What is the ruling on delaying the Isha prayer until a late hour?
It is better for the Isha prayer to be delayed to its later time. The more it is delayed, the better, unless it be for a man because if a man delays it, he misses the congregational prayer, and it is not permissible for him to delay it and miss the congregational prayer. As for the women in their houses, the more they delay the Isha prayer, the better it is for them, but they should not delay it past midnight.
Shaykh Muhammad bin Saalih al-`Uthaymeen
Fatawa Islamiyah Vol. 2 Page 239
sisters, these are below the explanation why do delaying the Isha prayer is better.
from Reyadus Saliheen, CHAPTER 334
ABOMINATION OF HOLDING CONVERSATION AFTER `ISHA’ (NIGHT) PRAYER
1746. Abu Barzah (May Allah be pleased with him) said: The Messenger of Allah (PBUH) disliked going to bed before the `Isha’ (night) prayer and indulging in conversation after it.” [Al-Bukhari and Muslim].
**Commentary: The prohibition of going to bed before `Isha’ prayer is that if one sleeps late at night, it becomes difficult for him to get up for Tahajjud prayer or Fajr prayer. Moreover, if a person goes to sleep soon after `Isha’ prayer, all his activities of the day will end at `Isha’, which is the most meritorious act. It should also be borne in mind that when holding a conversation which is disliked or forbidden at other times becomes even more so at this particular time (i.e., after `Isha’ prayer). Imam An-Nawawi’s contention that things like academic discussion, talking to a guest, discussing the lives of the pious etc., are not only permissible but desirable, is also subject to the condition that such an activity does not involve the risk of losing the Fajr prayer. If one spends so much time in such activities that he is likely to miss the Fajr prayer, then the permission to hold academic discussion becomes doubtful.
1747. Ibn `Umar (May Allah be pleased with them) said: Once, towards the end of his life, the Messenger of Allah (PBUH) concluded the `Isha’ (night) prayer and said, “After one hundred years from tonight none of the people on the surface of the earth will survive.” [Al-Bukhari and Muslim].
**Commentary: The Prophet (PBUH) had made a prophecy that none of the people who were alive on that night would live beyond the end of the century. `None of the people on the surface of the earth will survive’ has been interpreted as “those who had seen him and known him would not stay alive after a hundred years of his death from that night. This was true, for the last Companion of the Prophet, Abu Tufail Amir bin Wa’ilah, died in 110 A.H., i.e., exactly one hundred years after the Prophet’s prophecy.
1748. Anas (May Allah be pleased with him) said: Once the Prophet (PBUH) delayed the `Isha’ (night) prayer till midnight. He (PBUH) turned to us after the prayer and said, “All the people slept after offering their prayers, but you who waited, will be accounted as if you were engaged in your prayer throughout the period.”
**Commentary: We learn the following three points from this Hadith: First: `Isha’ prayer can be deferred till midnight.
Second: It is permissible to keep awake for it to offer it in congregation. It is also permissible to engage in a beneficial activity after `Isha’ prayer involving such important matters as acquiring teaching knowledge or even spending time with one’s wife or guest.
Third: The period spent in waiting will be treated as time spent in Salat and its reward will also be greater in similar proportions.