748. A person can commence with his prayers when he is certain or content that the time of prayers has set in. He can also rely on two just men who attest to the setting in of the prayer time, or one trustworthy person provided there is no strong reason to assume otherwise. A person may also commence praying if a person who is an expert in discerning prayer timings and is trustworthy, calls the adhÁn to announce setting in of the prayer time.
749. If a person due to natural causes, such as clouds or thick dust, or individual impediments, such as blindness or being in jail, is unable to discern the setting in of the prayer time with certainty or means authorized by the sharia, he must delay his prayers until he attains certainty that it has set in, or a proof authorized by the sharia is established to that effect.
750. If the time of prayer is established for a person through one of the previously mentioned means and he begins his prayer, and then realizes during the prayer that the time of prayer has not set in, his prayer is invalid. His prayer is similarly invalid if he realizes it after the completion of his prayer.
If he realizes whilst praying that the time of prayer has set in, or upon completing it realizes that the time of prayer had set in while he was praying, his prayer is valid.
751. If a person was unaware that one should commence with his prayers after establishing the setting in of the time of prayer, and later realizes that he prayed all his prayers within the allocated time, his prayer is valid. If he later realizes that he prayed prior to the allocated prayer time, or is unable to discern whether he prayed within the time or not, his prayer is invalid. His prayer is similarly invalid if he realizes that the time of prayer set in whilst he was praying.
752. If a person who is certain or content that the time of prayer has set in, begins to pray, and then doubts whether the time has actually set in or not, his prayer is invalid. However, if he had certainty or was content during his prayer that the time of prayer has set in, but doubts as to whether what he has already completed of his prayer was within the allocated prayer time or not, his prayer is valid.
753. If there is little time left for prayer to the extent that if a person performs the recommended components of prayer, a part of his prayer will be completed after the allocated time, he must not perform the recommended components. For example, if by reciting the qunÙt, a part of his prayer will be completed after the allocated time, he must not recite the qunÙt.
754. If a person only has sufficient time to complete one rak‘ah within the allocated time, his prayer is adÁ. However, a person should not deliberately delay his prayer to such a time.
755. If a person who is not a traveler only has adequate time to perform five rak‘ah of prayer until sunset, he must pray both Ûuhr and ‘aÒr prayers. If the time is inadequate for five rak‘ah, he must only pray ‘aÒr and then pray Ûuhr with the intention of qaÃÁ. Similarly if a person who is not exempted only has adequate time to pray five rak‘ah of prayer until midnight, he must pray both maghrib and ‘ishÁ prayers. If the time is less than that, he must only pray ‘ishÁ and then maghrib. Based on obligatory precaution, maghrib should be offered with the intention of ma fi dhimmah, without the intention of it being adÁ or qaÃÁ.
756. If a person who is a traveler only has adequate time to perform three rak‘ah of prayer until sunset, he must pray both Ûuhr and ‘aÒr prayers. If the time is less than that, he must only pray ‘aÒr and then pray Ûuhr with the intention of qaÃÁ. Similarly a traveler who is not exempted and only has adequate time to pray four rak‘ah of prayers until midnight must pray both maghrib and ‘ishÁ. If the time is less than that, but it is possible for him to perform ‘ishÁ along with one rak’a of maghrib before midnight, then it is necessary to perform ‘ishÁ prayer first and do maghrib immediately afterwards. And if he doesn’t have enough time for this either, then it is necessary for him to perform ‘ishÁ first and the maghrib. Based on obligatory precaution, maghrib should be offered with the intention of ma fi dhimmah, without the intention of it being adÁ or qaÃÁ. If after completing ‘ishÁ he finds that there is still adequate time for one rak‘ah or more until midnight, he must pray maghrib prayer without delay with the intention of adÁ.
757. It is recommended to pray each prayer as soon as its time sets in, for it has been strongly emphasized. The closer one prays to the earliest time the better, unless it is preferable to delay it, such as waiting to pray in congregation.
758. Whenever a person who wants to offer a prayer in its earliest time, has to perform tayammum due to a legitimate excuse, and he knows that his excuse will remain until the end of the prayer time, he can pray his prayer in its earliest time. If however, he conceives there to be a possibility that his excuse will be alleviated, he must wait until it is alleviated. In the case his excuse is not alleviated, he should pray near the end of the allocated time. It is not necessary that he wait until there is only time for him complete the obligatory components of prayer; rather if he has time to perform the recommended components, such as the adhÁn, the iqÁmah and qunÙt, he can perform tayammum and offer his prayers with the recommended components.
In the case of legitimate excuses other than tayammum, such as taqiyyah it is permissible to pray in the earliest time of prayer, and it is not necessary to repeat the prayer even if the hindrance is removed near the end of the remaining time. In cases other than taqiyyah, one may pray at the earliest time if he conceives there to be no possibility of the situation changing. However, if the situation does change within the allocated time, the prayer must be repeated.
759. If a person who is ignorant of the rulings of prayer or the rulings of doubt and forgetfulness (in prayers), entertains the possibility that he would face an instance where his ignorance of these rulings would lead him to contravene an obligatory duty or an obligatory precaution, based on precaution, he must delay his prayer from its earliest time to learn the necessary rulings. However, if he is content that he will be able to complete his prayer correctly, he may begin his prayer in its earliest time. In such a case, if he does not come across any instance where he is ignorant of the ruling, his prayer is valid. However, if he faces an instance, the ruling of which he does not know, he may opt for one of the two possibilities at hand. After completing his prayer, he should investigate the ruling to see whether his prayer was invalid and needs to be repeated, or whether it was valid in which case its repetition is not necessary.
760. If there is ample time for prayer and a creditor seeks that which is owed to him, one should first pay his debt and then pray [wherever paying it off is possible]. The same applies to other cases wherein one comes across an obligatory task that must be accomplished urgently, such as realizing the mosque has become najis. In such a case, he must first purify the mosque and then pray. In both cases, if he prays first, he has sinned. However, his prayer is valid.