Answered by Shaykh Jamir Meah
Question: Assalamu alaykum
I didn’t pray during high school years. I’m assuming perhaps I started in my 20’s something. I’m not sure about the exact age. How many years of prayer do I have to make up? Should I really make them up?
Answer: Wa’alaykum assalam. Jazakum Allah khayr for your questions. May Allah reward you in wanting to make up your missed prayers.
It is necessary to make up missed prayers, and this is the opinion held by the four schools of thought.
The Necessity of Making up Missed Prayers
The Prophet ﷺ said, ‘Whoever forgets a prayer must perform it when they remember it’ [al Bukhari, Muslim]. If one is obliged to make up a missed prayer due to forgetfulness, then with greater reasoning, one is obliged make up a prayer missed through neglect.
Imam Nawawi states in his al Majmu, ‘There is consensus of the scholars whose opinion counts, is that whoever leaves a prayer intentionally must make it up.’
The prayer is the first matter that a person will be asked about on the day of Judgement, so it is imperative that we ensure that we are not remiss in this worship in any way. Ultimately, we do not want to be standing in front of Allah on the Day of Judgement with years of missed prayers that have not been made up.
How to Make up Missed Prayers
One is obliged to start praying as soon as they reach puberty. The age of puberty varies from person to person, but does not legally start before 9 lunar years old.
Work out the years of missed prayers, beginning from when you started puberty and up to when you are certain you started praying regularly.
For example, if you started puberty at 11 years old, then this is your start point. If you’re unsure when you were praying all your prayers, or if you were praying on and off and are unsure which exact prayers you prayed, then go by the point that you definitely started praying all your prayers. For example, if you know that you were praying all your prayers at the age of 27, then this will be your end point. So in the example above, you would make up prayers from the age of 11 to 27.
Draw up a timetable that you can make up prayers steadily each day, alongside your other daily commitments. Make-ups can feel heavy and challenging, so make sure you are realistic and sensible in what you are able to do, finding the balance between pushing yourself to make them up and not burning out. Tick off the prayers as you go along on a calendar or similar.
If you have many years make up, then I would recommend you consult a scholar on the minimum amount needed to make your prayer valid in the legal school you follow, so you can get through the prayers quicker.
[Shaykh] Jamir Meah
Shaykh Jamir Meah grew up in Hampstead, London. In 2007, he traveled to Tarim, Yemen, where he spent nine years studying the Islamic sciences on a one-to-one basis under the foremost scholars of the Ribaat, Tarim, with a main specialization and focus on Shafi’i fiqh. In early 2016, he moved to Amman, Jordan, where he continues advanced studies in a range of Islamic sciences, as well as teaching. Jamir is a qualified homeopath.