Category Archives: Salaat/Namaaz

Salaat with Shoes??

QUESTION

Is  it  permissible  to  perform  Salaat  with  shoes  on?  A  radio  molvi  propagates  that  it  is  permissible  since  it  is  proven  from  the  Hadith although  he  says  that  one  should  not  enter  a  Musjid  with  shoes  for  fear  of    the  carpets  becoming  dirty.  He  contends  that  outside  the Musjid  it  is  a  Sunnah  to  perform  Salaat  with  shoes.  He  mentioned  some  Ahaadith  in  support  of  performing  Salaat  with  shoes.  He  cites Ibn  Taimiyyah  as  his  Imaam  in  support  of  his  view.  Although  it  is  Sunnah,  he  says  that  because  of  the  carpets  this  Sunnah  should  not  be  observed.  Please  comment.  Something  does  not  seem  right  in this molvi’s reasoning.

ANSWER [By Mujlisul Ulama]

Everything  in  his  warped  and  spurious  argument  is  wrong.  The  brains of  radio  molvis  are  convoluted  with  fisq  and  fujoor.  In  addition  they  are  plain  morons  lacking  in  knowledge.  With  the  smattering  of  defective  knowledge  contaminated  with  their  fisq  and  fujoor  they  wander aimlessly  from  one  stupid  blunder  to  another. 

Let  us  momentarily  assume  that  it  is  permissible.  What  need  did  this  moron  molvi  see  in  embarking  on  this  futile  topic  and  making  a  stupid  contention  which  is  in  conflict  of  the  unanimous  fourteen  century  practice  of  the  entire  Ummah,  right  from  the  era  of  the  Sahaabah  to  this  day  in  all  lands  of  Islam  and  among  all  persuasions  and  sects?  While  there  are  a  hundred  important  issues  affecting  the  community,  the  jaahil  digs  up  futility  to  create  an  unnecessary  controversy  and  to  waste  time  with  his rodomontade  display  of  stupid  ‘erudition’.

The  fourteen  century  Tawaaruth  of  the  Ummah  is  more  than  sufficient  evidence  for  the  validity  of  the  practice  of  removing  shoes  when performing  Salaat.  But  stupid  molvis  who  hallucinate  that  they  are  ‘mujtahids’  ignore  the  rulings  of  the  Fuqaha  and  dig  out  Ahaadith  of which  they  lack  understanding  and  expertise.  The    function  of  the muqallid  is  to  adhere  to  the  Taqleed  of  the  Math-hab,  not  to  dig  Ahaadith  from  the  kutub  to    bolster  his  corrupt  opinion  which  conflicts  with  the  Ijma’ of  the  Ummah.

When  someone  asked  Hadhrat  Abu  Hurairah  (Radhiyallahu  anhu)  whether  Rasulullah  (Sallallahu  alayhi  wasallam)  had  performed  Salaat  with  na’lain,  he  replied:  “Yes.”  Firstly,  the  na’lain  which  they  wore fourteen  centuries  ago  were  not  the  type  of  shoes  which  we  wear today.  The  shoes  of  that  era  were  soft,  open  sandals  with  the  toes exposed.  With  such  sandals  valid  Sajdah  could  be  performed,  not  so with  today’s  shoes  and  boots.

Secondly,  what  had  constrained  the  man  to  pose  this  question  to  Hadhrat  Abu  Hurairah  (Radhiyallahu  anhu)?  If  it  was  the  norm  to  perform  Salaat  with  shoes,  then  what  need  did  he  have  to  ask  what  is  already  a  known  and  established  fact?  Why  did  he  not  ask:  ‘Did Rasulullah  (Sallallahu  alayhi  wasallam)  perform  Salaat  without  shoes?’  He  had  no  need  to  pose  this  question  because  it  was  the  normal  and permanent  practice  to  perform  Salaat  bare-footed,  not  with  shoes.  The  tenor  of  the  question  clearly  indicates  that  the  question  relates  to    an exception,  not  to  the  norm.   

Performing  Salaat  with  shoes  was  the  exception,  and  that  exception  was  constrained  by  the  need  to  oppose  the  Yahood,  hence  Rasulullah  (Sallallahu  alayhi  wasallam),  said  in  this  regard, ‘Oppose the Yahood.’ Performing  Salaat  with  shoes  has  no  bearing  on  the  significance  and  perfection  of  Salaat.  The  perfection  of  Salaat  and  the  attainment  of  Khushu’  and  Khudhu’  in  Salaat  are  not  reliant  on  wearing  shoes  in Salaat.  It  has  been  occasioned  by  an  external  factor.  It  was  temporarily  ordered  as  a  measure  of  opposition  to  the  Yahood.  However,  the  Fuqaha  have  ruled  that  since  the  Ahl-e-Kitaab  no  longer  enter  their  churches  and  temples  without  shoes,  this  raison  d’etre  (Illat)  no  longer  exists  to  justify    performing  Salaat  with  shoes.  On  the  contrary,  in  this  era  and  since  many  centuries  ago,  opposing  the  Ahl-e-Kitaab  is  in performing  Salaat  without  shoes,  for  their  practice  is  to  pray  with  shoes. The  Fuqaha  have  clarified  this  aspect.  

“Those  who  have  said  that  wearing  shoes  is  Mustahab  said  so  on  the  basis  of  opposing  the  Yahood.  However,  the  Ahl-e-Kitaab  now  pray  with  their  shoes.  Thus  opposition  to  them  is  by  means  of  removing  the shoes,  not  in wearing  the  shoes.”  [Bazlul  Majhood].

On  the  occasion  of  the  Conquest  of  Makkah,  Rasulullah  (Sallallahu  alayhi  wasallam)  removed  his  shoes  for  Salaat.  Thus  the  Fuqaha  say  that  this  is  the  last  of  the  two  acts,  and  it  has  precedence  over  the occasional  performance  of  Salaat  with  shoes  which  was  the  effect  of  an  external  factor.

The  contention  that  there  is  a  difference  between  performing  Salaat with  shoes  outside  the  Musjid  and  inside  the  Musjid,  is    baseless.  The  moron  says  that  the  shoes  will  dirty  the  carpets.  This  means  that  according  to  the  jaahil,  Salaat  may  be  performed  outside  the  Musjid  with  dirty  shoes  and  boots.  The  only  difference  is  that  the  Musjid  has  greater  reverence  and  demands  greater  respect  than  other  places.  But  the  rule  pertaining  for  Salaat  with  and  without  shoes  remains  the  same  for  both  the  Musjid  and  other  venues.  If  entry  into  the  Musjid  is precluded  because  of  dirty  shoes,  then  why  does  the  moron  not  contend  the  permissibility  with  clean  shoes?  So  how  does  he  accept  dirty  shoes  for  Salaat  on  the  outside,  but  not  for  the  inside of  the  Musjid? 

Performing  Salaat  with  shoes  on  is  disrespectful.  The  permission  granted  was  temporary  and  occasioned  by  a  specific  reason,  viz., opposing  the  Yahood.  But  this  is  no  longer  applicable  today.  Allaamah Anwar Kashmiri said:  

“There  is  no doubt  that  adab  (respect)  and  tawaadhu’  (humility)  are  in removing  the  shoes,  not  wearing  it  (i.e.  when  performing  Salaat).”  – [Ma-aarifus Sunan Sharh Sunan Tirmizi]

In  Umdatul  Mufti,  it  appears: “Verily  entry  (into  the  Musjid)  with  shoes  is  evil  mannerism.”

Ibn  Daqeequl  Eed  said:  “Salaat  with  shoes  is  not  Mustahab  because  it  is  not  included  in  the  objectives  of  Salaat.”

Allaamah  Shabbeer  Ahmad  Uthmaani  says  in  Sharh  Muslim,  and  similarly  is  it  in  Bazlul  Majhood:  “The  Hadith  indicates  that  Salaat  with  shoes  was  ordered  in  opposition  to  the  Yahood.  However,  in  our  age  it  is  proper  for  the  order  to  be  to  perform  Salaat  without  shoes  in  opposition  to  the  Nasaara,  for  they  pray  with shoes.”

Allaamah  Shaikh  Muhammad  Zaahid  Al-Kauthari  says  in  his Maqaalaat:

“Salaat  with  shoes  will  be  valid  if  they  are  taahir  (clean)  and  do  not prevent  placement  of  the  base  of  the  toes  on  the  ground  as  this  is  of  the  completion  of  Sajdah  as  explained  by  Al-Khataabi  and  others.  The shoes  during  the  era  of  Nabi  (Sallallahu  alayhi  wasallam)  were  soft  (i.e.  sandals  with  the  toes  exposed  and  free).  On  the  contrary,  the  solid (firm/hard)  shoes  of  this  age  do  not  allow  the  Musalli  to  perfect  Sajdah in  them.  Furthermore  the  Musjid  of  Nabi  (Sallallahu  alayhi  wasallam) was  strewn  with  pebbles…….It  was  inconceivable  for  filth  to  be attached  to  the  shoes  of  Nabi  (Sallallahu  alayhi  wasallam),  for  he  did  not  walk  in  filthy  streets.  The  alleyways  of  Madinah  were  clean,  devoid  of  filth  as  a  result  of  the  obedience  of  the  Sahaabah  to  the  command  of Rasulullah  (Sallallahu  alayhi  wasallam)  to  adopt  total  cleanliness  in the  homes  and  outside  the  houses,  and  to  a  greater  extent    the  Homes of  Allah  (i.e. the  Musaajid).  

Thus  it  was  simple  for  one  to  walk  without  trampling  on  filth. Furthermore,  the  ground  was  sandy  and  soft  preventing  any  splatter  (of  moisture)……….On  the  contrary,  the  roads    and  toilets  of  today  —  it  is not  possible  to  completely  avoid    trampling  on  filth  and  being    safe  from  splattering  (of  filthy  water)  on  to  shoes  because  the  floors  of  toilets  are  firm  (tiled,  cemented).  This  is  further  aggravated  when  one  stands to urinate  in  western  style  (high toilets  and  urinals). 

It  is  authentically  reported  that  on  the  occasion  of  the  Conquest  of  Makkah,  Nabi  (Sallallahu  alayhi  wasallam)  had  removed  his  shoes  for  Salaat.  Thus,  this  is  the  last  of  the  two  acts  (i.e.  with  shoes  and  without shoes). 

The  one  who  avers  that  wearing  shoes  (for  Salaat)  is  Mustahab,  i.e.  when  the  conditions  for  permissibility  are  found,  regards  it  as  Mustahab  because  of  opposition  to  the  Yahood.  But  today  the  Ahl-e-Kitaab  enter  their  temples  and  pray  with  their  shoes.  Therefore,  opposing  them  is  in removing  the  shoes,  not  in wearing  them.  

The  response  of  Anas  (Radhiyallahu  anhu),  i.e.  him  saying  ‘Yes’,  to  the  question:  ‘Did  he  perform  Salaat  with  shoes?’,  does  not  imply  that this  was  always  so.  This  has  been  explained  in  Sharh  Muslim  of Nawawi………In  fact,  today  it  is  regarded  as  evil  mannerism  to  enter  the  Musaajid  with  shoes  as  mentioned  by  Nawawi  and  Al-Ubbi  in  Sharh  Muslim,  and  Ali  Qaari  in  Sharh  Mishkaat,  and  Muqri  in  Fathul Muta-aal,  and  Al-Lakhnowi  in    Ghaayatul  Maqaal,  and  Ibn  Abi  As-Sijistaani  in  Munyatul  Mufti,  and  Al-Hamawi  in  Al-Ashbaah.  In  fact  for them  there  is  a  precedent  in  the  Sahaabah  (Radhiyallahu anhum)…………..

In  fact,  one  should  not  enter  the  Musjid  with  the  shoes  taken  off  except  that  they  are  covered  (e.g.  in  a  packet,  for  it  is  disrespectful  to  walk  in  the  Musjid  with  the  shoes  exposed  in  one’s  hands)…….In  Kitaabul Umm,  Imaam  Shaafi’  said:  ‘I  prefer  that  one  should  not  make  Sajdah  with  shoes  which  prevent  contact  of  the  feet (toes)  with  the  ground.”

The  moron  radio  molvi  and  all  of  these  so-called  ‘deobandi’  facebook  juhala  molvis  being  extremely  defective  in  Knowledge,  are  affected and influenced  by  the  Salafi  morons  who  cite  some  Ahaadith  which  they  interpret  according  to  their  whimsical  and  nafsaani  fancies.  It  is  for  this reason  that  this  radio  molvi  cites  Ibn  Taimiyyah  who  had  deviated  from the  Path  of  the  Ahlus  Sunnah  by  having  abandoned  the  Taqleed  of  the Mathaahib.  The  moron  radio  molvi  had  no  one  better  to  present  as daleel  other  than  Ibn  Taimiyyah.  This  amply  illustrates  his  bankruptcy in the academic field.

Furthermore,  the  moron  radio  molvi  has  simply  lapped  up  what  Salafis  propagate  via  the  internet.  He  has  disgorged  nothing  but  the  spurious and  baseless  ‘proofs’  of  the  Salafis  in  his  bid  to  bolster  the  Salafi teaching  of  the  ‘sunnah’  of  performing  Salaat  with  shoes.  In  so  doing he has displayed stark intellectual density.

Performing  Salaat  without  shoes  which  is  the  standard  fourteen  century  practice  of  the  Ummah  right  from  the  time  of  Rasulullah  (Sallallahu alayhi  wasallam),  is  based  on  Adab  (Respect),  Tawaadhu’  (Humility) and  cleanliness.  On  the  occasion  when  Musaa  (Alayhis  salaam)  was  appointed  the  Nabi,  Allah  Ta’ala  commanded him:

“Verily,  I  am  your  Rabb.  Remove  your  shoes,  for  verily,  you  are    in  the  holy  Valley  of  Tuwa.”  [Taahaa,  Aayat  12]

In  the  tafseer  of  this  Aayat,  Hadhrat  Mufti  Muhammad  Shafi’  says  in Ma-aariful  Qur’aan:       

“The  command  to  remove  shoes  was  either  because  the  place  was  a  venue  of  Adab  (Respect).  Removing  the  shoes  and  walking  barefoot  are  the  demands  of  Adab,  or  the  command  was  because  the    shoes  were  made  of  the  skin  of  dead  animals  as  is  mentioned  in  some  narrations. However,  Hadhrat  Ali,  Hasan  Basri  and  Ibn  Juraij  (Radhiyallahu anhum)  narrate  the  first  reason  (i.e.  to  observe  respect  for  the  place  of holiness).

Another  reason  for  removing  the  shoes  was  for  the  bared  feet  to  acquire  the  benefit/barkat  of  the  holy  ground.  According  to  some,  this command  was  for  the  purpose  of  Khushu’  and  Tawaadhu’.  And  this  was  the  practice  of  the  Salafus  Saalihen  when  they  would  make  Tawaaf  of  Baitullah.    
Once  when  Rasulullah  (Sallallahu  alayhi  wasallam)  saw  Bishr  Bin  Khasaasiyah  (Radhiyallahu  anhu)  walking  in  the  graveyard  with  shoes on,  he  (Nabi  –Sallallahu  alayhi  wasallam)  said:  “When  you  are  in  a  place  of  this  kind (i.e. a holy  place),  then  remove  your  shoes.” That  is, a  place  which  has  to  be  honoured / respected / revered.

The  issue  is  not  the  validity  of  Salaat  performed  with  shoes  on.  There  is no  gainsaying  that  Salaat  performed  with  shoes  will  be  valid  on  the basis of two conditions:

(1)  The  shoes  must  be  taahir  (paak/clean).
(2)  There  must  be  contact  between  the  base  of  the  toes  and  the ground.

Generally,  in  these  times  both  these  conditions  are  lacking.  It  is  standard  practice  to  go  into  the  toilets  with  shoes.  People  walk  all  over  the  show  with  their  shoes.  There  is  overwhelming  certitude  for  the impurity  of  the  shoes.  Then,  the  type  of  shoes  which  people    generally  wear  nowadays,  prevent   contact   between  the  toes  and  the  ground.  The  toes  are  suspended  in  mid-air  inside  the  shoes/boots  rendering  the  Salaat  invalid.

Furthermore,  the  validity  of  Salaat  on  the  basis  of  the  two  conditions  does  not  render  Salaat  with  shoes  Sunnah.  Only  radio  and  facebook  molvis  and  Salafis  who  suffer  from  the  mental  malady  of  ghabaawat (density  in  the  brains)  believe  that  performing  Salaat  with  shoes  is  Sunnah.  The  Qur’aan  as  well  as  the  aforementioned  Hadith  categorically  command  the  removal  of  shoes  when  in  a  place  of  holiness.  This  applies  to even  the  Qabrustaan,  and  to  a  greater  degree  to the  Musaajid.

With  shoes  on  was  a  temporary  measure  occasioned  by  a  specific  purpose  which  was  opposition  to  the  Yahood.  This  objective  no  longer exists,  and  even  whilst  it  was  still  in  existence,  the  normal  practice  of  the  Sahaabah  was  removal  of  shoes.  And,  this  was  the  practice  of  the  Auliya  whilst  making  Tawaaf  at  the  time  when  there  were  no  carpets  and  no  tiles  in  the  Mataaf  area.  Even  whilst  the  entire  area  was  sandy  and  strewn  with  pebbles,  they  would  remove  their  shoes  because  this  is  the  demand  of  respect and  humility  (Adab  and Tawaadhu’). 

There  is  no  Adab  and  Tawaadhu’  performing  Salaat  with  the  shoes  with  which  one  enters  the  toilet  and  tramples  on  najaasat.  Commenting  on  this  issue,  Al-Ubbi  says:  

“Regarding  taking  uncovered  shoes  into  the  Musjid  (i.e.  carrying  the  shoes  in  the  hand  without  it  being  covered):  Ash-Shaikh  As-Saalih Abu  Ali  Al-Qarwi  asked  Ash-Shaikh  Al-Faqeeh  As-Saalih  Abul  Hasan Al-Muntasir  about  this.  He  (i.e.  Shaikh  Al-Muntasir)  said:  ‘O  Sayyidi, did  you  not  inform  me  that  my  Sayyid  Abu  Muhammad  Az-Zawaawi  had  seen  you  placing  your  shoes  uncovered    by  the  pillar,  then  he  said: ‘O  Rahat  (Rahat  is  a  group  of  men  not  exceeding  ten)!  People  follow  you,  therefore  do  not  do  so. (i.e.  do  not  place    uncovered  shoes  in  the  Musjid).’       
Thereafter  Shaikh  Al-Qarwi  would  narrate  (this  issue)  by  saying: ‘Al-Muntasir  narrated  to  me  from  me  that  Az-Zawaawi  disapproved  of  it  (i.e.  of  taking  shoes  uncovered  into  the  Musjid).’    

Similar  to  this  is  stated  in  Mudkhal  of  Ibnul  Haaj  Al-Maaliki.  In  this  manner  would  the  Maaliki  Ulama  observe  good  moral  character  with  their  brother  Ulama  of  the  other  Math-habs.  Opposing  all  of  these  Ulama  is  not  an  insignificant  issue  for  those  who  have  baseerat  (Deeni wisdom).

“Ibn  Hajar  Al-Makki  says  in  Sharhil  Mishkaat  in  the  commentary  of  the  Hadith:  “Oppose  the  Yahood”:  “Its  effect  (i.e.  the  effect  of  this command)  is  the  preference  of  Salaat  with  shoes.  However,  Al-Khattaabi  said:  ‘It  is  narrated  from  Imaam  Shaafi’  that  Adab  (Respect)  is  to  remove  the  shoes  for  Salaat.’  It  is  appropriate  to  reconcile  (the conflict,  i.e.  between  the  Hadith  and  Imaam  Shaafi’s  view)  by  saying  that  the  order  in  the  Khabr  (to  wear  shoes  in  Salaat)  is  when  there  is certitude  regarding  the  purity  of  the  shoes  and  the  fulfilment  of  Sajdah  by  being  able  to  make  Sajdah  on  all  the  toes    (by  means  of  the  toes touching    the  ground)  whereas  the  view  of  Imaam  Shaafi’  (i.e.  it  is  Adab  to  remove  shoes  for  Salaat)  relates  to  the  contrary  of  this  (i.e. when  any  of  the  two  essential  conditions  is  lacking).”

“However,  Mulla  Ali  Qaari  in  Sharhul  Mishkaat  refuting  this reconciliation,  says:  “This  (interpretation)  is  a  manifest  error  because  the  (logical)  conclusion  is  that  if  there  is  certitude  on  the  impurity  of the  shoes,  and  fulfilment  of  Sajdah  is  not  possible,  then  removing  the  shoes  will  not  be  Adab.  On  the  contrary,  it  will  in  fact  be  Waajib  to  remove  the  shoes.  It  is  therefore  best  to  say  that  the  view  of  Shaafi’  is  that  Adab  is  due  to  the  last  of  the  two  acts  of  Rasulullah  (Sallallahu alayhi  wasallam)  and  that  is  the  removal  of  shoes.  Or  to  say  that  Adab  in  our  age  in  the  absence  of  the  Yahood  and  Nasaara  or  when  they  no longer  observe  the  practice  (of  removing  shoes)  is  to  remove  the shoes.”

“Among  the  evidences  that  removal  of  shoes  (for  Salaat)  is  the  last  of  the  two  acts  is  the  Hadith  of  Abdullah  Bin  Saa-ib  (Radhiyallahu  anhu)  that  he  saw  during  the  year  of  the  Conquest  (of  Makkah)  Rasulullah (Sallallahu  alayhi  wasallam)  removing  his  shoes  for  Salaat………… There  is  unanimity  of  the  Ulama  that  today  Salaat  in  street  shoes  is  in  conflict  with  Adab,  even  if  they  are  clean.  In  fact,  it  is  soo’  adab  (evil mannerism).  See  detailed  elaboration  in    Munyatul  Mufti  of  Sijistaani, Fathul  Muta-aal  of  Allaamah  Al-Muqri,  Sharhul  Mishkaat  of  Mulla Ali  Qaari,  Ghaayatul  Maqaal  of  Allaamah  Abdul  Hayy  Lucknowi, etc.”         [Ma-aarifus Sunan] 

The  aforementioned  reconciliation  attempted  by  Al-Khattaabi  is  baseless  for  the  simple  reason  that  it  will  not  be  merely  Adab  to  remove  the  shoes  if  any  one  of  the  two  essential  conditions  is  lacking.  On  the  contrary,  it  will  be  Waajib.  Hence,  Imaam  Shaafi’s    unequivocal  contention  of      removing  the  shoes  being  Adab  relates  to  the  scenario  of  the  fulfilment  of  both  conditions,  i.e.  even  if  both  conditions  are fulfilled,  then  too  it  is  Adab  to  remove  the  shoes  for  Salaat  since  this  was  the  last  act  of  Rasulullah  (Sallallahu  alayhi  wasallam)  regarding  this  matter.  Furthermore,  the  former  act  of  keeping  the  shoes  on  was  a temporary  measure  occasioned  by  a  specific  reason,  viz.,  opposing  the  Yahood.  Thus  it  is  Ma’moor  bil  Illat  –  the    disappearance  of  the  Illat cancelling  the  hukm.  And,  this  has  been  practically  demonstrated  by  the  Tawaaruth  of  the  Ummah  since  the  very  age  of  Rasulullah  (Sallallahu alayhi  wasallam).  Thus,  although  initially  there  was  Nudb  (but  not  Adab)  in  keeping  the  shoes  on,  the  temporary  abandonment  of  the  Adab  stated  by  all  the  Fuqaha  was  tolerable  on  account  of  the    need  to fulfil  the  command  of  opposing  the  Yahood.

In  denunciation  of  those  who  persist  in  contending  the  ‘sunniyat’  of  Salaat  with  shoes  despite  the  changed  circumstances  and  conditions prevalent  in  these  times  regarding  the  filth  of  roads  and  toilets,  and  the  type  of  shoes  preventing  proper  Sajdah,  Allaamah  Yusuf  Bin-Noori (Rahmatullah  alayh)  said  that  they  are  people  who  are  mareedhul  qalb (diseased  in    their    hearts),  zanikhul  aql  (rancid  in  the  brains  –  mentally deranged),  muta’aamin  anil  haqaaiq  (blind  to  the  realities),  and  arrogant.  They  do  not  deserve  any  attention.

These  epithets  and  brief  character  sketch  adequately  apply  to  the  radio  molvi  and  to  all  facebook  juhala  molvis.  Allaamah  Anwar  Kashmiri (Rahmatullah  alayh)  concluding  his  elucidation  on  this  topic,  says: “Verily,  the  views  of  the  Ahl-e-Ilm  unanimously  agree  that  in  this  age,  Salaat  with    shoes  (the  type  of  today’s  shoes)  is  in  conflict  with  Adab even  if  they  are  taahir  (clean/paak).  In  fact  it  is  soo-e-adab”   (evil / rotten manners). 

It  has  always  been  the  belief  and  practice  of  the  Ummah  that  Adab  is  in  removal  of  shoes,  not  only  when  entering  the  Musjid,  but  for  all  places of  respect  –  the  Qabrustaan,  the  Mataaf,  the  Musaajid  and  even  homes. The  practice  of  Hadhrat  Bishr  Haafi  (Rahmatullah  alayh)  is  well-known. He  is  called  haafi  (bare-footed)   because  he  perceived  the  entire  earth  to  be    a  carpet  spread  by  Allah  Ta’ala,  hence  it  was  not  befitting  to  walk  on  Allah’s  Carpet  with  shoes.  Allah  Ta’ala  ordered  the  birds  to  ensure  that  their  droppings  do  not  fall  in  the  places  where  Bishr  Haafi walked.  The  point  here  is  not    the  imposition  of  Hadhrat  Bishr  Haafi’s  perception  and  ‘sunnat’  on  anyone.  The  issue  is  that  removal  of  shoes  is  Adab.

In  Ihyaaul  Uloom,  Imaam  Ghazaali  states  that  Hadhrat  Abdullah  Ibn ‘Umar  (Radhiyallahu  anhu)  used  to  remove  his  shoes  from  Zee  Tuwa  before  entering  the  Haram  Shareef.  At-Tabraani  has  narrated  this  from  Ibn  Az-Zubair.  The  pious  Hujjaaj  of  bygone  times  on  their  way  to  Makkah  would  remove  their  shoes  at  Zee  Tuwa  in  respect  of  the  Haram.  From  Zee  Tuwa  they  would  walk  all  the  way  bare-footed  to  the Haram  Shareef.  Thus,  humility,  respect  and  reverence,  are  in  removing  shoes  when  performing  Salaat.  The  temporary  measure  in  the  initial phase  of  Islam  does  not  negate  the  standard  practice  of  the  Ummah  in  vogue  since  the  age  of  Rasulullah  (Sallallahu alayhi  wasallam).

SUMMARY

(1)  Performing  Salaat  in  shoes  was  a  temporary  measure  to  oppose  the Yahood. This cause for the order no longer exists in this age.

(2)  Before  the  order  to  don  shoes  as  well  as  thereafter,  the  standard practice was always to perform Salaat without shoes.

(3)  The  last  act  of  Rasulullah  (Sallallahu  alayhi  wasallam)  as  observed on  the  occasion  of  the  Conquest  of  Makkah,  was  the  removal  of  shoes at the time of Salaat.

(4)    The  shoes  which  were  permissible    to  wear  in  Salaat  were  soft, flexible  leaving  all  the  toes  open    and    allowing  the    proper performance of Sajdah. 

(5)   The  streets  in  the  desert  terrain  of  Madinah  were  sandy  and exceptionally  clean.  There  was  no  waste  and  filth  in  the  streets  as  is generally the case nowadays.

(6)    Performing  Salaat  with  the  type  of  shoes  we  wear  is  stupidly incongruous and  prevents  the proper  performance of  Sajdah.

(7)  It is highly disrespectful to perform Salaat with shoes on.

(8) The kuffaar pray with their shoes on.

(9)  According  to  Islamic  culture  (i.e.  the  Sunnah)  observance  of  respect and  humility  is  in  removing  shoes,  not  in  wearing  shoes  when performing Salaat or when in holy places. 

(10)  Just  as  it  is  haraam  to  enter  the  Musjid  with  dirty  shoes,  so  too  is  it haraam to perform Salaat outside the Musjid with dirty shoes.

(11)  Radio  and  facebook  moron  molvis  have  become  the  muqallideen of  the  Salafis  whose  arguments  they  lap  up  from  the  internet  which  is the  limit  of  their   defective   knowledge.

Proofs for the Hanafi Procedure of Salat al-‘Id

[By Mufti Zameelur Rahman]

Hadith One: A Sahih Marfoo‘ Hadith

Near the end of his Sharh Ma‘ani al-Athar (2:371, Maktabah Haqqaniyyah), Imam al-Tahawi (d. 321 H) narrates:

علي بن عبد الرحمن ويحيى بن عثمان قد حدثانا قالا: ثنا عبد الله بن يوسف عن يحيى بن حمزة قال: حدثني وضين بن عطاء أن القاسم أبا عبد الرحمن حدثه قال: حدثني بعض أصحاب رسول الله صلى الله عليه وسلم قال:

صلى بنا النبي صلى الله عليه وسلم يوم عيد، فكبر أربعا أربعا، ثم أقبل علينا بوجهه حين انصرف، فقال: لا تنسوا كتكبير الجنائز، وأشار بأصابعه وقبض إبهامه

Translation

‘Ali ibn ‘Abd al-Rahman and Yahya ibn ‘Uthman narrated to us, they said: ‘Abd Allah ibn Yusuf narrated to us: From Yahya ibn Hamzah, he said: Wadin ibn ‘Ata’ narrated to me that al-Qasim Abu ‘Abd al-Rahman narrated to him, he said: One of the companions of the Messenger of Allah (Allah bless him and grant him peace) narrated to me, he said:

“The Prophet (Allah bless him and grant him peace) prayed with us on the day of ‘Id, so did takbir, four [in the first rak‘ah] and four [in the second], and then he turned to us with his face when he finished and he said: ‘Do not forget, [the takbirs of ‘Id are] like the takbir of janazah.’ And he gestured with his fingers and clutched his thumb (signalling the number four).”

Meaning

The “four” takbirs of the first rak‘ah mentioned in this narration includes the opening takbir (takbirat al-iftitah) as the Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) drew a comparison with the takbirs of Janazah in which one of the four takbirs is also of the opening  takbir. Furthermore, the four takbirs in the second rak‘ah  includes the takbir said when going into ruku‘. Hence, the additional takbirs are in fact six. This meaning is clear from other narrations, some of which are reproduced below.

Authenticity

‘Allamah Badr al-Din al-‘Ayni (d. 855 H) said about this narration: “And this is a sahih chain and its narrators are trustworthy.” (Nukhab al-Afkar, 16:442)

Here is a brief analysis of the narrators in the chain:

‘Ali ibn ‘Abd al-Rahman ibn Muhammad ibn al-Mughirah al-Kufi (d. 272 H), the shaykh of al-Tahawi, known by the agnomen “‘Allan,” was also a shaykh of Imam al-Nasa’i, and he is trustworthy (thiqah). He was declared “trustworthy” (thiqah) by Ibn Yunus and is mentioned in al-Thiqat of Ibn Hibban (Tahrir al-Taqrib, 3:49). ‘Abd Allah ibn Yusuf al-Tinnisi (d. 218 H) is an undisputed Madinan Hadith authority, whose narrations are found in Sahih al-Bukhari, and the Sunans of Abu Dawud, Tirmidhi and Nasai. He is one of the most reliable transmitters of Malik’s Muwatta’ (Tahrir al-Taqrib, 2:288-9). Yahya ibn Hamzah ibn Waqid al-Hadrami (d. 183 H) is thiqah and his narrations are found in all six of the famous hadith collections (Tahrir al-Taqrib, 4:82). Al-Wadin ibn ‘Ata’ ibn Kinanah (d.156) is at least saduq (reliable) if not thiqah. Ahmad, Ibn Ma‘in, Abu Zur‘ah, Ibn Shahin, al-Dhahabi and others declared him thiqah. Although some critics said he is weak, this was due to his beliefs associated with qadar (predestination), which does not detract from his strength as a hadith narrator (Tahrir al-Taqrib, 4:59-60). Al-Qasim ibn ‘Abd al-Rahman Abu ‘Abd al-Rahman al-Dimashqi (d. 112) was a companion of the famous Sahabi, Abu Umamah al-Bahili, and he is thiqah, described so by al-Bukhari, Ibn Ma‘in, al-Tirmidhi, Juzjani and others (Tahrir al-Taqrib, 3:171). Although the Sahabi in this chain is unknown, this does not affect the authenticity of the chain as all Sahabah are trustworthy and reliable by consensus of the Ahl al-Sunnah wa l-Jama‘ah.

Imam al-Tahawi said after narrating the above hadith:

هذا حديث حسن الإسناد وعبد الله بن يوسف ويحى بن حمزة والوضين والقاسم كلهم أهل رواية معروفون بصحة الرواية

“This is a hadith with a hasan chain. ‘Abd Allah ibn Yusuf, Yahya ibn Hamzah, al-Wadin and al-Qasim are all people of transmission, recognised for authenticity in transmission.” (Sharh Ma‘ani al-Athar, 2:371)

Salafi scholar, Al-Albani, said after quoting this statement of al-Tahawi, “It is as he said.” (Silsilat al-Ahadith al-Sahihah, no. 2997)

Hadith Two: The View of Major Sahabah

‘Abd al-Razzaq al-San‘ani narrates in his Musannaf:

عبد الرزاق عن معمر عن أبي إسحاق عن علقمة والأسود بن يزيد قال:

كان ابن مسعود جالسا وعنده حذيفة وأبو موسى الأشعري فسألهما سعيد بن العاص عن التكبير فى الصلاة يوم الفطر والأضحى، فجعل هذا يقول: سل هذا، وهذا يقول: سل هذا، فقال له حذيفه: سل هذا – لعبد الله بن مسعود – فسأله، فقال ابن مسعود:

يكبر أربعا ثم يقرأ فيركع ثم يقوم فى الثانية فيقرأ ثم يكبر أربعا بعد القراءة

Translation

‘Abd al-Razzaq from Ma‘mar (ibn Rashid) from Abu Ishaq (al-Sabi‘i) from ‘Alqamah and al-Aswad ibn Yazid, he said:

Ibn Mas‘ud was sitting and next to him was Hudhayfah (ibn al-Yaman) and Abu Musa al-Ash‘ari, whereupon Sa‘id ibn al-‘As asked these two (i.e. Hudhayfah and Abu Musa) about the takbir in the Salah of the day of Fitr and Adha. So this one began to say, ‘Ask this one,’ and this one to say, ‘Ask this one.’ Then Hudhayfah said to him: ‘Ask this one’ – [pointing] to ‘Abd Allah ibn Mas‘ud. So he asked him. Ibn Mas‘ud said:

“One does takbir four times and then he recites, then he bows, and then he stands in the second (rak‘ah) and he recites, and then he does takbir four times after recitation.” (Musannaf ‘Abd al-Razzaq, no. 5687, 3:293-4, al-Majlis al-‘Ilmi)

Authenticity

This is a very strong chain of narration, with all the narrators being known hadith authorities, found in all six of the famous hadith collections.

Comment

This proves ‘Abd Allah ibn Mas‘ud prayed in the way described in the above hadith, and he issued fatwa on it. And major Sahabah agreed with him. It is also established in other narrations that Ibn Mas‘ud’s students, like ‘Alqamah, Aswad, Masruq and others, would also pray in the same way.

Hadith Three: A Clearer Description

If there is some confusion and ambiguity in the above descriptions regarding the tabkirs, the following hadith makes the procedure completely clear:

Ibn Abi Shaybah narrates:

حدثنا وكيع عن سفيان عن أبي إسحاق عن عبد الله بن أبي موسى…أن أميرا من أمراء الكوفة…بعث إلى عبد الله بن مسعود وحذيفة بن اليمان وعبد الله بن قيس فقال: إن هذا العيد قد حضر فما ترون؟ فأسندوا أمرهم إلى عبد الله، فقال:

تكبر تسعا: تكبيرة تفتتح بها الصلاة‘ ثم تكبر ثلاثا، ثم تقرأ سورة، ثم تكبر ثم تركع ثم تقوم فتقرأ سورة ثم تكبر أربعا تركع بإحداهن

Translation

Waki‘ (ibn al-Jarrah) narrated to us from Sufyan (al-Thawri) from Abu Ishaq (al-Sabi‘i) from ‘Abd Allah ibn Abi Musa…that an emir from the emirs of Kufah…sent for ‘Abd Allah ibn Mas‘ud, Hudhayfah ibn al-Yaman and ‘Abd Allah ibn Qays (i.e. Abu Musa al-Ash‘ari) and he said: ‘Indeed ‘Id has come, so what is your opinion?’ They deferred their matter to ‘Abd Allah, and he said:

“You do nine takbirs: one takbir  with which to open the Salah, and then you do three takbirs, and then you recite a surah, and then you do takbir  and then you bow, and then you stand (in the second rak‘ah) and you recite a surah, and then you do four takbirs and bow with one of them.”

Comment

This is a very clear description of the Hanafi procedure of Salat al-‘Id.

Authenticity

Again, this is an authentic chain. ‘Abd Allah ibn Abi Musa is a very senior Tabi‘i whose narrations are found in Sahih Muslim, and he is thiqah (Taqrib, no. 3547).

Concluding Remarks

Further Support

Furthermore, there is an authentic narration in Musannaf Ibn Abi Shaybah (no. 5757) that ‘Abd Allah ibn ‘Abbas, the great Makkan Sahabi, also prayed in this way.

Hadiths on the Other Opinion of “Seven and Five” Takbirs

Finally, Imam al-Tahawi criticises all the narrations that say the Prophet (Allah bless him and grant him peace) prayed “seven and five,” as they all have problematic narrators in the chains like Kathir ibn ‘Abd Allah, ‘Abd Allah ibn ‘Abd al-Rahman al-Thaqafi and Ibn Lahi‘ah, and some have inconsistency (idtirab) in the chain. And he says the narration above (hadith one) is free of these defects that are found in those narrations that mention “seven and five.”

Furthermore, the narration above (hadith one) also contains a verbal instruction from the Prophet (peace be upon him) i.e. his saying, “Do not forget, four like the takbirs of Janazah.” And it is known that a verbal hadith is given priority over ones that only describe a practice.

Hadiths on the Position of ‘Abd Allah ibn Mas‘ud in this Ummah

Another important fact that gives support to the Hanafi method is that it was championed by the eminent Sahabi, ‘Abd Allah ibn Mas‘ud (may Allah be pleased with him). Consider the following two narrations:

Al-Hakim narrates in his  Mustadrak (3:319) with his chain that the Prophet (peace be upon him) said:

رضيت لكم ما رضي لكم ابن أم عبد

“I am pleased for you with what Ibn Umm ‘Abd (i.e. Ibn Mas‘ud) is pleased for you.”

Al-Hakim said it is sahih and al-Dhahabi agreed with him. Muhammad ‘Awwamah analysed the chain and showed it is authentic (footnotes to Musannaf Ibn Abi Shaybah, 17:193) Al-Albani also deemed it authentic (Silsilah Ahadith Sahihah, no. 1225).

And the Prophet (peace be upon him peace) said:

وتمسكوا بعهد ابن أم عبد

“Hold fast to the instruction of Ibn Umm ‘Abd (i.e. Ibn Mas‘ud).”

It was narrated by al-Tirmidhi, Ahmad, al-Tahawi, Ibn Abi Shaybah and others. Shu‘ayb al-Arna’ut stated it is a “sahih hadith” (footnotes to Sharh Mushkil al-Athar, no.1224)

This, therefore, is a validation from the Prophet (peace be upon him) himself to follow the verdicts and teachings of ‘Abd Allah ibn Mas‘ud.

HOW MANY RAK’ATS IN WITR? [Hanafi]

[Mufti Abdur-Rahman Ibn Yusuf Mangera]

WITR HAS BEEN noted to be one of the most complex issues of prayer. There are approximately seventeen aspects concerning the witr prayer around which there lie differences of opinion. However, in this chapter we will focus on the following three issues: (1) How many rak’ats is the witr prayer? (2) How many salams in the witr prayer? (3) Is performing one rak’a sufficient for witr?.

There are numerous hadiths which report the number of rak’ats to be performed in witr. However, due to many inconsistencies found in them. It becomes very difficult to formulate an opinion that is in complete agreement woth the literal meaning of each narration. It is therefore necessary to interpret some of these narrations in order to harmonize their meaning with other similar narrations.

In this chapter, various narrations on the witr prayers will be analyzed in-depth in an attempt to establish those procedures of performing witr that are most in conformance with the sunna.

HOW MANY RAK’ATS IS THE WITR PRAYER?

The first discussion is concerning the number of rak’ats that should be performed for witr.

THE VARIOUS OPINIONS

According to Imam Shafi’i, witr should be performed in the units of one, three, five, seven, nine or even eleven rak’ats. He states in his book Kitaab al-Umm that one rak’a can be performed as witr. However, ‘Allama Qastalani relates in his commentary of Sahih al-Bukhari, Irshad al-sari, that Qadi Abu’l Tayyib was of the opinion that it is undesirable [makruh] to perform just one rak’a for witr. (Irshad al-sari 2-259)

Qadi Abu’l Tayyib is regarded as one of the greatest scholars of Shafi’i fiqh and is also one of its main teachers in Iraq during his time. He studied under Imam Daraqutni, and among his students were the likes of Khatib al-Baghdadi and Abu Ishaq al-Shirazi.

Following this, there is a difference of opinion among the Shafi’is as to how the rak’ats of witr should be performed. One opinion is that during Ramadan, three rak’ats should be performed with one set of salams, and in other months with two sets – one in the second rak’a and the other in the third. Another opinion states that one set of salams should be made if the witr is being performed in congregation, and two sets if it is being performed individually.

The opinions of Imam Malik and Ahmad are similar to that of Imam Shafi’i with just a few minor differences. The commentator of sifr al-sa’ada relates an opinion of Imam Ahmad which states that a single rak’a of witr is undesirable [makruh]. According to the Imam, a person must perform some rak’ats before performing the witr. A similar opinion has been narrated from Imam Malik as well. He relates a hadith in his muwatta on the authority of Sa’d ibn Abi Waqqas in which the Companion is described as performing a single rak’a for witr. Following this narration, Imam Malik states:

Our practice is not based on this, since witr [in our opinion] is atleast three rak’ats. (Muwatta Imam Malik 77)

The above review of opinions can be concluded as follows. According to Imam Shafi’i, witr can be performed in any number of odd rak’ats, ranging from one to eleven. Imam Ahmad’s main and more popular view is that the witr be performed as one rak’a and the rak’ats performed prior to it be considered as Qiyam al-layl or tahajjud [night-vigil prayer] (al-Mughni). Imam Malik also does not recommend performing a single rak’a for witr. He recommends that at least three rak’ats be performed. Imam Abu Hanifa’s opinion is simply that witr should be performed as three continuous rak’ats with two sittings – one in the second rak’a and the other in the third – with salams to be performed in the final sitting only.

THE HADITHS ON THIS ISSUE

Before looking at the apparently conflicting hadiths, we will first look at those hadiths which clearly state that witr consists of three rak’ats.

1. It is reported from Abu Salama that

He asked Aisha (radhiyallahu anha) regarding the prayer of the Messenger of Allah (sallallaahu alayhi wasallam) during Ramadan. She explained, “The Messenger of Allah (sallallaahu alayhi wasallam) would not perform more than eleven rak’ats, neither in Ramadan nor out of it. He would perform four rak’ats, and do not ask of their beauty and length; followed by another four; and do not ask of their beauty and length; after which he would perform three [witr].” Aisha (radhiyallahu anha) continued, “I asked, O Messenger of Allah! Do you sleep before you perform witr.” He replied, “O Aisha! My eyes sleep but my heart does not.”‘ (Sahih Bukhari 1:154, Sahih Muslim 1:254, Sunan al-Nasa’i 1: 248, Sunan Abi Dawud 196).

In this narration Umm al-mu’minin [Mother of the Believers] ‘A’isha (radhiyallahu anha) mentions that the witr prayer performed by the Allah’s Messenger (sallallaahu alayhi wasallam) consisted of three rak’ats.

2. Sa’d bin Hisham (radhiyallahu anhu) relates that,

‘Aisha (radhiyallahu anha) informed him that the Messenger of Allah (sallallaahu alayhi wasallam) did not make salams in the second rak’a of witr. (Sunan al-Nasa’i 1:248, Muwatta Imam Muhammad 151)

3. This narration has also been mentioned by Imam Hakim with a slight variation:

The Messenger of Allah (sallallaahu alayhi wasallam) would not make salams in the first two rak’ats of witr. (al-Mustadarak 1:304)

Imam Hakim then states “[This Narration is] authentic according to the conditions of Imam Bukhari and Muslim.” ‘Allama Dhahabi agreed with him.

4. The following is another variation of the above narration related by Imam Hakim:

The Messenger of Allah (sallallaahu alayhi wasallam) would perform three rak’ats of witr making salams only at the end [in the final rak’a]. This was the practice of the Leader of the Faithful ‘Umar ibn al-Khattab (radhiyallahu anhu) and it is from him that the people of Madina acquired this practice. (al-Mustadarak 1:304).

5. Sa’d ibn Hisham (radhiyallahu anhu) narrates:

The Messenger of Allah (sallallaahu alayhi wasallam), after completing the ‘Isha prayer, would enter his home and perform two rak’ats, followed by another two more lengthier than the first. Thereafter, he would perform the witr prayer without any interval in between [i.e. without salams in the second rak’a]. He would then perform two rak’ats sitting down with the bowing and prostration also sitting down. (Musnad Ahmad 6:156).

6. ‘Abdullah ibn Qays narrates:

I asked ‘A’isha (radhiyallahu anha), “How many rak’ats of witr did the Messenger of Allah (sallallaahu alayhi wasallam) perform?” She replied, “Four with three, six with three or eight with three. He would not perform more than thirteen rak’ats for witr or less than seven.” (Sunan Abi Dawud 1:200)

In this hadith, the whole tahajjud prayer has been described as witr, whereas in reality only three rak’ats were witr, and the four, six or eight rak’ats were tahajjud. This is the reason why Umm al-mu’minin ‘A’isha (radhiyallahu anha) distinguished the three rak’ats of witr and the various other rak’ats in the above narrations.

7. ‘Abd al-‘Aziz ibn Jurayj narrates:

I asked ‘A’isha (radhiyallahu anha) regarding the chapters the Messenger of Allah (sallallaahu alayhi wasallam) would recite in witr. She replied, “He would recite, ‘Sabbih isma rabbik al-A’la’ [Surat al-A’la] in the first rak’a, ‘Qul ya’ayyuha’l-kafirun’ [Surat al-Kafirun] in the second, and ‘Qul huwallahu ahad’ [Surat al-Ikhlas] along with ‘Mu’awwadhatayn [Surat al-Falaq and al-Nas] in the third.” (Sunan Abi Dawud 1:208, Sunan al-Tirmidhi 1:106, Sunan ibn Majah 1:82)

Imam Tirmidhi has declared this hadith to be sound [hasan].

8. Imam Hakim has related a very similar narration from ‘A’isha (radhiyallahu anha) through ‘Amra bint ‘Abdul Rahman and has stated it as being in accordance with the strict conditions of both Imam Bukhari and Muslim. ‘Allama Dhahabi has also verified this by stating that the hadith has been transmitred through a reliable chain of narrators. (al-Mustadarak 1:305)

9. Muhammad ibn ‘Ali reports from his father, who narrates on the authority of his father, ‘Abdullah ibn ‘Abbas (radhiyallahu anhu), that

the Messenger of Allah (sallallaahu alayhi wasallam) rose at night, cleaned his teeth with a siwak [toothstick], and then performed two rak’ats of prayer, then went back to sleep. He again rose,  used the siwak and made wudu’, and thereafter performed another two rak’ats of prayer, [on and on] until he has completed six rak’ats [in this manner]. He then performed three rak’ats witr followed by two rak’ats [nafl]. (Sahih Muslim 1:261, Sunan al-Nas’ai 1:249)

10. ‘Abdullah ibn ‘Abbas (radhiyallahu anhu) has also reported the following narration regarding the Messenger’s (sallallaahu alayhi wasallam) witr prayer:

During the night before dawn, the Messenger of Allah (sallallaahu alayhi wasallam) would perform eight rak’ats [tahajjud] and three rak’ats witr, followed by two rak’ats [nafl]. (Sunan al-Nas’ai 1:249)

11. ‘Abdullah ibn ‘Abbas (radhiyallahu anhu) narrates:

The Messenger of Allah (sallallaahu alayhi wasallam) would perform three rak’ats witr. He would recite, ‘Sabbih isma rabbik al-A’la’ [Surat al-A’la] in the first rak’a, ‘Qul ya’ayyuha’l-kafirun’ [Surat al-Kafirun] in the second, and ‘Qul huwallahu ahad’ [Surat al-Ikhlas] in the third. (Sunan al-Tirmidhi 1:106, Sunan al-Nas’ai 1:249, Sunan ibn Majah 82)

Numerous other Companions in their narrations have also mentioned the Messenger’s (sallallaahu alayhi wasallam) recitation of these three surats [chapters] during witr in the above mentioned order:

(1) ‘Abd al-Rahman ibn ‘Abza (radhiyallahu anhu) (Musannaf ibn Abi Shayba 2:298)

(2) ‘Ubay ibn Ka’b (radhiyallahu anhu) (Musannaf ibn Abi Shayba 2:300)

(3) ‘Ali ibn Abi Talib (radhiyallahu anhu) (Sunan al-Tirmidhi 1:106)

(4) ‘Abdullah ibn Abi ‘Awfa (radhiyallahu anhu) (Majma’ al-zawa’id 1:241)

(5) ‘Abdullah bin Mas’ud (radhiyallahu anhu) (Majma’ al-zawa’id 1:241)

(6) Nu’man ibn Bashir (radhiyallahu anhu) (Majma’ al-zawa’id 1:241)

(7) Abu Hurayra (radhiyallahu anhu) (Majma’ al-zawa’id 1:241)

(8) ‘Abdullah ibn ‘Umar (radhiyallahu anhu) (Majma’ al-zawa’id 1:241)

(9) ‘Imran ibn Hussain (radhiyallahu anhu) (Musannaf ibn Abi Shayba 2:298)

(10) Abu Khaytama through his father Mu’awiya ibn Khadij (radhiyallahu anhu) (Majma’ al-zawa’id 1:241)

The narrations of these Companions further support the opinion that witr consists of  three rak’ats.

12. Thabit al-Bunani reports that Anas bin Malik (radhiyallahu anhu) addressed him saying:

O Thabit! Take this from me, for you will not hear it from anyone more trustworthy than myself, since I heard it from the Messenger of Allah (sallallaahu alayhi wasallam), who acquired it from Jibril, and Jibril acquired it from Allah Ta’ala. The Messenger of Allah (sallallaahu alayhi wasallam) performed the ‘Isha prayer when I was in his company, followed by six rak’ats [nafl], during which he made salams at every second rak’a. Thereafter, he performed three rak’ats witr with salams at very end (Kanz al-‘ummal 4:196)

The great historian and Hadith master Ibn Asakir has narrated this hadith through a reliable chain.

From the above narrations, a number of points are derived: (1) it is established that witr is three rak’ats; and (2) that the three rak’ats are to be performed together and concluded with salams at the end of the third rak’a.

THE COMPANIONS AND THE FOLLOWERS ON THIS ISSUE

1. Miswar ibn Makhrama reports:

We finished burying Abu Bakr (radhiyallahu anhu), when ‘Umar (radhiyallahu anhi) remembered that he had not yet performed witr. He stood up and we formed rows behind him. He lead us in three rak’ats and made salams only at the end [in the third rak’a] (Musannaf ibn Abi Shayba 2:293 U, Musannaf ‘Abd al-Razzaq 3:20 U)

2. Ibrahim al-Nakh’ay reports that ‘Umar ibn al-Khattab (radhiyallahu anhu) said:

I would not neglect the three rak’ats of witr, even if I were to receive red camels in exchange (Muwatta Imam Muhammad 150)

In those times red camels were considered valuable assets.

3. Hasan al-Basri was informed that

‘Abdullah ibn ‘Umar (radhiyallahu anhu) would make salams in the second rak’a of witr. Hasan al-Basri informed that ‘Umar (radhiyallahu anhu) was a greater jurist than [his son], and his practice was to say the takbir and stand from from the second rak’a [for the third without making salams] (al-Mustadrak 1:304)

4. Makhul reports:

‘Umar ibn al-Khattab (radhiyallahu anhu) would perform three rak’ats of witr without salams inbetween (Musannaf ibn Abi Shayba 2:295)

5. ‘Abdullah ibn Mas’ud (radhiyallahu anhu) says,

The rak’ats of witr are similar to the daytime witr prayer (i.e. Maghrib) [(Muwatta Imam Muhammad 150, Majma’ al-Zawa’id 2:242U)]

6. Ibrahim al-Nakh’ay reports that ‘Abdullah ibn Mas’ud (radhiyallahu anhu) said:

One rak’a does not suffice for witr (Muwatta Imam Muhammad 150)

7. It is reported from Anas (radhiyallahu anhu) that

Witr is three rak’ats (Musannaf ibn Abi Shayba 2:293)

8. Abu Mansur reports:

I asked Ibn ‘Abbas (radhiyallahu anhu) regarding the number of rak’ats in witr. He replied, “Three rak’ats” (Sharh Ma’ani’l Athar)

9. ‘Ata’ reports that ‘Abdullah ibn ‘Abbas (radhiyallahu anhu) said:

Witr is similar to the Maghrib prayer (Muwatta Imam Muhammad 150)

10. Hasan al-Basri reports,

Ubay ibn Ka’b (radhiyallahu anhu) would perform three rak’ats for witr and would make salams only at the end of the third rak’a (Musannaf ‘Abd al-Razzaq 2:294)

11. Abu Ghalib reports that

Abu Umama (radhiyallahu anhu) would perform three rak’ats for witr (Musannaf Ibn Abi Shayba 2:294)

12. ‘Alqama, the student of ‘Abdullah ibn Mas’ud reports that

Witr is three rak’ats (Musannaf Ibn Abi Shayba 2:294)

13. It is reported that Ibrahim al-Nakh’ay would so:

There is no witr consisting less than three rak’ats (Musannaf Ibn Abi Shayba 2:294)

14. Abu’l-Zanad reports:

‘Umar ibn ‘Abd al-‘Aziz designated the rak’ats of witr to be three  based on the ruling of the jurists, with salams to be made only at the end (Sharh Ma’ani’l Athar)

15. It is reported that Hasan al-Basri said:

The Muslims have reached a consensus concerning witr being three rak’ats with salams only at the end (Musannaf Ibn Abi Shayba 2:294)

The reason for quoting the statements of so many Companions and Followers [tabi’in] is that their opinions and practices hold a high status in Islamic law. Whenever a conflict is found between the hadiths concerning a certain issue, the scholars turn to the actions and statements of the Companions to remedy that conflict. The Companions undoubtedly possessed great insight into the reality of these issues, to to them being blessed with the close company of the Messenger (sallallaahu alayhi wasallam). The scholars therefore hold their opinion in high regard and normally adopt those hadiths which conform to their practice. Likewise the opinions of the Followers are also regarded since they succeeded the companions and were the bearers of their knowledge.

The more prominent Companions like Sayyidina ‘Umar, ‘Ali, ‘Abdullah ibn Mas’ud, ‘Abdullah ibn ‘Umar, Anas ibn Malik, ‘Abdullah ibn ‘Abbas, ‘A’isha, ‘Ubay ibn Ka’b and Abu Umama (radhiyallahu anhuma) all stated in clear terms that witr consists of three rak’ats. Those who came after them, like Ibrahim al-Nakh’ay, ‘Alqama, Abu Ishaq, Qasim ibn Muhammad and others held the same opinion. Even the renowned fuqaha sab’a “the seven great jurists” of the earlier (will follow later), concluded that the witr has three rak’ats . This was such a widely accepted opinion that Hasan al-Basri reported consensus [‘Ijma] on it.

HOW MANY SALAMS IN THE WITR PRAYER?

The Hanafi opinion in this matter is that, like every other prayer, only one set of salams be made in witr. According to this opinion, one must not make two sets of salams and cause the third rak’a to be performed separately.

The opinion of the other scholars is that the musalli [person praying] should first perform two rak’ats and then, after terminating them with salams, perform the third rak’a separately with another set of salams.

There are a number of reasons which establish the superiority of the Hanafi position on this issue.

(1) None of the narrations mentioned above declare that two sets of salams should be made within the three rak’a prayer. On the contrary, many of them have stated that the three rak’ats are to be performed continuously without any break in between. It is quite evident that if there had been an interval in between the second and the third rak’ats, the narrators would have certainly mentioned it.

(2) The narrations of ‘A’isha (radhiyallahu anha) portray witr to be like any other set of three rak’ats, as they do not mention the Messenger (sallallaahu alayhi wasallam) making an extra set of salams in the second rak’a. It should be noted that ‘A’isha (radhiyallahu anhu) is considered as the most knowledgeable person regarding the Messenger’s (sallallaahu alayhi wasallam) witr prayer. This is due to her close observance of the Messenger’s (sallallaahu alayhi wasallam) witr prayer while at home, where he was habitually performing it. Hence, without further debate, her explanation that witr consists of three rak’ats should be accepted.

(3) Some narrations, which have been reported from ‘Abdullah ibn ‘Umar (radhiyallahu anhu), state that the witr was performed as a single rak’a. Many scholars claimed that Ibn ‘Umar (radhiyallahu anhu) never actually saw the Messenger (sallallaahu alayhi wasallam) performing the witr prayer, and that his narrations cannot be preferred over those of ‘A’isha and Ibn ‘Abbas (radhiyallahu anhum), both of whom were known to have seen Allah’s Messenger (sallallaahu alayhi wasallam) performing the prayer.

(4) One narrations states:

The Messenger of Allah (sallallaahu alayhi wasallam) prohibited the “incomplete prayer” [butayra’ lit. an animal which has had its tail cut off] – where a person performs a single rak’a as witr.

Although this narration is said to contain some weaknesses, its prohibition of performing witr as one rak’a holds; due to it being authentically transmitted through a number of reliable chains [asnad]. In his Lisan al-Mizan, Hafiz Ibn Hajar has related this narration through a strong chain under the biography of ‘Uthman ibn Muhammad, one of its narrators. With the exception of ‘Uqayli – known for his extreme strictness in the criticism of narrators (even though his criticism here is only of a mild nature) – most scholars of hadith have judged ‘Uthman ibn Muhammad to be reliable. Hakim al-Naysaburi has related a narration from him in his Mustadarak and called it authentic, which ‘Allama Dhahabi has verified. Hence, the status of the hadith can be no lower than hasan [sound], and the prohibition mentioned in it of performing one rak’a separately will stand as a strong command [see Fath al-Mulhim 2:309]

(5) Many of the elect Companions, like ‘Umar ibn al-Khattab, ‘Ali ibn Abi Talib, Ibn Mas’ud, Ibn ‘Abbas, Hudhayfa ibn al-Yaman, Anas ibn Malik, Ubay’ ibn Ka’b (radhiyallahu anhum) all performed witr with only one set of salams at the end of the salat. Some of their narrations have been mentioned above and others can be found in the numerous collections of hadith; the chapters (on witr) of which are especially replete with the narrations of ‘A’isha (radhiyallahu anha) on witr. Therefore, the sunna method of performing witr would be to perform them as a continuous set of three rak’ats as practised by these great Companions.

(6) In some hadiths, the Maghrib prayer, with contains only one set of salams at the end, has been called “the witr prayer of the day.” Therefore, “the witr prayer of the night” should also be offered like the Maghrib Salat – with only one set of salams in the last rak’a.
There is a report which mentions that the Messenger of Allah (sallallaahu alayhi wasallam) prohibited that the witr be performed like the Maghrib prayer. What this actually means is that one should not perform the witr alone, like Maghrib, without performing any dual set of rak’ats [Shuf’a] before it. The report does not mean that one must make salams in between and separate the last rak’a from the first two.

(7) The “seven great jurists” [fuqaha sab’a] all agreed that the witr was to be performed as three rak’ats with salams only at the end. These seven jurists would be consulted by the people on various issues, and whatever the majority of them agreed on would be accepted as the legal ruling [fatwa]. In his book, Imam Tahawi has related their unanimous opinion that witr should be performed as three rak’ats with salams made only in the last rak’a. The seven jurists were: Sa’id ibn al-Musayyib, ‘Urwa ibn al-Zubayr, Qasim ibn Muhammad, Abu Bakr ibn ‘Abd Rahman, Kharija ibn Zayd, ‘Ubaydullah ibn Abdillah and Sulayman ibn Yasar (may Allah be pleased with them all) [(Awjaz al-Masalik 1:434)].

(8) Hasan al-Basri reported a consensus [‘Ijma] on the opinion that witr was three continuous rak’ats without any intervals in between; which means that is was a widely accepted view.

These points make it easy to conclude that the witr is indeed three rak’ats with a single set of salams to be performed in the third, and the final, rak’a. This was the widely held opinion among the Companions and the Followers (may Allah be pleased with them).

SOME CONFUSING NARRATIONS

1. Sa’d ibn Hisham asked ‘A’isha (radhiyallahu anha) to describe for him the witr prayer of the Messenger (sallallaahu alayhi wasallam). She replied:

We would prepare his siwak [toothstick] and water for his ablution [wudu’]. Allah would have him wake up during the night whenever He willed, and the Messenger (sallallaahu alayhi wasallam) would clean his teeth with the siwak and complete his ablution. He would then perform nine rak’ats and would sit on the eighth rak’a only, in which He would remember Allah, praise Him, and invoke [du’a] Him. Thereafter he would stand up without making salams abd perform the ninth rak’a, then he would sit down, and [again] he would remember Allah, praise Him, and invoke Him. He would then make the salams [loud enough] for us to hear. After salams, he would perform another two rak’ats sitting down. So, my son, these were eleven rak’ats.
When the Messenger became of age and heavier, he would perform [only] seven rak’ats, abd his practice in the [final] two rak’ats  would be the same as his earlier practice [of performing them seated]. So these were [in total] seven rak’ats. (Sahih Muslim 1:256)

The apparent wording of this narration suggests that the Messenger’s (sallallaahu alayhi wasallam) witr prayer was a total of nine rak’ats, in which he would sit only at the end of the eighth rak’a and complete the prayer with salams in the ninth. The hadith then states that this was his earlier practice, for later on he reduced the rak’ats to seven, sitting briefly in the sixth and ending with salams in the seventh.

In Sunan al-Nasa’i, Muwatta Imam Malik and a number of other hadith collections, the same narration has been transmitted through the same chain with the following addition, “The Messenger of Allah (sallallaahu alayhi wasallam) would not make salams in the second rak’a of witr.”  In the version of al-Mustadarak, it states, “The Messenger of Allah (sallallaahu alayhi wasallam) would perform three rak’ats witr with salams only at the end.” In Musnad Ahmed, it states:

After the Messenger of Allah (sallallaahu alayhi wasallam) had performed the ‘Isha prayer, he would enter his home and perform two rak’ats, followed by another two lengthier than the first. He would then perform witr without any interval in between, after which he would perform a final two rak’ats seated.

The following points come to light after studying the various transmissions of this narration:

(a) At most, the Messenger of Allah (sallallaahu alayhi wasallam) would perform a total of eleven rak’ats at night. Included in this were the witr and the two rak’ats that succeeded it.

(b) Three rak’ats out of eleven were witr.

(c) He would sit in the second rak’a of witr without making any salams.

(d) After witr, he would perform two rak’ats seated.

(e) He would sit at the end of every second rak’a.

From these points we learn that the various narrations concerning witr are indeed describing the same procedure of performing witr. The reason why they appear to be conflicting is due to the different words used in most of them.

The version in Sahih Muslim only states that the total number of rak’ats performed, without offering much detail as to how they were performed in connection with the tahajjud prayer. The reason for this is that ‘A’isha (radhiyallahu anha) was specifically asked about the witr prayer and not about tahajjud. Hence, she did not feel it was necessary to provide any details about the rak’ats of tahajjud performed before the witr. So, providing details about the witr, she said, “The Messenger of Allah (sallallaahu alayhi wasallam) would sit without making salams on the eighth rak’a.” This eighth rak’a was in reality the second rak’a of witr, which was being performed after the six rak’ats of tahajjud; then, on the ninth rak’a (the third rak’a of witr), he would make salams and thus completing his witr prayer.

It was common knowledge at that time that the Messenger (sallallaahu alayhi wasallam) always performed his tahajjud prayer in sets of two; so ‘A’isha (radhiyallahu anha) did not provide any detail about them and thus mentioned the total number of rak’ats together. Lastly, she ended by saying that the Messenger (sallallaahu alayhi wasallam) would perform yet another two rak’ats seated after performing the ninth rak’a, bringing the total number of rak’ats to eleven.

This is most like the soundest interpretation for this hadith, as it encompasses all the variations of Sa’d bin Hisham’s narration, and at the same time reconciles the apparent conflicts between them. In summary, the Messenger (sallallaahu alayhi wasallam) would perform the tahajjud prayer in sets of two, as stated in the above-mentioned narration in Musnad Ahmad (and probably all other narrations on tahajjud); and thereafter perform the three continuous rak’ats of witr, with salams made only at the end. After the final salams, he would then perform two more rak’ats sitting down.

2. ‘A’isha (radhiyallahu anha) narrates:

The Messenger’s (sallallaahu alayhi wasallam) prayer at night would be thirteen rak’ats, five of which would be witr; and he would sit only at the end.

The apparent wording of this hadith describes the witr prayer of the Messenger (sallallaahu alayhi wasallam) as being a continuous set of five rak’ats. However, just as in the previous narration, the apparent meaning in this narration  is not to be taken as an implied meaning. The reason for this is that ‘A’isha (radhiyallahu anha) only specified the total number of rak’ats performed by the Messenger of Allah (sallallaahu alayhi wasallam) at night and included in it the two rak’ats the two rak’ats of nafl performed sitting down after the three rak’ats of witr. This is what she refers to when she says, “Five of which would be witr” (i.e. including the two rak’ats of witr).

When she says, “he would sit only in the end,” it means that he would not sit for any lengthy period of time during the prayer to make extra supplicarion [du’a’] and remembrance [dhikr] except at the very end. He sat only briefly in every other rak’a to recite the tashahhud. Furthermore, she did not even mention that he made salams in the third rak’a of witr, as it was common knowledge that salams has to be made in the third rak’a. What ‘A’isha (radhiyallahu anha) was referring to when she said, “he would sit only in the end,” was the final sitting of the Messenger’s two rak’ats nafl salah that follpwed his witr. (the Messenger would only sit for an extended period of time in the final sitting of his last set of two rak’ats nafl salat).

Some Hanafi scholars have explained this narration in a slightly different way. They state that it is known that the Messenger (sallallaahu alayhi wasallam) would perform the rak’ats of tahajjud standing up or sitting down, and the witr prayer he would always perform standing up, while the two rak’ats following the witr he would mostly perform sitting down. Hence, if the hadith is approached with these points in mind, the apparent meaning of this hadith cannot be taken.

What really happened, they explain, is that the Messenger (sallallaahu alayhi wasallam), according to his normal routine, performed the witr along with the tahajjud prayer standing up and then sat down to perform the two nafl rak’ats. ‘A’isha (radhiyallahu anha) described his prayer by saying, “he would sit only in the end,” – that the Messenger (sallallaahu alayhi wasallam), after having performed the first eleven or so rak’ats (tahajjud and witr) standing, sat down and performed the last two rak’ats of nafl. She states that he sat down to perform the last two rak’ats of nafl after having performed all the other prayers standing up. [See Darse Tirmidhi 2:210-220, Fath al-Mulhim 2:219]

This makes the above narration of ‘A’isha (radhiyallahu anha) very clear and dispels the nption that the Messenger (sallallaahu alayhi wasallam) performed a lengthy prayer comprised of many rak’ats, with only one sitting at the end and no sitting postires in between the various postures he performed. The following narration of Ibn ‘Abbas (radhiyallahu anhu) further corroborates this explanation:

The Messenger of Allah performed eight rak’ats and seven rak’ats in Madina, i.e. Zuhr and ‘Asr [together] and Maghrib and ‘Isha [together] (Sahih Muslim 1:246)

No scholar has taken this statement to imply that each of the four rak’ats of Zuhr and ‘Asr, and the three of the Maghrib and four of the ‘Isha were combined together in such a way that there was no interval between them.

The reason why the scholars have disregarded such an interpretation is because it suggests a new method of prayer that is inconsistent with the normal method of prayer used regularly by the Messenger (sallallaahu alayhi wasallam) and his Companions (radhiyallahu anhum). In the same way, those narrations which apparently suggest a new method for witr contrary to the normal practice of prayer being a minimum of two rak’ats, will have to be interpreted accordingly and not taken literally.

IS ONE RAK’A SUFFICIENT FOR WITR??

‘Abdullah ibn ‘Umar (radhiyallahu anhu) narrates:

Someone asked the Messenger (sallallaahu alayhi wasallam) about prayer at night. The Messenger (sallallaahu alayhi wasallam) said, “The prayer at night should be performed in sets of two. Then, when one anticipates the break of dawn, he should perform one more rak’a which will convert what he has performed into witr for him.” (Sahih Bukhari 1:135, Sahih Muslim 1:257)

In another version of this narration it states, “Witr is a single rak’a performed towards the end of the night.” The version in Sunan Ibn Maja states, “The prayer of the night is [performed] in sets of two, and the witr is a rak’a [performed] before dawn.”

Some scholars have deduced from these narrations that the witr is a single rak’a to be performed on its own separately. This deduction however does not bring out the real meaning of this hadith as all the characteristics of prayer have not been taken into consideration. The following points should be considered:

(a) May Allah Ta’ala bless the great Shafi’i scholar Hafiz Ibn Hajar al-‘Asqalani, who states in his Fath al-Bari:

It could be contended that this [hadith] is not absolutely clear with regards to the intervals [between the second and third rak’ats of witr]. It is possible that the Messenger (sallallaahu alayhi wasallam) intended by his statement, “he should perform one more rak’a,” that this rak’a should be performed together [Mudafatan] with the two rak’ats before it (Fath al-Bari 2:285U)

Hence, the real meaning of this hadith is that a person should perform the tahajjud prayer in sets of two throughout the night, and upon reaching the end of his vigil [qiyam al-layl], he should add an extra rak’a to the final set of two and make it three rak’ats. This way, the rak’ats of his tahajjud and witr prayer will add upto an odd number and thereby be in accordance with the Messenger’s (sallallaahu alayhi wasallam) statement:

Then, when one anticipates the break of dawn, he should perform one more rak’a, which will convert what he has performed into witr for him (Sahih Bukhari 1:135, Sahih Muslim 1:257)

(b) The Messenger (sallallaahu alayhi wasallam) said regarding the sacred pilgrimage [haj]:

The pilgrimage is ‘Arafa (Sunan al-Tirmidhi, ibn Maja, al-Daraqutni)

This narration is also not to be taken literally, as it would mean that a person’s pilgrimage is completed by him merely proceeding to the plain of ‘Arafat, standing there for sometime, and then returning home without even entering into pilgrim sanctity [ihram]. This is obviously not a valid interpretation since it has neglected many integral aspects of the worship. In actuality, the hadith is only expressing the importance of standing [wuquf] in ‘Arafat, as it is one of the integrals of the pilgrimage; and not that it is an only integral act to be performed for haj.

Similarly, by stating that the witr is one rak’a performed before the end of the time, the Messenger (sallallaahu alayhi wasallam) is only defining the distinctive factor between witr and two rak’ats of tahajjud; that adding an extra rak’a to the last two rak’ats of tahajjud would render all three rak’ats into witr, thus allowing the person to fulfill his requirement of witr.

(c) The personal practice of Ibn ‘Umar (radhiyallahu anhu), although appearing otherwise from the above hadith, was to perform three rak’ats of witr together; as is indicated in the following narration of Imam Malik:

Ibn ‘Umar (radhiyallahu anhu) would state that the Maghrib prayer is the witr of the day (Muwatta Imam Malik 77)

If the Maghrib prayer (which everyone agrees is three continuous rak’ats) has been stated as being the witr of the day, then it follows that the witr prayer itself should be performed as three continuous rak’ats as well.

In the light of the above, it is very difficult to establish that the witr could be performed as just one rak’a. Hafiz Ibn Hajar relates in his Fath al-Bari that Ibn al-Salah said:

We cannot infer from the narrations of witr, despite their being so many, that the Messenger (sallallaahu alayhi wasallam) only performed a single rak’a for witr (Fath al-Bari 2:15)

Hence, any narration which states that the witr prayer was anything but three rak’ats cannot be taken literally. Instead, it has to be analyzed and suitably interpreted so as to draw out its true meaning and harmonize it with other narrations that mention the witr as being three rak’ats.

A FINAL QUESTION

After reading the hadiths of this chapter, one might ask why these narrations differ from one another in describing the witr prayer? The answer to it is very simple. There are two types of narrators. Firstly, there are those who refer to the whole combination of the night prayer [tahajjud] and witr as being witr, and do not mention any distinction between the two. They state only the total number of rak’ats the Messenger (sallallaahu alayhi wasallam) performed at night, since it was common knowledge anyway that the final three rak’ats of the tahajjud prayer would be set aside for witr. Hence, they include the whole night-vigil [tahajjud] prayer when mentioning the witr prayer. Examples of this can be found above in the section titled “Some Confusing Narrations.”

As opposed to this, the second type of narrators do not refer to all of the rak’ats as being witr, but rather describe the tahajjud and witr prayers separately in terms of the number of rak’ats performed for each. Hence, they do not leave any room for speculation. The majority of the second type of narrations state very clearly that the witr consists of three rak’ats. Examples of this can be found above in the section titled “The Hadiths on This Issue.” Imam Tirmidhi, quoting the words of Ishaq ibn Rahway [or Rahuya] concludes:

The narrations that state that the Messenger (sallallaahu alayhi wasallam) performed thirteen rak’ats witr actually mean (as Ishaq says) that he performed thirteen rak’ats including the three rak’ats of witr, and [it follows from this] that the whole night prayer was refferred to as witr. (Sunan al-Tirmidhi 1:105)

Imam Abu Muhammad al-Manbaji, a Hanafi jurist and hadith scholar, writes:

One way of reconciling between the [conflicting] narrations is to say that [initially] the Messenger (sallallaahu alayhi wasallam) ised to perform one rak’a as witr and even instructed others in this; but his final position was to perform [the witr as] three rak’ats (al-lubab fi’ l-jam’i bayn al-sunnati wa’ l-kitab 1:173).

CONCLUSION

In conclusion, the witr should be performed as three rak’a prayer, since that is how, according to the majority of the narrations, the Messenger of Allah (sallallaahu alayhi wasallam) performed his witr prayer. These three rak’ats should be performed together without separating the third rak’a from the first two. Performing one rak’a witr has been classified as being an incomplete prayer by the Messenger (sallallaahu alayhi wasallam). Evidence of this is the fact that there is no other example of a prayer consisting of just one rak’a in Islamic jurisprudence. Hence, the witr prayer should be performed continuously just like the Maghrib prayer and not on its own as a single rak’a.

Furthermore, it has been made clear that the practice of the Messenger (sallallaahu alayhi wasallam) was to perform witr at night after the tahajjud prayer. He would perform the tahajjud prayer in sets of two rak’ats until the time of Fajr drew close, at which time he would add an extra rak’a to the final set, thuse converting both the last two rak’ats set and the additional rak’a into witr. Surely, this explanation is what the Messenger (sallallaahu alayhi wasallam) intended when he said,

Then, when one anticipates the break of dawn, he should perform one more rak’a, which will convert what he has performed into witr for him (Sahih al-Bukhari 1:135, Sahih al-Muslim 1:257).

And Allah Ta’ala knows best.

Congregational Witr Salaah during Ramadan

Question:

Asalaam u Alaikum
I have heard and read many hadiths that supports praying Witr prayer during the latter part of the night especially after Tahajud,,, however during the Month of Ramadaan the Witr is prayed in congregation after Salaatul Taraweeh. I have seen many people leave the masjid after Taraweeh assuming that they are leaving off the Witr to pray after Tahajud. Can you offer some advice as to the importance of praying Witr in congregation during this month or is it still advisable to leave it off till later in the night..
Jazaak Allah

Answer:

Wa Alaikum As Salam,
Performing Witr in congregation is a specialty of the month of Ramadan, and this is what is more virtuous. From the time of the Sahabahs until today, the Witr Salah has always been performed in congregation during the month of Ramadan. This has been the firm practice of the Sahabahs, the Tabi’een, the atba’ut Tabieen and all the generations of rightly guided scholars after them. Alhamdulillah, until today it is the well established practice in Holy Kaaba and the Prophet’s mosque.

The great Jurists and Muhaditheen of the early period have unanimously agreed that performing Witr Salah in congregation in Ramadan is more virtuous and more superior than performing it at the latter part of the night (after Tahajjud Salah).

This does not contradict the words or actions of the Prophet (Sallallaahu alayhi wasallam) but in reality it is in accordance to what the Prophet (Sallallaahu alayhi wasallam) did, as was seen and understood by the Sahabahs (Radhiyallahu Anhum). For indeed, it is morally unacceptable for any Muslim to assume that the Sahabahs would have agreed on any matter that contradicted or opposed the teachings and practices of the Prophet (Sallallaahu alayhi wasallam).

The amount of rakaats that the Prophet (Sallallaahu alayhi wasallam) performed on the nights were known and witnessed by the Sahabahs. They were there with him in his Salah. They saw what he did and were fully aware of how many rakaats he performed in congregation. It was with this full understanding and knowledge of the practice of the Prophet (Sallallaahu alayhi wasallam) that the Sahabahs unanimously held on to the performance of 20 rakaats of taraweeh as well as the Witr Salaah in congregation. If this act of theirs was in opposition to the practice of the Prophet (Sallallaahu alayhi wasallam), then they would have been corrected by others who would have reprimanded them for changing the Prophet’s practice. However, no one not even the wives of the Prophet, his sons-in-law, his grandchildren, daughters, family members or devout followers opposed or spoke against the 20 rakats of taraweeh with Salaah Al Witr in jamaah. It is based on this Ijma of the Sahabahs, it is inferred that 20 rakats of taraweeh Salaah along with the performance of Witr Salaah in jamaah is in accordance to that which was endorsed by the Prophet (Sallallaahu alayhi wasallam). It is for this reason; the early jurists of Islam have clearly stated that in the month of Ramadan, it is more virtuous to perform the witr Salah in congregation.

In the regard, the famous book of Fiqh, Nurul Idhaah states,

‘And a person’s witr Salaah in congregation in Ramadan is more virtuous than performing it individually at the latter part of the night, as stated as the preferred verdict of Qazi Khan’.

While commenting on the above statement, the great jurist and author of Mariqi’ul Falaah states,

‘the performance of the witr in congregation is virtuous because of the fact that since congregation is allowed for it, it becomes virtuous (to do it in this manner,) and also due to the fact that Umar (Radhiyallahu anhu) used to have the witr performed in congregation……………and in ‘Al Fath’ and in ‘Al Burhan’ (both of which are sound and authentic books of Islamic Jurisprudence), it is evident that the opinion of the grand jurist Qazi Khan is preferred since the Prophet (Sallallaahu alayhi wasallam) performed the witr salaah in congregation with the sahabahs, and then he explained his reason for leaving it out since he feared that standing by night in Ramadan may become essential upon them. The righteous Khalifahs also performed witr Salaah in congregation.’  [Mariqiul Falaah].

Similarly, the great jurist Allama Khwarzimi (rahimahullah) has written,

‘and in Ramadan, the correct and sound opinion is that witr in congregation is more virtuous because Umar (Radhiyallahu anhu) used to have the witr performed in congregation.’ [Al Kifayah].

The recent scholar and jurist expert Mufti Syed Abdur Raheem has also stated,

‘During the time of Umar (Radhiyallahu anhu), Ubai bin Kaab (Radhiyallahu anhu) and other sahabahs used to lead 20 rakaats of Taraweeh Salaah. From that time until today, the practice of the (Salafus Saliheen) Pious Predecessors and the latter scholars have always been to perform witr in congregation in the month of Ramadan. Hence, for those who are performing Tahajjud Salaah, it is more virtuous (for them) to perform the witr salaah in congregation.’ [Fatawa Rahimiyyah Vol 4 Pg. 421]

In view of all these quotations and explanations, it becomes evident that in the month of Ramadan, it is more virtuous for one to perform the witr salaah in Jamaat.

And Allah knows best,
Mufti Waseem Khan

Darul Uloom Trinidad & Tobago

The 8 Raka’ts Dilemma and Debacle of the Salafi Juhhala

[By Zaheer Mangera – [(A Madrasah Student)]

I’m sure that by now we are accustomed to the 8 rakaat brigade slinking out of the Masaajid after 8 rakaats. This unfortunately has become a common aberration in many Masaajid throughout South Africa and other parts of the world. Some Masaajid in Johannesburg have actually made a separate parking area for the 8 rakaat gang of deviates. Hence I felt the need to comment on this matter. In reality the matter is quite simple. The complications arise as always from the side of the dim-witted Salafis who can’t grasp simple issues of the Shariah

WHY 8 RAKAATS??

I’m sure this is the question running through the minds of all and sundry who, for the pleasure of Allah, diligently uphold the Sunnah Taraaweeh of 20 rakaats. The reality is that no Aalim on the surface of this earth had declared Taraweeh to be 8 rakaats except a man who popped up in the last century, and who believed that he could interpret Hadith narrations better than the entire fraternity of Aimmah Mujtahideen and Fuqaha from the Sahaabah running all the way down over 1400 years. This person who had deviated from the Way of the Ahlus Sunnah Wal Jama’ah was Albaani, the recent Imam of the Salafis.

It is unfortunate that Salafis vigorously try to justify the deviation of their Imams from the Path of the Sahaabah and the Aimmah Mujtahideen. In complete conflict with the Sahaabah and the Ummah, they adamantly adhere to Albaani’s view and audaciously label anyone who opposes his view as one who is “disuniting the ummah”, when in fact they are the ones guilty of sowing discord in the Ummah with their baseless 8 raka’t stunt.

Quite hilarious I’d say, the man deviated from the interpretation of every single Aalim and the Ijma’ of this Ummah. When the ummah speaks and opposes his deviation then it is said that we causing disunity?

The main Hadith they present as proof is a Hadith with regards to Tahajjud Salaat which they take out of context and interpret only as Albani had understood. However, they are blind to the fact that Imaam Bukhari (Rahmatullah alayh) himself, from whose Kitaab they obtain their baseless daleel, is proven to having performed 20 Raka’ts.

The books of the Muhaditheen and Fuqaha are replete with discussions regarding Taraaweeh. None of these great authorities of the Shariah related to Taraaweeh the Hadith which Salafis usually quote, as ALL KNEW that the Hadith did not pertain to Taraaweeh, and that it referred to Tahajjud Salaat.

The Ummah always performed 20 rakaat and regarded it to be Sunnah. Some even performed extra as Nafil such as the Maalikis who performed extra rakaats whilst those in Makkah made Tawaaf after every four rakaats hence the people in Madinah used to performs 36 raka’ts. However, the Sahabah by consensus deemed Taraweeh to be 20 rakaats, and this elevates the 20 Raka’ts Taraaweeh to the status of Sunnatul Muakkadah.

Imaam Tirmidhi (Rahmatullah alayh), died 279 AH, states that ‘Umar (Radhiyallahu anhu), ‘Ali (Radhiyallahu anhu), Sufyan Thawri (Rahmatullah alayh) and Imam Shafi’i (Rahmatullah (alayh), all accept that Taraaweeh Salaat is Twenty Rakaahs. He quoted Imam Shafi’i as saying that he saw the people of Makkah performing twenty raka’ts. (Tirmidhi, v.1 p.99)

The Muwatta of Imam Muhammad (Rahmatullah alayh), reads:

“We go by this (twenty rak’ats Taraweeh)….because the Muslims (the Sahaabah) were unanimous about it and saw it to be a good act. It has been reported that Rasulallah (Sallallahu alayhi wasallam) said: “Whatever the Muslims (the Sahaabah) regard as a good act, it is indeed a good act in the sight of Allah as well.”

Hafiz Abu Zur’ah Al-’Iraqi stated,

“They (the Ulama) have regarded the approval of the Sahaabah [when Sayyiduna ‘Umar did so] as Ijma’“.

Mulla ‘Ali al-Qari stated that the Sahaabah (Radhiyallahu anhum) have enacted Ijma’ on the practice of twenty rak’ats. Ibn Hajar al-Haytami and many others have also claimed Ijma’ of the Sahaabah on this issue.

SALAFIS BECOME RETARDED WHEN READING THIS HADITH

“You must then follow my Sunnah and that of the rightly-guided Khulafa” [Abu Dawud]

Many other Ahaadith emphasize that the Ummah should follow the Khulafah and more specifically, Shaikhain i.e.  Hadhrat Abu Bakr and Hadhrat Umar (Radhiyallahu anhuma).

The errant Salafis say absurdly that it means that we should follow the Sunnah of Rasulullah (Sallallahu alayhi wasallam). It seems they can’t understand simple issues.

Nabi [Sallallahu alayhi wasallam] equated the Sunnah of his Sahabah to his own Sunnah. Thus he mentioned that out of the 73 sects only the one that holds on to both his way and the way of his Sahaabah would be saved. Since Salafi’ism is a sect of baatil, it’s no wonder that they so abortively justify their conflict with the Ijma’ of the Sahaabah.

Rasulullah [Sallallahu alayhi wasallam] said:

“A group of my Ummah shall remain steadfast on the truth, victorious, unharmed by those who oppose them, and do not support them, until death or until the Day of Resurrection.”

[Al-Bukhaari, Book 71 no. 3641 Sahih Muslim, no. 1920]

Now on the basis of this Hadith, Taraaweeh of less than 20 raka’ts and the Salafi malpractice of 8 raka’ts are manifestly baatil, because from the time the blessed Nabi (Sallallahu alayhi wasallam) left this world until the last century NO ONE EVER PERFORMED 8 RAKAATS.  It was only with the advent of this miscreant Salafi group that it began to be propagated that Taraaweeh is 8 raka’ts. Thus, one does not require intelligence to understand that the innovated 8 rakaats can never be the Sunnah.

TRUTH ON THE TONGUE OF ‘UMAR (Radhiyallahu anhu)

Rasulullah (Sallallahu alayhi wasallam) said: “Allah has placed truth on Umar’s tongue and heart.” [Abu Dawud]

We ask the Salafis when Umar (Radhiyallahu anhu) said with his ‘tongue’ that Taraweeh should be 20 rakaats, was this the Haqq or not? What these Salafis don’t understand is that when they negate Ijma’, they automatically imply, like Shiahs, that they and their Imam, Albaani who died just yesterday, have understood the Sunnah better than the Sahaabah. It follows from this implication that the Sahaabah and Taabieen had erred in their Ijma’ of 20 raka’ts. These Salafis are opening the doors of fitnah – the fitnah of blatantly contradicting the Sahaabah in their understanding of the Sunnah, yet Nabi (Sallallahu alayhi wasallam) explicitly said:

“The best of people are my generation, then those who follow after them, then those who follow after them, then there will come after them a people who will be fat, and they will love obesity, bearing witness before being asked to.”  [Tirmidhi and Al-Haakim]

These Salafis are in diametric conflict with this clear declaration of Rasulullah (Sallallahu alayhi wasallam).

FURTHER WARNING FOR THOSE NEGATING IJMA’

An old man dressed in woollen garments came to Imaam Shaafi’i (Rahmatullahi Alaihi) and said: “May I ask a question?” Imaam Shaafi’i gave him permission. He then asked: “What are the Shar’i proofs in the Deen of Allah Ta’ala?” Imaam Shaafi’i replied: “The Kitaab of Allah Ta’ala.” He then asked: “And what else?” Imaam Shaafi’i replied: “The Sunnah of Rasulullah (Sallallahu Alaihi Wasallam). He then asked: “And what else?” Imaam Shaafi’ replied: “The consensus of the Ummah.” He then asked: “What is your proof for this?” Imaam Shaafi’i thought for a while. The old man then said: “I give you respite for three days, either you bring me proof from the Qur’aan or seek forgiveness and repent to Allah Ta’ala.” The facial complexion of Imaam Shaafi’i changed. He then went and did not come out for three days. On the third day between Zuhr and ‘Asr, weak and sick, he emerged from his seclusion. As he was about to be seated, the old man appeared, greeted and sat beside him. He then asked for his proof. Imaam Shaafi’i said: “Yes”, and he recited the Qur’aanic verse:

“And whoever opposes the Messenger after guidance has become clear to him and follows a path other than the path of the believers, we shall (forsake him) and let him continue on his path, and thereafter We shall drive him towards Hell, and evil an abode it is. [Surah Nisa, 115]

The man said: “You have spoken the truth.” The man then left. Imaam Shaafi’i said to those seated around him: “I recited the entire Qur’an thrice daily for three days, until the proof finally dawned upon me.”

It is no wonder that Salafis become blind and deaf to the Haq and can’t understand simple concepts because they have contradicted Ijma’. The warning of Allah Ta’ala mentioned in this verse is true. The stated calamity has overtaken the Salafis.

“We shall (forsake him) and let him continue on his path, and thereafter We shall drive him towards Hell, and evil an abode it is.”

Allah Ta’ala has abandoned them in their waywardness and deviation, and if Allah does not guide than who can guide one?

Despite all this Salafis will still monotonously ramble on. One should not waste one’s precious time, no matter what ‘daleels’ are put forward. The fact of the matter is that they will never accept the Haqq. Just deliver the message of Haqq. It is about such people that the Qur’aan mentions:

“Do you not see those who take their nafs  [also their own intellects and reasoning] as gods besides Allah [by giving preference over truth or making that the yardstick] how we lead them astray even though they possessed knowledge; how we sealed their hearts and ears and cast a veil over their eyes? Who can guide them besides Allah? Will you then not take heed?”

May Allah protect us and guide one and all and protect us from becoming part of the 8 rakaat brigade which contradicts the Sunnah of the noble Sahaabah.

THE BASELESS FOCAL DALEEL OF THE SALAFIES

As mentioned earlier on it was clearly proved that for over the past 1400 years, 20 rakaats Taraweeh were considered Sunnah by the Ummah. However, their main daleel which is a misinterpretation shall be neutralized. Hypothetically, we shall assume that the tooth fairy exists and that the Hadith and its interpretation were not known to any Sahaabi or Faqeeh. And that Imaam Bukhari himself became somewhat lacking in vision when he came across this Hadith, and that only Albani was raised up this past century to correct all the Sahaabah and those who followed them with regards to what the true SUNNAH is.

THE MISINTERPRETED HADITH

Narrated Abu Salama Bin Abdur Rrahman (Radhiyallahu anhu):

“I asked Aishah (Radhiyallahu anha) about the Salaat of Nabi (Sallallahu Alayhi Wasallam) during the month of Ramadan. She said that Allah’s Messenger (Sallallahu Alayhi Wasallam) never exceeded 11 Rakats in Ramadan nor in the other months. (First) he used to offer 4 rakats. Do not ask me about their beauty and length, then 4 Raka’ts. Do not ask me about their beauty and length. Then 3 Raka’ts.”

Aishah further said: I said: ‘O Allah’s Messenger! Do you sleep before offering Witr salat?’ He replied: ‘O Aishah! My eyes sleep but my heart remains awake!”

[Bukhari, Book of Tahajjud Salaat, chapter: the Salaat of the Rasulullah (Sallallahu Alayhi Wasallam) at night in Ramadan and in other months. 2:248]

REFUTATION

1. The commentator of al-Sahih al-Bukhari and the erudite Muhaddith, Shaykh Shamsud-Din al-Kermani (d. 786 AH) said: ‘In the Hadith (above), the Tahajjud Salaat is meant. Abu Salama’s question and Hadrat Aishah’s answer concerned the Tahajjud.’ He adds further: ‘If the Tahajjud prayer is not meant, then this Hadith will be in conflict with the Hadith that states that Rasulullah (Sallallahu alayhi wasallam) led twenty Rak’ats  for each of two nights, and in the case of such clash the Hadith of twenty Rakat’s which is  affirmative (Muthbit) shall have precedence because according to the principles of Hadith, the affirmative takes precedence over the negative (Nafi)”  — [Al-Kawakib ud-Durari Sharh Sahih al-Bukhari, vol. 9, pg 155-156].

Let’s for one minute exercise some common sense, we all know and even Salafis agree that Taraaweeh was performed in JAMAAT IN PUBLIC for a number of days before Nabi [Sallallahu alayhi wasallam] desisted for fear of it becoming obligatory.

Now if it was performed in jamaat and in public what was the need to ask Aishah [Radiallahu anha]? Wouldn’t the number of raka’ts of Taraaweeh have been common knowledge to the Sahaabah?  It is quite obvious that the Sahaabi was asking Hadhrat Aishah (Radhiyallahu anha) about the private ibaadat of Rasulullah (Sallallahu alayhi wasallam). The Sahaabi was not asking her about Taraaweeh which was being performed in public in the Musjid. She confirmed that Rasulullah’s Tahajjud remained 8 raka’ts throughout the year even in Ramadhaan. This Hadith does not refer to Taraaweeh Salaat.

While the deviant Salafis cite Hadhrat Ibn ‘Abbaas (Radhiyallahu anhu), they are either ignorant of his standing practice regarding Taraaweeh or they are conveniently ignoring it, or they attempt to conceal it in a vain bid to justify their 8 raka’t fallacy. Hadhrat Ibn ‘Abbaas (Radhiyallahu anhu) himself performed 20 rakaats Taraaweeh like the rest of the Sahaabah. Thus, in a conflict between his words and his practice, the latter takes precedence and is given preference. But the Salafis are too stupid to understand the operation of the principles of the Shariah.

For more detailed Analysis on this issue read:

1. NUMBER OF RAK’ATS IN TARAWIH: A DETAILED ANALYSIS

2. THE BID’AH OF 8 RAK’ATS OF “TARAWEEH”

Five Daily Salaah (Islamic Prayer) Mentioned in the Glorious Qur’an

All five daily prayers, wudhu (ablution), Friday prayers and tahajjud prayers are mentioned in Qur’an:

WUDHU:

[Qur’an 5:6] O you who believe! when you rise up to prayer, wash your faces and your hands as far as the elbows, and wipe your heads and your feet to the ankles; and if you are under an obligation to perform a total ablution, then wash (yourselves) and if you are sick or on a journey, or one of you come from the privy, or you have touched the women, and you cannot find water, betake yourselves to pure earth and wipe your faces and your hands therewith, Allah does not desire to put on you any difficulty, but He wishes to purify you and that He may complete His favor on you, so that you may be grateful.

[Qur’an 4:43] O you who believe! do not go near prayer when you are Intoxicated until you know (well) what you say, nor when you are under an obligation to perform a bath– unless (you are) travelling on the road– until you have washed yourselves; and if you are sick, or on a journey, or one of you come from the privy or you have touched the women, and you cannot find water, betake yourselves to pure earth, then wipe your faces and your hands; surely Allah is Pardoning, Forgiving.

TIMES OF PRAYER:

[Qur’an 7:31] O children of Adam! attend to your embellishments at every time of prayer, and eat and drink and be not extravagant; surely He does not love the extravagant.

FAJR PRAYERS:

[Qur’an 17:78] Keep up prayer from the declining of the sun till the darkness of the night and the morning recitation; surely the morning recitation is witnessed.

[Qur’an 24:58] O you who believe! let those whom your right hands possess and those of you who have not attained to puberty ask permission of you three times; before the morning prayer, and when you put off your clothes at midday in summer, and after the prayer of the nightfall; these are three times of privacy for you; neither is it a sin for you nor for them besides these, some of you must go round about (waiting) upon others; thus does Allah make clear to you the communications, and Allah is Knowing, Wise.

ZUHR PRAYERS:

[Qur’an 11:114] And keep up prayer in the two parts of the day and in the first hours of the night; surely good deeds take away evil deeds this is a reminder to the mindful.

ASR PRAYERS:

[Qur’an 2:238] Attend constantly to prayers and to the middle prayer and stand up truly obedient to Allah.

[Qur’an 11:114] And keep up prayer in the two parts of the day and in the first hours of the night; surely good deeds take away evil deeds this is a reminder to the mindful.

[Qur’an 24:58] O you who believe! let those whom your right hands possess and those of you who have not attained to puberty ask permission of you three times; before the morning prayer, and when you put off your clothes at midday in summer, and after the prayer of the nightfall; these are three times of privacy for you; neither is it a sin for you nor for them besides these, some of you must go round about (waiting) upon others; thus does Allah make clear to you the communications, and Allah is Knowing, Wise.

MAGHRIB PRAYERS:

[Qur’an 11:114] And keep up prayer in the two parts of the day and in the first hours of the night; surely good deeds take away evil deeds this is a reminder to the mindful.

[Qur’an 17:78] Keep up prayer from the declining of the sun till the darkness of the night and the morning recitation; surely the morning recitation is witnessed.

ISHA PRAYERS:

[Qur’an 24:58] O you who believe! let those whom your right hands possess and those of you who have not attained to puberty ask permission of you three times; before the morning prayer, and when you put off your clothes at midday in summer, and after the prayer of the nightfall; these are three times of privacy for you; neither is it a sin for you nor for them besides these, some of you must go round about (waiting) upon others; thus does Allah make clear to you the communications, and Allah is Knowing, Wise.

[Qur’an 50:40] And glorify Him in the night and after the prayers.

JU’MUAH FRIDAY PRAYERS:

[Qur’an 62.9] O you who believe! when the call is made for prayer on Friday, then hasten to the remembrance of Allah and leave off trading; that is better for you, if you know.

TAHAJJUD PRAYERS:

[Qur’an 17.79] And during a part of the night, pray Tahajjud  beyond what is incumbent on you; maybe your Lord will raise you to a position of great glory.

[Qur’an 73.20] Surely your Lord knows that you pass in prayer nearly two-thirds of the night, and (sometimes) half of it, and (sometimes) a third of it, and (also) a party of those with you; and Allah measures the night and the day. He knows that you are not able to do it, so He has turned to you (mercifully), therefore read what is easy of the Quran. He knows that there must be among you sick, and others who travel in the land seeking of the bounty of Allah, and others who fight in Allah’s way, therefore read as much of it as is easy (to you), and keep up prayer and pay.

The Sunnah Prayer of Fajr

[Mufti Abdur-Rahmaan Ibn Yusuf]

The Messenger of Allah (sallallaahu alayhi wasallam) laid great emphasis on the sunnah prayer of Fajr, saying, “it is more superior than the world and everything within it” (Sahih Muslim 1:251). Likewise there are a number of narrations from which the importance of this Sunnah prayer can be understood. This means that a person should ensure that it is performed prior to the fardh prayer, since no sunnah prayer is permissible until after sunrise, once the fardh prayer of Fajr is performed.

So what is one to do if he arrives late to the masjid for Fajr, and finds the congregational salaat about to begin or already in progress? On the one hand, he remembers the emphasis regarding the sunnah prayer of Fajr, yet on the other, he knows the Hadith of the Messenger (sallallaahu alayhi wasallam) stating that once the call to commence (Iqamah) has been made, only the fardh prayer  should be performed. The Messenger of Allah (sallallaahu alayhi wasallam) said:

Once the call to commence (Iqamah) is made for the prayer, there is no prayer except the fardh prayer (maktuba) [Sahih Muslim 1: 247]

The worshipper (musalli) is unsure of what to do in this situation. Should he hurry and perform the sunnah prayer, then catch up with the imam for the fardh prayer, or should he abandon the sunnah prayer altogether and join in the congregation? There is a difference of opinion among the scholars on this issue.

THE VARIOUS OPINIONS

One opinion is that it is necessary for this person to immediately join the congregation for the fardh prayer, and that it is no longer permissible for him to perform the sunnah prayer during the congregational fardh prayer, just as in the ruling for other prayers.

Imam Abu Hanifa and Imam Malik are of the opinion that the person should attempt to perform his sunnah prayer, as long as he think he can complete it quickly and join in the fardh prayer before it ends, i.e. even if he catches only the last sitting. This means that he must be confident of not missing the congregation completely, otherwise ge should leave performing the sunnah and join the congregation; because, technically speaking, the congregational fardh prayer is more important.

One point to remember, however, is that once the congregational prayer begins, the sunnah prayer should not be performed where the main congregation is in progress. It should not be performed outside the main prayer-hall (masjid) area.

Another view of some Hanafi scholars is that a person should only attempt to perform the Sunnah prayer if he feels confident of acquiring atleast one rak’ah behind the imam. This means that he must be certain of catching up with the imam before he stands up from the bowing (ruku’) of the second rak’ah of the fardh.

This difference of opinion is only concerning the two rak’ats sunnah of Fajr, and there is no controversy regarding the sunnah in other prayers. All the scholars are unanimous that once the congregation for those prayers commences, no other sunnah prayer is permissible, because although the sunnah prayers in them are important, they are not as emphasized as the sunnah of Fajr. Also, if a person happens to miss the sunnah prayer of Zuhr for instance, he can make it up after the fardh, since it is not a prohibited time for it.

IMPORTANCE OF THE SUNNAH PRAYER OF FAJR

1. Aa’isha (radhiyallahu anha)  said,

The Messenger of Allah (sallallaahu alayhi wasallam) was not as regular in any supererogatory prayers (nafl) as he was in the two rak’ats before Fajr. [Sahih Muslim 1:251]

2. Aa’isha (radhiyallahu anha) said,

I did not observe the Messenger of Allah (sallallaahu alayhi wasallam) hasten towards any supererogatory (nafl) prayers as fast as he would to perform the two rak’ats before Fajr. [Sahih Muslim 1:251]

3. Aa’isha (radhiyallahu anha) reports that the Messenger of Allah (sallallaahu alayhi wasallam) said,

The two (sunnah) rak’ats of Fajr are more superior than the entire world [Sahih Muslim 1:251]

4. Aa’ishah (radhiyallahu anha) reports that the Messenger of Allah (sallallaahu alayhi wasallam) said regarding the two (sunnah) rak’ats at the break of dawn:

They are more beloved to me than the entire world. [Sahih Muslim 2:251]

5. Abu Hurayra (radhiyallahu anhu) narrates that the Messenger of Allah (sallallaahu alayhi wasallam) said,

Do not abandon the sunnah rak’ats of Fajr, even if horses trample over you. [Sunan Abi Dawud 1:186, Athar al-Sunan 1:224]

All the above hadiths explain the significance of and emphasis placed on the sunnah prayer of Fajr. Since the Sunnah rak’ats of other prayers are not as greatly emphasized as the sunnah of Fajr, they are treated differently.

THE COMPANIONS AND FOLLOWERS ON THIS ISSUE

There are also many other rigorously authenticated hadiths which confirm that the Companions of the Messenger (sallallaahu alayhi wasallam) attempt to complete their sunnah prayer prior to joining the congregational fardh prayer of Fajr if it had already commenced.

1. Imam Tahawi reports from Nafi’:

I wakened Ibn ‘Umar (radhiyallahu anhu) for the Fajr prayer, while the prayer had already commenced. He arose and performed the two rak’ats (sunnah first). [Sharh Ma’ani’l Athar 1:375]

2. Abu Ishaq says,

‘Abdullah Ibn Abi Musa related to me from his father regarding the time Sa’id Ibn al-‘Aas called them. He has called Abu Musa, Hudhayfa and ‘Abdullah Ibn Mas’ud before the Fajr prayer. When they departed from him, the congregation had already begun, so ‘Abdullah Ibn Mas’ud (radhiyallahu anhu) positioned himself behind a pillar in the masjid and performed two rak’ats sunnah first, then joined the congregation.  [Sharh Ma’ani’l Athar: 1:374]

3. Abu ‘Uthman al-Ansari reports:

‘Abdullah Ibn ‘Abbas (radhiyallahu anhu) arrived while the imam was leading the Fajr prayer. Since Ibn ‘Abbas (radhiyallahu anhu) had not yet performed the two rak’ats (sunnah), he performed them behind the imam (i.e. separately), then joined in the congregation. [Sharh Ma’ani’l Athar: 1:375]

4. Imam Tahawi has transmitted a report from Abu’l Darda’ (radhiyallahu anhu):

He would enter the Masjid while everybody would be in rows performing the Fajr prayer. He would first perform his two rak’ats in a corner of the masjid, then join everyone in the (fardh) prayer.  [Sharh Ma’ani’l Athar: 1:375]

5. Abu Uthman al-Nahdi says,

We would arrive at (times to the masjid were) ‘Umar Ibn al-Khattab (radhiyallahu anhu) (was the imam), not having performed the two rak’ats (sunnah) of Fajr. ‘Umar (radhiyallahu anhu) would have already started the prayer, so we would first perform our two rak’ats at the rear of the masjid, then join in the congregation. [Sharh Ma’ani’l Athar: 1:376]

6. ‘Abdullah Ibn Abi Musa (radhiyallahu anhu) narrates:

‘Abdullah Ibn Mas’ud (radhiyallahu anhu) arrived will the imam was leading the Fajr prayer. He performed the two rak’ats (sunnah) behind a pillar, as he had not yet performed them. [Musannaf ‘Abd al Razzaq 1:444]

7. Haritha Ibn Mudrib says,

‘Abdullah Ibn Mas’ud and Abu Musa (radhiyallahu anhum) left Sa’id Ibn al-‘Aas (after visiting him). The congregation (for Fajr) had just begun. So ‘Abdullah Ibn Mas’ud (radhiyallahu anhu)  performed two rak’ats (sunnah), then joined in the prayer with everyone else. As for Abu Musa (radhiyallahu anhu), he joined in the row immediately thereafter. [Musannaf Ibn Abi Shaybah: 2:251]

8. Abu Darda’ (radhiyallahu anhu) regarding the Sunnah of Fajr

Yes, By Allah! If I ever enter (the masjid) and find everyone in prayer, I proceed to a pillar of the masjid and perform two rak’ats quickly; then I join the congregation and perform my Fajr with them.  [Musannaf ‘Abd al Razzaq 1:443]

9. Abu Darda’ (radhiyallahu anhu), according to another reports, states,

I (sometimes) approach the people while they are standing in rows performing Fajr. I perform two rak’ats (sunnah) then I join them. [Musannaf Ibn Abi Shaybah 2:251]

10. It is reported regarding Ibn ‘Umar (radhiyallahu anhu),

He would sometimes join in the congregation (immediately) and at other times he would first perform his two rak’ats at one side of the masjid. [Musannaf Ibn Abi Shaybah 2:251]

11. Sha’bi narrates regarding Masruq:

He entered the masjid to find the people engaged in the Fajr prayer. Since he had not yet performed the two rak’ats (sunnah), he performed them at one side, then joined the congregation in prayer. [Musannaf Ibn Abi Shaybah 2:251, Musannaf ‘Abd al Razzaq 2:444]

12. It is reported that Hasan al-Basri (rahimahullah) had instructed,

When you enter the masjid and find the imam in prayer and you have not yet performed the two rak’ats of Fajr, perform them (first); then join the imam (in the fardh prayer). [Musannaf ‘Abd al Razzaq 2:445, Sharh Ma’ani’l Athar 1:376]

These are just some of the many hadiths wgich highlight the practice of the Companions and Followers. A great jurist (faqih) like ‘Abdullah Ibn Mas’ud (radhiyallahu anhu), as well as many other prominent Companions, such as Abu Darda’ and Ibn ‘Umar (radhiyallahu anhum), would first the two-rak’ats sunnah of Fajr and then proceed to join the main congregation. Hasan al-Basri (rahimahullah), a prominent follower (tabi’i) who requires no introduction, orders in clear words that the sunnah prayers be performed before joining the congregation.

OTHER REASONS FOR THE HANAFI OPINION

(1) The emphasis regarding the sunnah of Fajr is far greater than that of any other sunnah prayer. It has been ordered that the sunnah of Fajr be performed even if there is a danger of horses trampling over the person. Due to this emphasis, there should remain no doubt as to why the Hanafis excluded the sunnah prayer of Fajr from the command of the Hadith that informs us of only fardh prayers being permissible when the congregation begins.

(2) It is sunnah to make a lengthy recitation of the Qur’an during the fardh of Fajr. Hence, it is possible that one could quickly perform his two rak’ats sunnah first and then join in with the imam during the first rak’a, or the second rak’a, or just before the imam makes the salaam. This is normally difficult in other prayers where a relatively shorter recitation is made and the number of rak’ats recommended before them is four.

(3) In the above Hadith, the command regarding the impermissibility of any non-fardh prayer at the time of congregation cannot be taken as a general command encompassing all prayers. If it was an absolutely general command, then it would also be prohibited for someone to perform the sunnah prayer in his house once he was aware that the congregation had commenced in the masjid. However, many scholars have permitted that the sunnah prayer be performed at home, even though the congregation may have already begun in the masjid. Consequently, this leaves no room to ceiticize the Hanafi school for excluding the sunnah of Fajr from the prohibition. Many other scholars have also not taken the command to be an absolutely general one.

(4) The word ‘maktuba’ has been used in the hadith to describe the fardh prayer. The general meaning of this word includes the missed [qada’] prayers also, which indicates that it would be permissible to perform the missed prayers even after the congregarion has begun. However, some scholars do not allow this. From this, it is understood that the hadith (see beginning of the article) is not taken literally, just as its command is not taken in a general sense.

After mentioning these points, it could be concluded that the Hanafi school has reconciled both types of hadiths by saying that the person should only perform the sunnah prayers first if he feels he can acquire that congregational-fardh prayer before it ends. Otherwise, he should enter immediately into the congregation with the imam. In this way, the person benefits by attaining the reward of the sunnah prayer of Fajr and also the reward of performing the fardh salat in congregation.

ONE MORE POINT TO REMEMBER

At times, some narrations are quoted which explicitly exempt the fardh sunnah from the command of the hadith (which mentions the impermissibility of prayer once the congregational fardh prayer has commenced). However, those narrations are usually weak, and have neither been used  as a basis for the Hanafi position nor as evidence to prove the Hanafi opinion against other opinions.

Likewise, there are some narrations which specifically indicate that the sunnah rak’ats of Fajr are included in the prohibition of the hadith. The narrations mention details of a Companion confirming with the Messenger (sallallaahu alayhi wasallam): “Are the sunnah rak’ats of Fajr also invalid if they are performed after the congregation has begun?” The Messenger of Allah (sallallaahu alayhi wasallam) answers him in the affirmative  saying, “Yes!, they are also invalid.” These narrations, being even weaker than the others, will not stand as evidence  to strengthen the other group’s opinion.