Abu Ayyub (RA) narrated that Rasool Allah (SAW) said, “My Ummah will continue to be on good (or on fitrah) as long as they do not delay Maghrib salah till the stars become apparent.”
Salah is the second most important pillar of Islam. The five daily salah became compulsory on the miraculous night journey of Miraj in which Allah (SWT) personally invited Rasool Allah (SAW) to the heavens to give his Ummah this gift, and it shows the significance of salah and how attached we should be to it. Apart from being an obligation, salah is also a means of attaining purity and innumerable blessings, and allows us to establish a direct link to our Creator, Allah (SWT).
The Maghrib salah is the fourth of the five daily prayers that we perform, and it is prayed at dusk. Some people may find it difficult to perform Maghrib salah punctually because it is usually the time when people are having dinner or arriving home from work or perhaps being busy in some other matters. Maghrib is also the time of iftar, when people who are fasting break their fasts. So in the state of being tired or hungry, most people end up delaying or missing this salah.
The time of Maghrib ends as soon as the sun has set and when all the redness has disappeared from the western horizon. Rasool Allah (SAW) said, “And the time of Maghrib salah extends so long as there is some glow left on the (western) horizon.” (Muslim). It is always preferable, though, to pray Maghrib salah as soon as the time comes in. The importance of performing salah timeously is mentioned in a hadith, “One of the best deeds is to offer salah on time.” (Tirmidhi)
Regarding the time that Rasool Allah (SAW) performed the Maghrib prayer, Salamah ibn Akwah (RA) has said, “The Messenger (SAW) used to perform the Maghrib salah immediately after the sun has set, when its upper side would disappear.” (Abu Dawood). Abu Ayyub (RA) also narrated that Rasool Allah (SAW) said, “My Ummah will continue to be on good (or on fitrah) as long as they do not delay Maghrib salah till the stars become apparent.”
The Maghrib salah is comprised of 7 rak’at; 3 Fardh, 2 Sunnah and 2 Nafl. After the Fardh, performing the 2 Sunnah rak’at of Maghrib holds great rewards. It was narrated by Ibn Umar (RA) that the Prophet (SAW) would not miss them. After reciting Surah Al-Fatihah, it is preferable to recite surah Al-Kafiroon and surah Al-Ikhlas in those two rak’at of Sunnah. Ibn Masood (RA) has said regarding this, “I cannot count how many times I heard the Messenger (SAW) recite, in the two rak’at after Maghrib and in the two rak’at before Fajr, surah Al-Kafiroon and surah Al-Ikhlas.”
Tips for performing Maghrib salah on time:
• A sincere intention and du’a to perform one’s salah on time should firstly be made. Intention is always important as then only can our actions have full reward. Keep in mind that Rasool Allah r said, “Verily actions are based upon intentions and a person will only be rewarded by what was intended.” (Bukhari)
• It is permissible to eat first if one is hungry but special precautions should be taken that one’s meal does not delay the offering of the prayer on time. This is because while praying, your mind might be preoccupied with eating so it is better to eat first (provided there is sufficient time to pray). Imam Abu Hanifah said, “I would rather eat quickly thinking about prayer, then pray quickly thinking about food.” If you feel that you’ll miss your salah though, then you rather should pray first and then eat. However, it should also be noted that after eating, one might feel sluggish and lazy so it is always better not to fill your stomach too much before prayer.
• Be indoors at the time of Maghrib. Not only will this ensure that your salah is prayed on time, but staying inside during the time of Maghrib is also an important practice. Jaabir t narrated that Rasool Allah (SAW) said, “Do not let your animals and children go out when the sun has set, until the first part of the night is over, for the devils come out when the sun sets until the first part of the night is over.” (Muslim) If you are indoors, the chances of you missing your salah are far less.
• Motivate yourself by keeping reminders about the importance of salah. Encourage yourself and others. Describing the successful believers, Allah (SWT) declares in the Qur’an: “They are those who are punctual in the performance of their salah.” (Al-Muminoon:9). In another verse, Allah (SWT) also says, “Those who believe and do deeds of righteousness, and establish regular prayers and regular charity – they will have their reward with their Lord. On them shall be no fear, nor shall they grieve.” (Al-Baqarah:277) We all want to be recorded amongst those who perform their salah regularly and on time, so keep this in mind and you will be motivated to do so, insha Allah.
• Abstain from committing sins throughout the day as much as possible. Sinning affects the heart and one’s iman as well, so the more one sins, the lazier one would feel about performing good actions. Occupying yourself with good deeds and ‘ibadah throughout the day will make it easier for you to perform salah towards the end of the day insha Allah.
• Remind yourself of the importance of performing salah on time. Although it will be counted if performed at a later stage for some valid reason, the salah loses its full reward if it is not prayed on time. “Verily salah is compulsory on the Muslims at its prescribed time.” (An-Nisa:103)
May Allah (SWT) make us from among those who perform salah regularly and with full concentration, ameen.
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Rafeeah Laher is 24 years old and lives in Johannesburg, South Africa. Apart from being a freelance writer, she’s also recently graduated from university and has a degree in Business Information Technology and Management. She’d love to hear from her readers, you can follow her on twitter @Rafeeah_L.