam Shafai’s view was that once someone performs fajr prayers or asr prayers, then there are no voluntary prayers as they are forbidden. I am personally in agreement more with the Shafai’s view
The third and last time where prayers are forbidden is the time of zawaal (when the sun is at its peak, also known as Zenith. The sun is the brightest during this time and depending upon the region, the shadows can become next to zero in length. This time generally starts roughly 7 to 8 min prior to the time when Zuhr starts so if e.g., today, zuhr started at 1 pm, the time of Zenith would start close to 12:50 pm till 1 pm. This is shown in a hadith in Muslim (1373) narrated that ‘Uqbah ibn ‘Aamir al-Juhani said: “There are three times at which the Messenger of Allah SAW forbade us to pray or to bury our dead: when the sun has clearly started to rise until it is fully risen, when it is directly overhead at midday until it has passed its zenith, and when the sun starts to set until it has fully set.”
So, it's forbidden to pray or bury our dead during sunrise, during Zawaal and during sunset. One important thing to clarify here is that while burying is prohibited, funeral prayer isn’t as it differs from the prescribed prayers in that there is no fixed time for offering it. It may be offered at any time, including the times when regular prayers may not be offered. This is the opinion of the Hanafi and Shafai school of thought. Ahmad, Ibn Al-Mubarak, and Ishaq dislike offering a funeral prayer at sunrise, at noon when the sun is at its zenith, and at dusk when the sun is about to set, except in cases when it is feared that if delayed, the body might decompose. Places and conditions where it’s not permissible to pray
According to Jami` at-Tirmidhi, Hadith 346, classified as Hasan, Ibn Umar RA narrated: "The Prophet SAW prohibited Salat from being performed in seven places: the dung heap, the slaughtering area, the graveyard, the commonly used road, the wash area, in the area that camels rest at, and above the House of Allah (the Kaaba)." To make it easier, lets categorize and understand these places instead of memorizing them
individually. Four out of seven are the more obvious ones because the issue with those places is with cleanliness.
1. Dung heaps or better translated in today’s world, landfill where all the sewage gets dumped.
2. Slaughtering areas where there is blood and animal hives.
3. Washing areas where someone relieves themselves (meaning bathrooms or toilets)
4. Areas where camels can rest, meaning areas where the soil is heavily and continuous being mixed with animal excreta and detriments because it’s a resting place for camels. This is consistent with what Islam preaches in terms of cleanliness. Allah says in Surah Al-Baqarah [2:222] “...Truly, Allah loves those who turn to Him constantly and He loves those who keep themselves pure
and clean” (2:222)
In another place in Quran, Surah Maida [5:6] Allah SWT says: “O you who have believed, when you rise to [perform] prayer, wash your faces and your forearms to the elbows and wipe over your heads and wash your feet to the ankles. And if you are in a state of Janabah, then purify yourselves.”
It should be clear that while we ourselves need to be clean before performing salat, we also need to make sure that ground we put our heads against is clean as well. A commonly used road such as e.g., a busy street in downtown Boston... one can pray there if that person not in the middle of the road obstructing peoples path, and, that part is also clean. (Similar logic can also be applied for areas when camel rest since camels are also used to ride in the desert). The reason why it has been prohibited is because one, you can’t maintain cleanliness of the middle of the road and two, Islam also wants you to learn civic sense. You can’t obstruct someone’s path just because you can while people are out doing business. It is not allowed for us as Muslims to be a source of inconvenience for people around you so don’t pray on a common road unless either you have permission from the authorities to do so or you are on the sides, meaning away from traffic of the road, and even then, make sure you have something clean to pray on such as a sheet or paper. The top of Holy Kaaba is prohibited because according to the consensus, there is no sense of direction meaning if you’re on top of it. Allah SWT says in Surah al Baqarah [2:144] “We have certainly seen the turning of your face, [O Muhammad], toward the heaven, and We will surely turn you to a Qibla with which you will be pleased. So, turn your face toward al-Masjid al- Haram. And wherever you [believers] are, turn your faces toward it [in prayer]. Indeed, those who have been given the Scripture well know that it is the truth from their Lord. And Allah is not unaware of what they do.The context of this verse is that we’re being instructed to face the Kaaba when we pray, even if we can’t see it. But on top of a Kaaba, that sense of direction is lost because we then face a technical issue of what to face really. Last but not the least, it is prohibited to pray on graves or the ground where graves are dug. According to Hadith narrated by Muslim (v.7 p.38) Abu Dawood (v.3 p. 210), Tirmidhi (v.2 p. 154) Nisaee (v.2 p.53), on the authority of Abu Sa’eed al-Khudree RA said: The Messenger of Allah SAW said: “Do not sit on graves and do not pray towards them.”
In another hadith from Muslim (v.6 p.568), it is narrated from Abu Hurairah RA who said: The prophet SAW said: ‘Do not make your houses into graveyards, verily Shaitan runs away from the house in which Surah al Baqarah is recited.”This is because this, as a practice, was seen and is still seen around the world where they would turn to the dead ones and pray towards the graves. People from different parts of the world, including those who belong to the family Abrahamic religions are guilty of this practice.
In a hadith in Ṣaḥīḥ al-Bukhārī 1390, Ṣaḥīḥ Muslim 529, Aisha RA reported: The Messenger of Allah SAW said during his illness from which he did not recover, “Allah has cursed the Jews and Christians, who have taken the graves of their prophets as places of worship.” Aisha RA continued and said: “Were it not for that, his grave would have been in a prominent place, but it was feared that it would be taken as a place of worship.” We are specifically instructed to stay away from that practice as far as possible much in the same way as we’re instructed to not have statues or photos in front of us when we pray. This is because we do not wish to give others the impression that somehow, our sajdahs are directed towards anyone else than Allah SWT. Only Allah SWT has the right to be prostrated towards. Even though earlier prophets were given the authority to do sajdah of respect (sajdah-e-tahzeemi), Prophet Muhammad SAW has specifically told us to not even do that as evident in several hadiths. It was narrated by
al-Tirmidhi, al-Salaah, 291; classed as sahih by al-Albaani in Sahih Sunan al-Tirmidhi, 262: Prophet SAW said: “All the earth is a mosque except for graveyards and bathrooms.”
Dear Brothers and sisters,
There is a lot to recap from today’s khutbah in terms of the information. To re-iterate, there are three times when prayers are haram, namely sunrise, Zenith and sunset and then two times when its highly unrecommended are times after one has prayed fajr till sun starts rising and time after one has prayed asr till the sun starts setting. Similarly, there are places where sajdah and with it, prayers are prohibited. Seven of those places I
made clear by narrating the hadith earlier on. Those seven include four obvious ones due to cleanliness, namely slaughterhouses, resting areas of camels, bathrooms and dung hills or landfills where waste products can be found. The other three include top of Kaaba due to technical issue of
what to face, middle of a busy road because of civic inconvenience it’ll cause and premises where graves are dug because it's an action specifically prohibited by Islam. If you can remember these places, you’ll come to understand that several other conditions where one cannot pray also revolve around these e.g., a woman can’t pray during her periods, or a person can’t pray when they have touched swine because its unclean. Similarly, one cannot pray on a land they don’t have permission on or own because it's against civic sense or one cannot pray in areas if there are so many statues or photos planted on walls that you cannot face qibla without looking or staring at one.
So please, with today’s khutbah, my advice would be to pass the good word of Allah SWT and his last messenger SAW around as much as you can. Remember, according to Sahih al-Bukhari (3461) it is narrated from ‘Abd-Allah ibn ‘Amr (RA): The Prophet (SAW) said: Convey from me, even if it is a verse” I encourage you guys to try to remember as much as you can and research yourselves as well so you can retain this information and pass it along correctly when you do. Of course, Allah SWT is the creator and is all-knowing.