After the shahadah, salah is the most important pillar of Islam; it is the backbone of our iman. Salah is the first thing which we will be questioned about by Allah (SWT) on the day of Qiyamah.
‘Asr salah is the third of the five daily prayers and is performed in the late afternoon. ‘Asr can often fall during the time when people are engrossed in business and trade. We engage in business as a means of earning livelihood and Allah (SWT), our Sustainer, has promised sustenance with ease and barakah (blessings) if we perform our salah on time and with jama’ah (for males) by observing all its etiquette. But, if our work becomes an obstacle to establishing salah, it actually becomes an obstacle to gaining rizq from Allah (SWT).
Allah (SWT) says in the Qur’an, “Guard strictly the (five obligatory) prayers especially the middle salah (i.e. the best prayer – ‘Asr). And stand before Allah with obedience [and do not speak to others during the salah].” (Al-Baqarah:238)
No doubt, the middle prayer, ‘Asr, holds immense importance but this does not mean that the other prayers are any less significant. In the above ayah, the ‘Asr salah has been emphasised since it occurs at a time when people are generally preoccupied in worldly activities. We’re either busy working, or studying, doing household chores or even resting, and it can also be a time of the day that you may find the roads are jammed with traffic. So in all that rush, we’re likely to forget or delay our ‘Asr prayer.
Regarding the delaying or missing of the ‘Asr prayer, some ahadith have mentioned the severity of these actions. Serious warnings have been given against delaying it till just before sunset. The Prophet (SAW) has said, “This is the salah of the hypocrite: He sits waiting for the sun until it is between the two horns of the Shaytan (just before sunset). Then (very hastily) he goes and strikes his head four times on the ground (and) he does not remember Allah therein, but a little.” (Muslim)
However, regarding those who miss their ‘Asr salah completely, The Prophet (SAW) has said, “He who misses the ‘Asr salah (deliberately), his deeds will be rendered null and void.” (Bukhari). The Prophet (SAW) has also said, “He who misses his ‘Asr salah (reads it after its specified time) it is as if he has lost his wife, children and all his wealth.” (Muslim). In other words, the salah is so precious that missing it should make us grieve and mourn its loss like the pain suffered by a man who has lost his wife, his children and all his belongings.
The excellence of ‘Asr salah has been narrated beautifully in the following hadith, “Angels come to you in succession by night and day and all of them get together at the time of Fajr and ‘Asr prayers. Those who have passed the night with you ascend and Allah asks them, though he knows everything about you, ‘In what state did you leave my slaves?’ The angels reply: ‘When we left them, they were praying and when we reached them they were praying.’” (Bukhari)
In addition to performing the fardh of ‘Asr salah punctually, we should also strive to perform the Sunnahs insha Allah. In fact, very special virtues have even been attached to the four rak’at of the Sunnah salah before ‘Asr. The Prophet (SAW) has said, “May Allah grant mercy and blessings to the person who performs four rak’at (Sunnah) before ‘Asr.” (Abu Dawood). The Prophet (SAW) has also said: “The person who regularly performs four rak’at (Sunnah) before ‘Asr, Allah will forbid his body from the Fire (of Jahannam).” (Tabarani)
Tips for performing ‘Asr salah on time:
• As mentioned in the previous two articles of this series, the first and most important way to perform your salah on time is to have the correct and sincere intention. Allah (SWT) rewards you for making that intention and He (SWT) also assists you in carrying it out.
• If you are working and usually leave work around the time of ‘Asr, try to leave at least 5-10 minutes later if you can, so that you can perform your salah on time and you won’t have to worry about it while being stuck in traffic. Or if you are on the road and near a masjid, you can quickly stop off to read your salah.
• Try to get your errands and chores done before ‘Asr. ‘Asr is also the time when most women are busy in the kitchen preparing for supper, so try to get your cooking done a little bit earlier so that you can have enough time for your ‘Asr salah.
• If you want to sleep during the afternoons, do so after Dhuhr salah which is a Sunnah (known as qaylulah) and helps one to feel revived. Once you awaken, make wudhu straightaway so that you’re ready for ‘Asr salah and you can perform it as soon as ‘Asr begins.
• If you’re in an area where you’re not near a masjid and you’re unsure about when the time for ‘Asr salah begins, download apps that give you the times and Qiblah directions according to your location. You can also place an object outside and see if its shadow is the same size to determine if the time for ‘Asr has set in.
• Learn and remind yourself about the benefits and importance of the ‘Asr salah. One of the most motivating virtues is the admittance into the gardens of Jannah and the protection from the fire of Jahannum. The Prophet (SAW) has said, “Whoever performs the two ‘cold’ salahs (Fajr and Asr) shall enter Jannah.”(Bukhari). In another hadith he (SAW) said, “The person who performs salah before the sun rises and before it sets (Fajr and ‘Asr) shall never enter the Fire (of Jahannam).”(Muslim)
May Allah (SWT) protect us from intentionally delaying and missing our salah, ameen.
“The time for Dhuhr is from when the sun has passed its zenith and a man’s shadow is equal in length to his height, until the time for ‘Asr comes. The time for ‘Asr lasts until the sun turns yellow. The time for Maghrib lasts until the twilight has faded. The time for ‘Isha lasts until midnight. The time for Subh (Fajr) prayer lasts from the beginning of the pre-dawn so long as the sun has not yet started to rise. When the sun starts to rise then stop praying, for it rises between the two horns of the Shaytan.” (Muslim).
Rafeeah Laher offers her top tips for maintaining the fourth salah of the day.
Rafeeah Laher is 24 years old and lives in Johannesburg, South Africa. In addition to being a freelance writer, she’s also recently graduated from university and holds a degree in IT and business management. She humbly requests your du’as.