- In Islamic tradition, Muslims perform five formal prayers at specified times each day.
- For people who miss a prayer for any reason, the tradition allows the prayer to be made up at a later time without it automatically counting as a sin that cannot be rectified.
- The schedule of Muslim prayer is generous and flexible. Five prayers must be performed during various periods of time throughout the day; the time needed to perform each prayer is minimal. Yet many Muslims miss one or more prayers on some days, sometimes for unavoidable reasons but sometimes due to negligence or forgetfulness.
- One should try to pray within the specified times. There is wisdom in the Islamic prayer schedule, which sets periods to “take a break” and remember Allah’s blessings and to seek his guidance.
The Scheduled Prayers for Muslims
Here are the five daily prayers scheduled for Muslims:
- Fajr: The predawn prayer, to be performed in the period just before dawn breaks.
- Dhuhr: The midday prayer, which starts after the sun passes its zenith and lasts almost 20 minutes.
- Asr: The afternoon prayer, which starts when the shadow of an object is the same length as the object itself.
- Maghrib: The sunset prayer, which begins when the sun sets and lasts till the red light has left the sky in the west.
- Isha’a: The night prayer, which starts when the red light is gone from the western sky. The preferred time for Isha’a to start is before midnight, halfway between sunset and sunrise.
The Procedure If a Prayer Is Missed
If a prayer is missed, it is common practice among Muslims to make it up as soon as it is remembered or as soon as they are able to do so. This is known as Qadaa. For example, if one misses the noon prayer because of a work meeting that could not be interrupted, one should pray as soon as the meeting is over. If the next prayer time has already come, one should first perform the prayer that was missed and immediately after reciting the “on time” prayer.
A missed prayer is a serious event for Muslims, and not one that should be dismissed as inconsequential. Practicing Muslims are expected to acknowledge every missed prayer and to make it up according to accepted practice. While it is understood that there are times when prayer is missed for unavoidable reasons, it is regarded as a sin if one misses prayers regularly without a valid reason— for example, constantly oversleeping the pre-dawn prayer.
However, in Islam, the door to repentance is always open. The first step is to make up the missed prayer as soon as possible. One is expected to repent any delay due to negligence or forgetfulness and is encouraged to commit to developing a habit of performing the prayers within their prescribed time frame.
Other prayers, called du’a, are described as personal prayers. They may be performed for specific purposes: to request forgiveness from Allah if one has sinned, for example, or to ask Allah to heal someone who is sick. They may be performed at any time and in any language, though one may choose a particular prayer common to the Islamic tradition.