Qada (Missed) Prayers

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Publications Ltd. for permission to print this
excerpt (Ch. 24) from Everyday Fiqh (vol. 1) 
by Abdul Aziz Kamal

If a Fard or Wajib prayer could not be offered at a prescribed time due to some reason,  it is said to have been rendered Qada' or missed, and has to be offered later in the prescribed away.

Injunctions Concerning Missed Prayers

1. It is imperative to offer a missed Fard prayer, and obligatory to offer a missed Wajib (e.g. Witr) prayer.

2. It is essential to offer a prayer that one had vowed to offer but has missed it.

3. A Nafl prayer after it has been begun, becomes obligatory and must be completed. If due to some reason, it becomes void or is abandoned, it has to be offered later as a missed prayer.

4. The missed Sunnat (compulsory) or Nafl prayer need not be offered later. The Sunnat rak'ahs of Fajr, however in view of their great importance and stress laid on them by the holy Prophet, have to be offered later, on the same day after the sun has risen and before it begins to decline, along with or without the Fard prayer, is missed. If this is not done before the sun begins to decline, only the Fard rak'ahs will be offered later.

5. If the four Sunnat rak'ahs of the Zuhr prayer are not offered before the Fard prayer due to some reason, they may be offered after the Fard prayer, or even after the two Sunnat rak'ahs. However, if they are not offered within the prescribed limit of time for the surah prayer, they need not be offered later.

Regulations Concerning Missed Prayers

1. It is a great sin to miss a prayer without a genuine reason or real necessity and the Hadith contain great warnings about it. If a person misses a prayer due to carelessness or forgetfulness, he should repent for it sincerely and pledge before Allah not to let this happen in the future.

2. If due to a genuine reason or necessity, a prayer is missed, one should try to offer it as soon as possible (the sooner the better) and avoid delaying it unnecessarily. This is a debt which one must pay off at the first available opportunity. For one does not know when suddenly one will have to pass away into Allah's presence and present before Him one's life account.

3. If a group of people together missed a prayer, for instance, due to a collective journey where they could not offer it duly in time; or an accident taking place on a locality; or their being overpowered by sleep; they should offer the missed prayer in congregation, with audible or inaudible recitation as the case may be.(1)

4. If an individual misses a prayer, he should offer it secretly at home, for it is sinful to miss a prayer on account of carelessness or negligence and then to offer it publicly. One may, however, offer a missed prayer in the mosque as well, but should do so quietly.

5. There is no fixed time for offering a missed prayer. One may offer it in one's own time, but the sooner the better, avoiding, however, the forbidden times.

6. If a person has missed more than one prayer, he should offer them at the first available opportunity, if possible altogether one after the other. For it is not necessary to offer a missed Zuhr prayer at the Zuhr time and a missed Asr prayer at the Asr time only.

7. If a negligent person has not offered his prayers for a long time and has missed them over months and years and then repents before Allah, he will have to offer also Prayers missed by him, because Allah might forgive him the sin of negligence, but not the prayers which he has to offer as missed Prayers in any case.

8. If a person has missed Prayers over months and years, he should determine their number, and then should start offering them accordingly, naming the prayer missed and its number, in the intention until he observes all the missed Prayers.

9. The prayers missed during a journey have to be shortened, as prescribed, if offered during the stay at a place, and the prayers missed during a stay have to be offered in full, if offered during a journey. For instance, the Zuhr, Asr and Isha Prayers, if missed during a stay, have to be offered in full (four rak'ahs each) if offered during a journey.

10. If only the Witr prayer has been missed, it has to be offered before Fajr prayer next morning. If a person has offered the Fajr prayer without first offering the missed Witr prayer, he will have to offer the Witr prayer and repeat the Fajr prayer.

11. If a patient who could offer his prayers by making symbolic signs during the illness, has missed some of them, he should make a Will to the effect that after his death his heirs should pay off compensation for the missed prayers out of one-third of his property. The compensation for one missed prayer being 1 ¼ seers of wheat, or 2 ½ seers of barley, or the price. ('Ilm al-Fiqh, Vol. II p. 126)

12. If a sick person is too weak to offer his prayers even by making symbolic signs, or remains unconscious for a period in which six consecutive prayers can be offered, he does not have to offer the missed prayers. However if he regained consciousness after missing five prayers and is in full consciousness at the time of the sixth prayer, he has to offer the five missed prayers.

13. The person who due to negligence has missed prayers over a long period of his life, and is granted later in life a sense of his religious obligations by Allah, should first of all attend to making up for the loss of the missed prayers. An easy way is this: instead of offering the Sunnat and Nafl prayers at the prescribed times, he should offer the missed Fard prayers and continue doing so till he is sure that he has offered all the missed prayers. It is unwise to offer the Sunnat and Nafl prayers regularly, besides the Fard prayers at the prescribed times, but remained wholly unmindful of so many missed prayers. Indeed, this is a debt which one must pay off without allowing the least negligence. However if a person is able to offer full prayers at the prescribed times, including the Sunnat and Nafl prayers, and offers the missed prayers as well, he may have to hope that Allah Almighty will reward him for his devotion and sincerity.

14. The Friday prayer, if missed, cannot be offered later. One may however, offer four rak'ahs of the Zuhr prayer later instead of the Friday prayer which one has missed.

15. If a person joins an Eid congregation to offer the Eid prayer, but then due to some reason his prayer becomes void, he cannot offer it later as a missed prayer, nor can he offer it alone within the time limit, for the Eid prayer is conditional upon congregation.(2)

16. If due to some reason, the prayer of Eid al Fitr or Eid al Adha could not be offered on the first day, the Eid al Fitr prayer can be offered on the following day as a missed prayer, and the Eid al Adha prayer until the 13th of Zul-Hajj as a missed prayer.

Regulations Concerning Missed Prayer of the 'Sahib Tartib'

A 'Sahib Tartib' a in the terminology of the Shari'ah, is a Muslim who after adulthood has missed no prayer, or has missed only one or two prayers consecutively or at different times. Or if missed previously, has offered them promptly, and now has only these few, or at the most five, missed prayers to be offered. Such a true Muslim has to keep in mind the following regulations concerning the performance of his missed prayers:

1. He cannot observe a prayer at its prescribed time until he has offered a missed prayer, e.g. if he has missed all the five prayers, from Fajr to Isha, on a particular day, he cannot observe the Fajr prayer of the following day until he has a offered all missed prayers of the previous day. If, however, he observes the Fajr prayer of the following day knowingly, it will not be valid, and he will have to repeat it after offering the missed prayers. If he forgets to offer a missed prayer, and has observed a prayer and its prescribed time, he need not repeat it upon remembering his mistake. This regulation is applicable to the Witr prayer as well.

2. The missed prayers will have to be offered in their proper sequence, starting from the Fajr prayer. If he offers any prayer out of its due sequence, e.g. the Zuhr prayer before the Fajr prayer, he will have to repeat it after offering the earlier missed prayer.

3. A person who misses more than five prayers is no longer a Sahib Tartib. For him it is no longer essential to keep the sequence in mind while offering the missed prayers. He may offer them in any way he likes as and when he gets ae opportunity - but sooner the better. He may also observe the daily prayers at their prescribed times without minding the restriction of first offering the missed prayers.

1. Once during a journey, the holy Prophet's caravan continued travelling throughout the
night and halted at the break of dawn. The travellers were so overpowered by sleep that they all missed the Fajr prayer. The people got up when the sun shone on them, the holy Prophet commanded the Azan to be pronounced and led the prayer in congregation.

2. According to the Ahl al-Hadith, the Eid prayer can be offered alone, if one has missed the congregation, or could not attended due to illness.

Everyday Fiqh (Vol.1) by Abdul Aziz Kamal ©1986 published by Islamic Publications (Pvt.) Ltd., 13-E Shah Alam Market, Lahore, Pakistan