What is the meaning of the following part of the Hadith?
‘فقال: لو طلعت لم تجدنا غافلين’
صلى بنا أبو بكر رضي الله عنه صلاة الصبح , فقرأ بسورة البقرة في الركعتين جميعا , فلما انصرف قال: له عمر رضي الله عنه كادت الشمس تطلع فقال: لو طلعت لم تجدنا غافلين
This narration is recorded in Sharhu Ma’anil Athar of Imam Tahawi (rahimahullah). It has also been recorded by other Muhaddithun with variation in the wording.
(Sharhu Ma’anil Athar, vol. 1 pg. 182, Hadith: 1089. Also see: As Sunanul Kubra of Imam Bayhaqi, vol. 1 pg. )
Abu Bakr (radiyallahu ‘anhu) once led us in Fajr Salah and recited Surah Baqarah over both the rak’ahs. When he completed, ‘Umar (radiyallahu ‘anhu) said, ‘The sun is about to rise.’ Sayyiduna Abu Bakr (radiyallahu ‘anhu) replied, ‘If it were to rise, it would not find us in an unmindful state.’ [i.e. We would be in engaged in ‘ibadah].
(Refer: Nukhabul Afkar, vol. 3 pg. 407)
Sayyiduna Abu Bakr (radiyallahu ‘anhu) would have known that the sun did not rise as yet and therefore his Fajr Salah was still valid. Imam Tahawi (rahimahullah) has cited this narration to prove that Sayyiduna Abu Bakr (radiyallahu ‘anhu) started his Fajr salah early, when it it was still dark and only terminated it just before sunrise when it was quite bright, proving that there is no issue in offering Fajr Salah when it is bright. The Hanafi Scholars usually prefer offering Fajr Salah when there is light in the horizon (isfar).
Note: I have merely answered your query regarding the narration in question. This should therefore not be viewed as a Fiqh ruling. Kindly refer to a Mufti/Darul Ifta for a fatwa on this issue.
And Allah Ta’ala Knows best.
Answered by: Moulana Suhail Motala
Approved by: Moulana Muhammad Abasoomar