Answered by Shaykh Jamir Meah
Question: Assalamu alaykum
I am a convert to Islam and I said the shahada when I was 25. However I was keen to convert to Islam when I was 14 or 15. I even did fast (mostly) on Ramadan.
1. Is it possible that I entered Islam without knowing it and if so do I have make up prayers?
2. When I began praying, I learned wudu from a video with mistakes in it. I don’t know how many prayers I made with a wrong wudu. What should I do?
3. 6 years ago I had a leather jacket and didn’t know that it was pigskin. I prayed with this jacket. What should I do?
4. If I have to make up prayers for two or more reason, which prayers should I make up first?
Answer: Wa’alaykum assalam. I pray you’re well insha’Allah. Thank you for your questions. May Allah reward you for striving in the faith.
1. For a person’s Islam to be outwardly valid, the Shahada (The Testification of faith) must be said with certainty. If one doubts whether they have uttered the Shahada then they would not be considered Muslim in regards the outward rulings of the law.
However, if a person believes in Islam without uttering the Shahada, in that they believe that there is no deity except Allah and that Muhammad ﷺ is His Messenger, then inwardly they are considered a believer, according to the correct opinion. This means that while outwardly they would have to be considered a non-Muslim (as this is all people can go by), the person would be amongst the believers in the next life.
[Hashiyah al Bajuri ‘ala Jawhara, ‘Iyanat al Talibin]
Keenness, devotion to Islam, and observation of Islamic practice can all be part of the process in preparing a person to take the Shahada, but they do not constitute as the formal, legal entrance into the faith.
As long as there is doubt in the matter, you should consider yourself as having becoming Muslim on the day you took the Shahada. This means you are not obliged to make up any prayers before this day. Nor will you be taken into account for any sins prior to Islam, as the Prophet ﷺ said, ‘Islam wipes out whatever sins came before it’ [Musnad Ahmad].
2. When it becomes apparent that wudu or other purifications have not been performed correctly, then you have to make up the prayers performed with these incorrect practices. However, because you were relatively new to Islam and tried to learn, you would not have been sinful.
The way to make up the prayers is to estimate the maximum length of time the prayers were incorrect, and then add extra for precaution, so that you feel certain it wouldn’t have been more than this time. For example, you said it was roughly a year, so make up one year and 2-4 months extra just to be sure.
I would say however, please do be careful who you learn your religious practice from, especially on the internet. The safest way is to find a teacher and enquire whether they follow one of the four schools of law. That way, even if you choose to follow another school of law later, your worship would be valid in one school.
3. It is not permissible to wear clothes made from pigskin and any prayers performed whilst wearing the item would be invalid (and need to be made up), as mentioned in all the major works of all four madhabs.
Again, to gauge how may prayers need to be made up, we take the maximum period and then add extra for precaution to put it beyond doubt. You mentioned it could have been two years, so make up two years and 2-4 months. If after taking the maximum time and adding extra and you felt confident that this sufficed for the time period, there was a mistake in your calculation, then you will not be taken account for this.
If you make up more than what was needed it will be counted as supererogatory prayers, so you get rewarded anyway, for Allah does not allow a person’s good works go in vain.
[Tuhfa al Muhtaj, Mughni al Muhtaj, Sharh al Kabir]
4. It is sunna to make up the prayers in the order they were missed, regardless of the reason. If the incorrect wudu preceded the wearing pigskin, then start with the prayers from the incorrect wudu. If you cannot remember which exact prayers were prayed with incorrect wudu / wearing the skin, then you make up all the prayers of each day.
Please also refer to the following answers:
A Reader on Missed Prayers
Wearing Pig Skin in the Maliki School
Is Pigskin Permissible as Clothing (Hanafi)?
Why Is It Permissible to Wear Leather Regardless of How the Animal Has Been Slaughtered? (Shafi’i)
May Allah make your affairs easy.
[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.