Delayed (qada) Prayer


Could you please advise me on qaḍā prayer? Are we allowed to offer the delayed prayer with any of the five obligatory prayers? Also please explain if we can offer the left over prayers any time or it is necessary to offer a particular prayer only that time in the coming days.


Before attempting to answer your question I would like you to appreciate that the concept of Qaza prayer does not emanate from the basic sources of religious knowledge in Islam. It has not been discussed in the Qur'an or the Sunnah. Consequently we the Muslim scholars have differed over the legality of the practice. A study of the Shari'ah directives regarding the prayer reveals that believers are expected to offer prayers on the prescribed times. The Holy Qur'an says:

إِنَّ الصَّلاَةَ كَانَتْ عَلَى الْمُؤْمِنِينَ كِتَابًا مَّوْقُوتًا

Indeed, prayer is a duty incumbent on the faithful, to be offered at appointed hours. (4:103)

This is the basic divine commandment in this regard. the early Muslims were well conscious of this obvious importance of this basic worship ritual. They would diligently offer prayers at prescribed times. The question of offering prayer after the prescribed time intentionally or unintentionally arose much later. This is because we do not fin even the Prophet's [pbuh] comments in this respect.

We will start with abandoning the prayer due to some reasonable excuse. As pointed out earlier, during the time the Qur'ān was revealed none would leave the prayers except in situations beyond control for example, if a man remained asleep and missed the prayer. He would offer his prayer as soon as he would be released of the situation that kept him from discharging this primary duty. This is because we have prophetic guidance in this connection who is reported to have remarked that prayer offered thus delayed would be considered duly offered.

قال نبي الله ‏ ‏صلى الله عليه وسلم ‏ ‏من نسي صلاة أو نامعنها فكفارتها أن يصليها إذا ذكرها

He who forgets the prayer or sleeps through its time, its expiation is that he should perform the prayer when he recalls it. (Muslim, No: 684)

The Prophet [pbuh] himself offered delayed prayer when he and his Companions could not offer Asar prayer during the battle of Ditch.

عن جابر بن عبد الله أن عمر بن الخطاب جاء يوم الخندق بعد ما غربت الشمس فجعل يسب كفار قريش قال يا رسول الله ما كدت أصلي العصر حتى كادت الشمس تغرب قال النبي صلى الله عليه و سلم والله ما صليتها فقمنا إلى بطحان فتوضأ للصلاة وتوضأنا لها فصلى العصر بعد ما غربت الشمس ثم صلى بعدها المغرب

Jabir Bin Abdullah narrates: "On the day of Al-Khandaq Umar Bin Al-Khattaab approached (the Prophet [pbuh]) after the sun had set and started cursing the Quraishidisbelievers. He explained, "O Messenger of God I could not offer the 'Asr prayer till the sun had set." The Prophet [pbuh] replied, "By God! I, too, have not prayed." So we turned towards But-haan, and (the Prophet [pbuh]) performed ablution for the prayer and so did we. He led the 'Asr prayer after the sun had set. Then afterwards he offered the Maghrib prayer. [Bukhari, No:571]

The Prophet [pbuh] is reported to have said:

إنه ليس في النوم تفريط إنما التفريط في اليقظة فإذا نسي أحدكم صلاة أو نام عنها فليصلها إذا ذكرها

There is no deliberate negligence on (on the part of the individual) in case he is asleep (and delays the prayer). Negligence occurs when one abandons the prayer awake. Therefore, if any among you forgets the prayer or slept through the time he should offer on remembering it. (Tirmidhi, No: 177)

The above shows that the Prophet [pbuh] explained that the prayer missed due to some compelling situation due to sleep or any other reason one can offer the prayer immediately on remembering the situation or gaining control over the hindrance.

As for missing the prayer knowingly we do not find any guidance in the Qur'ān nor the Sunnah. Nor did the Prophet [pbuh] give any guidance in this connection.

The Muslims jurists are unanimous on the issue that prayers missed in situations mentioned above in the Hadith narratives. In such situations, they hold, the obligation stands fulfilled if one prays just as he remembers. They however, have differed over the matter whether the prayers missed intentionally and knowingly can be made up for or not.

A summary of the opinions of the major personalities in this regard is produced in the following paragraphs.

The author of al-Fiqh ul Islami wa Adillatuhu writes:

It is only befitting of a Muslim, as per the dictates of the religion and reason, to quickly turn to offering the prayer in its prescribed time. One incurs sin if they delay it without a valid excuse and offer it after the prescribed time elapses. This, as we explained in the chapter regarding the excellence of prayer, is based on the following command of the Almighty:

فَإِذَا اطْمَأْنَنتُمْ فَأَقِيمُواْ الصَّلاَةَ إِنَّ الصَّلاَةَ كَانَتْ عَلَى الْمُؤْمِنِينَ كِتَابًا مَّوْقُوتًا

And when you are safe establish prayer for indeed, prayer is a duty incumbent on the faithful, to be offered at appointed hours. (4:103)

Offering prayer after the prescribed has elapsed without reasonable excuse is a grave sin which can only be expiated by offering the delayed prayer coupled by sincere repentance or offering hajj. (Al-Fiqh ul Islam wa Adillatuho)

Then after quoting some narratives form the Hadith literature most of which we have referred to above concludes that missing the prayer intentionally also requires offering the delayed prayer. This he says is based on the logical reasoning that if offering the prayers which are missed unintentionally is necessary then offering the ones missed intentionally comes first. Barring the minor differences over the question what could the valid reason be, the scholars of all four major juristic schools agree on the matter that prayers missed intentionally could also be made up for. They however, clearly maintain that it is not only offering the prayer that exonerates the person of the crime rather he must repent sincerely.

However, some other scholars hold that once missed intentionally the prayer cannot be made up for. Seyed Al-Saabiq the author of Fiqussunnah has recorded that Imam Ibn-e-Hazm and Imam Ibne Tamiyyah are the pioneer of this view point. Both the Imams hold that prayer missed intentionally cannot be made up for.

Concerning missing a salah intentionally, the majority of the scholars say that it is a sin and the missed salah must be made up for. Ibn Taimaiyyah says:

He may however, resort to increasing his voluntary and supererogatory acts. Ibn Hazm has thoroughly discussed this question. The following is a summary of what he says on this subject:

The one who leaves a specific prayer intentionally will never be able to make up for that particular obligation. He must turn to God and ask His forgiveness and increase his good deeds and supererogatory prayers in order to increase his weight of good on the Day of Resurrection. Abu Hanifah, Malik, and al-Shaf'i say that he can make up the prayer after its time has expired, and Malik and Abu Hanifah even say that if a person intentionally misses a prayer or a few prayers, then he is to make up those prayers before he prays the present obligatory prayer, even if he has missed all five prayers and should, while making them up, miss the present prayer. They say that if he missed more than five prayers, he is to begin by praying the salah whose time is present and then he is to make up the prayers he missed. The proof for our position is found in the words of Allah, the Exalted: "Woe unto the worshippers who are heedless of their prayers,'' and: "And then there succeeded them a later generation who wasted the prayers and followed their own lusts, but they will meet with destruction." If one who intentionally misses a specific prayer could make it up later, then why is it mentioned with affliction or transgression? Of course, there is no affliction or transgression on one who unintentionally delays the prayer. But the case of one who procrastinates until the last portion of its permissible time expires is quite different. Allah, the Exalted, has appointed certain times for the obligatory prayer; both the beginning time and the ending time for it have been established, and there is no difference between praying a specific prayer before its time and praying it after its proper time elapses because, in both cases the prayer is not performed within its prescribed time. This is not to draw an analogy between one and the other but it is applying the same rule to them as they both must be performed within the limits set by Allah. Allah, the Exalted, says: "Whoever transgresses the limits set by Allah has verily wronged his own soul!" The principle of making qada' (i.e. offering delayed prayer) must be established by the proper sources of Islamic law. Legislation in the Shari'ah is not permissible, save by Allah's authority as evidenced by His Prophet [pbuh]."

Ibn Hazm has discussed the issue at great length. The crux of his argument is that God the Almighty has held it obligatory for us to offer the prayer in its prescribeded time. Abandoning this directive and offering the prayer delayed would be an act of disobedience which cannot replace the exact obedience i.e. offering the prayer in its proper time. He also asserts that the rulings of the jurists is not based on explicit texts and is nothing but adding to the word of God and commands of his messenger. We must not say anything in religion which is not supported by the basic sources of the Shari'ah. He adds that the Prophet [pbuh] mentioned the matter of missing the prayer intentionally but he did not show us the way out of that. He [pbuh] only told what to do with the missed prayers unintentionally. "Any law that is not based on the Qur'an or the sunnah is not valid" he says. He ascribes the same opinion to 'Umar Ibn al-Khattaab, his son 'Abdullah, Sa'd ibn Abi Waqas, Salman al-Farsi, Ibn Mas'ud, al-Qasim ibn Muhammad ibn Abu Bakr, Budail al-'Uqaili, Muhammad ibn Sireen, Mutraf ibn 'Abdullah, 'Umar ibn 'Abdulaziz and others.

He then present his view point in this regard:

Concerning our statement that the one who intentionally leaves a prayer until its time expires is to repent to Allah, the Exalted, ask for His forgiveness, pray an increased number of supererogatory prayers, and do good deeds. This statement is based on Allah's words: "Then there succeeded them a generation who missed prayers and followed after lusts. But they will meet destruction save him who repents and believes and does right. Such will enter the garden and will not be wronged," and: "...those who, when they do an evil thing or wrong themselves, remember Allah and implore forgiveness for their sins - who forgives sins, save Allah - and will not knowingly repeat the wrong they did," and: "Whoever does an atom's weight of good shall see it and whoever does an atom's weight of evil shall see it," and: "...We set a just balance for the day of resurrection so no soul shall be wronged."

This Muslim community is in agreement, and there are texts that state that voluntary acts are a type of good deeds and Allah knows how much they are really worth. It necessarily follows that a number of voluntary works may be equivalent in merit to an obligatory deed and may even amount to a greater merit. Furthermore, Allah has informed us that He does not waste the action of any person and that the good deeds erase the evil ones.

Contemporary scholars like Allamah Javed Ahmd Ghamidi also hold the same view. They hold that if someone thinks that the missed prayers, though cannot made up for completely, are analogous to a debt payable to God and intends to offer all of them we should not stop him either. He can offer as many prayers as he desires, for in a way, this reflects his sincerity of repentance. We should have hope in God – hope that He can forgive us in our negligence if we turn to him in true repentance. However, we should be clear on the point that it is not our making up for the missed prayer that renders us worthy of God's mercy rather it is the repentance that matters. We cannot and should not consider our prayer duly fulfilled even after having performed the Qaza (i.e. delayed prayer). We should basically rely on our repentance. True repentance indeed washes away all the previous sins. Therefore, we can expect God's mercy and forgiveness even without making up for the missed prayer too.

Now I come to your question. The majority of the jurists hold that we have to offer the delayed prayers first even the time of next prayer approaches. This presupposes the necessity of the act as they have tried to establish. They suggest that we should postpone the present prayer and offer the missed ones first if their number does not exceed five prayers. If it exceeds the number then we have to offer the missed prayer at the time of the prayer first and then offer prayer for the present time. If the number of the days or the prayers is known then we should keep the count and if not we can only guess the number and keep on praying this way until we are sure that we have completed the number of the missed prayers.

In this regard I ascribe to the view point of Mr. Ghamidi who holds that we can offer a supererogatory or votive prayer any time with or without the obligatory prayer and the Qaza prayer is no exception. Therefore, it does not make any difference; you can offer this prayer any time. The only thing you need to be conscious of is that the basic obligation of timely prayer should not be sacrificed. You should not go for the Qaza prayer on the expense of the current obligation. When one is called to the congregational prayer of a specific time they need to attend to that leaving all other supererogatory worship rituals.

God knows best,

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