Posts Tagged ‘distractions during prayers’


November 4, 2015


Some Muslim take delay in prayers very lightly. Other even procrastinate on purpose and finish other tasks before finally offering their prayers. Delay in any type of prayer whether it be Mandatory, Compulsory or Supererogatory is frowned upon. (With two exceptions explained later)*1

Fuqha (Islamic Jurists) have deduced from Surah 8, V-24 that prayers should be offered on time unless there is a valid excuse, which is translated as:-

“O Believers respond to Allah and to the Messenger when he calls you, to that which will give you life; and know that Allah (sometimes) stands between the man and his heart, and that you shall be mustered to Him”(God standing between man and his heart; apparently is an analogical expression that, He is watching keenly who is swift in responding to the call and who is not)

Delay in prayers is frowned upon and is reprehensible, “unless”, there is a legitimate and valid reason for not performing on due times. Another thing must also be understood very clearly, that despite (Fard) prayers being mandatory “on time” — is not part of this compulsion. There is a logical reason for it. (Explained later)*2

Surah Sad # 38, V 31- 33 lays down a test situation encountered by prophet Sulaiman (A.S) — in these words. “When swift hybrid horses were shown to him in the evening, (31) (while missing the ASAR prayer) he said I have preferred the good things of the world to the remembrance of my Lord, until they were taken out of sight behind the curtain (32) then he said Bring them back to me and fell to slashing with (his sword their) legs and necks” (33)


The event is explained in exegeses (tafaseer); that while he was inspecting swift and hybrid horses being prepared for forthcoming jihad, he got so engrossed patting them on their necks and shanks that he missed the Asar prayer. When he realized, he asked them to be brought back and ordered them to be sacrificed. (Few more events, taken from Islamic traditions and Ahadith, of attention-diversion during prayer and their amends)


Sahabi Abu Jahm (R.A) presented a throw over shawl to the prophet (PBUH) which had some design on it. Prophet used it once and then returned it, for he got distracted casting a glance at its design during prayer.

Sahabi Abu Talhah (R.A) while praying at his farm diverted his attention by looking at a bird. To make up for this diversion during the prayer he gave away the farm in Charity.

Famous Sufi Shibli (R.A) burnt his clothes as a self-imposed penalty.

Note: It is permissible to deprive oneself of some lawful things as a punishment for mending the aberrant self.  (“self” {nafs} control practice has been a common way of Prophets, Sahabah, Sufis & Saints).

These examples show the importance of undiluted attention and timely offering of the prayers.

Explanation *1

Zuhr Prayer

Abu Hurairah and Abu Dharr.(R.A) Narrate that during a journey Bilal (R.A) wanted to make a call to prayer (Adhan) but Prophet (PBUH) asked him to wait till it cools down. Therefore Zuhr Prayer may be delayed in similar circumstances (purely) to emulate Sunnah.

Isha Prayer

It is always better to offer it late when not in congregation. Tajajjud should be offered around 4 O.C. It is not only Sunnah but also suggested in Qura’an at different places. (Surah Mu’min 40, V-55—Seek forgiveness for your sins and proclaim the purity of Allah in the Afternoon and at Dawn).


The offering of “only-Fard” prayers is mandatory and offering them on time is desired, preferable and reward worthy.   “ON TIME” however, is not mandatory as it is not always humanly possible to be precise about the timing of each prayer and in all conditions. Allah (SWT) has, therefore, granted this convenience so that His slaves would not be not committing sins all the times. (Due to delays) however, there has to be a legitimate reason—not–deliberate procrastination).


Explanation 3

Supererogatory (Sunnah & Nafil) should better be offered before/after the Mandatory prayers, but if missed for some reason, may be offered at other times but are not necessary compulsory or mandatory at all.  Not performing them would not entail any punishment).


Explanation 4

Compulsory (Vitar & Sunan Muakkada) is also not necessary to be offered once missed.


Prayer can be offered as due on time (Ada 

Given the legitimate compulsions; one can perform Zuhr and Asar, Maghrib and Isha together. (even in reverse order) these would be Ada prayers as due on time. 

When you feel composed (at peace/contented), then keep up the prayer; surely the prayer has been a timed prescription (Literally: book) for the believers. (Q, 4:103) 


One can shorten/curtail either of the prayers in case of a time-related emergency, except Fajar, to 2 Rakah. (-Kasar/jama) 

If one gets overwhelmed by the urgency of circumstances, such as sleep, forgetfulness, duress etc. one should offer the missed prayer immediately or at the first available chance.  In this case, any of the above prayers offered will not be Qaza but Ada; As due on time. (H)  

One, if and when compelled/in danger, can offer the prayer even walking, riding an animal or a vehicle.  

“In an emergency, you may say your prayers while walking or riding” (Q, 2:239) 

Neglect or sin is committed when one is awake, in senses and free to act on his own volition. Not when sleeping, out of senses (mistaken due to wrong understanding) or under duress. 

Wasting/defaulting the prayer. 

In the exegeses of verse 19:59 exegetes have tried to stretch the words/views of several companions (without any acceptable authority or apparent logical reasoning) to fit their own, making the prayers performed after the time as wasted/lost. 

In my humble understanding, it contradicts the Sunnah and Hadith. Prophet mixed Zuhr and Asar, Maghrib and Isha; which discounts the above offered exegetical view. Quoted hereunder is an abridged Hadith also to highlight the point. 

Hadith narrated by Abu Mas’ud Ansari, quoted in Tirmazi. 

“A prayer is lost when “Aqamah/Qiyam”(standing upright) is not observed; before and after the “ruku’u” bowing down and “Sujda” prostration and sitting properly and adequately in between the “suju’ud” prostrations. Improper Ablution may also nullify one’s prayer.

Note:- Should there be any unintended misinterpretation or misrepresentation would be absolutely due to the neglect or inadequacy of the author of this piece. May Allah guide and forgive me for it.



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