By Sheikh Abd Al-Wahhab Al-Turayri
The Prophet salAllahu `alayhi wa sallam remained in his house until the call for `Isha prayer was given. He did not hasten to offer `Isha as soon as it came. Instead, he waited to see that the people have gathered for prayer. If they assembled in the mosque early, he led them in prayer early. If they came later, he did so as well, which is what he preferred.
He only offered the `Isha prayer as early as he did to keep things easy for the people. On one occasion, he delayed the `Isha prayer for a very long time, until Umar went and called out to him, “Messenger of Allah, the women and children have fallen asleep.” The Prophet salAllahu `alayhi wa sallam came out and said,
“This is the time to offer the prayer. If it were not for the difficulty I would cause for my community, I would have ordered them to observe the `Isha prayer at this hour.”
He delayed the `Isha prayer for a long time one other night. Just as the people were about to pray, a man stood forth and said, “Messenger of Allah, I have a pressing need for you.” The Prophet salAllahu `alayhi wa sallam went off with the man to discuss his problem with him. By the time he returned to the mosque, some of the people had dozed off. However, after prayer on one of the nights he delayed, he told them,
“Take heart. It is Allah’s blessing and favor on you that there are no other people praying at this hour beside yourselves.”
After hearing these glad tidings, the Prophet’s Companions returned to their homes with joyful hearts. He also reassured them on one occasion:
“Indeed, some people have prayed and gone to bed. As for you, you are in prayer as long as you are waiting for prayer.”
Prophet Muhammad salAllahu `alayhi wa sallam led a prayer that was both short and complete. Anas radhiAllahu ‘anhu recalled, “I have never yet prayed behind any imam whose prayer was lighter yet more perfectly complete than the prayer of Allah’s Messenger.”
The Prophet salAllahu `alayhi wa sallam heard a baby crying for his mother, so he recited a short chapter of the Qur’an, so as not to cause difficulty for the mother. He said,
“I started my prayer intending to recite for a long time, then I heard a child crying and make the prayer brief, because I know how much a mother is troubled to hear her baby crying.”
After `Isha prayer, he sometimes spoke to his companions about a new development that had come up. He did so on rare occasions, and then he kept it brief. He knew the people were tired and needed to sleep. This is why he disliked long conversations after the `Isha prayer.
After the `Isha’ prayer, the Prophet salAllahu `alayhi wa sallam waited at his place until the women had a chance to depart for their homes. Only then did he stand to leave, and the men stood with him.
Originally published at onislam.net