In the sight of Allah Ta’ala, salaat has a very great distinction. No other act of ibaadah is dearer to Allah than salaat. Allah Ta’ala has made five times salaat compulsory on His servants. There is a great reward in offering salaat and a great sin in omitting it.
It is mentioned in a Hadith that the one who performs his wudhu properly and offers his salaat with full concentration; then on the day of resurrection Allah Ta’ala will forgive all his minor sins and grant him paradise. Rasulullah sallallahu alayhi wa sallam is reported to have said: “Salaat is a pillar of Deen – the one who has offered his salaat in a proper manner has upheld Deen, and the one who has demolished this pillar (i.e. did not offer his salaat), has in fact destroyed the Deen.” Rasulullah sallallahu alayhi wa sallam has also said: “The first thing to be reckoned on the day of resurrection will be salaat. The hands, feet, and face of those who used to offer their salaat regularly will shine like the sun on the day of resurrection. As for those who did not offer theirsalaat, they will be deprived of this blessing.” Rasulullah sallallahu alayhi wa sallam has further stated: “On the day of resurrection, those who used to offer their salaat will rise with the prophets, martyrs, and saints. Those who used to omit their salaat will rise with these notorious disbelievers: Pharaoh, Haamaan, and Qaarun.”
It is therefore essential to offer salaat. By not offering salaat, great damage is caused in both this world and in the hereafter. What can be more worse than the person who does not offer his salaat to be raised with the disbelievers. The one who does not offer his salaat has been regarded as equal to a disbeliever. How serious it is not to offer salaat!
However, salaat is not wajib on the following persons: a lunatic, a young boy and a young girl who have not reached the age of puberty as yet. As for the rest of the Muslims, it is fard on them. However, the parents have been commanded that when their children reach the age of seven, they should be made to offer their salaat. And when they reach the age of ten, they should be punished and compelled to offer their salaat.
Under no condition is it permissible to discard salaat. As far as possible, salaat should most certainly be offered. However, if a person completely forgot to offer his salaat and only remembered after the time of that salaat had passed or slept away in such a way that his eyes did not open and he missed his salaat; then in such instances there will not be any sin. However, when the person remembers or wakes up from his sleep, it will be fard on him to immediately make his wudu and offer his missed salaat. But if it is a makruh time of salaat, he should wait for a little while so that the makruh time passes. Similarly, there is no sin on those salaats that were missed on account of unconsciousness. However, after regaining consciousness, one should immediately offer those salaats that one missed.
The Times Of Salaat
1. Fajr (morning) Salaat
In the last part of the night, at the approach of dawn, some whiteness can be noticed on the length of the horizon towards the east, i.e. from the direction in which the sun rises. After a little while, whiteness can be noticed on the breadth of the horizon. This whiteness begins to spread very rapidly. After a little while, it becomes completely bright. From the time that this broad whiteness becomes visible, the time of fajr salaat commences and remains until the rising of the sun. The moment a small portion of the sun appears, the time of fajr salaat ends. However, it is preferable to read it in its early time when it is still dark.
2. Zuhr (Mid-day) Salaat
On the declining or descending of the zenith, the time of zuhr salaat commences. An indication that the zenith is declining is that the shadow of long objects begins to decrease from the west towards the north. When it comes exactly to the north and begins to turn towards the east, then one should know that noon has declined. By standing towards the east, the direction on ones left hand is the north. Another easier method of deduction is that as the sun rises, the shadow of everything begins to decrease. Once this decreasing ss, exactly at this time is mid-day or noon. Thereafter, once the shadow begins to increase, it should be understood that noon has declined and from this time, the time of zuhr salaat has commenced. Excluding the extent to which the shadow was at exactly mid-day, till the shadow of everything remains twice its size, the time of zuhr will remain. For example, the shadow of a stick which is one arm in length, was equal to four fingers at mid-day. So as long as its shadow does not spread to two arm-lengths and four fingers, zuhr time will remain. Once it reaches two arm-lengths and four fingers, asr time will commence.
3. Asr (afternoon) Salaat
Based on the previous example, once the shadow reaches two arm-lengths and four fingers, asr time will commence. Asr time will remain until sunset. However, it is makruh to offer asr salaat when the colour of the sun changes and the sun’s rays change to yellow. If due to some reason one gets delayed, salaat in this makruh time should be offered and not allowed to be missed out. In future it should not be delayed. Apart from this asr salaat, it is not permissible to offer any other salaat in this time. No missed salaats nor any nafl salaat can be offered.
4. Maghrib (evening) Salaat
Once the sun sets, maghrib time commences. Maghrib time remains as long as the redness on the western horizon remains. However, maghrib salaat should not be delayed to the extent that many stars begin to appear in the sky. To delay it till such a time is makruh.
5. Esha (night) Salaat
Once the redness on the western horizon disappears, esha time commences and remains until dawn. However, after mid-night, esha salaat becomes makruh and the reward is reduced. Therefore, esha salaat should not be delayed till such a time. It is preferable that esha salaat be offered before one third of the night passes.