Answered by Ustadh Tabraze Azam
Question: How does a Hanafi Imam lead and perform Salat al-Istisqa’?
Answer: Assalamu alaikum wa rahmatullah wa barakatuh,
I pray that you are in the best of health and spirits, insha’Allah.
According the founder of the Hanafi school, and the massly transmitted narrations (dhahir al-riwaya), there is no sunna prayer to be performed in congregation for the purpose of seeking rain (istisqa’).
Rather, it is a supplication and seeking of forgiveness. The basis of which are the words of Allah Most High, “Seek pardon of your Lord. Lo! He was ever Forgiving. He will let loose the sky for you in plenteous rain.” [Qur’an, 71:10-11]
[Quduri/Maydani, Mukhtasar/al-Lubab; Kasani, al-Badai` al-Sanai`]
The Position of Abu Hanifa’s Companions (sahibayn)
However, the position of Abu Hanifa’s two companions, Abu Yusuf and Muhammad, is that the imam leads the congregation in a two unit (rak`at) prayer which is followed by a sermon (khutba).
Ibn `Abidin, the final and master verifier (muhaqqiq) of the Hanafi school, states that praying in congregation would appear to be recommended considering that the Messenger of Allah (Allah bless him and give him peace) performed the prayer on an occasion and did not on another, which would normally establish a recommended (mustahab) act.
Firstly, it is recommended for the Muslims of a community to be told to fast for three days. On the fourth day, the Muslims leave the town/city — except those in Makkah, Medina, and Jerusalem who go to their respective sacred mosque — to go to the outskirts for the purposes of the prayer.
They should do so for three consecutive days, walking in worn-out clothing, humbled, in reverent fear of their Lord, lowering their heads in humility, giving charity daily before setting out, and renewing their repentance. It is recommended for the entire community to leave, and hence they would take their animals with them, as well as the elderly and children.
After praying, the imam stands facing the qibla, raising his hands, whilst the people remain seated also facing the qibla, responding with amin to his supplication. He should optimally supplicate with supplications from the sunna such as:
اَللهُمَّ اسْقِنَا غَيْثًا مُغِيْثًا هَنِيْئًا غَدَقًا عَاجِلاً غَيْرَ آجِلٍ مُجَلِّلاً سَحًّا طَبَقاً دَائِماً
Allahumma ‘sqina ghaytham mughithan hani’an ghadaqan `ajilan ghayra ajilim mujallilan sahhan tabaqan da’iman
“O Allah! Bless us with abundant and pleasant rainwater that will deliver us [from this calamity], immediately rather than delayed; one that fills the entire horizon and pounds hard on the earth, completing covering our lands, lasting a long as is needed.”
In the Hanafi school, it is a not a sunna for the imam or the followers to turn (taqlib) their garments.
[Shaykhzada, Majma` al-Anhur; Shurunbulali, Maraqi al-Falah; Ibn `Abidin, Radd al-Muhtar; Khan, Ascent to Felicity]
And Allah alone gives success.
Checked & Approved by Faraz Rabbani