Allah says in Surah al-Baqarah that we should be careful about the obligatory prayers, and specifically points toward the ‘middle prayer.’ The middle prayer that He refers to here is the Asr prayer. This is one of the five daily prayers that are compulsory for Muslims.
Asr prayer happens at a critical time of the day for humans. For the average person, this is a time where we begin to tire. A long day at work or school begins to take its toll. Thus, it’s a prayer that we may find hard to offer at times. However, it’s a very beneficial prayer and one that we can’t afford to neglect at any cost.
Importance of Asr prayer
The Asr prayer is one of the five obligatory prayers; thus, it has significant importance. However, the Prophet (PBUH) went further and said that whoever misses Asr prayer, is as though he has been robbed of his property and family. (Hadith recorded by an-Nasa’i and at-Tirmidhi)
The Messenger of Allah also expressed his dismay at missing out on the Asr prayer. During a battle when the Muslims were distracted from the prayer, he exclaimed that May Allah put fire in their houses and graves. (Sahih Muslim)
What is the time for Asr prayer?
The time for Asr commences as the time for Zuhr comes to an end. That time is when the shadow of an object becomes longer than the object itself. The Prophet (PBUH) said in a Hadith in Sahih Muslim that the time for Asr was until the sun turned yellow. However, praying after the sun has turned yellow is still permissible, but it’s more praiseworthy to do so earlier. The time for Asr Salah finishes at sunset, as the time for Maghrib begins.
How to begin Asr prayer
This namaz consists of four obligatory (fard) rakat. There are some sunnah and nafl that are part of the sunnah, but there are no sunnah rawatib to be prayed with Asr.
The pre-condition, as with all prayers, is to be in the state of wudu. Men are to be covered from the navel to the knees. Women are to be covered entirely except the hands and face.
Offering the first of four rakat
This prayer, like the others, commences with us standing upright, with the intention for prayer (in the heart).
After that, we raise our hands to our ears and say Allahu Akbar and place our right hand on our left, on the chest.
Next, we recite the sana: Subhaanak Allahumma wa bi hamdika wa tabarak asmuka wa ta aa’la jadduka wa la ilaha ghairuk. (Glory and praise be to You O Allah, blessed be Your name and exalted be Your Majesty, and there is no god but You.)
Following this, we recite one of the essential parts of the salah: Surah Fatiha.
Thereafter, we recite a verse or a Surah from the Quran.
After this, we say Allahu Akbar and bow down, placing our hands on our knees. We then say Subhana Rabbi yal azim (How Perfect is my Lord, the Supreme), three times.
Next, we rise up and say SamiAllahu liman hameeda (Allah hears those who praise Him). While standing, we say Rabbanaa lakal hamd (Our Lord, praise be to You).
Following this, we say AllahuAkhar and prostrate ourselves on the floor as our hands, knees, toes, forehead, and nose touch the ground. During prostration, we say Subhana Rabbi yal aa’la (How Perfect is my Lord, the Highest), three times.
After this, we say Allahu Akbar and sit up straight. While sitting, we say Rabbigh firlee (O, my Lord! Forgive me). Then, we say Allahu Akbar and repeat the procedure for a second prostration.
Offering the remaining rakat
After the second prostration, we say Allahu Akbar, stand up and offer the second rakah the same way as the first. However, we don’t recite the sana this time.
After completing the second prostration, this time, we sit up straight and recite the Tashahhud. Next, we stand up again and repeat the procedure for two more rakat. However, we omit the Surah after al-Fatiha in the last two rakat.
After the final prostration, we sit down and recite Tashahhud, follow by Durood-e-Ibrahim. This is followed by a few other duas from the Quran and Sunnah (Learn Quran Online) to finish before offering the taslim, Assalam-u-alaikum wa-rahmat-ullah.
Virtues of the middle prayer
Angels witness Asr prayer alongside the Fajr prayer. The Prophet (PBUH) said in a Hadith recorded by Imam al-Bukhari that a group of angels stay with Muslims at night and another in the day and both get together at Asr and Fajr. Allah asks the angels what state they left His slaves in (despite having all knowledge already) and they say that the people were praying when the left, and when they reached them.
In another Hadith recorded in the two Sahihs, the Prophet (PBUH) stated that the person who observes the Fajr and Asr prayers will enter Jannah.
The five daily prayers are of immense importance for Muslims, and we must always perform them on time. That includes the Asr prayer, which is particularly important. It comes at a crucial time of the day, and many Muslims tend to neglect this prayer for various reasons. However, that is entirely unacceptable. We must ensure that we offer this prayer on time and don’t delay it for any reason. Delaying the prayer and offering it when the sun is setting is makrooh, i.e., disliked. Hence, offering it early and with the correct Sunnah method is the best approach for this prayer. Considering how easy Asr is to offer with just four fard rakat being prescribed, there is no reason that any Muslim should ever miss this prayer.