Time Limit for the ‘Isha’ Prayer

There is the opinion deduced from taking the apparent (dhahir) meaning of the hadith about the middle of the night that was held by Ibn Hazm, ash-Shawkani, al-Albani, and others that the permissible time is till the middle of the night, beyond which it is forbidden to delay ‘Isha’.

Consider also what the major scholars of the four madhahib said:

Ibn Qudamah al-Maqdisi (Hambali) said in ‘al-Mughni’:

“What is more befitting – if Allah Wills – is that one does not delay it past the first third of the night. If he delays it past the middle of the night, this is permissible. What is beyond this is allowed only for necessity, and its ruling is the same as praying ‘Asr in the time of necessity (in the last portion of its allotted time)…Beyond this, the time of ‘Isha’ extends till the emergence of the second (true) Fajr.”

al-Kasani (Hanafi) said in ‘Bada’i’ as-Sana’i”:

“As for the last time for ‘Isha’, it is when the true time of Fajr comes in, according to us.”

Muhammad ‘Alish (Maliki) said in ‘Manh al-Jalil’:

“And the preferred time to pray ‘Isha’ ends with the first third of the night.”

an-Nawawi (Shafi’i) said in ‘al-Majmu”:

“What is preferred is to pray by the first third of the night. If this preferred time passes, we are left with the permissible time, which is till the time of the second (true) Fajr. This is the madhhab that has been narrated from ash-Shafi’i, and it is what has been clearcut from our companions, past and present.”

at-Tahawi (Hanafi) said in ‘Mushkil al-Athar’:

“So, the authenticity of these narrations has been established: that the time in which one can pray ‘Isha’ is from when the Sun sets, till the end of the night. However, this is divided into three categories:

a) from when it enters, to the first third of the night, and this is the best time in which to pray it, b) as for what is beyond this – till the middle of the night – this is less preferable than the first choice, and c) as for what is beyond the middle of the night, this is less preferable than the times before it.”

So, the four madhahib interpreted the relevant ahadith to mean that the time in which it is permissible to pray ‘Isha’ is till the time of Fajr, with the strong discouragement from delaying it past the first third of the night, let alone the middle of the night, unless one has a good excuse (such as illness, preoccupation with a task, etc.).

In conclusion, there is a difference of opinion as to whether the time limit is a matter of strict forbiddance, or merely one of preference. In any case, the safest thing to do is to not delay it past the middle of the night, as much as you are able.

And Allah Knows best.

23 Responses to “Time Limit for the ‘Isha’ Prayer”

  1. Asalaam alaikum

    VVVVVVVVVVVVvery benefical post indeed jazakallahukhairan. Would provide the reference of this also please.


  2. sorry about so many Vs as the keyboard was not showing up i kept on typing..pls edit it inshallah


  3. ahmad tareq Says:

    As-salaam ‘alaykum wa rahmatullahi wa barakatuhu

    Dear brother, you have indeed provided us with a very interesting article.

    It will be very enriching and beneficial, if Allah wills, if you point out some of the opinions of the other scholars that are of the view that it is not permissible extend the prayer at the time of ‘Isha beyond the middle of the night.

    It will be likewise beneficial insha Allah if you point out what you mean that some scholars have taken the hadith’s apparent meaning (dhahir) and others have not, so as to understand the difference.

    Zadaka Allahu ‘Ilman wa Jazaka Allahu khairan

  4. jazakallah

  5. insha allah my brothers we will live a good life

  6. http://www.islamqa.com/en/ref/10125/isha

    ‘Isha prayer must be performed before midnight, and it is not permissible to delay it until midnight, because the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) said: “The time of ‘Isha’ is until midnight” (narrated by Muslim, al-Masaajid wa Mawaadi’ al-Salaah, 964).

  7. BarakaLLAHu fiikum

  8. Salamualikum brothers,

    it will be helpful for me if you can specify 1st 3rd of night.
    i mean night starts after Isha or after Magrib. how to calculate it. I am a bit confused in this.


  9. I think to understand what is the 1/3 night consider taking the time after sunset until dawn and basically…..calculate how many hours that takes….then divide by 3…….Allah knows best

  10. Syed Maqbool Ahmed Says:

    Assalamu alaikum,

    It is really informative. Jazak Allau Qaira
    May Allah stuck us to the right path and make us possible to pray on time. Aameen.

  11. Thank you.

  12. Thank bro i was really confussed. May Allah bless us

  13. Iffat Bakhshi Says:

    Yes, it was a very imfornative article and good to know about the night time division. what is one third of a night or two third of a night and when does the night begin. My own experiience is if one is blessed and start doing any of these nawafils or tahajjud or any other pious practices keep doing it and try to bring rigor in your practices. InshAllah you will be successful. Email me if needed more clarification at kab_usa@hotmail.com

  14. fatima reveredo Says:

    jazak ALLAH, i was not sure about the time limit for isha prayer. may ALLAH guide us all muslims to the righteous path. ameen.

  15. As Salam Alai kum Brother,

    Jazak-Allah Khair. This is an very important post as Isha timings are concerned. It is clear that Preferred time for prayer is at the end that first third portion of the night from the start of Isha time.

    As for people who come late from business, offices etc can pray as soon as possible as prayer is always preferred to be performed in a peaceful place.

    And Allah knows best.

  16. shahed khan Says:

    The Holy Koran states in Sûrat Al-Mâ‘ûn
    (The Small Kindnesses) CVII
    4. So woe unto those performers of Salât (prayers) (hypocrites),
    5. Those who delay their Salât (prayer from their stated fixed times).
    The stated fixed time then may be said to be when the Azan has been given or nearest.
    No Hadiths can contradict the Holy Koran!

    • Thanks so much. There is so much confusion and unnecessary argument about a very simple matter. The Quran states : ina kanat allali mumina kitaba maokuta. All these hadiths are inferior to the Quran and to my mind treat exceptions. The rule is very simple: pray at appropriate times.

  17. surah ma’un chapter 107 verse 5 ‘WHO ARE HEEDLESS OF THEIR PRAYERS’
    meaning of heedless:
    Showing a reckless lack of care or attention: “his heedless.
    careless – inadvertent – thoughtless – inattentive

    pray the salaah on time if you can but more importantly pray the salaah with affection, dont rush it and dont pray for show.
    so verse 4 to 7 is for those people who pray with a lack of interest, concentration and do it purely to show others

  18. what is one third of night I want to know as per timing plz mention I can’t understand one third of night

  19. we can read isha ki namaz on 9pm plz I want reply

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