HERCULES AND ISLAM :
Arabia, during the time of the Holy Prophet Muhammad (s), was a country without any central authority. It was a country far from the civilised nations of those days. At the time Prophet Muhammad (s) was spreading Islam; asking people to turn away from worshipping idols to worshipping Allah, the Almighty, the All-Knower, the Master. The Prophet sent letters of invitation to Kings and Rulers of various countries in the world, inviting them to embrace Islam. Many of the letters were met with a favourable response whilst others were rejected.
In many cases, the messengers of the Prophet were badly treated and abused. But the Prophet was not worried by these setbacks. He was inviting people to the right path and a few setbacks could not deter him from propagating Islam.
Abu Sufyan a leader of the tribe of Quraish and the arch enemy of the Prophet was in Constantinople on a business trip, when the Prophet's letter of invitation reached Hercules, the Byzantine emperor of Eastern Roman Empire. Hercules, at the time was in his court at Constantinople celebrating his victory over the Persians.
Hercules read the letter through an interpreter and then asked the people in his court, to find out if there was someone in the city, who knew the Prophet. Abu Sufyan with his companions was brought into the court.
The emperor asked Abu Sufyan, "What kind of family does Muhammad belong to?"
"Noble", replied Abu Sufyan
"Has there been a king in his family?" Hercules asked.
"No," said Abu Sufyan
"Are the people who have accepted his religion poor or rich?",
Hercules questioned again.
"They are poor", replied Abu Sufyan.
Hercules was now becoming more and more interested and he went on asking questions.
His next question was, "Are his followers on the increase or decrease?"
"Increasing", Abu Sufyan replied shortly.
"Have you known him to tell lies"? asked Hercules.
"No", admitted Abu Sufyan.
"Does he ever go against his convents?", Hercules once again asked.
"Not so far. But we have to see whether he carries out the new agreement made between us and him", Abu Sufyan answered lengthily for a change.
"Have you ever fought him in wars?" Hercules questioned.
"Yes", answered Abu Sufyan
"What has been the result?" Hercules asked, getting more and more interested.
"Sometimes we have won, sometimes he", replied Abu Sufyan.
"What does he teach?" asked Hercules
"Worship One God, join no partners with Him, carry out your prayers, be chaste, speak the truth and keep union with your relatives", answered Abu Sufyan, even surprised at his own answer as it sounded like he was preaching Islam.
Hercules stood up and said, "If all you said is true, then I am sure that this Prophet's Kingdom will reach here where I am standing. I was certain that a Prophet was coming, but I didn't know that he would be born in Arabia. If I were to go there, I would embrace Islam and wash the Prophet's feet with my own hands."
This was the way in which the Prophet spread Islam.
He impressed them by his truthfulness, honesty, noble character and dedication in the service of Allah. He did not compel people to accept Islam under threat of waging wars, nor did he compel people to accept Islam by the force of the sword. He fought only in defence, and only when the enemies waged war on him.
1. Fazr (morning) Salaat
In the last part of the night, at the approach of dawn, some whiteness can be noticed on the length of the horizon towards the east, i.e. from the direction in which the sun rises. After a little while, whiteness can be noticed on the breadth of the horizon. This whiteness begins to spread very rapidly. After a little while, it becomes completely bright. From the time that this broad whiteness becomes visible, the time of fajr salaat commences and remains until the rising of the sun. The moment a small portion of the sun appears, the time of fajr salaat ends. However, it is preferable to read it in its early time when it is still dark.
2. Zuhar (Mid-day) Salaat
On the declining or descending of the zenith, the time of zuhr salaat commences. An indication that the zenith is declining is that the shadow of long objects begins to decrease from the west towards the north. When it comes exactly to the north and begins to turn towards the east, then one should know that noon has declined. By standing towards the east, the direction on ones left hand is the north. Another easier method of deduction is that as the sun rises, the shadow of everything begins to decrease. Once this decreasing stops, exactly at this time is mid-day or noon. Thereafter, once the shadow begins to increase, it should be understood that noon has declined and from this time, the time of zuhr salaat has commenced. Excluding the extent to which the shadow was at exactly mid-day, till the shadow of everything remains twice its size, the time of zuhr will remain. For example, the shadow of a stick which is one arm in length, was equal to four fingers at mid-day. So as long as its shadow does not spread to two arm-lengths and four fingers, zuhr time will remain. Once it reaches two arm-lengths and four fingers, asr time will commence.
3. Asr (afternoon) Salaat
Based on the previous example, once the shadow reaches two arm-lengths and four fingers, asr time will commence. Asr time will remain until sunset. However, it is makruh to offer asr salaat when the colour of the sun changes and the sun's rays change to yellow. If due to some reason one gets delayed, salaat in this makruh time should be offered and not allowed to be missed out. In future it should not be delayed. Apart from this asr salaat, it is not permissible to offer any other salaat in this time. No missed salaats nor any nafl salaat can be offered.
4. Maghrib (evening) Salaat
Once the sun sets, maghrib time commences. Maghrib time remains as long as the redness on the western horizon remains. However, maghrib salaat should not be delayed to the extent that many stars begin to appear in the sky. To delay it till such a time is makruh.
5. Esha (night) Salaat
Once the redness on the western horizon disappears, esha time commences and remains until dawn. However, after mid-night, esha salaat becomes makruh and the reward is reduced. Therefore, esha salaat should not be delayed till such a time. It is preferable that esha salaat be offered before one third of the night passes.
Rules Related to the Times of Salaat
1. In summer, one should not hasten towards reading zuhr salaat. It is mustahab to offer zuhr salaat after the intense heat rays elapse. In winter, it is preferable to offer zuhr salaat at the beginning of zuhr time.
2. Asr salaat should be delayed till such a time that if after the entry of asr time one wishes to offer any nafl salaat, he can do so, because it is not permissible to offer any nafl salaat after having offered asr salaat irrespective of whether it is in summer or in winter. However, one should not delay to such an extent that the sun turns yellow and its rays change in colour. It is mustahab to hasten towards offering maghrib salaat and to offer it immediately after sunset.
3. The person who is in the habit of waking up for tahajjud salaat in the latter part of the night and has full confidence of definitely waking up; then it is better for him to offer his witr salaat after having offered his tahajjud salaat. But if he is not confident of waking up and fears that he will remain asleep; then he should offer his witr salaat after his esha salaat before going to sleep.
4. It is preferable to delay the fajr, zuhr and maghrib salaats on a cloudy day, while it is mustahab to offer asr salaat a bit early.
5. No salaat is valid at the times of sunrise, mid-day and sunset. However, if asr salaat has not been offered as yet, then it could be offered even at the time of sunset. In these three times, even sajdah-e-tilaawat is makruh and not permissible.
6. It is makruh to offer any nafl salaat after offering fajr salaat until sunrise. However, the offering of any qada salaat and sajdah-e-tilaawat before the sun rises is permissible. But once the sun rises, then as long as some light does not appear, even qada salaat will not be permissible. Similarly, it is not permissible to offer any nafl salaat after the asr salaat. However, qada salaat and sajdah-e-tilaawat is permissible. But once the rays of the sun become weak or faint, then even this is not permissible.
7. At fajr time, a person only offered his fard salaat out of fear that the sun will rise very soon. So as long as the sun does not rise considerably and does not get quite bright, the sunnah salaat should not be offered. Once some light appears, sunnah salaat and any other salaat may be offered.
8. Once dawn breaks and fajr time enters, then apart from the two rakaats sunnah and two rakaats fard of fajr salaat, it is makruh to offer any other nafl salaat. However, it is permissible to offer any qada salaat and to make sajdah-e-tilaawat.
9. If the sun rises while one is offering one's fajr salaat then this salaat will not be valid. When the sun becomes a bit bright, one should make qada. But if the sun sets while one is offering asr salaat, then this salaat will be valid and there will be no need to make qada of it.
10. It is makruh to sleep before offering esha salaat. One should offer ones salaat and then sleep. However, if due to some sickness or travelling, one is very tired and tells someone to wake him up at the time of salaat and that person promises to wake him up; then in this case it will be permissible to sleep.
11. It is mustahab for men to offer fajr salaat at a time when the light spreads considerably and there is so much of time left that in the salaat itself about forty to fifty verses could be read properly; and after offering the salaat, if for some reason one has to repeat the salaat, then in the same way he could read forty to fifty verses again. It is mustahab for women to offer fajr salaat throughout the year when it is dark. And it is mustahab for men and women who are performing hajj to offer fajr salaat when it is dark when they are in Muzdalifah.
12. The time for jumu'ah salaat is the same as the time for zuhr salaat. The only difference is that it is mustahab to delay zuhr salaat in summer irrespective of whether it is hot or not. And it is mustahab to offer zuhr salaat early in winter, while it is sunnah to offer jumu'ah salaat early throughout the year. This is the opinion of all the ulama.
13. The time for the eid salaats commences when the sun rises considerably and remains until just before mid-day. The sun rising considerably means that the yellowness of the sun disappears and its light is so bright that one cannot look at it. In establishing this, the jurists have said that it must rise to the extent of one spear. It is mustahab to offer the eid salaats early. However, the salaat of Eid ul-Fitr should be delayed slightly after the time commences.
14. When the imam gets up from his place to perform the khutbah of jumu'ah, the eid salaats or for hajj, etc. then it is makruh to offer any salaat in these times. It is also makruh to offer any salaat at the time of the khutbah of nikah or at the time of the completion of the Quran.
15. It is also makruh to offer any salaat when the iqaamah for a fard salaat is being called out. However, if one has not offered the sunnah of fajr salaat and one is sure or convinced that one will get one rakaat with the congregation, then it will not be makruh to offer the sunnah of fajr salaat. And the one who has already commenced with any sunnah-e-mu'akkadah, should complete it first.
16. It is makruh to offer any nafl salaat prior to the salaats of eid irrespective of whether one offers it at home or at the eid-gah. As for offering it after the eid salaats, it will only be makruh to offer it at the eid-gah.