The ẓuhr prayer (Arabic: صلاة الظهر ṣalāt aẓ-ẓuhr IPA: [sˤalaːt aðˤðˤuhr], "noon prayer") is the prayer after midday (but before the time for the Asr prayer.) It has been said that the name Zuhr was given to this prayer because it falls halfway between two daily prayers, those being Fajir and Isha, beginning at dawn and the first instant of complete darkness correspondingly. Performed daily by practicing Muslims, it is the second of the five daily prayers (salat, known to be one of the most important pillars.) The Islamic day begins at Maghrib which is the fourth prayer. The five daily prayers collectively are one of the Five Pillars of Islam in Sunni Islam, and one of the ten Practices of the Religion (furūʿ ad-dīn) (فروع الدين) according to Shia Islam. The Holy Qur'an has reiterated its importance, "Attend constantly to prayers and to the middle prayer and stand up truly obedient to Allah". It is reduced to two rakaʿāt when traveling.
In both of the sects, four rakaʿāt are mandatory (Fard) and are prayed silently. However, in Sunni Islam, two rakaʿāt prior to the Fard raka'ah and two rakaʿāt following the Fard raka'ah are recommended; these are nawafil which are non obligatory.
On Friday the Zuhr prayer is replaced by Jumu'ah, it is obligatory for Muslim men who are above the age of puberty to pray in congregation either in the mosque of the city they live in or with a group of Muslims. Women, however, are recommended but not obligated to pray in congregation on Friday prayer. The Zuhr prayer, on Friday, is led by a Khutba which is a speech given by the leader of the mosque (Imam) with a purpose to educate, bond, guide, and improve the quality of the community as well as propagate Islam (Dawa).
Hadith pertaining to Zuhr
The following quotations are from books of Sunni hadith. These books relate accounts taken from the life of the Islamic prophet Muhammad, his family, and his companions. They were compiled by Islamic scholars after Muhammad's death. These quotations include information about those who related the accounts, as well as the accounts themselves.
- Narrated Aisha: The Prophet never missed four Rakat before the Zuhr prayer and two Rakat before the Fajr prayer.
- Narrated Abu Huraira and 'Abdullah bin 'Umar: Allah's Apostle said, "If it is very hot, then pray the Zuhr prayer when it becomes (a bit) cooler, as the severity of the heat is from the raging of the Hell-fire."
The waqt (prescribed time) of the Zuhr salat is determined differently by the different branches of Islam. In each case however, it is best to perform the prayer as soon as the waqt is "in", and inadvisable to unnecessarily delay it.
The time frame of the zuhr daily prayer is as follows:
- Time begins: once the sun has crossed the celestial meridian (true noon), exactly halfway between sunrise and sunset. This is when the sun is at the highest point in the sky.
- Time ends: before the time it takes to recite the daily Asr prayer (afternoon prayer), a little before sunset.
- Time begins: once the sun has crossed the celestial meridian (true noon), exactly halfway between sunrise and sunset. This is when the sun is at the highest point in the sky and a little after that.
- Time ends: at the time when the Asr prayer begins (afternoon prayer) (there is scholarly disagreement as to exactly when that occurs). Also, according to the Maliki school, the dharoori time (Time of Necessity for those who had a legitimate excuse to miss the prayer during the Prescribed Time) for zuhr lasts all the way until a little before sunset, the beginning of Maghrib prayer. Thus, according to the Maliki school, if someone prays zuhr 30 minutes before sunset, he is considered to have prayed the prayer "on time", though he would be sinful if he had delayed that long without a legitimate excuse.