The ‘Asr prayer: “Maintain with care the [obligatory] prayers…”
The ‘Asr prayer is the third and middle prayer of the day, and we read in the Holy Qur’an about the prayer:
“Maintain with care the [obligatory] prayers and [in particular] the middle prayer and stand before Allah, devoutly obedient.” (Qur’an 2:238)
We learn from this that it is extremely important for us to guard our daily prayers. Not only do we take care to ensure we are concentrating well during the prayers and place our full focus on Allah, but we also try to pray on time. We get rewards for our efforts to not delay prayers and make sure we prioritise them in our daily routines, rather than fitting them into the day in a way that causes us to rush the prayers.
We also learn from this verse the extra significance of the middle prayer (‘Asr), as we are instructed to maintain particular care with this prayer. Sometimes it may be the case that because the ‘Asr prayer is around the middle of the day, we are busy with other errands in our daily routine, so we may become neglectful of this prayer. This verse serves as an important reminder to us.
The Prophet (SAW) would recite shorter surahs in the prayers during the day such as in the ‘Asr prayer, but longer surahs in prayers at dawn.
Jabir ibn Samurah reported:
“The Prophet, peace and blessings be upon him, would recite in the noon prayer, ‘By the night as it envelopes,’ (92:1) and similar chapters to those in the afternoon prayer, and in the morning prayer he would recite longer than those.” (Sahih Muslim)
We also learn that if the Prophet (SAW) was on a journey, he would combine ‘Asr and Zuhr prayer. Ibn Umar reported:
“The Prophet, peace and blessings be upon him, combined sunset and evening prayers if he was undertaking a journey.” And Ibn Abbas said, “The Messenger of Allah, peace and blessings be upon him, combined the noon prayers and afternoon prayers if he was on a journey, as well as combining the sunset and evening prayers.” (Sahih Bukhari and Sahih Muslim)
Furthermore, we learn that we are not to pray in the time period that starts after the ‘Asr prayer and ends at the beginning of Maghrib prayer.
We read in a hadith:
Abu Huraira reported: “The Messenger of Allah, peace and blessings be upon him, prohibited us from performing two prayers: a prayer after dawn prayer until the sun has risen, and a prayer after afternoon prayer until the sun has set.” (Sahih Bukhari)
We read about the ‘Asr prayer in the Holy Qur’an:
“Establish prayer at the decline of the sun [from its meridian] until the darkness of the night and [also] the Qur’an of dawn. Indeed, the recitation of dawn is ever witnessed.” (Qur’an 17:78)
This shows us the incredible significance of the ‘Asr prayer. May Allah increase us all in our concentration, sincerity and humility in all our prayers and every Ibadah. Aameen.