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The Minimum Proportion of a Prayer that Must be Performed to be Considered Valid – For Time Constricted Obligatory and Supererogatory Prayers

Imām Muḥammad ibn Ṣāliḥ al-ʿUthaymīn

Proof as to why completing a full rakʿah of ṣalāh is what is required for one’s ṣalāh to be considered valid.

The Stance of the Ḥanbalī Madh`hab: Takbīrat al-Iḥrām Is the Parameter for the the Validity of a (Time Constrained) Prayer

[Al-Ḥajjawī said]: “The time for any salāh is considered attained provided a person performs at least the takbīrah al-iḥrām [the first takbīr of the ṣalāh] of that ṣalāh within its appointed time.” His saying “ṣalāh” is general and refers to obligatory and supererogatory prayers that are subject to time constraints such as Ṣalāh al-Ḍuḥá and al-Witr. The performance of both of them are subject to specific times.

Likewise for the set supererogatory prayers attached to the obligatory daily prayers, which may only be performed within a particular time frame (i.e. sunnah, nawafil etc.). As for the set supererogatory prayers that are performed before the obligatory ṣalāh, their time is from the start of that prayer’s appointed time until the time for the iqāmah. As for the supererogatory prayers that are performed after the obligatory ṣalāhs, their time extends from the conclusion of the performance of the compulsory prayer until the end of that obligatory ṣalāh’s specified time period. Any ṣalāh that is subject to a particular time frame is validly performed by performing at least the takbīrat al-iḥrām for that ṣalāh within the specified time period.

The reasoning for this is that the one who manages to perform the takbīrat al-iḥrām of a particular ṣalāh within its time would have attained, at the very least, a part of its prespecified time. Attainment of a part of its time is equivalent to attaining all of it, as ṣālāh should be viewed as a whole entity. This is the most famous opinion of the madh`hab of Imām Aḥmad, without specifying whether the performance of this takbīrat al-iḥrām is at the start or end of the time for that ṣalāh.

Worked Examples: Applying this Stance to the Start of the Prayer Time

An example of reaching the takbīrat al-iḥrām at the start of the time: A woman is in a state of purity after the start of Maghrib time for the equivalent of the time taken for her to perform takbīrat al-iḥrām for Maghrib. Before she can perform Ṣalāt al-Maghrib, her menses start. Here, we would say: Ṣalāt al-Maghrib has reached her so she must pray this Maghrib when she becomes pure again. This is because she was pure for the equivalent of the time taken to perform takbīrah al-iḥrām after the start of the Maghrib time period.

Worked Examples: Applying this Stance to the End of the Prayer Time

An example at the conclusion of a specified time frame: A woman experiencing her menses becomes pure before Maghrib for the equivalent of the time taken for her to perform takbīrat al-iḥrām. Here, she must pray Ṣalāh al-ʿAṣr as she became pure within its time frame, with the time remaining for ʿAṣr being equal to the time taken to perform takbīrat al-iḥrām. This is the case if we examine the issue from a purely judicial standpoint.

Intentionally Delaying the Performance of Ṣalāh

From the viewpoint of one being deserving of reward, whoever manages to perform the takbīrat al-iḥrām for a particular ṣalāh within its appointed time is deserving of the reward of one who was able to perform the entire ṣalāh within its appointed time. His performance of that ṣalāh would be considered adāʾ (valid performance within the appointed time). Even though we also say that it is impermissible for him to intentionally delay its performance, or some of it, later than the start of its time. He is sinful for doing so, although we would still say that his performance of it is valid and considered adāʾ. This is the stance taken by the Ḥanbalī madh`hab.

The Stance of Shaykh al-Islām Ibn Taymiyyah (رحمه الله): A Full Rakʿah is a More Valid Parameter for the Validity of a (Time Constrained) Prayer

The second opinion in this issue: The time for a particular ṣalāh is attained by performing at least a rakʿah of that ṣalāh within its appointed time frame. The evidence for this is the saying of the Prophet (صلى الله عليه وسلم): “Whoever is able to perform a rakʿah of a ṣalāh has attained that ṣalāh.”1 This is the correct opinion and the stance taken by Shaykh al-Islām Ibn Taymiyyah (رحمه الله) as the meaning of the ḥadīth is plainly evident in its application to this issue. Its wording sets a clear prerequisite: “Whoever is able to perform a rakʿah of a ṣalāh has attained…”, its implied meaning: Whoever is able to perform less than a rakʿah would not have attained that ṣalāh. Considering this, if a woman was to experience her menses after the start of the time period for a ṣalāh, but before the time taken for her to pray one full rakʿah had elapsed, she does not have to pray that ṣalāh upon becoming pure. This is because she would not have been able to perform a full rakʿah [even if she prayed as soon as the time started]. However, if a sufficient amount of time had elapsed such that she could have prayed a full rakʿah, she must pray that ṣalah upon becoming pure.

It has also been said: She does not have to pray that ṣalāh upon becoming pure except if she experiences her menses before the expiry of the appointed time period. The amount of time before the expiry point should be equal to the time it would have taken her to purify herself and perform the entire ṣalāh. This is because before that point, it is not obligatory upon her to perform that ṣalāh as its time period is extensive [as she could not have known that her menses would start]. If she was to become pure from her menses before the expiry of the time period for a ṣalāh, but the time before the expiry point is insufficient for the performance of one rakʿah, then she does not have to perform that ṣalāh. As she would not have attained the time equivalent to the performance of a rakʿah.

Application of this Stance to the Attainment of Congregational Prayers

Based on this rule, we can also deduce the attainment of congregational prayers. Is it attained by praying at least a rakʿah with the congregation, or is it by performing the takbīrat al-iḥrām with them? The correct opinion is that the congregational prayer is only attained by performing a full rakʿah with them. Just as there is no difference of opinion that Friday prayers are only attained by performing at least a rakʿah with the congregation. Likewise, any congregational prayer is only attained by the performance of a full rakʿah.

Applying this Stance to Ṣalāh al-ʿAṣr

His saying: “…a person could have performed at least the takbīrat al-iḥrām of that ṣalāh within its appointed time”, this is comprehensive of both the start of a ṣalāh’s appointed time and its extenuation period. We do not consider any ṣalāh to have two periods in this way except for Ṣalāh al-ʿAṣr, according to the correct opinion. Anyone who manages to perform at least the takbīrat al-iḥrām for ʿAṣr before sunset has attained the performance of ʿAṣr. Although, as aforementioned, the attainment of a full rakʿah is what stipulates attainment of the ṣalāh.

Endnotes:
[1] Authentic: narrated by al-Bukhārī: 580 and Muslim: 607.

Source: Al-Sharḥ al-Mumtiʿ 2: 120-122
Translated by: Riyāḍ al-Kanadī

Published: January 1, 2024
Edited: January 1, 2024

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