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Prostration of Recitation (Sujud At-Tilawah)

By Dr. Salih Al-Fawzan

The Wisdom of Sujud Al-Tilawa (the Prostration of Recitation)

The prostration of recitation is one of the Prophetic practices and it is thus called as it relates to the recitation of the Quran. It is an act of worship that is ordained by Allah and His Messenger to be done when reciting the verses of the Quran or listening to them, as a means of drawing near to Allah, subjecting oneself to His Majesty and showing submissiveness to Him.

There are 15 verses of the Gracious Quran the Prophet (PBUH) prostrated upon reciting. Muslims are recommended to do the same during and outside the prayer.

Its Legal Ruling

This act of prostration is enacted as an act of the Sunnah (Prophetic Tradition) for both the one who recites and the one who listens to the Quran. Scholars unanimously agree on its legality. Ibn ‘Umar (may Allah be pleased with him) said:

“When the Prophet (PBUH) recited a sura of the Quran that contained the prostration, he would prostrate and we would do the same and some of us (because of the heavy rush) could not find a place for prostration.” (Related by Al-Bukhari and Muslim)

Imam Ibnul-Qayyim, the great scholar (may Allah have mercy on him), said, “Positions of prostrations are what is reported to us and what is commanded for us to do.” That is, Allah tells us about the prostration of His creatures generally or at specific situations. So it is enacted, for the one who recites the Qur’an and the one who listens to it, to act like them (Allah’s creatures) when reciting or listening to the verses of prostration, and with greater reason the verses that actually command prostrating.

Abu Hurayrah (may Allah be pleased with him) narrated as a marfu’ (traceable) hadith that the Prophet (PBUH) said:

“When the son of Adam recites a verse of prostration and then falls down in prostration, Satan goes into seclusion weeping and saying, ‘Woe unto me!’ The son of Adam is commanded to prostrate and he has prostrated, so Paradise is entitled to him, and I was commanded to prostrate, but I refused, so I am doomed to Hell.’ “ (Related by Muslim and Ibn Majah)

Who May Perform Sujud Al-Tilawa?

The prostration of recitation should be performed by both the one reciting and the one listening (to the Quran). What is stated in the previously mentioned hadith of Ibn ‘Umar, namely “When the Prophet (PBUH) recited a sura of the Quran that contained the prostration, he would prostrate and we would do the same,” proves the legality of the prostration of the one who is listening. As for the hearer (i.e. the one who is not attentively listening) it is not obligatory upon him to perform the prostration of recitation.

Al-Bukhari related: ‘Uthman (may Allah be pleased with him) passed by a reciter who recited a verse involving prostration to make ‘Uthman perform prostration along with him, but ‘Uthman did not perform prostration and said, “The prostration should be performed by him who listens to it.” There was other Companions who were reported to have done the same.

How Many Suras That Contain Verses of Prostration?

The suras of the Quran that involve verses of prostration are Surat Al-A’raf(the Heights), Surat Al-Ra’d (the Thunder), Surat Al-Nahl (the Bees), Surat Al-Isra’ (the Night journey), Surat Maryam (Mary), Surat Al-Hajj (the Pilgrimage), Surat Al-Furqan (the Criterion), Surat Al-Naml (the Ants), Surat Al-Sajdah (the Prostration), Surat Fussilat (the Lucidly Distinct), Surat Al-Najm (the Stars), Al-Inshiqaq (the Rending), and Al-‘Alaq (the Clinging Clot). Concerning the prostration in the Sura of Sad, there is disagreement between scholars, whether it is a prostration of thankfulness or recitation; and Allah knows best.

How to Perform the Prostration of Recitation?

On performing the prostration of recitation, one should pronounce takbir (saying, “Allahu-Akbar” i.e. “Allah is the Greatest”). This act is stated according to the Hadith of Ibn ‘ Umar in which he said:

“Allah’s Messenger (PBUH) used to recite the Quran to us and whenever he recited a verse that contained a prostration, he used to say takbir and prostrate, and we also used to prostrate along with him. (Related by Abu Dawud)

One should say in prostration, “Subhana Rabbiyal-A’la” (Glory be to my Lord, the Most High), the same as one says when prostrating during performing prayer. If one says, “My face has prostrated before Allah, Who created and fashioned it, created in it hearing and vision by His Power and Might, O Allah! Reward me for it (the act of prostration), remove sins from me by it, reserve it for me, and accept it from me as You did from Your servant Dawud (David),” it will be acceptable. To perform the prostration of recitation from the position of standing is better than performing it while sitting.

O Muslim, you should know that there are many ways of doing good acts, so make your best to follow them, and be loyal and faithful in both actions and words, that Allah may record you among the happy people.


The article is an excerpt from the author’s book “A Summary of Islamic Jurisprudence” with some modifications.

Dr. Salih Al-Fawzan is a Professor of Islamic Jurisprudence, Member of the Board of Senior Ulema & Member of the Permanent Committee for Fatwa and Research.

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The Forenoon Prayer (Salat Al-Duha)

By Editorial Staff

Duha means the morning sunshine or forenoon. This time is so blessed that there is a surah (chapter) of the Gracious Quran that starts with the oath of Allah swearing by al-Duha and the night. Allah says,

“By (al-Duha) the morning sunshine! And (by) the night as it falls still! Your Lord has not deserted you, (O Prophet). And never has He abhorred you.” (Quran 93:1-3)

Some scholars interpret the word “duha” to mean the day thinking that it is the antithesis of night in the second verse. However, the other more preferred opinion is that it means only forenoon or the morning sunshine. Scholars who adopt the latter opinion use the following verse to support their opinion. Allah says,

(Moses) said: Your appointed time is the Day of Festival, at (Duha) mid-morning, while the people are assembled. (Quran 20:59)

Concerning the Duha Prayer, Ibn ‘Abbas (Allah be pleased with him and his father) used to name it the Sunrise Prayer.

In the technical usage al-Duha refers to a specific time that starts about 10 or 15 minutes after sunrise and finishes 10 or 15 minutes before the Dhuhr (noon) prayer or before it’s high noon i.e. when the sun starts to move from its highest point in the sky towards the direction of the sunset.

The duha time is so blessed that there is a surah (chapter) of the Gracious Quran that starts with the oath of Allah swearing by al-Duha and the night.

The virtues of the Duha Prayer

1. Performing the Duha prayer acts as an act of thankfulness to Allah for He has blessed us with wellness. Abu Dharr (May Allah be pleased with him) reported:

The Prophet (ﷺ) said, “In the morning, charity is due on every joint bone of the body of every one of you. Every utterance of Allah’s Glorification (i.e., saying Subhan Allah) is an act of charity, and every utterance of His Praise (i.e., saying Al-hamdu lillah) is an act of charity and every utterance of declaration of His Greatness (i.e., saying La ilaha ill Allah) is an act of charity; and enjoining what is good is an act of charity, and forbidding what is evil is an act of charity, and two rak’ahs (units) of Duha prayers which one performs in the forenoon is equal to all this (in reward).” (Muslim)

2. It brings about Allah’s protection. Narrated Nu’aym ibn Hammar:

I heard the Messenger of Allah (ﷺ) say: Allah, the Exalted, says: Son of Adam, do not be helpless in performing four rak’ahs for Me at the beginning of the day: I will supply what you need till the end of it. (Abu Dawud, Al-Tirmidhi and Ahmad)

3. Prophet Muhammad (Allah bless him and grant him peace) instructed and encouraged some of his companions to perform it. Abu Hurairah (May Allah be pleased with him) reported:

My friend (the Messenger of Allah) (ﷺ) directed me to observe fast for three days in every month, to perform two rak’ahs (optional) Duha prayer at forenoon and to perform the Witr prayer before going to bed. (Al-Bukhari and Muslim)

Did Prophet Muhammad (Allah bless him and grant him peace) use to perform the Duha Prayer?

Scanning the Sunnah of Prophet Muhammad (Allah bless him and grant him peace), one finds out that there are some contradictory evidence concerning this matter. Let us consider the following hadiths: Narrated `Aisha:

Allah’s Messenger (ﷺ) used to give up a good deed, although he loved to do it, for fear that people might act on it and it might be made compulsory for them. The Prophet (ﷺ) never prayed the Duha prayer, but I offer it. (Al-Bukhari and Muslim) This is the wording of Al-Bukhari.

This hadith proves that the Prophet (Allah bless him and grant him peace) did not use to perform it. On the other hand, there is another hadith related also by ‘A’ishah (Allah be pleased with her) which provides evidence to the contrary. ‘A’ishah (May Allah be pleased with her) reported:

The Messenger of Allah (ﷺ) used to perform four rak’ahs of Duha prayer (at the forenoon) and would add to them whatever Allah wished. (Muslim)

To reconcile such contradictory hadiths, scholars of hadith hold the opinion that the latter hadith is shadh (anomalous). This is because a number of the companions relate that Prophet Muhammad did not use to perform the Duha Prayer. However, He does encourage Muslims to perform Duha prayer.

 Why did the Prophet (Allah bless him and grant him peace) make it recommended to perform the Duha prayer while he did not use to perform it?

One of the best answers to this question is as follows. Scholars believe that Prophet Muhammad (Allah bless him and grant him peace) would choose to perform only the night prayer. However, in case he missed the night prayer, he would offer twelve rak’has in the forenoon. In addition, when the Prophet (Allah bless him and grant him peace) was back from travels, he would usually arrive in the forenoon and would start with entering the mosque and offering two rak’ahs.  On the Liberation of Makkah Day, he offered eight rak’ahs

How many rak’ahs a Muslim may offer for Duha Prayer?

The smallest number of rak’ahs a Muslim may perform is two. Also, a Muslim may perform four, six, or eight. Based on the practical Sunnah of the Prophet (Allah bless him and grant him peace), the largest number is eight rak’ahs or twelve in case a person makes up the night prayer.

However, according to the verbal Sunnah, a person may offer as many rak’ahs as he or she wishes.

When is the best time to offer Duha Prayer?

A Muslim may perform the Duha prayer any time from about 10 or 15 minutes after sunshine to 10 or 15 minutes before noon. However, the best time is the hottest. In Middle Eastern countries, it becomes very hot at about 9, 10, or 11 am. Zaid bin Arqam (May Allah be pleased with him) reported:

I saw some people performing Duha (prayers) in the early forenoon and warned them (saying): These people must know that performing prayer a little later is better. The Messenger of Allah (ﷺ) said, “The Salat (prayer) of the penitent is to be observed when the young ones of camels feel the heat of the sun (i.e., when it becomes very hot).” (Muslim)


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Five Times when Prayer (Salah) Is Reprehensible!

By Editorial Staff

One of the frequently asked questions concerning prayer is about whether a person may or may not perform prayer at those times when performing prayer is reprehensible.

To better understand this issue, we need to give a brief overview of a very well-known legal issue.  How can scholars reconcile it when there are two Shari’ah commands: one bids you to do an act of worship while the second bids abandonment?

If I forbid you to do something, then keep away from it. And if I order you to do something, then do of it as much as you can.

To answer this, let us consider the following two hadiths as an example:

1. Abu Huraira is reported to have said that the Messenger of Allah (Allah bless him and grant him peace) prohibited to observe prayer after the ‘Asr (Afternoon)prayer till the sun is set, and after the dawn till the sun rises. (Muslim)

2. Abu Qatadah (Allah be pleased with him) reported:

The Messenger of Allah (ﷺ) said, “When anyone of you enters a mosque, he should perform two rak’ahs (of voluntary prayer) before sitting.” (Al-Bukhari and Muslim)

If it happens that a Muslim enters a mosque after performing either the ‘Asr (Afternoon Prayer) or Fajr (Dawn Prayer), which hadiths of the two mentioned above may he or she follow?

Some scholars prefer giving priority to the command which bids abandonment. To support their opinion, they quote a hadith related by Abu Hurairah (Allah be pleased with him). The Prophet (Allah bless him and grant him peace) says as part of this hadith:

“…If I forbid you to do something, then keep away from it. And if I order you to do something, then do of it as much as you can.” (Al-Bukhari and Muslim)

To clarify this, they say that the command which bids a person “not to do” in this hadith is more certain than the command “to do” which depends on ability.

Moreover, Ibn ‘Umar and Ibn ‘Abbas (Allah be pleased with both of them) are reported to have prevented people when they saw them perform prayer after ‘Asr (Afternoon Prayer)

The second opinion is that a person may perform prayer at such times so long as there is a reason for performing them. This is the opinion of the Shafi’i school of Fiqh. For them, the reasons which allow a person to perform prayers at those times when prayer is reprehensible include the following:

1. Performing Wudu’ (ablution)

Whenever a person performs wudu’ (ablution), he or she is recommended to perform two rak’ahs of voluntary prayer. This legal ruling only applies in case there is no other (fard) obligatory or (sunnah) recommended prayers to be performed. If the time is due to perform either fard or sunnah prayer, then it is correct to only perform the fard or sunnah prayers. The idea behind that is to always perform prayer after ablution whether it is obligatory, recommended or voluntary. However, we perform these two rak’ahs of voluntary prayer in case there is no other obligatory or recommended prayer to perform. Abu Hurairah (May Allah be pleased with him) reported:

The Messenger of Allah (ﷺ) said to Bilal (Allah be pleased with him) “Tell me about the most hopeful act (i.e., one which you deem the most rewarding with Allah) you have done since your acceptance of Islam because I heard the sound of the steps of your shoes in front of me in Paradise.” Bilal said: “I do not consider any act more hopeful than that whenever I make Wudu’ (or took a bath) in an hour of night or day, I would immediately perform Salat (prayer) for as long as was destined for me to perform.” (Al-Bukhari and Muslim)

The hadith denotes that a person may perform more than two rak’ahs. However, the scholars who adopt the second opinion mentioned above allows you to perform only two rak’ahs at the times when prayer is reprehensible.

2. Entering a mosque

When you enter a mosque to sit in it or read the Quran for example, you should start with performing two-rak’ah prayer. As mentioned above, this legal ruling, also, only applies in case there is no other (fard) obligatory or (sunnah) recommended prayers to be performed. If you enter at the times when prayer is reprehensible, then you may perform two-rak’ah prayer according to Imam Al-Shafi’i or the second opinion mentioned above. Abu Qatadah (Allah be pleased with him) reported:

The Messenger of Allah (ﷺ) said, “When anyone of you enters a mosque, he should perform two rak’ahs (of voluntary prayer) before sitting.” (Al-Bukhari and Muslim)

3. Al-Tawaf (circumambulation around the Ka’bah)

A number of scholars also allow a pilgrim to perform two-rak’ah prayer at any time after circumambulation around the Ka’bah at Makkah. It was narrated that Jubair bin Mut’im said:

“The Messenger of Allah (ﷺ) said: ‘O Banu ‘Abd Manaf! Do not prevent anyone from circumambulating this House and praying at any time he wants of the day or night.” (Abu Dawud, Al-Tirmidhi, Al-Nasa’i and Ibn Majah)

4. Istikharah Prayer

Istikharah is a two-rak’ah voluntary prayer in which you make du’a’ (supplication) asking Allah to guide you to the better of two things. You are recommended to perform it whenever you cannot make up your mind whether to do or not to do a certain deed.

However, these four reasons are but a few examples. There are other reasons such as funeral prayer, Istisqa’ (prayer for rain), etc. Other scholars see that we can wait till such time is up. Look at the conclusion below.

The Times When Prayer is Reprehensible:

1. After Performing the Fajr (Dawn) Prayer until Sunrise

Once you perform the Dawn prayer, you are not allowed to perform any voluntary prayers. So, is it allowed to make up for any missed prayer whether obligatory or recommended?

You may make up for missed prayers either after performing the Fajr prayer or after 15 minutes after sunrise when the time when prayer is reprehensible is up.

2. From Sunrise to about 15 minutes after it

Scholars used to express this as from the very beginning of sunrise until the sun rises up in the sky to the height of a spear. Normally they would estimate this with the naked eye. Narrated Hisham’s father:

Ibn `Umar said, “Allah’s Messenger (ﷺ) said, ‘Do not pray at the time of sunrise and at the time of sunset.’ ” Ibn `Umar said, “Allah’s Messenger (ﷺ) said, ‘If the edge of the sun appears (above the horizon) delay the prayer till it becomes high, and if the edge of the sun disappears, delay the prayer till it sets (disappears completely).’ “(Al-Bukhari)

3. When the sun is at its highest point in the sky till it leaves the middle of the sky

Uqba b. ‘Amir said:

There were three times at which Allah’s Messenger (ﷺ) forbade us to pray, or bury our dead: When the sun begins to rise till it is fully up, when the sun is at its height at midday till it passes over the meridian, and when the sun draws near to setting till it sets. (Muslim)

However, some scholars hold the opinion that this ruling applies to all days of the week except for Fridays. This means on Fridays, you may perform voluntary prayer when it’s high noon. Abu-Huraira reported Allah’s Apostle (ﷺ) as saying:

He who took a bath and then came for Jumu’a (Friday) prayer and then prayed what was fixed for him, then kept silence till the Imam finished the sermon, and then prayed along with him, his sins between that time and the next Friday would be forgiven, and even of three days more. (Muslim)

4. After performing the ‘Asr Prayer until the sun starts to set

The legal ruling of performing prayer after the fajr prayer also applies here. Thus, it becomes reprehensible to perform voluntary prayers after both the ‘Asr and Fajr prayers. Likewise, you can make up for any missed obligatory or recommended prayer.

5. At sunset till the sun fully disappears below the horizon

However, there is no time when performing prayer is reprehensible during the night.

To conclude, there is a third opinion which, I think, may be more preferred. This opinion divides the five times mentioned above into two categories: reprehensible and very reprehensible. You can perform voluntary prayer such as after ablution when it is only reprehensible, namely, after both fajr and ‘Asr prayers. On the other hand, you may not do this when it is very reprehensible to do so as in 2, 3 and 5 mentioned above.

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Five Prerequisites for Shortening the Prayer

By Editorial Staff

Shortening the Prayer means to perform the regularly four-rak’ah prayer, namely, the Dhuhr (Noon), ‘Asr (Afternoon) and ‘Isha’ (Evening) Prayers, as only two-rak’ah prayer during travel.

Shortening the Prayer means to perform the regularly four-rak’ah prayer, namely, the Dhuhr (Noon), ‘Asr (Afternoon) and ‘Isha’ (Evening) Prayers, as only two-rak’ah prayer during travel.

The Legal Ruling Concerning Shortening the Prayer

The majority of scholars including the shafi’i School of Fiqh believe that a traveller may shorten the four-rak’ah prayer to only two. On the other hand, some scholars of the Zahiri School of Fiqh believe it is obligatory. The Zahiri Scholars base their opinion on the fact that there is no authentic proof that shows that Prophet Muhammad (Allah bless him and grant him peace) completed the Prayer during travel.

In addition, ‘A’isha, the wife of the Messenger of Allah (ﷺ), reported:

The prayer was prescribed as two rak’ahs, two rak’ahs both in journey and at the place of residence. The prayer while travelling remained as it was (originally prescribed), but an addition was made in the prayer (observed) at the place of residence. (Al-Bukhari and Muslim, this is the wording of Muslim)

The majority of scholars’ opinion is that shortening the Prayer is permissible but some of them believe it is recommended. Allah says,

Now, when you strike out in the land, then there shall be no blame on you if you shorten (something) of the Prayer, should you fear that those who disbelieve will assail you. Indeed, the disbelievers are to you a clear enemy. (Quran 4:101)

The sentence “there shall be no blame on you” does not denote obligation. On the other hand, you may say that according to the apparent meaning of the verse shortening the Prayer is allowed only when one feels unsafe. “People are now safe!”, ‘Umar ibn Al-Khattab wondered upon reciting the above mentioned verse. “It is an act of charity which Allah has done to you, so accept His charity”, said Prophet Muhammad (Allah bless him and grant him peace). (Muslim)

According to the Shafi’i school of Fiqh, there are five prerequisites for shortening the Prayer. Let us consider these prerequisites.

Prerequisites for Shortening the Prayer

1. Travel must not be for committing any acts of disobedience

The purpose of shortening the Prayer is to lighten the travel burden for people. That’s why travelling for theft or robbery for example can never be a reason that allows a person to shorten the Prayer. However, there is another opinion which does not differentiate between travels whether they are legal and for fulfilling permissible deeds or not. Moreover, there is no explicit evidence for such differentiation.

2. An outward journey (without return) must be 16 Parasangs long or 80 km

So long as an outward journey is about or more than 80 or 82 km in length, you may, then, shorten your prayer and break the fast. “Ibn ‘Umar and Ibn ‘Abbas (Allah be pleased with both of them) used to shorten the Prayer and break the fast when they travelled for four barids[i] which are equal to 16 parasangs”, related Al-Bukhari as part of a Mu’allaq (Suspended) Hadith in his Sahih Al-Bukhari.

Discussing this opinion, some scholars believe that neither this hadith is Marfu’ (elevated) to Prophet Muhammad (Allah bless him and grant him peace) nor they used to measure distances at that time. That’s why there are lots of different opinions on this issue. In addition, Ibn ‘Umar and Ibn ‘Abbas (Allah be pleased with both of them) were reported to have expressed opinions different to what is mentioned above. Yahya ibn Yazid al-Huna’i reported:

I asked Anas ibn Malik about shortening of prayer. He said: When the Messenger of Allah (Allah bless him and grant him peace) had covered a distance of three miles or three farsakh (parasang) (Shu’ba, one of the narrators, had some doubt about it) he observed two rak’ahs. (Muslim)

Although this hadith is related by Imam Muslim, the majority of scholars do not act according to it. This may be due to the doubt the narrator had. Moreover, some scholars of hadith regard the chain of narration of this hadith as defective.

Due to these differences and the lack of evidence which is free from defects or oppositions, it appears that what counts here are the people’s customs.

3. Performing the Four-Rak’ah Prayer in its Prescribed Time

If you miss one or more prayer before setting off for a journey, you must make up for such prayer in full during the journey. This is because the time of performance for this or these prayers is up before travelling.

On the contrary, if you start your journey within the prescribed time for a certain prayer, you may shorten that prayer. For example, if the time for Dhuhr (Noon) Prayer is due at 12 noon and you set off for your journey at 2 p.m., you may shorten the Dhuhr Prayer.

4. Intending to shorten the Prayer just before or at the beginning of the Prayer

If you perform the Prayer in congregation and you do not know whether the Imam will shorten the Prayer or not, you may depend in your intention on the Imam’s intention. Not knowing which kind of Hajj Prophet Muhammad (Allah bless him and grant him peace) had performed, Ali ibn Abi Talib (Allah be pleased with him) depended on the intention of the Prophet (Allah bless him and grant him peace).

5. The traveller must not be following a resident Imam

This is also a prerequisite to follow the imam of prayer. If the imam is a traveller and will shorten the prayer, you must do the same. On the contrary, if he is a resident, you should perform your prayer in full even if you come late and join the prayer in the middle or last rak’ah of it. “Why do we perform prayer in full when we join the congregational prayer with you and shorten it at our camp?”  Musa ibn Salamah Al-Hudhali asked ibn ‘Abbas. “This is the Sunnah of Abu Al-Qasim (Prophet Muhammad, Allah bless him and grant him peace)”, he replied.

How many days may the traveller shorten the Prayer?

Scholars differentiate between travellers who do not know exactly when they will return home and others who may be considered domiciled residents. The first kind of travellers shortens the prayer even if the journey takes a long time.

The second kind who knows how long the journey will take may shorten the prayer for only three or four days.


[i] Barid (pl. burud) is an ancient Arabic unit of distance of about 22 or 23 km.

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The Story of Salah or Prayer and How to Perform it!

Salah (Prayer) is the second pillar of Islam and the first practical one. Here is a video about the story of Prayer and how to perform both the Prayer and Ablution. It will greatly help you perform your first Prayer.

First, the story began in Makkah where the Archangel Gabriel (peace be upon him) visited Prophet Muhammad (Allah bless him and grant him peace). Next, they both set off for Jerusalem where they started the second journey, Ascending to the Heavens or the Night Journey. It was in the heavens where Allah made Prayer or Salah obligatory for Muhammad (Allah bless him and grant him peace) and the whole ummah.

After that, the video moves on to speak briefly about the Night Journey to highlight how important Salah is. It also covers the following topics:

1. Prerequisites of Salah (Prayer)

These prerequisites include clothing, purification of the body, clothing and place of prayer, etc.

2. The Wudu’ (Ablution) and what nullifies it

3. Step by step guide to Prayer from A to Z

 

 

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