translated by: Manal Samhat
The prayer is considered one of the most essential acts of worship incumbent on man, and it has certain steps and terms that ought to be met to ensure its validity. One of these terms is performing the prayer after its timing arrives. To further demonstrate this issue, we cannot but seek the opinion of the Shariah with regards to its details, one of which is making sure that the Zawal of the sun has taken place to perform the Duhr prayer.
At first, His Eminence, the late Religious Authority, Sayyed Muhammad Hussein Fadlullah (ra), says: “The prayer should be performed when its timing arrives, and its timing is known either by knowledge or by reassurance, such as sighting. Timing can also be acquired by relying on the view of a reliable source, such as relying on two or even one just testimony. Moreover one can also rely on an expert to determine the timing.
To be able to depend on the Adhan of the caller to the prayer in the mosque, it should be known for sure that he knows its timing or he depends on someone who knows it for sure. Moreover, one can refer to the calendars made by the experts, especially if the timings were a subject of consensus. As for when the Mukallaf assumes that the timing has arrived without relying on any reliable sources, then it is deemed “unreliable judgment “ and it is impermissible to act by it except in exceptional cases… However, if there is no possibility to attain a reliable knowledge, as when the sky is cloudy or other general concrete excuses, then one can rely on supposition and assume it is the right. As for the case where the inability to attain knowledge is for a personal reason, such as blindness, imprisonment and the like, then in this case, one should take a precaution and delay the prayer until he attains the knowledge.
Once one knows for sure that the timing of the prayer arrived, or attains reliable judgment, and prays, and then he finds out that his entire prayer was performed before the real timing, then it is deemed invalid, and it ought to be repeated during its timing, or performed Qadha’ (as a missed prayer) after its timing. However, if one knows that some parts of his prayer, like one Raka’ or less or more, is performed before its timing, then the prayer is deemed valid, and so is the case when one relies on unreliable judgment and then finds out that he was wrong.
Moreover, if one performs the prayer without checking its timing and it was all performed during its timing, then it is valid, but if all or a part of it is performed before its timing, then it is invalid. If one finishes the prayer and then doubts or does not know for sure whether it was performed before or after its timing, then, it is not sufficient, especially if the arrival of its timing is still not known until that moment…
[Fiqh Ash-Shariah, vol. 1, p: 251]
His Eminence (ra) defines the Zawal as being the time when the sun moves [away from its central meridian] towards the west, which is equal to the mid-time between sunrise and sunset, and it is called Zawal, [literally disappearance], for the shadow disappears completely from the west-side and starts to appear on the east-side…
[Jurisprudential issues, p: 199]