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The eesha salaah timing in the masjid in my neighborhood is usually very late. In fact during winters (like currently) they delay the salaah to the extent that sometimes it is nearly 35 minutes later than the neighboring masajid. So much so that I prefer going to the other masjid and completing my eesha salaah there.

I am not aware why they delay eesha salaah to such an extent that it becomes inconvenient for everyone (or maybe just some), however I think this may have something to do with hadith of the Messenger (SAWS) that the eesha salaah would be the last thing he would do before retiring.

I have a feeling that we may quite possible have misunderstood the import of this hadith: he would not intentionally delay his salaah; rather it was the last thing he did before retiring, regardless of the time. There is a difference between the two statements: it is not automatically implied that the Messenger (SAWS) would delay his salaah. This is especially telling since he (SAWS) always insisted on praying as early as possible, and I don't think eesha salaah should be excluded from this injunction.

I would be grateful if anyone with knowledge in this area could throw some more light on this. My knowledge in this matter is sketchy at best.

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Perhaps they delay it to offer more time for people to come? –  Tamer Shlash Feb 8 '13 at 7:19
    
Possibly; however this practice is seen in quite a few other masajids. And the sunnah is to offer prayers at the earliest possible time and not delay it according to people's availability. –  Najeeb Feb 8 '13 at 10:58
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up vote 6 down vote accepted

What the masjid is doing is not wrong, as there is clear precedent in the sunnah to delay the night prayer:

The Prophet (sallallahu 'alaihi wa sallam) delayed the `Isha' prayer till midnight and then he offered the prayer and said, "The people prayed and slept but you have been in prayer as long as you have been waiting for it (the prayer)."

It is also reported that the prophet preferred to delay the night prayer, but refrained from doing so (regularly) because it would cause too much hardship on the ummah.

So while I wouldn't say that it should be delayed, it is a recommendable action: Given that all the time spent waiting for a delayed prayer counts as being in prayer, it does benefit you to pray thus.

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Jazakallahu khairan for the answer. Very satisfactory. –  Najeeb Feb 9 '13 at 7:05
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