When to pray witr? Should I offer it right after `Ishaa’ or delay it? And how far can I delay it? Is there an ending time for witr?
Well, you know how it goes. Please keep reading..
Allah’s Apostle offered Witr prayer at different nights at various hours extending (from the ‘Isha’ prayer) up to the last hour of the night.
Time for witr starts with `Ishaa’ and ends when dawn begins. More on it here.
The Timing of Witr:
It starts when a person has prayed ‘Isha’, even if it is joined to Maghrib at the time of Maghrib, and lasts until dawn begins, because the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) said: “Allaah has prescribed for you a prayer (by which He may increase your reward), which is Witr; Allaah has enjoined it for you during the time between ‘Isha’ prayer until dawn begins.” Narrated by al-Tirmidhi, 425; classed as saheeh by al-Albaani in Saheeh al-Tirmidhi.
Is it better to offer this prayer at the beginning of its time or to delay it?
The Sunnah indicates that if a person thinks he will be able to get up at the end of the night, it is better to delay it, because prayer at the end of the night is better and is witnessed (by the angels). But whoever fears that he will not get up at the end of the night should pray Witr before he goes to sleep, because of the hadeeth of Jaabir (may Allaah be pleased with him) who said: The Messenger of Allaah (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) said: “Whoever fears that he will not get up at the end of the night, let him pray Witr at the beginning of the night, but whoever thinks that he will be able to get up at the end of the night, let him pray Witr at the end of the night, for prayer at the end of the night is witnessed (by the angels) and that is better.” Narrated by Muslim, 755.
Al-Nawawi said: This is the correct view. Other ahaadeeth which speak of this topic in general terms are to be interpreted in the light of this sound, specific and clear report, such as the hadeeth, “My close friend advised me not to sleep without having prayed Witr.” This is to be understood as referring to one who is not sure that he will be able to wake up (to pray Witr at the end of the night). Sharh Muslim, 3/277.
Some additional ‘fiqh‘ points:
- you forgot to pray witr, or kept sleeping till Fajr? Read answer here.
- you were praying witr right before dawn, and Fajr adhaan was called. Read answer here.
Which prayers do you find the HARDEST? Fajr? When you have to give up your comfy bed for Allah’s sake.. Or ‘Isha? When all you’re thinking about is your cozy warm bed..
Sigh. It’s a tough choice!
Narrated Abu Huraira:
The Prophet said, “No prayer is harder for the hypocrites than the Fajr and the ‘Isha prayers, and if they knew the reward for these prayers at their respective times, they would certainly present themselves (in the mosques) even if they had to crawl.” The Prophet added, “Certainly I decided to order the Mu’adhin (call-maker) to pronounce Iqama and order a man to lead the prayer and then take a fire flame to burn all those who had not left their houses so far for the prayer along with their houses.”
This Hadith talks about one of the qualities/characteristics of hypocrites. If you’re thinking: ‘oh, then it’s not about me’, you really need to continue reading. :)
If you find it hard to pray the Fajr and ‘Isha prayers, you have this trait in you. Does that mean you’re an absolute hypocrite? Not necessarily. BUT you have at least one trait of hypocrisy inside you. And you need to work on yourself to remove this trait. And pray hard!
When I find it hard to pray Fajr or ‘Isha, I remember this Hadith. And to prove to myself that I’m not a hypocrite, I make extra effort for these specific prayers. It’s just one of the ways I fight against my nafs. :P
Remember, the harder it is for you to pray, the more reward you’ll get for praying it.
A similar Hadith discussed here.
The Prophet delayed the’lsha’ prayer till midnight and then he offered the prayer and said, “The people prayed and slept but you have been in prayer as long as you have been waiting for it (the prayer).” Anas added: As if I am looking now at the glitter of the ring of the Prophet on that night.
Points to be noted:
- Prophet (SAW) delayed ‘Isha prayer till midnight*.
- Waiting for prayer = being in the state of prayer. <3
- Anas (RA), like Ibn ‘Abbas and others, used to notice the littlest things about the Prophet (SAW). Like the glitter of his ring. SubhanAllah!
Question: how do we calculate when midnight is? In order to calculate the last time of Isha prayer, first calculate the time between Maghrib prayer and Fajr prayer then divided it by 2.
If you want to calculate when midnight is, then calculate the time between sunset and sunrise then divide it in half; that halfway point is the end of the time for praying ‘Isha’ (and that is midnight).
Narrated Ibn Shihab from ‘Urwa:
‘Aisha said, “Once Allah’s Apostle delayed the ‘Isha’ prayer till ‘Umar reminded him by saying, “The prayer!” The women and children have slept. Then the Prophet came out and said, ‘None amongst the dwellers of the earth has been waiting for it (the prayer) except you.” Urwa said, “Nowhere except in Medina the prayer used to be offered (in those days).” He further said, “The Prophet used to offer the ‘Isha’ prayer in the period between the disappearance of the twilight and the end of the first third of the night.”
Those who were gathered for prayer had to wait for so long that sleep overcame them –> exceptional situation. Prophet (SAW) didn’t do that everyday.
Narrated Ibn Juraij from Nafi:
‘Abdullah bin ‘Umar said, “Once Allah’s Apostle was busy (at the time of the ‘Isha’), so the prayer was delayed so much so that we slept and woke up and slept and woke up again. The Prophet came out and said, ‘None amongst the dwellers of the earth but you have been waiting for the prayer.” Ibn ‘Umar did not find any harm in praying it earlier or in delaying it unless he was afraid that sleep might overwhelm him and he might miss the prayer, and sometimes he used to sleep before the ‘Isha’ prayer. Ibn Juraij said, “I said to ‘Ata’, ‘I heard Ibn ‘Abbas saying: Once Allah’s Apostle delayed the ‘Isha’ prayer to such an extent that the people slept and got up and slept again and got up again. Then ‘Umar bin Al-Khattab I, stood up and reminded the Prophet I of the prayer.’ ‘Ata’ said, ‘Ibn ‘Abbas said: The Prophet came out as if I was looking at him at this time, and water was trickling from his head and he was putting his hand on his head and then said, ‘Hadn’t I thought it hard for my followers, I would have ordered them to pray (‘Isha’ prayer) at this time.’ I asked ‘Ata’ for further information, how the Prophet had kept his hand on his head as he was told by Ibn ‘Abbas. ‘Ata’ separated his fingers slightly and put their tips on the side of the head, brought the fingers downwards approximating them till the thumb touched the lobe of the ear at the side of the temple and the beard on the face. He neither slowed nor hurried in this action but he acted like that. The Prophet said: “Hadn’t I thought it hard for my followers I would have ordered them to pray at this time.”
Prophet (SAW) cared so much about us. He didn’t want us to feel burdened or go through hardships. He personally liked to offer ‘Isha late, but didn’t make it compulsory for the followers.
Note how Ibn ‘Abbas used to observe Prophet (SAW) so closely, even the way his hand moved on a particular occasion. SubhanAllah!
Narrated Abu Barza:
Allah’s Apostle disliked to sleep before the ‘Isha prayer and to talk after it.
Sleeping before ‘Isha prayer won’t let you sleep after it, so quit it. :P
Talking after ‘Isha prayer is disliked when it’s in vain. When we sleep, our spirits (arwaah) leave our bodies. And according to a Hadith, they ascend towards Allah (SWT). He keeps whichever ruh He wills and sends back the rest. That’s how people die in their sleep. Anyway, we must prepare for our death every night. Imagine that you’ll be meeting Allah (SWT) and prepare accordingly. What would you want your last ‘amal to be? Vain talk or prayer?