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The Maghrib prayer has three obligatory (fard) rak'at. The first two fard rak'at are prayed aloud, and the third is prayed silently.
To be considered valid salat, the formal daily prayers must each be performed within their own prescribed time period. People with a legitimate reason have a longer period in which their prayers will be valid.
- When the sun has completely set beneath the horizon; immediately after the Asr prayer period ends.
- According to the predominant opinions of the Maliki and Shafi'i schools of law, the prescribed prayer time ends as soon as enough time for a person to purify him/herself and pray has passed. After that, according to the Maliki school, the Period of Necessity lasts until a little before dawn, i.e., the beginning of Fajr prayer.
- Most other scholarly opinions hold that the time for Maghrib prayer ends when the time for Isha'a salat begins. There is disgreement amongst Sunni scholars as to when that occurs. According to the Hanafi school, Isha'a begins when complete darkness has arrived and the yellow twilight in the sky has disappeared.
- According to a minority opinion in the Maliki school, the prescribed time for Maghrib prayer ends when the red thread has disappeared from the sky. In another opinion of the Shafi'i school, the disappearance of the red thread marks the end of the Period of Necessity. These times can be approximated by using the sun as a measure. When the sun has descended 12 degrees below the horizon, it is approximately equivalent to the disappearance of the red from the sky. For approximating when complete darkness begins, i.e. the disappearance of the white thread from the sky, some astronomers argue that it occurs when the sun has descended 15 degrees below the horizon while others use the safer number of 18 degrees.
Shia tradition 
The redness of the eastern sky - that persists in the east for some time after sunset - disappears from the eastern half of the sky, and thus from above one's head when one looks vertically upwards in the sky.
- At midnight. The end of its time is after approximately eleven-and-a-quarter hours have passed from the legal noontime. This is for when one is under normal circumstances. However, in the case of one who was asleep, or forgot to perform the prayer or was coerced by extraordinary circumstances or factors beyond his control or in the case of woman whose prayer was delayed due to menstruation, the end of the Maghrib prayer time is Fajir.
Despite the relatively long period in which valid prayers can be recited, it is considered important to recite the prayer as soon as the time begins.
Shia doctrine permits the midday and afternoon and evening and night prayers to be prayed in succession, i.e. Dhuhr can be followed by Asr once the midday prayer has been recited and sufficient time has passed, and Maghrib can be followed by Isha'a once the evening prayer has been recited and sufficient time has passed.
See also