Answered by Shaykh Jamir Meah
Question: Assalamu alaykum
I prayed the witr prayer outside with tayammum after forgetting about it. My house was a few minutes away but I didn’t want to delay the witr prayer. I asked someone for the qibla direction without knowing his religion.
Did I do something wrong?
Answer: Asslam ‘alaykum. Thank you for your question. May Allah reward you for your eagerness to make up your sunna prayers as soon as possible.
Unfortunately, your makeup of the Witr prayer would be invalid, for a couple of reasons. While it is generally recommended to make up prayers as soon as one is able, one does not have to pray it in the exact place that one remembers it was missed. The ruling takes into account that one may have to go home and make wudu etc.
Making up prayers and the Witr prayer
Obligatory prayers that are missed for a reason, such as forgetting, must be made up and one should do so as soon as possible, but one is not obliged to make them immediately. Obligatory prayers that were missed without a valid excuse, such as when one neglects prayers, must be made up immediately. Immediately means as soon as one is able to outside of the time needed for one’s daily needs such as work, eating, sleep etc., and includes once the person has a chance to get home and make purification.
The Witr prayer in the Shafi’i school is an emphasised sunna, which means if one did not pray it, even intentionally, then there is no sin, and it is not obligatory to make the prayer up, though it is highly recommended. In the Hanafi school however, the Witr prayer is Wajib (necessary) and therefore must be made up if missed for any reason.
Facing the Qibla and Tayammum
Your make up prayer of Witr would have been invalid for the following reason:
1. If one is unsure of the Qibla, one must ask an (outwardly) reliable, upright Muslim. It does not suffice to ask a Muslim who is obviously not upright (according to the reliable opinion of the Shafi’i school), nor a non-Muslim. As you were unsure if they were a Muslim or not, this would not have sufficed.
2. In order to be eligible for tayammum, one must go through a series of steps, which include looking for water. The fact that your house was only a few minutes away automatically excludes tayammum as an option for purification.
[Bushra al Karim]
In the future, simply go home, and make wudu, and then make up any prayers missed.
Please also refer to these answers:
Lastly, I would encourage you take a course in basic fiqh according to one of the four legal schools. SeekersHub currently offer beginner courses in the Hanafi, Shafi’i and Maliki schools, which can be found on our Course Page.
[Shaykh] Jamir Meah
Shaykh Jamir Meah grew up in Hampstead, London. In 2007, he traveled to Tarim, Yemen, where he spent nine years studying the Islamic sciences on a one-to-one basis under the foremost scholars of the Ribaat, Tarim, with a main specialization and focus on Shafi’i fiqh. In early 2016, he moved to Amman, Jordan, where he continues advanced studies in a range of Islamic sciences, as well as teaching. Jamir is a qualified homeopath.