Part II: Prayer (As-Salat)

Chapter 18

Miscellaneous subjects

         The Qur’an says: …… Allah intends for you ease; and He does not intend for you hardship…… (2:185). So Islam, as a practical and easy religion, has given many facilities and concessions to its followers in the performance of various acts of worship, e.g. performance of Wudu, prayer and fasting, etc. during journey, sickness or in any other adversity. But here we would discuss the concession given in case of prayer during journey, sickness, etc and also regarding late offering of prayer and forgetfulness in prayer, etc.

1- Prayer during Journey

         Allah says: “And when you travel in the land, it is no sin for you to curtail your prayer, especially when you fear that the disbelievers may attack you. Undoubtedly the disbelievers are enemy for you.” (Al-Qur’an 4.101). From this verse it appears that the facility of shortening (Qasr) prayer has perhaps been given only during a journey in which there is threat or feat to your life from the enemy, and if there is no such fear there is no permission for Qasr. However, this is not correct. The messenger of Allah is reported to have explained this: It (shortening of the prayer) is a gift from Allah which He has bestowed upon you, so you should accept it (Muslim). The Prophet and his companions used to pray two Rakaah Fard for Zuhr, Asr and Isha prayers, but prayed all the Fard Rakat of Fajr and Maghrib.

         Ibn Abbas has reported that Allah has made prayer obligatory on the tongue of your messenger – of four Rakaahs in city, of two Rakaahs in journey and of one Rakaah in fear’ (in war). – (Muslim)

Qasr and its rules

         Following are some of the other important points which should be noted regarding the Qasr prayer on a journey:

(1)          Distance or length of a Journey: The Question arises as to what should be the minimum length or distance of the journey which makes you entitled to the shortening of prayer. Neither the Qur’an nor any authentic Hadith of the Prophet has prescribed any length or mileage for the Journey. Abu Saeed says that whenever the Messenger of Allah travelled about one Farsakh (approximately 3 miles) he would pray Qasr. The opinions of some of the companions of the Prophet and the Ulema and Jurists differ with regard to this question. According to some, Qasr is justified if journey is of one day and according to others if journey is of three days. Similarly with regard to mileage the opinions also differ, some fix it at 9 miles, some at 15 miles, some at 36 miles and some at 48 miles.

(2)          Duration of Journey: Questions also arise as to what should be the maximum period of stay in a Journey in terms of days, weeks, months or years during which one can offer Qasr. On this issue also, there is no verse of the Qur’an or any authentic Hadith of the Prophet. However, this is sure that the Prophet used to pray Qasr as long as he was on journey. Ibn Abbas reports that the Prophet stayed for 19 days at a place during a journey and he continued performing Qasr prayer (Bukhari). Opinions of the companions of the Prophet and of the jurists differ on the issue. According to some scholars stay should not exceed four days, according to some it should not exceed ten days, according to some it should not exceed fifteen days if one intends to take benefit of the concession.

         However, a person can pray Qasr and combine his prayers for as long as he remains on a journey, whether it takes weeks, months or years. Anas stayed in Syria for two years and he continued to pray Qasr, while Abdullah bin Umar had to stay in Azerbaijan for a long period due to snowfall and he continued to pray Qasr. Imam Ahmad Bin Hunbal has allowed a prisoner to pray Qasr during the whole period of his imprisonment.

(3)          What about Sunnat or Nafl Rakaahs: The Prophet used to pray Witr and two Sunat Rakaahs of Fajr prayer only during his journey in addition to Qasr of Fard Rakaahs of the five daily obligatory prayers as mentioned above. Besides that he did not pray any Nafl or Sunnat Rakaahs. The companions followed him and so should we.

(4)          Problem of direction of Qiblah during journey: If you are on a journey and you do not know the direction of Qiblah and there is none to guide you, you can offer prayer in the direction which, according to the best of your judgment, you consider the most probable direction of Qiblah.

         If you are travelling on the back of an animal or in a train or in a ship, or in an aeroplane, you better start the prayer in the known or probable direction of Qiblah and continue praying even if the direction is changing with the positions the conveyance is taking during the journey.

         If you are unable to pray while standing, you can pray while sitting.

2 - Combining of Prayers

         Besides shortening of the prayer, another concession which is available to a person on journey is combining the prayers (Jamaah Bainul Salatain). Thus a traveler can combine Zuhr and Asr Prayers together offering them both at Zuhr or Asr Time. And he can also combine Maghrib and Isha prayers together praying them both at Maghrib or Isha time. Ibn Abbas says that Allah’s messenger used to combine Zuhr and Asr prayers together when he was on journey and also he used to combine Maghrib and Isha. Besides journey, the combining of these prayers is also allowed during Hajj at Arafat and Muzdalfah as the Prophet combined Zuhr and Asr at Arafat, and Maghrib and Isha at Muzdalfah. Combining of the prayers is also allowed in illness, or rain or storm or in fear or in any other emergency.

         Combining of the two prayers at the time of earlier prayer is called Jamaah Taqdeem (Early) and combining of the Two Prayers at the time of the latter prayer is called Jamaah Takheer (Late). The Hanafees think that combining of prayers in case of a journey other than a journey of Hajj is not allowed in real sense (Jamaah Haqiqi) but it is only possible that you delay the first prayer and bring earlier the next prayer and then perform both together (Jamaah Suri).

3 - Prayer during Illness

         If during illness or on account of some permanent disability, one cannot perform the prayer in the prescribed manner (which has been described in chapter 10), one must pray as one can. If he cannot pray standing, he can pray sitting. If he cannot pray sitting, he can pray lying on his right side. If he cannot even do that, he is allowed to pray lying straight. If he cannot perform various actions of prayer like Ruku, prostration, etc. he can perform them with hints. The Prophet is reported to have told Imran bin Husseen, one of his companions, who suffered from a disease and sought his advice: “Pray if you are able to stand. If you cannot stand, pray while sitting. If you cannot sit, pray lying on your (right) side” (Bukhari, Abu Daud, Tirmizi, Nisai). In Nisai, the additional words are: “If you are unable even to do this, you may pray while lying straight. Allah does not task a soul beyond its scope”.

         As stated above, combining of the prayers is also allowed to an ill person as to a person on a journey.

4 - Qada Prayer

         Performance of Prayer after expiry of its right time is called Qada. The prayers should be punctually offered in their prescribed times. Intentionally delaying an obligatory prayer entails a great sin.

         However, if you fail somehow to offer a prayer in its time, you are allowed to offer it late. It is Mercy of Allah that this big concession has been given to the believers.

         The Prophet is reported to have said: If any of you goes to sleep at the time of prayer or forgets to offer prayer in its time, he should pray when he remembers or gets up (Bukhari). Some important principles regarding Qada prayer are as under:

1)            Qada is only required in case of Fard Rakaahs of obligatory prayer or in case of Wajib prayer. It means you are required to offer Qada (late praying) of Fard Rakaahs of Fajr, Zuhr, Asr, Maghrib and Isha prayers and also of Witr Prayer. If you fail to offer Fajr prayer in its time and you offer it after sunrise but before noon, you must pray its two Rakaah sunnat also along with its Fard Two Rakaahs. In case of offering Qada of Fajr after the noon or at any other late time, you may not offer its two sunnat Rakaah.

2)            Qada of a missed prayer must be performed as soon as possible. It should not be delayed further unnecessarily.

3)            Qada may be performed individually.

4)            If a person misses prayers in a journey when he was allowed to offer Qasr prayers and comes home, he would offer Qasr of those prayers in Qada. Similarly if he misses prayers at home and then goes on journey and intends to perform Qada of those missed prayers, he will have to offer them in full although he is on the journey.

5)            If a person misses many prayers, say of more than one day and he remembers their names and times, he may offer Qada of all these prayers as soon as possible in their order or without order.

6)            When a person has missed prayers of a long time, say of years or a lifetime, and he is unable to remember them or offer their Qada, what he should do then? Some suggest he should perform their Qada according to guess. This is called Qada Umri. But according to many jurists, it is an innovation. According to them, he need not perform Qada. Rather he should ask forgiveness from Allah, sincerely do Taubah (repentance), give some charity and regularly start prayers.

5 - Sajdah Sahw (The Prostration of Forgetfullness)

         Sahw means to forget. If a believer forgets to perform some act or recitation or makes any omission or commission in prayer, he is allowed to compensate for it by making sajdah sahw instead of performing the whole of the prayer afresh. It is a great concession which Islam gives to its followers.

The Method of performing Sajdah Sahw: After offering Tashahhud, Darud on the Prophet and supplication in the final sitting (Qaadah), you should say Takbir and perform two Sajdahs consecutively, and then conclude your prayers by pronouncing salutations on the right and left side as usual.

Examples where Sajdah Sahw is required: Following are some of the examples where Sajdah Sahw is to be performed to make up the deficiency in the prayer:-

1)            When you doubt the number of Rakaahs you have offered in the prayer: The Prophet is reported by Abu Saeed Khudri to have said: When one of you forgets whether he has completed three Rakaahs or four, he should remove his doubt (by praying one more Rakaah) and then before concluding the prayer with salutations he should perform two Sajdahs……  – (Ahmad, Muslim)

2)            When you have offered number of Rakaahs less than the required, e.g. two instead of three or three instead of four: Muhammad bin Sareen reports from Abu Hurairah that once the Prophet offered only two Rakaahs leading us in Zuhr or Asr prayer and pronounced salutations. When it was pointed out, he led the congregation again and completed the remaining prayer and offered salutations. And then saying Allahu Akbar he performed one sajdah, and then saying Allahu Akbar he performed another Sajdah (and then he again offered salutations). – (Bukhari, Muslim)

3)            When you have offered number of Rakaah more than the required e.g. five instead of four or three instead of two: Ibn Masood reported that once the Prophet performed with us five Rakaahs of Zuhr prayer instead of four. When it was pointed out to him, he offered (along with the congregation) two sajdahs and said: I am a human being like you and I forget as you forget. So when I forget you must remind me (Bukhari, Muslim, Abu Daud, Nisai, Tirmizi).

4)            When you forget an essential act in the prayer e.g. you forget to stand in Qawmah (after Ruku) or to sit in Jalsah (between two Sajdahs), you need to make Sajdah Sahw.

5)            Omitting a wajib article of the prayer also entails Sajdah Sahw, e.g. if you forget recitation of surah al-Fatihah or any surah after it.

6)            If you overdo something e.g. perform two Ruku or three Sajdahs, you need to correct the mistake by Sajdah Sahw.

7)            If you make an undue delay in the performance of a Fard or Wajib article, e.g. you make delay in reciting some surah or passage of the Qur’an after Al-Fatihah, or in performing Ruku or going down to Sajdah; you are required to make this Sajdah of Sahw.

8)            If the Imam recites the Quran audibly in Zuhr and Asr prayers, or inaudibly in Fajr or Maghrib or Isha (or makes any other mistake) , he will have to perform Sajdah sahw and the followers are required to perform it too with him.

9)            If the follower commits a mistake he is not required to perform Sajdah sahw unless he is a follower who has joined late (Masbuq) in the congregation and makes mistake while he is completing his prayer independently. Such follower is required to perform Sajdah Sahw in his final Qaadah.

10)         When you forget to observe the first sitting (Qaadah) and standup fully, you need not sit on remembering the mistake. Rather you should complete your prayer and perform Sajdah Sahw in the final sitting.

11)         When you forget to observe the final sitting (Qaadah) and stand up, you should immediately sit if you realize your mistake before performing Sajdah and complete the prayer as usual after making Sajdah Sahw. But if you do not realize your mistake in time, you should perform the additional Rakaah and sit in the final Qaadah and complete your prayer after making Sajdah Sahw.

12)         Sajdah Sahw has to be performed only once in the final sitting even if the mistakes committed are more than one.

6 - Sajdah Tilawat (Prostration of Recitation)

         There are some Verses in the Holy Qur’an the recitation of which requires both the reciter and the listener to perform Sajdah. This is called Sajdah Tilawat. It should be performed like a normal Sajdah saying Allahu Akbar while going to and saying Allahu Akbar while raising one’s head. According to some jurists, one must have Wudu, turn his face to Qiblah and after performing Sajdah he should offer salutations on his right and left which are usual in ending the prayer.

         If the Imam recites the Qur’an aloud and recites any such verse he is required to make Sajdah and the followers are required to do the same.

         The Verses necessitating performance of Sajdah are: 7(206), 13(15), 16(50), 17(109), 19(58), 22(18), 22(77), 25(60), 27(26), 32(15), 38(24), 41(38), 53(62), 84(21) and 96(19).

7 - Sajdah Shukr (Prostration of Thankfulness)

            When a person receives some favour or blessing from Allah (e.g. birth of a son or a daughter or some wealth) or he receives some good news (e.g. success in examination) or he escapes an accident or calamity or loss, he must perform Sajdah to express his thanks to Allah. This is called Sajdah Shukr and is performed like a normal Sajdah. Hadhrat Abu Bakr says that the Prophet used to go down in Sajdah expressing thanks to Allah when he received some blessing or some good news. – (Abu Daud, Tirmizi, Ibn Majah)


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