Namaz is a very fundamental and important part of our beloved religion.
Mu' meneen Brothers and Sisters,
As Salaam Aleikum wa Rahmatullahi wa Barakatuh. (May Allah's Peace, Mercy and Blessings be upon all of you)
One of our brothers/sisters has asked this question:
Namaz is a very fundamental and important part of our beloved religion. There is one confusion that I want to ask.
Two different sects of Sunnis, associate two different times with the prayer of Asar. There is thus a confusion about the starting time of the asar prayers.
what is the real time of the start of asar prayer and why is there a difference of opinion in such an important and basic part of religion.
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Time for asr prayer
In the name of Allah, We praise Him, seek His help and ask for His forgiveness. Whoever Allah guides none can misguide, and whoever He allows to fall astray, none can guide them aright. We bear witness that there is no one (no idol, no person, no grave, no prophet, no imam, no dai, nobody!) worthy of worship but Allah Alone, and we bear witness that Muhammad (saws) is His slave-servant and the seal of His Messengers.
Allah says in the Holy Quran Chapter 4 Surah Nisaa verse 103:
Indeed, the salaat is a prescribed duty that should be performed at the appointed times by the believers.
Yahya related that Abdullah ibn Rafi, the slave of Umm Salama, the wife of the Prophet (saws) asked Abu Hurayra about the time of the prayer. Abu Hurayra said, "Let me tell you. Pray dhuhr when the length of your shadow matches your height, asr when your shadow is twice your height, maghrib when the sun has set, isha in the first third of the night, and subh in the very first light of dawn," i.e. when the dawn has definitely come.
It is reported in an authentic narration that Hadrat Jibrael himself taught the time and the way to perform the salaah to the Prophet (saws). On the first day, Hadrat Jibrael came and led the Prophet (saws) at the beginning times of each prayer; and on the next day he led the Prophet (saws) at the end times of each prayer. And then Hadrat Jibrael told the Prophet (saws), that the prayers should be performed between these two times. But on both these days, Hadrat Jibrael led the Magrib prayers at the same time, which is immediately after the setting of the sun.
Thus, the prayer times are as follows:
Zohr: The time for zohr prayers starts immediate after zawaal (when the sun moves in the west direction after the mid-day point). And zohr ends when the shadow of any object is twice the length of the object.
Asr: When the zohr ends, that is the beginning of Asr time, and Asr lasts till the sun begins to set.
Magrib: Starts immediately after the sun has set and lasts till the red-line disappears from the sky and it is dark.
Isha: Starts when the red-line from the horizon disappears and becomes dark. There are two opinion when Isha ends: One is uptil mid-night, and the other opinion is that Isha time ends before the advent of fajr time.
Fajr: Starts when the light of the sun is visible from the east and lasts until just before the sun is seen rising.
If the prayer is prayed between the two bands of beginning and end, it will be considered ada prayers. But the Prophet (saws) said it is preferable to perform the prayers at the beginning time, and he himself led the believers in all the prayers at the beginning times in congregation.
Your Question: why is there a difference of opinion in such an important and basic part of religion.
Dear and beloved brother, in light of the above quoted and many other traditions of the Messenger of Allah (saws) it is absolutely evident, and all the major schools of thought are unanimous in their opinion, that the time for Asr starts when ones shadow is twice ones height, and ends when the sun begins to set.
Two people with limited knowledge, or two sects who might have their own agenda might develop a difference of opinion on such an established matter as the starting time of a prayer time in Islam, but we assure you that all the four major schools of thought in Islam do not disagree or hold a difference of opinion on this matter.
Whatever written of Truth and benefit is only due to Allahs Assistance and Guidance, and whatever of error is of me alone. Allah Alone Knows Best and He is the Only Source of Strength.
Your brother and well wisher in Islam,