Question 90 : Assalaamu ‘alaikum Shaikhs,
InshaAllah this question will be covered in the free fiqh courses at 7:00 pm on Fridays at UQ but for those that are unable to attend;
I arrived late to Fajr prayer. The second rakat had started. The person walking in front of me stopped and prayed the Sunnah prayer before joining the obligatory one.
After the prayers, I mentioned to him that the prophet pbuh said There is no Sunnah prayer after iqamah and you can pray Sunnah after Fajr prayer. He said to me the Hanifa school of thought is you can do Sunnah prayer as long as you can join the Fajr prayer before it finished. If you miss Sunnah prayer before Fajr prayer, you can’t do your Sunnah prayers until 12 minutes after sunrise. He said he will check with his Shaikh. I am asking is what I understood him to say correct?

Answer : Walaikumussalam Br Ibrahim Abu Awan

The Prophet (s.a.w) did say:
إذا أقيمت الصلاة فلا صلاة إلا المكتوبة
“When a Prayer is established (ie Iqamah done), there is no prayer except the prescribed (compulsory) one.”
Ref: Sahih Muslim & Elsewhere

This hadith makes it clear that once iqamah is done, there is only the prescribed obligatory prayer.

But then is there no prayer perfect and complete in reward except the obligatory one or is there no prayer valid except the obligatory one?

Moreover, is it that even a prayer in progress at iqamah time null and void the moment iqamah is pronounced? Or it maybe fine to complete a Sunnah already underway and what is prevented is starting a new one after iqamah but not completing one already performing. Or perhaps what is prohibited is to not join the obligatory prayer at all till its end but if commence a sunnah even after the iqamah of fajr but pray briefly and complete it and join the fard prayer of fajr before the 2nd rakah ends then perhaps this is satisfactory as the obligatory prayer is performed?

This last possibility of understanding is the one understood by Imam Abu Hanifah and is thus regarded as his Madhhab that the brother told you about, correctly to this extent.

Whereas most of the remaining Scholars, ie the majority pf the Scholars, such as Imam Shafiee, understood that once the iqamah is done, it is prohibited to start any new prayer as is the obviously apparent meaning of the hadith wording of the Prophet (s.a.w).

Interestingly many of these Scholars considered it permissible that if someone is already in a Sunnah/Nafil prayer at iqamah commencement, then it is permissible to complete that prayer briefly and join the fard prayer in progress as soon as possible and as close to its beginning as possible.

Which opinion the Prophet (s.a.w) intended?
This 2nd saying that is the saying of majority of the scholars is (1) the most consistent with the apparent meaning and purpose of the hadith, (2) purpose of the iqamah, and (3) obligatory nature of the fard prayer. Moreover, similar wording was said by the Prophet (s.a.w), according to a narration, during Fajr prayer when a man was praying Sunnah and the Prophet (s.a.w) said (A) this upon iqamah to indicate him to stop consistent with majority scholar understanding (B) and the Prophet though he discouraged the act but he did not force him to stop immediately the 2 rakah in progress immediately and rather he allowed him to complete the 2 rakah began before (consistent again with the majority scholars’ understanding). In addition to this, consider that if it was fine for the man to even start 2 new rakah after iqamah after the Prophet stopping him then the Prophet saying to him to stop while allowing him to start new 2 rakah would have been without much reasonable purpose at all, thus indicating that we should not begin a new 2 rakah sunnah after the iqamah and doing so is either invalid or imperfect/not ideal/discouraged. Thus the majority opinion seems the actual intended message by the Prophet (s.a.w) when he said that “when the iqamah is done there is nobprayer except the prescribed (obligatory one),” ie do not start an new one after iqamah and preferably do not be in 2 sunnah in progress lest it be like 4 rakah fajr prayer (2 sunnah plus immediately 2 rakah fard at its end).

12 Minutes Issue:
Lastly, as we know the Prophet told us not to pray at moment that the sun rises or sets or is at the meridiam. That is why some scholars must have simply made rough estimate to not pray sunnah or nafil for 12 minutes after Sunsrise, ie to wait for sun to rise from the horizon into the sky prior to praying. This may serve as a rough estimate for that scholar’s geographical location but not for everywhere. The 12 minutes – though a good attempt – yet is not so fixed a number but rather is variable depending on how close you are to equator or further away as the sunrising duration will vary. So the idea of waiting for sun to rise into the horizon is from Sunnah whereas the specification of 12 minutes is an estimate provided by some well meaning scholar which however varies by a place’s proximity to the equator thus cannot take 12 minutes as a definite time.

Allah knows best.