Can we pray Jumuah before Thuhr time?
Q: I have heard of mosques having two separate sermons in one mosque at different times. I understand the need for that with parking and overcrowding. The confusion is that the first one will be before the sun passes the zenith (before Thuhr).
A: In God’s name to whom all praise is due…
It is true that the majority of jurists have interpreted a direct link between the time for the Friday sermon and prayer and the Thuhr time since the former replaces the latter. Also supporting this opinion are many Hadith which indicate the prophet (PBUH) praying the Friday prayers after the sun passed the zenith. The Hanbali school of thought as well as Imam al-Awza’i and Al-Shawkani took the official position that it is acceptable to be done before Thuhr time while preferable to pray afterwards. They took site this opinion because of a couple authentic Hadiths which show that for whatever reason the prophet (PBUH) prayed before the time of Thuhr on occasion.
“We used to pray Jumuah with the Prophet and then return to our homes and the walls didn’t have a shadow.” (Bukhari 3935)
“We used to pray Jumuah with the Prophet (PBUH) then we would go home and let our camels drink and rest. Jaf’ar asked and what time was that? He responded when the sun passed the Zenith” (Muslim 858)
“Ammar bin Yasir led us in Jumuah and there were two opinions among the congregation; some said the sun had passed the zenith and others said it hadn’t.” (Albani Al-Ajwiba 25)
When the permanent council of fatwa in Saudi Arabia was asked, they said the majority of the scholars said it must be performed after the sun passes the zenith. Imam Ahmed and others mentioned some Hadith and opinions of the companions that show that sometimes they performed it beforehand. So the prayer before Thuhr is valid, but it is better to pray after (summarized).
The scholars have agreed that there should be no rebuking others in matters like this where apparent meanings of texts have been used by scholars to INTERPRET differing opinions.
Here is a reference from Assembly of Muslim Jurists of America (AMJA)