I find it very difficult to get up for the Fajr prayer especially in the summer months when `Isha starts at about 11pm and Fajr at about 3am1. This is especially so when one has fixed working times to adhere to and being tired causes me to have a lack of concentration. Is it permissible to pray Fajr as a missed prayer when I wake up in the mornings?
The Qur’an has clearly directed us to strictly adhere to the timings prescribed for prayers. Therefore, as a principle, all prayers should be offered at their prescribed timings. However, man, due to his inherent weaknesses, can sometimes sleep through the prescribed time of a particular prayer and sometimes even forget to offer a particular prayer at its prescribed time. A prayer cannot be termed as “qadha” (i.e. missed or expired) if such is the case. A prayer is termed as “qadha” only when a person in his wakefulness and awareness, consciously misses it. In other words, a prayer is “qadha” only when he consciously decides on not to offer it at its prescribed time. This is so, because man is responsible to follow the directives of the Shari`ah only in a state of consciousness and awareness. According to the Qur’an, the Merciful shall forgive any sin, which are the result of a mistake or forgetfulness or unawareness. Thus, “Nisyaan” (i.e. forgetting something) and unconsciousness (due to sleep or any other reason) removes the responsibility of following the directives of the Shari`ah as long as a person suffers from such dysfunctions. It is actually based on this principle that when some people asked the Prophet (pbuh) regarding the prayers, which were missed due to sleep, the Prophet (pbuh) replied:
A person is not guilty of negligence while asleep. The guilt of negligence is on a person only in his wakefulness. Therefore, if anyone among you forgets to offer his prayer or sleeps through the prescribed time, he should offer his prayer when he is reminded [or when he awakes]. (Tirmidhi, Kitaab al-Salah)
In the light of the above explanation, I would suggest that you should try your best to offer all your prayers at their respective prescribed timings. However, it is still possible that a prayer be missed in a state of sleep. Whenever this happens, you should not consider the prayer to be “qadha” and offer it, as you would have done at its prescribed time, whenever you wake up.
28th August 1999
- The timings refer to England. [↩]