Proper Prayer Attire for Women: What is the Proof?

Answered by Ustadha Zaynab Ansari Abdul-Razacq

Question: I would appreciate it if someone could answer my question in regards to proper prayer attire at home and in public. I was wondering where in the Quran or Sunna where we might find this information?

Answer: In the Name of Allah, the Most Gracious, the Most Merciful.

Praise be to Allah, Lord of the Worlds. May the peace and blessings of Allah descend on the Prophet Muhammad, his family, his companions, and those who follow them.

Dear Sister,

Assalamu alaikum,

I pray you are in good health and spirits. I apologize for the delay in writing back.

The Qur’anic evidence for covering oneself in public, or in the company of marriageable men, comes from Surat al-Nur, verse 31 and Surat al-Ahzab, verse 59. The hadith evidence is considerable, one example being the authenticated report in Sunan Abu Dawud that Aisha, Mother of the Believers, may Allah be pleased with her, narrated that Asma, [her sister] and daughter of Abu Bakr, entered upon the Prophet, Allah bless him and give him peace, wearing thin clothes, and he turned his attention from her, saying “O Asma, when a woman reaches the age of menstruation, it does not suit her that she displays her parts of body except this and this, and he pointed to her face and hands.”

As far as covering oneself in prayer is concerned, this is a matter of consensus according to the fuqaha’ (legal scholars). In order for one’s prayer to be valid, certain conditions have to be met. One of these is covering the ‘awra, or nakedness. The fuqaha’ have defined a woman’s ‘awra, generally speaking, to be her whole body, with the exception of her face, hands, and, sometimes, feet. It is also clear that the established practice, or sunna, of the wives of the Prophet, Allah bless him and give him peace, and the female companions, may Allah be pleased with them, was to cover themselves for prayer.

May Allah reward you,

Zaynab Ansari Abdul-Razacq

February 24, 2010
Rabi’ al-Awwal 11, 1431

Checked & Approved by Faraz Rabbani

Convert Muslim: Is My Prayer Valid?

Answered by Ustadha Zaynab Ansari Abdul-Razacq

Question: I converted two weeks ago and am learning how to properly pray. While learning the obligatory actions, I always prayed in congregation to see step by step what actions were required. Later, I started adding wajib and sunna actions. Until I learnt them, I sometimes recited the general meaning of the invocation in English (for example, making shahada in tashahhud). Not having memorized du’as yet, I still supplicate in English. I both use the meaning of sunnah or Quranic supplications and personal supplication for which I don’t know du’as. Also, sometimes I cut my recitation of the tashahhud short behind an Imam to follow him because I recite slow. Considering this all, is my worship correct, so far, or there is something wrong in what I did (or do)?

Answer: In the Name of Allah, the Most Gracious, the Most Merciful.

Praise be to Allah, Lord of the Worlds. May the peace and blessings of Allah descend on the Prophet Muhammad, his family, his companions, and those who follow them.

Dear Sister,

Assalamu alaikum,

I pray you are in good health and spirits.

I apologize for the delay in writing back.

May Allah reward you for your concern about your prayers.

None of the information you provided suggests that your prayer was invalid. If you omitted a necessary “wajib” action, but the prayer time expired, then you do not need to make up that prayer.

In future, give yourself some time to practice before actually starting the prayer. And take your time. One does not learn all the elements of the prayer in one day.

May I suggest enrolling in a SeekersGuidance course, such as the Absolute Essentials of Islam? You can learn more at SeekersGuidance.org.

May Allah reward you,

Zaynab Ansari Abdul-Razacq

February 24, 2010
Rabi’ al-Awwal 11, 1431

Checked & Approved by Faraz Rabbani

Marriage & Obedience to Parents

Answered by Ustadha Zaynab Ansari Abdul-Razacq

Question: [1] If one’s parents have two children. They have allowed the son to marry and migrate and the girl receive offer to marriage inclusive with migration. Is the girl allowed to accept this offer, in view that if she does leave, no one will be able to be around to take care of the parents? [2] I am really caught in trying to retain my responsibilities towards my parents. I have always tried to be obedient; I have given up my right to marriage due to racial and economic reasons for them. I have, allowed marriage proposals to pass by so that they would not be angry. Simultaneously, I have initially rejected their attempt to marry someone I did not like; however, when I realized that my choices were also a cause for conflicts, I attempted to compromise on two occasions. The results were rather emotionally devastating. With regards to my offers of marriage in another country, my parents insist that if something bad was to occur that no one would be there to assist me. The truth is I prefer to risk it. Now, I have an offer in front of me (with a suggestion of support to study Islam). I really don’t want to reject this offer but I am also concerned that I might be punished for neglecting the rights of my parents over me.

Answer:

In the Name of Allah, the Most Gracious, the Most Merciful.

Praise be to Allah, Lord of the Worlds. May the peace and blessings of Allah descend on the Prophet Muhammad, his family, his companions, and those who follow them.

Dear Sister,

Assalamu alaikum,

I pray you are in good health and spirits. I apologize for the delay in writing back.

Obedience to one’s parents is not unconditional. Just as your parents are entitled to obedience, respect, and good treatment, you are entitled to marry a righteous spouse. By prolonging your single status and compelling you to reject good suitors, your parents are going against the Prophetic directive, “When someone with whose religion and character you are satisfied, asks to marry your daughter, comply with his request. If you do not do so, there will be corruption and great evil on earth.” (Tirmidhi)

There is a solution to this situation. You can consider the following:

* Asking your potential spouse to consider relocating to your country

* Asking your parents to relocate to your new home

* Spending half of your time in one place, and the other half in the other

* Visiting as often as you can

* Making sure your parents receive financial support, if needed

Finally, please confer, as a family, with a counselor, or a balanced, knowledgeable Imam or community elder.

May Allah reward you,

Zaynab Ansari Abdul-Razacq

February 24, 2010

Rabi’ al-Awwal 11, 1431

Checked & Approved by Faraz Rabbani

Does Committing Sinful Acts Make One A Disbeliever?

Answered by Sidi Salman Younas

Question: I have committed many sins in my life but have repented from them. Is my marriage still valid as I heard that he who makes the impermissible permissible has committed disbelief?

Answer: assalamu `alaykum

I pray you are well.

There is no need to be confused and your marriage remains valid.

The mere performance of an act that Allah and His Messenger (Allah bless him) have prohibited does not make one a disbeliever. Rather, one is merely considered a sinful believer. However, it would be obligatory for one to repent from such practices. [Bajuri, Tuhfat al-Murid]

A sound repentance entails: (a) Leaving the sin (b) Feeling remorse for committing it (c) Making the strict resolve never to return to it, and (d) Returning the rights of people if the sin was connected to such rights. [Nawawi, Riyadh al-Salihin]

If a person does the above, and does so sincerely, he can be confident that his repentance will be accepted by Allah. As the Qur’an says, “Say: Oh my slaves who have transgressed against yourselves, do not despair of the mercy of Allah, verily, Allah forgives all sins.” [39: 53]

However, due to our constant shortcomings, we should always renew our repentance to Allah, not only from sin but from every low trait and speck of insincerity that lies in our hearts. We should do so by gradually implementing the sunna of the Prophet (Allah bless him) into our daily lives, taking out some time to read the Qur’an or do some dhikr and other praiseworthy acts that wipe away sins and heedlessness.

And Allah knows best
Wasalam
Salman

Checked & Approved by Faraz Rabbani

The Concept of Bid’a in the Islamic Shari’a

Answered by Shaykh Nuh Keller

Question: The Concept of Bid’a in the Islamic Shari’a

Answer: The following is the text of a talk given by Shaikh Nuh Ha Mim Keller at Nottingham and Trent University on Wednesday 25th January 1995.

In the name of Allah, Most Merciful and Compassionate

There are few topics that generate as much controversy today in Islam as what is sunna and what is bida or reprehensible innovation, perhaps because of the times Muslims live in today and the challenges they face. Without a doubt, one of the greatest events in impact upon Muslims in the last thousand years is the end of the Islamic caliphate at the first of this century, an event that marked not only the passing of temporal, political authority, but in many respects the passing of the consensus of orthodox Sunni Islam as well. No one familiar with the classical literature in any of the Islamic legal sciences, whether Qur’anic exegesis (tafsir), hadith, or jurisprudence (fiqh), can fail to be struck by the fact that questions are asked today about basic fundamentals of Islamic Sacred Law (Sharia) and its ancillary disciplines that would not have been asked in the Islamic period not because Islamic scholars were not brilliant enough to produce the questions, but because they already knew the answers.

My talk tonight will aim to clarify some possible misunderstandings of the concept of innovation (bida) in Islam, in light of the prophetic hadith,

“Beware of matters newly begun, for every matter newly begun is innovation, every innovation is misguidance, and every misguidance is in hell.”

The sources I use are traditional Islamic sources, and my discussion will centre on three points:

The first point is that scholars say that the above hadith does not refer to all new things without restriction, but only to those which nothing in Sacred Law attests to the validity of. The use of the word “every” in the hadith does not indicate an absolute generalization, for there are many examples of similar generalizations in the Qur’an and sunna that are not applicable without restriction, but rather are qualified by restrictions found in other primary textual evidence.

The second point is that the sunna and way of the Prophet (Allah bless him and give him peace) was to accept new acts initiated in Islam that were of the good and did not conflict with established principles of Sacred Law, and to reject things that were otherwise.

And our third and last point is that new matters in Islam may not be rejected merely because they did not exist in the first century, but must be evaluated and judged according to the comprehensive methodology of Sacred Law, by virtue of which it is and remains the final and universal moral code for all peoples until the end of time.

Our first point, that the hadith does not refer to all new things without restriction, but only to those which nothing in Sacred Law attests to the validity of, may at first seem strange, in view of the wording of the hadith, which says, “every matter newly begun is innovation, every innovation is misguidance, and every misguidance is in hell.” Now the word “bida” or “innovation” linguistically means anything new, So our first question must be about the generalizability of the word every in the hadith: does it literally mean that everything new in the world is haram or unlawful? The answer is no. Why?

In answer to this question, we may note that there are many similar generalities in the Qur’an and sunna, all of them admitting of some qualification, such as the word of Allah Most High in Surat al-Najm,

“. . . A man can have nothing, except what he strives for” (Qur’an 53:39),

despite there being an overwhelming amount of evidence that a Muslim benefits from the spiritual works of others, for example, from his fellow Muslims, the prayers of angels for him, the funeral prayer over him, charity given by others in his name, and the supplications of believers for him;

Or consider the words of Allah to unbelievers in Surat al-Anbiya,

“Verily you and what you worship apart from Allah are the fuel of hell” (Qur’an 21:98),

“what you worship” being a general expression, while there is no doubt that Jesus, his mother, and the angels were all worshipped apart from Allah, but are not “the fuel of hell”, so are not what is meant by the verse; Or the word of Allah Most High in Surat al-Anam about past nations who paid no heed to the warners who were sent to them,

“But when they forgot what they had been reminded of, We opened unto them the doors of everything” (Qur’an 6:44),

though the doors of mercy were not opened unto them; And the hadith related by Muslim that the Prophet (Allah bless him and give him peace) said,

“No one who prays before sunrise and before sunset will enter hell”,

which is a generalised expression that definitely does not mean what its outward generality implies, for someone who prays the dawn and midafternoon prayers and neglects all other prayers and obligatory works is certainly not meant. It is rather a generalization whose intended referent is particular, or a generalization that is qualified by other texts, for when there are fully authenticated hadiths, it is obligatory to reach an accord between them, because they are in reality as a single hadith, the statements that appear without further qualification being qualified by those that furnish the qualification, that the combined implications of all of them may be utilized.

Let us look for a moment at bida or innovation in the light of the sunna of the Prophet (Allah bless him and give him peace) concerning new matters. Sunna and innovation (bida) are two opposed terms in the language of the Lawgiver (Allah bless him and give him peace), such that neither can be defined without reference to the other, meaning that they are opposites, and things are made clear by their opposites. Many writers have sought to define innovation (bida) without defining the sunna, while it is primary, and have thus fallen into inextricable difficulties and conflicts with the primary textual evidence that contradicts their definition of innovation, whereas if they had first defined the sunna, they would have produced a criterion free of shortcomings.

Sunna, in both the language of the Arabs and the Sacred Law, means way, as is illustrated by the words of the Prophet (Allah bless him and give him peace),

“He who inaugurates a good sunna in Islam [dis: Reliance of the Traveller p58.1(2)] …And he who introduces a bad sunna in Islam…”, sunna meaning way or custom. The way of the Prophet (Allah bless him and give him peace) in giving guidance, accepting, and rejecting: this is the sunna. For “good sunna” and “bad sunna” mean a “good way” or “bad way”, and cannot possibly mean anything else. Thus, the meaning of “sunna” is not what most students, let alone ordinary people, understand; namely, that it is the prophetic hadith (as when sunna is contrasted with “Kitab”, i.e. Qur’an, in distinguishing textual sources), or the opposite of the obligatory (as when sunna, i.e. recommended, is contrasted with obligatory in legal contexts), since the former is a technical usage coined by hadith scholars, while the latter is a technical usage coined by legal scholars and specialists in fundamentals of jurisprudence. Both of these are usages of later origin that are not what is meant by sunna here. Rather, the sunna of the Prophet (Allah bless him and give him peace) is his way of acting, ordering, accepting, and rejecting, and the way of his Rightly Guided Caliphs who followed his way acting, ordering, accepting, and rejecting. So practices that are newly begun must be examined in light of the sunna of the Prophet (Allah bless him and give him peace) and his way and path in acceptance or rejection.

Now, there are a great number of hadiths, most of them in the rigorously authenticated (sahih) collections, showing that many of the prophetic Companions initiated new acts, forms of invocation (dhikr), supplications (dua), and so on, that the Prophet (Allah bless him and give him peace) had never previously done or ordered to be done. Rather, the Companions did them because of their inference and conviction that such acts were of the good that Islam and the Prophet of Islam came with and in general terms urged the like of to be done, in accordance with the word of Allah Most High in Surat al-Hajj,

“And do the good, that haply you may succeed” (Qur’an 22:77),

and the hadith of the Prophet (Allah bless him and give him peace),

“He who inaugurates a good sunna in Islam earns the reward of it and all who perform it after him without diminishing their own rewards in the slightest.”

Though the original context of the hadith was giving charity, the interpretative principle established by the scholarly consensus (def: Reliance of the Traveller b7) of specialists in fundamentals of Sacred Law is that the point of primary texts lies in the generality of their lexical significance, not the specificity of their historical context, without this implying that just anyone may make provisions in the Sacred Law, for Islam is defined by principles and criteria, such that whatever one initiates as a sunna must be subject to its rules, strictures, and primary textual evidence.

From this investigative point of departure, one may observe that many of the prophetic Companions performed various acts through their own personal reasoning, (ijtihad), and that the sunna and way of the Prophet (Allah bless him and give him peace) was both to accept those that were acts of worship and good deeds conformable with what the Sacred Law had established and not in conflict with it; and to reject those which were otherwise. This was his sunna and way, upon which his caliphal successors and Companions proceeded, and from which Islamic scholars (Allah be well pleased with them) have established the rule that any new matter must be judged according to the principles and primary texts of Sacred Law: whatever is attested to by the law as being good is acknowledged as good, and whatever is attested to by the law as being a contravention and bad is rejected as a blameworthy innovation (bida). They sometimes term the former a good innovation (bida hasana) in view of it lexically being termed an innovation , but legally speaking it is not really an innovation but rather an inferable sunna as long as the primary texts of the Sacred Law attest to its being acceptable.

We now turn to the primary textual evidence previously alluded to concerning the acts of the Companions and how the Prophet, (Allah bless him and give him peace) responded to them:

(1) Bukhari and Muslim relate from Abu Hurayra (Allah be well pleased with him) that at the dawn prayer the Prophet (Allah bless him and give him peace) said to Bilal, “Bilal, tell me which of your acts in Islam you are most hopeful about, for I have heard the footfall of your sandals in paradise”, and he replied, “I have done nothing I am more hopeful about than the fact that I do not perform ablution at any time of the night or day without praying with that ablution whatever has been destined for me to pray.”

Ibn Hajar Asqalani says in Fath al-Bari that the hadith shows it is permissible to use personal reasoning (ijtihad) in choosing times for acts of worship, for Bilal reached the conclusions he mentioned by his own inference, and the Prophet (Allah bless him and give him peace) confirmed him therein.

Similar to this is the hadith in Bukhari about Khubayb (who asked to pray two rakas before being executed by idolaters in Mecca) who was the first to establish the sunna of two rak’as for those who are steadfast in going to their death. These hadiths are explicit evidence that Bilal and Khubayb used their own personal reasoning (ijtihad) in choosing the times of acts of worship, without any previous command or precedent from the Prophet (Allah bless him and give him peace) other than the general demand to perform the prayer.

(2) Bukhari and Muslim relate that Rifa’a ibn Rafi said, “When we were praying behind the Prophet (Allah bless him and give him peace) and he raised his head from bowing and said , “Allah hears whoever praises Him”, a man behind him said, “Our Lord, Yours is the praise, abundantly, wholesomely, and blessedly therein.” When he rose to leave, the Prophet (Allah bless him and give him peace) asked “who said it”, and when the man replied that it was he, the Prophet (Allah bless him and give him peace) said, “I saw thirty-odd angels each striving to be the one to write it.” Ibn Hajar says in Fath al-Bari that the hadith indicates the permissibility of initiating new expressions of dhikr in the prayer other than the ones related through hadith texts, as long as they do not contradict those conveyed by the hadith [since the above words were a mere enhancement and addendum to the known, sunna dhikr].

(3) Bukhari relates from Aisha (Allah be well pleased with her) that the Prophet (Allah bless him and give him peace) dispatched a man at the head of a military expedition who recited the Qur’an for his companions at prayer, finishing each recital with al-Ikhlas (Qur’an 112). When they returned, they mentioned this to the Prophet (Allah bless him and give him peace), who told them, “Ask him why he does this”, and when they asked him, the man replied, “because it describes the All-merciful, and I love to recite it.” The Prophet (Allah bless him and give him peace) said to them, “Tell him Allah loves him.” In spite of this, we do not know of any scholar who holds that doing the above is recommended, for the acts the Prophet (Allah bless him and give him peace) used to do regularly are superior, though his confirming the like of this illustrates his sunna regarding his acceptance of various forms of obedience and acts of worship, and shows he did not consider the like of this to be a reprehensible innovation (bida), as do the bigots who vie with each other to be the first to brand acts as innovation and misguidance. Further, it will be noticed that all the preceding hadiths are about the prayer, which is the most important of bodily acts of worship, and of which the Prophet (Allah bless him and give him peace) said, “Pray as you have seen me pray”, despite which he accepted the above examples of personal reasoning because they did not depart from the form defined by the Lawgiver, for every limit must be observed, while there is latitude in everything besides, as long as it is within the general category of being called for by Sacred Law. This is the sunna of the Prophet and his way (Allah bless him and give him peace) and is as clear as can be. Islamic scholars infer from it that every act for which there is evidence in Sacred Law that it is called for and which does not oppose an unequivocal primary text or entail harmful consequences is not included in the category of reprehensible innovation (bida), but rather is of the sunna, even if there should exist something whose performance is superior to it.

(4) Bukhari relates from Abu Said al-Khudri that a band of the Companions of the Prophet (Allah bless him and give him peace) departed on one of their journeys, alighting at the encampment of some desert Arabs whom they asked to be their hosts, but who refused to have them as guests. The leader of the encampment was stung by a scorpion, and his followers tried everything to cure him, and when all had failed, one said, “If you would approach the group camped near you, one of them might have something”. So they came to them and said, “O band of men, our leader has been stung and weve tried everything. Do any of you have something for it?” and one of them replied, “Yes, by Allah, I recite healing words [ruqya, def: Reliance of the Traveller w17] over people, but by Allah, we asked you to be our hosts and you refused, so I will not recite anything unless you give us a fee”. They then agreed upon a herd of sheep, so the man went and began spitting and reciting the Fatiha over the victim until he got up and walked as if he were a camel released from its hobble, nothing the matter with him. They paid the agreed upon fee, which some of the Companions wanted to divide up, but the man who had done the reciting told them, “Do not do so until we reach the Prophet (Allah bless him and give him peace) and tell him what has happened, to see what he may order us to do”. They came to the Prophet (Allah bless him and give him peace) and told him what had occurred, and he said, “How did you know it was of the words which heal? You were right. Divide up the herd and give me a share.”

The hadith is explicit that the Companion had no previous knowledge that reciting the Fatiha to heal (ruqya) was countenanced by Sacred Law, but rather did so because of his own personal reasoning (ijtihad), and since it did not contravene anything that had been legislated, the Prophet (Allah bless him and give him peace) confirmed him therein because it was of his sunna and way to accept and confirm what contained good and did not entail harm, even if it did not proceed from the acts of the Prophet himself (Allah bless him and give him peace) as a definitive precedent.

(5) Bukhari relates from Abu Said al-Khudri that one man heard another reciting al-Ikhlas (Qur’an 112) over and over again, so when morning came he went to the Prophet (Allah bless him and give him peace) and sarcastically mentioned it to him. The Prophet (Allah bless him and give him peace) said, “By Him in whose hand is my soul, it equals one-third of the Qur’an.” Daraqutni recorded another version of this hadith in which the man said, “I have a neighbor who prays at night and does not recite anything but al-Ikhlas.” The hadith shows that the Prophet (Allah bless him and give him peace) confirmed the persons restricting himself to this sura while praying at night, despite its not being what the Prophet himself did (Allah bless him and give him peace), for though the Prophets practice of reciting from the whole Qur’an was superior, the mans act was within the general parameters of the sunna and there was nothing blameworthy about it in any case.

(6) Ahmad and Ibn Hibban relates from Abdullah ibn Burayda that his father said, I entered the mosque with the Prophet (Allah bless him and give him peace), where a man was at prayer, supplicating: “O Allah, I ask You by the fact that I testify You are Allah, there is no god but You, the One, the Ultimate, who did not beget and was not begotten, and to whom none is equal”, and the Prophet (Allah bless him and give him peace) said, “By Him in whose hand is my soul, he has asked Allah by His greatest name, which if He is asked by it He gives, and if supplicated He answers”. It is plain that this supplication came spontaneously from the Companion, and since it conformed to what the Sacred Law calls for, the Prophet (Allah bless him and give him peace) confirmed it with the highest degree of approbation and acceptance, while it is not known that the Prophet (Allah bless him and give him peace) had ever taught it to him (Adilla Ahl al-Sunna wa’al-Jamaa, 119-33).

We are now able to return to the hadith with which I began my talk tonight, in which the Prophet (Allah bless him and give him peace) said, “. . . Beware of matters newly begun, for every innovation is misguidance”. And understand it as expounded by a classic scholar of Islam, Sheikh Muhammad Jurdani, who said:

“Beware of matters newly begun”, distance yourselves and be wary of matters newly innovated that did not previously exist”, i.e. things invented in Islam that contravene the Sacred Law, “for every innovation is misguidance” meaning that every innovation is the opposite of the truth, i.e. falsehood, a hadith that has been related elsewhere as: “for every newly begun matter is innovation, every innovation is misguidance, and every misguidance is in hell” meaning that everyone who is misguided, whether through himself or by following another, is in hell, the hadith referring to matters that are not good innovations with a basis in Sacred Law. It has been stated (by Izz ibn Abd al-Salam) that innovations (bida) fall under the five headings of the Sacred Law (n: i.e. the obligatory, unlawful, recommended, offensive, and permissible):

(1) The first category comprises innovations that are obligatory , such as recording the Qur’an and the laws of Islam in writing when it was feared that something might be lost from them; the study of the disciplines of Arabic that are necessary to understand the Qur’an and sunna such as grammar, word declension, and lexicography; hadith classification to distinguish between genuine and spurious prophetic traditions; and the philosophical refutations of arguments advanced by the Mu’tazilites and the like.

(2) The second category is that of unlawful innovations such as non- Islamic taxes and levies, giving positions of authority in Sacred Law to those unfit for them, and devoting ones time to learning the beliefs of heretical sects that contravene the tenets of faith of Ahl al-Sunna.

(3) The third category consists of recommended innovations such as building hostels and schools of Sacred Law, recording the research of Islamic schools of legal thought, writing books on beneficial subjects, extensive research into fundamentals and particular applications of Sacred Law, in-depth studies of Arabic linguistics, the reciting of wirds (def: Reliance of the Traveller w20) by those with a Sufi path, and commemorating the birth (mawlid), of the Prophet Muhammad (Allah bless him and give him peace) and wearing ones best and rejoicing at it.

(4) The fourth category includes innovations that are offensive, such as embellishing mosques, decorating the Qur’an and having a backup man (muballigh) loudly repeat the spoken Allahu Akbar of the imam when the latter’s voice is already clearly audible to those who are praying behind him.

(5) the fifth category is that of innovations that are permissible, such as sifting flour, using spoons and having more enjoyable food, drink and housing. (al Jawahir al-luluiyya fi sharh al-Arbain al-nawawiyya, 220-21).

I will conclude my remarks tonight with a translation of Sheikh Abdullah al-Ghimari, who said: In his al-Qawaid al-kubra, “Izz ibn Abd al-Salam classifies innovations (bida), according to their benefit, harm, or indifference, into the five categories of rulings: the obligatory, recommended, unlawful, offensive, and permissible; giving examples of each and mentioning the principles of Sacred Law that verify his classification. His words on the subject display his keen insight and comprehensive knowledge of both the principles of jurisprudence and the human advantages and disadvantages in view of which the Lawgiver has established the rulings of Sacred Law.

Because his classification of innovation (bida) was established on a firm basis in Islamic jurisprudence and legal principles, it was confirmed by Imam Nawawi, Ibn Hajar Asqalani, and the vast majority of Islamic scholars, who received his words with acceptance and viewed it obligatory to apply them to the new events and contingencies that occur with the changing times and the peoples who live in them. One may not support the denial of his classification by clinging to the hadith “Every innovation is misguidance”, because the only form of innovation that is without exception misguidance is that concerning tenets of faith, like the innovations of the Mutazilites, Qadarites, Murjiites, and so on, that contradicted the beliefs of the early Muslims. This is the innovation of misguidance because it is harmful and devoid of benefit. As for innovation in works, meaning the occurrence of an act connected with worship or something else that did not exist in the first century of Islam, it must necessarily be judged according to the five categories mentioned by Izz ibn Abd al-Salam. To claim that such innovation is misguidance without further qualification is simply not applicable to it, for new things are among the exigencies brought into being by the passage of time and generations, and nothing that is new lacks a ruling of Allah Most High that is applicable to it, whether explicitly mentioned in primary texts, or inferable from them in some way. The only reason that Islamic law can be valid for every time and place and be the consummate and most perfect of all divine laws is because it comprises general methodological principles and universal criteria, together with the ability its scholars have been endowed with to understand its primary texts, the knowledge of types of analogy and parallelism, and the other excellences that characterize it. Were we to rule that every new act that has come into being after the first century of Islam is an innovation of misguidance without considering whether it entails benefit or harm, it would invalidate a large share of the fundamental bases of Sacred Law as well as those rulings established by analogical reasoning, and would narrow and limit the Sacred Laws vast and comprehensive scope. (Adilla Ahl al-Sunna wa al-Jamaa, 145-47).

Wa Jazakum Allahu khayran, wal-hamdu lillahi Rabbil Alamin

[Taken from www.masud.co.uk. Sidi Masud’s site is an excellent and essential resource for understanding Traditional Sunni Islam]

Qur’an Software Application & Entering the Toilet

Answered by Sidi Salman Younas

Question: Would you be able to tell me about the permissibility of having iphone applications like the Quran or Tafsir on one’s phone. What if I have to visit the lavatory and I have no place to leave my phone during these times except in my trouser or jacket pocket?

Answer: assalamu `alaykum

This would be permitted. However, caution should be exercised in order maintain the inviolate nature of the Qur’an. One should not, for example, touch the actual verses on the screen without being in a state of ritual purity.

As for visiting the toilet, defined as the place where one relieves oneself, then you should turn off the application before entering the lavatory and place the phone into your pocket. The dislikedness of taking the Qur’an into the lavatory, or any other name religiously inviolable such as “Allah”, is when the object is unconcealed. [Tahtawi, Hashiya `ala Maraqi al-Falah]

Wasalam
Salman

Checked & Approved by Faraz Rabbani

ثم محل الكراهة إن لم يكن مستورا فإن كان في جيبه فإنه حينئذ لا بأس به وفي القهستاني عن المنية الأفضل أن لا يدخل الخلاء وفي كمه مصحف إلا إذا اضطر ونرجو أن لا لا يأثم بلا اضطرار اهـ وأقره الحموي وفي الحلبي الخاتم المكتوب فيه شيء من ذلك إذا جعل فصه إلى باطن كفه قيل لا يكره والتحرز أولى

Hearts Broken for Allah’s Sake

Answered by Sidi Salman Younas

Question: Is the narration “I am by the side of those whose hearts are broken for My sake” authentic? What does it mean?

Answer: assalamu `alaykum

I pray you are well.

The saying, “I am with those whose hearts are broken (munkasirah) for My sake” was:

(a) Mentioned as a prophetic report by Ghazali in his Bidayat al-Hidayah, without a chain of transmission. However, it has no basis as a prophetic narration as stated by Mulla `Ali al-Qari in his al-Asrar al-Marfu`a.

(b) Mentioned as a Divine discourse with Sayyidina Musa (Allah bless him) by Ahmad in al-Zuhd and Abu Nu`aym in Hilyat al-Awliya’.

(c) Mentioned as a Divine discourse with Sayyidina Dawud (Allah bless him) by ibn Kathir in al-Bidayah, Ibn Abi al-Dunya in al-Humm wa’l Huzn, and Abu Nu`aym in Hilyat.

(d) Mentioned as a statement of Imam Shafi`i by the hadith scholar al-Hafiz Muhammad al-Sinbati in his al-Nukhbat al-Bahiyyah.

Imam Munawi, in his Fayd al-Qadir, mentions this narration when explaining the words of the Prophet (Allah bless him and grant him peace), “The most afflicted of people in this world is a Messenger or a righteous servant.” Through affliction, the desires melt away and hearts are lowered in front of Allah allowing one’s rank to increase in His eyes. Imam Qurtubi said, “Allah loves to afflict his chosen servants in order to perfect their virtues and to raise their rank with Him. This is neither a flaw for them nor a punishment.” [al-Munawi, Fayd al-Qadir]

Ibn `Ajibah cites it in the context of explaining the broken-heartedness of the sinner, stating that the performance of good works that leads to arrogance and pride is worse than the performance of something sinful that results in sincere regret. Rather, this state of regret, lowliness, and debasement is in fact the reality of true servitude (`ubudiyyah). [Iqadh al-Himmam]

Elsewhere, explaining the narration, he states, “His moral rectification [s: the servants] is through the companionship of the people of realization – and through reading their books if one was unable to find them -, to learn about their reports and merits, coupled with perpetual contemplation and reflection, increased worship, humility, and neediness, and latching on to debasement and sincere absolute remorse. Allah said in some reports, ‘I am with those whose hearts are broken for My sake.'” [Ibn `Ajibah; Bahr al-Madid]

And Allah knows best
Wasalam
Salman

Checked & Approved by Faraz Rabbani

The Bathing, Funeral Prayer and Burial of the Prophet (Allah bless him and grant him peace)

Answered by Sidi Abdullah Anik Misra

Question: At a recent gathering, a sister wanted to know if our beloved Prophet was given a funeral prayer upon his death. She said that it was told to her by a relative that he was never buried, and that there were no hadiths to indicate otherwise. She sincerely wants to know if this is true or not.  Please help us to bring clarity and understanding to her question and concerns.

Answer: In the Name of Allah, Most Gracious, Most Merciful

As salaamu alaikum wa rahmatullahi wa barakatuh,

Thank you for your question; I apologize for the long delay.  Although to some, questions about the funeral of our Beloved Prophet (Allah bless him and grant him peace) seem obvious and established, one thing I have learned from this question is never to jump to a conclusion too fast.  I must also commend your interest and sincerity in following up with this matter, rather than believing everything you hear.

To understand your question better, we need to clarify terms.  When a Muslim passes away, they are normally given a ritual bathing (ghusl), shrouded in long strips of cloth (kafn), prayed over in a group funeral prayer (salat al-janazah), then given a simple burial (dafn).

You seem to ask two separate questions: (1) was he, Allah bless him and grant him peace, given a funeral prayer, and (2) was he buried?  The short answer to both is, yes, there was both a funeral prayer and a burial. A more detailed response follows for those interested.

The subject of the passing of the Best of Creation, our liegelord Muhammad (Allah bless him and grant him peace) is perhaps the heaviest topic that we can discuss, and so we explore questions like this not to delve into debate or speculation, but we intend to draw nearer to the Beloved of Allah (Allah bless him and grant him peace).

Understanding the Circumstances Leading Up to the Funeral

Although this can be treated quite lengthily, the upshot is that the time leading up to the passing away of the Prophet (Allah bless him and grant him peace) was extremely sad, tense and very fragile.

The Prophet (Allah bless him and grant him peace) had been very ill, at the age of 63 in Madina in the end of Safar, 11th year of Hijrah.  Everyone was very worried about what was going to happen. As he was bedridden (Allah bless him and grant him peace), he gave express instructions to Abu Bakr (may Allah be pleased with him), the Truthful One (siddiq) of this nation (ummah), to lead the Muslims in the daily prayers.

At times while the prayer was going on, the Prophet (Allah bless him and grant him peace) would peek through the curtain from his room which adjoined the masjid, making sure that his community was ready to be on its own.  Then, reassured, he would smile and go back.  Sometimes, he would feel better and take the help of two men to attend the prayer whilst seated on the ground, too weak to raise his voice (Allah bless him and grant him peace).

Then, one Monday in the month of Rabi’ al-Awwal, news came that he had returned to Allah and passed away.  The Muslims were in shock and besides themselves with grief, not knowing what had really happened.  After assessing the situation and verifying the news, the one Companion that managed to compose himself and steer the community towards clarity was Abu Bakr (may Allah be pleased with him).

As news of the death spread like wildfire across Madina, meetings and talks sprung up around the city as to who would take charge of the community and guide the Muslims back to a sense of order and calm at this difficult time.  There was already talk of having two co-rulers from the Ansar and Muhajireen respectively – others disagreed.

The unity of the Muslims was threatened by the vacuum of leadership, so Abu Bakr and other senior Companions went to address the grave danger of disharmony and anarchy, with the result that all sides present united to nominate Abu Bakr as the first caliph of the Muslim community.

During this time on Tuesday, an honorary bathing (ghusl) of the Prophet’s (Allah bless him and grant him peace) ever-pure and blessed body was taking place, conducted by his closest relatives, as is the norm in Islamic law.  They were ‘Ali his cousin, al-‘Abbas his uncle and his two sons al-Fadl and Qutham, and his two freedmen Usamah and Shuqran, with an Ansari attending to them, may Allah be pleased with them.

The clothes were left on out of respect, and nothing impure left his blessed body, so they shrouded him and ‘Ali said, “Allah’s blessing be upon you, you were pure in both life and death.” [al-Hakim, Mustadrak; Ahmad, Musnad].

Now, with the Muslims still in utter grief, yet united under one leader who would guide the affairs of the community, and an honorary ghusl and shrouding having taken place by the next of kin, it was time to determine how the Muslim comunity would say farewell to one they loved the most, Allah bless him and grant him peace.

Questions that Arose Before the Funeral of the Prophet (Allah bless him and grant him peace)

Earlier, some of the Muslims who had attended to the bathing of the Prophet (Allah bless him and grant him peace) had been confused about what to do: should the ritual bathl be performed for a prophet, or not? Should the clothing remain on, or be removed?

Similarly, it is reported that people were wondering: should a funeral prayer be performed on the Prophet (Allah bless him and grant him peace) or not?  If so, who would lead it?  If there was no leader (imam), how would the Muslims perform the funeral prayer?

A narration of Salim ibn `Ubayd (may Allah be pleased with him) reveals what was decided, when after describing the final sickness and passing away of the Prophet (Allah bless him and grant him peace) and the confusion and shock that ensued, he ran to inform Abu Bakr (may Allah be pleased with him), who with the Prophet’s (Allah bless him and grant him peace) permission was in a mosque near his wife’s home one mile away.

Abu Bakr arrived, wept and kissed the Prophet’s (Allah bless him and grant him peace) noble forehead. Salim narrates:

“… [The people] asked in consternation, ‘Oh Companion of the Messenger of Allah! Has the Messenger of Allah (Allah bless him and grant him peace) really been taken away [in death]?’  Abu Bakr replied, ‘Yes…’ And the people knew he had told the truth.  Then they asked, ‘Oh Companion of the Messenger of Allah!  Is the Messenger of Allah (Allah bless him and grant him peace) to be prayed over?’ He replied, ‘Yes.’

They asked, ‘And how?’ Abu Bakr said, ‘A group of people enters, they recite their takbirs [4 times] and pray, and they supplicate, then they leave, then [another] group enters, recites the takbirs, prays, supplicates, and then they leave, until all the people have entered.’

The people then asked, ‘Oh Companion of the Messenger of Allah! Is the Messenger of Allah (Allah bless him and grant him peace) to be buried?’  ‘Yes.’ he replied.  ‘Where?’ they asked.  He answered, ‘In the place where Allah took his soul, for Allah did not take his soul except in a place that is pure.’  And the people knew he had spoken the truth.  Then, Abu Bakr instructed them that his paternal relatives [and only them] should bathe him.'” [al-Tirmidhi, al-Shama’il]

‘Allamah al-Bayjuri, whilst explaining this hadeeth in his commentary on the Shama’il, notes that it was from divine wisdom that Abu Bakr was not present at the moment this great calamity struck, so he was able to think more clearly despite also being drowned in sorrow, unlike many other great Companions who were in a state of shock.

Even before his nomination to leadership, he was called upon to teach, and instructed the masses in a way which he could have only known through his deep understanding of the Prophetic will- not by any guessing or reasoning of his own.

The people were wondering whether the Prophet (Allah bless him and grant him peace) was to be prayed over, since the funeral prayer is normally a prayer of forgiveness and intercession for the deceased, but the Prophet (Allah bless him and grant him peace) was sinless.  Would he be bathed, even though he was pure in life and death?  Was he to be buried, or would he be raised to the heavens, or kept somewhere since his blessed body would never change states?

The answer was that he was to be washed, prayed over and buried because he was a part of his community, Allah bless him and grant him peace, and aside from some details and exceptions, he would share in his beloved community’s rulings, Allah bless him and grant him peace; this was a great honor to all of us till today, Alhamdulillah.

Imam al-Suyuti and al-Bayjuri both mentioned a narration from al-Hakim and al-Bazaar, and though there is a strong difference as to the degree of its weakness, it reinforces that this method of prayer, in fact the prayer itself, was not from independent reasoning, rather amongst final instructions to close family members when they had gathered in the house of ‘Aisha (Allah be well pleased with her) and they asked the Prophet (Allah bless him and grant him peace):

“Who will pray over you?” The Prophet (Allah bless him and grant him peace) replied, “When you have bathed me and shrouded me then place me on a bed, then leave me for some time, for the first one to pray on me shall be Gibril, then Mika`il, then Israfil, then the Angel of Death with his host; then, admit upon me group after group, then let them pray over me and send salams upon me with complete submission.” [al-Hakim, Mustadrak; al-Bazzaar, Musnad]

The Funeral Prayer of the Prophet (Allah bless him and grant him peace)

Following Abu Bakr’s (may Allah be pleased with him) directions, the people did exactly as he outlined.  Ibn Abbas narrates:

“… and when they were finished with preparing him on Wednesday (Allah bless him and grant him peace) [for burial], they placed him on his bed, in his house, and the people entered upon the Messenger of Allah (Allah bless him and grant him peace) in small groups until they had finished; then they let in the women until they finished; then they let in the children, and no one led the people as an imam over the Messenger of Allah (Allah bless him and grant him peace)…” [Ibn Majah, Sunan]

Ibn ‘Abbas also narrates:

“When the Prophet (Allah bless him and grant him peace) passed away, the men were admitted [into the house of ‘Aisha] and they prayed upon him without anyone leading the prayer, individually, then they left, then they admitted the women, and they prayed upon him, then they admitted the children, and they prayed upon him, then they admitted the slaves, and they prayed upon him, individually; no one led them in prayers over the Prophet (Allah bless him and grant him peace).” [al-Bayhaqi, Dalai’il al-Nubuwwah]

Abu ‘Aseeb the Companion (may Allah be pleased with him) said, “I witnessed the funeral prayer on the Messenger of Allah (Allah bless him and grant him peace).  The people asked, ‘How should we pray on him?’  He (one Companion) said, ‘Enter, all of you, in small groups at a time.’… so they would enter from *this* door and pray, then leave through the other door…” [Ahmad, Musnad]

These hadith, alongside many other transmitted narrations, from Malik, Ahmad, al-Baihaqi, Ibn Abi Shayba and others, and many other accounts in the books of Islamic history, such as Ibn Sa’d, Ibn Hisham, and others, all concur that the funeral prayer of the Prophet (Allah bless him and grant him peace) did take place in this unique way.

Even in the books of fiqh, it is reported that “this is a matter upon which there is consensus and no difference of opinion exists.” (Hashiya al-Tahtawi)  There were however, differences of opinion and various interpretations over the reasons, details and meanings behind the unique method of the funeral prayer.

Why Was the Funeral Prayer Performed Individually?

Perhaps the most unique aspect of funeral of the Prophet (Allah bless him and grant him peace) was that although there was a washing, prayer and burial as the sacred law normally instructs, approximately 30,000 people prayed the funeral prayer individually, with no one acting as the Imam [according to al-Bayjuri’s estimate].

Various scholars, in the absence of any clear, well-authenticated statements from source-texts to settle the matter, proposed diverse reasons (and refuted others) as to why it was prayed this way:

(1)  One proposed reason is that since there was no imam to lead the Muslim community initially, the Companions decided to start praying individually without an imam.  Ibn ‘Abidin, in the margins of his Hashiya, references the author of al-Mabsut as saying that this is because Abu Bakr (Allah be pleased with him) was busy with straightening the affairs of the Muslims and quelling potential discord, so he was not able to attend as the Caliph and lead, but when he did finally, he was the last to pray and no one after that prayed the funeral prayer.  Ibn ‘Abidin mentions there is disagreement as to when exactly he prayed, in relation to ‘Abbas, who was the next-of-kin.

In isolation, this reasoning paints the funeral prayer method as almost entirely politically-based, while also highlighting the importance of leadership and unity in the Muslim community.  Many scholars discounted and refuted this as the sole reason however, because the pledge of allegiance to Abu Bakr was given while the ghusl was taking place, so if a was leader was needed, they had one.

(2)  Given that the city of Madinah and its environs was home to thousands of  Muslims, it would’ve been nearly impossible to gather them all inside or around the house of the Aisha (may Allah be pleased with her), in which at most perhaps 10 people at a time could stand.  Also, it would take time for those in outlying areas who naturally wanted to attend the funeral prayer to reach the city.  Had one large prayer been performed by the Caliph initially, those who missed out would not have a chance to make a second congregation as the group funeral prayer is prayed only once, with the ruler of the Muslims most deserving to lead it.

(3)  In a similar vein, al-Ramli mentions the speculation that (in the absence of the ruler) if the nearest-of-kin (the wali) to the deceased has the right to lead the funeral prayer in normal circumstances, it would have been the Prophet’s (Allah bless him and grant him peace) paternal uncle, al-`Abbas (may Allah be pleased with him) who would have had this right.  However, it is possible that al-`Abbas did not claim that right fearing that it would mislead the people into believing that he was the new Caliph, which could potentially cause discord and confusion. [al-Ramli, Nihayah al-Muhtaj ‘ala al-Minhaj]

(4)  One of the stronger proposed reasons explaining the funeral prayer method was that it was part of an explicit decree in the Prophet’s (Allah bless him and grant him peace) final instructions to the community.

Ibn Kathir, in al-Bidayah wa al-Nihayah, quotes from al-Bayhaqi and al-Bazzaar, that Ibn Mas’ud (may Allah be pleased with him) said, “Part of the last will and testament of the Prophet (Allah bless him and grant him peace) was that he be washed by the men of his family, and that he said, ‘Shroud me in these pieces of cloth, or the Yemeni ones, or the white Egyptian ones,’ and that when they had shrouded him, they should place him on the edge of his grave and then leave him [in ‘Aisha’s house] till the angels prayed on him, then the men of his family would pray on him, and then the people, individually.”

Ibn Kathir indicated the need for investigation on the degree of authenticity of this narration, but despite this, he considered it in his discussion on the reasoning behind the funeal prayer.  He mentions that, “had the report that we have narrated from Ibn Mas’ud been rigorously authenticated, it would have been an explicit, conclusive text on the question, and [the unique method of the funeral prayer] would have been a divinely-ordained form of worship, the true meaning of which the intellect would be unable to encompass [as with all revealed forms of worship].”

Ibn Kathir continues, refuting the opinion that it had to do with leadership:

“And no one can say that [the reasoning behind praying individually] was due to the absence of a leader (imam), because they only began to prepare his body (Allah bless him and grant him peace) after the completion of the oath of fealty to Abu Bakr [as the Caliph] and after his approval (to begin praying the Janazah)…

And some scholars have said that there was no imam leading them only so each person could have a direct prayer upon him (Allah bless him and grant him peace), and so the prayers of the Muslims upon him would repeat time after time, from one person to the next, from each of the Companions – each man, woman and child amongst them – and even each of their bondsmen and bondswomen…

As for al-Suhayli, the gist of what he said was that Allah has definitely informed us that He and His angels send blessings upon him (Allah bless him and grant him peace) [al-Qur’an, 33:56], and He has commanded each Believer to send blessings upon him directly from themselves, and the prayer upon him after his death is seen from this angle… Also, that the angels are [like] imams for us in this.  And Allah knows best.” [Ibn Kathir, al-Bidayah wa al-Nihayah]

This reasoning supports the view that the most blessings (barakah) for the one praying was when it was without any intermediary leading in between – rather there was an opportunity for each Companion to intimately experience, and be in control of, their last direct interaction with the Prophet (Allah bless him and grant him peace) – one can only imagine the emotions they must have felt at the time.

It also allowed lesser-prominent companions, including women, children and slaves who may not have always gotten a chance to be up front and close, to have this special opportunity, emphasizing the importance of each Muslim in his eyes, Allah bless him and grant him peace.

(5)  The final, undisputed and greatest reason for the unique funeral prayer is that due to the supreme rank of the Messenger of Allah (Allah bless him and grant him peace) amongst all creation, it was not befitting for anyone of his community to intend to be a leader (imam) over him in his passing.  This was the highest form of respect and deference.

Ibn Sa’d reports: ‘Ali ibn Abi Talib (may Allah be pleased with him) said, “Let no one stand over him (Allah bless him and grant him peace) as an imam.  He is your leader in life and in death.”  So the people would enter in small groups, and pray upon him (Allah bless him and grant him peace) row on row, and there was no leader (imam) for them, while ‘Ali was standing beside the Messenger of Allah (Allah bless him and grant him peace) saying, “Peace be upon you, Oh Prophet…[and saying a long dua’ for him]” while the people were saying, “Amin! Amin!”…[Ibn Sa’d, al-Tabaqat].  Similar supplications and blessings are recorded from Abu Bakr and Omar, together with a group saying “Amin”.

Imam al Shafi’i (may Allah have mercy on him) said regarding the funeral prayer without an imam: “… and that was because of the greatness of the station of the Messenger of Allah (Allah bless him and grant him peace) – may my father and mother be sacrificed for him!- and for the [companions] striving amidst each other [to ensure] that no person be given the position of imam of the prayer upon him.” [al-Shafi’i, Kitab al-Umm]

Imam al-Ramli says al-Shafi’i’s statement about the “striving” not to have an Imam can be explained by the opinion that since the Prophet (Allah bless him and grant him peace) did not specify an imam in his lifetime, the Companions were keen to ensure that there would not be one appointed. [al-Ramli, Nihayah al-Muhtaj ‘ala al-Minhaj]

‘Ali’s statement (may Allah ennoble his countenance) brings up an interesting point: during the Prophet’s lifetime (Allah bless him and grant him peace), the Companions were afraid and averse to stand in his place and lead him as the imam, so how could one of them decide to assume this role for the final prayer over him?  It can be said that none from his Ummah ever began a prayer as an imam with the intention to lead him.

This is why, once or twice during the final sickness, when Abu Bakr was ordered to lead the community in prayers, and the Prophet (Allah bless him and grant him peace) found enough strength to join him after it had begun, Abu Bakr stepped back when he realized this, in deference to him.  After the prayer, he said, “It is not for the son of Abu Quhafa to lead prayer in front of the Messenger of Allah (Allah bless him and grant him peace).” [Bukhari, Muslim]

If this was the case with the loftiest man of this comunity after the Prophet (Allah bless him and grant him peace), the Companion of the Cave (may Allah be pleased with him), then a fortiori no one else could be worthy of volunteering themselves as the Imam of the prayer over the Prophet (Allah bless him and grant him peace).

The Opinion that No Funeral Prayer was Performed

Although it is established through the source-texts and the views of the majority of the scholars that a funeral prayer did indeed take place, since the opposite opinion was expressed and it could confuse someone, that opinion can be briefly evaluated here.

Numerous works claim a consensus amongst Ahly Sunnah that some sort of devotional prayers took place regarding the Prophet (Allah bless him and grant him peace) in the house of ‘Aisha, by all the Muslims of Madina, individually without an Imam.  However, there was a small minority of scholars who held that the prayer was not the formal funeral prayer, rather individual “blessings” from each person (i.e. asking Allah to increase His reward, with a raising of station).

The funeral prayer of the Prophet (Allah bless him and grant him peace) was unlike any other, because as Imam al-Suyuti mentions in his work on the rulings and qualities which were unique to the Prophet (Allah bless him and grant him peace), his funeral prayer was prayed without an imam, and it did not include the well-known supplication for the deceased, nor any of the verses of Qur’an.  [al-Suyuti, Khasa’is al-Kubra]

It cannot be said however, that what was prayed was not a funeral prayer, and rather only blessings (as many narrations outwardly seem to imply), because other narrations mention the opening invocations (takbirs) as well, which are only done in a formal prayer.  Thus, what was done in the house of ‘Aisha by the Companions was indeed a funeral prayer, only it was in accordance with how it is applied to the Last Prophet (Allah bless him and grant him peace), even if it is different from the funeral prayers of the rest of the community.

Imam Nawawi is quoted as saying:

“The matter was differed upon: was he (Allah bless him and grant him peace) prayed over?  Some said, ‘No one prayed over him in actuality, and the people simply entered in groups, supplicated, and left.’  And those who claim this differed amongst themselves as to the reason why: some said, ‘It was because of his supreme excellence, so he was free of the need for a prayer to be read over him.’  However, that [line of reasoning] breaks by the [fact that] he was also given a ritual bath [so why is one applied and not the other, when he is not in need of either of the two?]…

And some said, ‘Rather, because there was no Imam (so there was no funeral prayer),’ but this is erroneous, because the Imamate for the obligatory prayers (with Abu Bakr) was never cancelled, and the oath of fealty to Abu Bakr (from the Ummah) was before the burial (so there was an Imam present, if that was the requirement for Janazah)…” [Sharh Ibn Majah, al-Suyuti and other commentators]

Imam al Qurtubi, in his tafsir of the Quranic ayah [3:144], also refutes those who deny that the funeral prayer took place by saying:

“[Some of them claim that] each person only stood and made supplication, because he (Allah bless him and grant him peace) was too noble to be prayed over.’  [Qadi Abu Bakr] Ibn al-‘Arabi replied, ‘This claim is weak, because the Sunnah of sending blessings upon him is upheld by a funeral prayer just as it is upheld in a supplication, so [the one praying] says, “Oh Allah, send blessings upon Muhammad until the Day of Judgement.”, and [doing so] is actually a benefit for us (and thus does not take away from the greatness of the Prophet, Allah bless him and grant him peace).”  [al-Qurtubi, al-Jami’ li-Ahkam al-Qur’an]

One famous scholar who held the minority position was Imam al-Baji, who according to al-Zurqani, said, “…(The Prophet, Allah bless him and grant him peace) is better than every martyr (al-shahid), and the excellence of the martyr frees that martyr from need of a funeral prayer to be prayed upon him [so a fortiori, the Prophet (Allah bless him and grant him peace) shouldn’t have needed a funeral prayer]…”

Al-Zurqani then responded by saying: “The objective behind the funeral prayer upon him is actually an honor returning back upon the Muslims, along with the fact that [, although he is not in need of our prayers, Allah bless him and grant him peace] something that is perfect can accept an increase in its perfection…

And [Qadi] ‘Iyad has said: ‘The correct position that the majority of scholars are upon is that the funeral prayer upon the Prophet (Allah bless him and grant him peace) was an actual ritual prayer, not just a supplication only.'” [al-Zurqani, Sharh Muwatta; al-Kandahlawi, Awjaz al Masalik]

The minority position seems improbable when we consider that there was a customary bath at the beginning and a customary burial at the end, and in-between, the event which would normally take place is a funeral prayer.  Then how could it be that 30,000 Companions took part in this event, yet not one narration has reached us to clearly say that no funeral prayer took place, when that is what one would expect?

Thus, it is very clear to see that the stronger and majority position of the Sunni scholars was that there was an actual funeral prayer on the Prophet (Allah bless him and grant him peace), though the way of our tradition is to endorse the correct view while recognizing that a few great scholars may have had differing positions and they cannot be condemned for holding their own opinion on something speculative.

The Burial of the Prophet (Allah bless him and grant him peace)

Although there was a difference of opinion between the Companions (may Allah be pleased with them) as to where the Prophet (Allah bless him and grant him peace) should be buried, it was settled by Abu Bakr when he said:

“Truly, I heard the Messenger of Allah (Allah bless him and grant him peace) say, ‘A prophet has never been taken [in death] except that he was buried in the spot where he was taken.'” [Ibn Majah, Sunan]

Imam al-Bukhari dedicates an entire chapter of his Sahih to describing the grave of the Prophet (Allah bless him and grant him peace).  Aisha (may Allah be pleased with her) said,

“…Allah took him (in death, Allah bless him and grant him peace) while he was lying against my chest [lit. between my sternum and the bottom of my throat], and he (Allah bless him and grant him peace) was buried in my house.” [al-Bukhari, Sahih]

The location of the burial is a matter about which there is no dispute, however, there is some difference of opinion on the day of the burial, whether it was Tuesday night or Wednesday late at night that it took place.  Though there is difference on the date as well, the most famous date given is the 12th of Rabi` al Awwal.

Since there are many, many narrations that mention the burial and grave of our Prophet (Allah bless him and grant him peace), it should be exceedingly clear that any claim of no burial taking place is patently false.  As Imam al-Busiri, who wrote the Poem of the Cloak or the “Burda”, said in his expression of love for the Beloved (Allah bless him and grant him peace):

“No perfume is as sweet as the ground that holds his bones –

What Paradise awaits the one who breathes its scent or brushes lips against its soil!”

[Translation of Shaykh Hamza Yusuf]

Looking at the Bigger Picture

We have looked at many statements regarding the funeral prayer and burial of the Prophet (Allah bless him and grant him peace).  Many more exist and have not been mentioned here.

However, it is most important for us as followers of the Beloved of Allah (Allah bless him and grant him peace) to go beyond the details and get to the upshot: the fact that the Messenger (Allah bless him and grant him peace) is no longer with us.  That is the single most difficult calamity in the lives of the Believers from the past, present or future.

The Prophet (Allah bless him and grant him peace) said, “If you are afflicted by anything, then seek strength from my death, because you will not be afflicted by anything that is worse than my death.” [Ibn Majah, Sunan]

But while we who came after his departing could not see him and are missing him (Allah bless him and grant him peace), we must know that he is missing us too, and eager to see us:

Anas ibn Malik narrates that the Messenger of Allah (Allah bless him and grant him peace) said: “I wish that I could meet my brothers.” The Companions of the Prophet (Allah be well pleased with them) asked, “Are we not your brothers?”

He replied: “You are my Companions, but my brothers are those who will believe in me, without having seen me.” [Ahmad, Musnad]

May Allah Ta’ala send His peace and blessings upon the Prophet always and forever, may He increase us in our love and obedience for His Prophet (Allah bless him and grant him peace), and unite us with him Paradise.

Wasalam,
Abdullah Misra

Checked & Approved by Faraz Rabbani

The Conversion of Fudhala ibn `Umayr

Answered by Sidi Salman Younas

Question: There is a narration about a man named Fudhala who after planning to kill the Prophet (peace be upon him) with a dagger was overcome by the Prophet’s compassion and became a Muslim. Could I please know the book of Hadith this hadith is from? Could I please get an exact citation of this hadith?

Answer: assalamu `alaykum

I pray you are well.

Ibn Hajar `Asqalani relates the above incident in his work al-Isaba, a compendium of the names and details of the companions of the Prophet (Allah bless him and grant him peace), quoting ibn `Abd al-Barr’s Kitab al-Durar. It was also related by Ibn Kathir in al-Bidayah wa’l Nihayah from Ibn Hisham, the author of the famous Sira. The full name of the companion was Fudhala ibn `Umayr al-Laythi (May Allah be well pleased with him).

Ibn Hajar said:

“Ibn `Abd al-Barr mentioned in his Kitab al-Durar that the Prophet (Allah bless him and grant him peace) passed by him [s: Fudhala] while he was intent on suddenly attacking him, and so the Prophet (Allah bless him and grant him peace) asked, ‘What are you conversing to yourself about?’ He said, ‘Nothing. I was making remembrance of Allah.’ The Prophet (Allah bless him and grant him peace) laughed and said, ‘I seek forgiveness from Allah for you’ then placed his hand on his [s: Fudhala’s] chest. He [s: Ibn `Abd al-Barr] said, ‘Fudhala said, ‘By Allah, he had not even lifted his hand from my chest until I did not find anyone more beloved to me on the face of the earth than him.'”

Note: The Prophet’s (Allah bless him and grant him peace) placing or striking the chest with his blessed hand is associated with driving away evil whispers. For more details on this see: The Imposition of Hands in the Sunna by Shaykh Gibril Haddad.

May Allah give us all the opportunity to be with our Messenger (Allah bless him and grant him peace) in the afterlife.

Wasalam
Salman

Checked & Approved by Faraz Rabbani

Seeing the Prophet in a Dream: Only for Someone Who Has Seen Him in Real Life?

Answered by Sidi Salman Younas

Question: One of my friend is of the opinion that one can only see the Messenger of Allah in his dream only if he has seen the Messenger of Allah in real life. Is this true?

Answer: assalamu `alaykum

An individual who has not seen the Prophet (Allah bless him and grant him peace) in real life is still able to see him in a dream, This is clearly shown by:

(a) Textual Evidence: Abu Hurayra said, “I heard the Prophet (Allah bless him and grant him peace) say, ‘He who sees me in a dream will see me in a wakeful state, and the devil cannot take on my form.” [Bukhari] Similarly, Anas ibn Malik narrates that the Prophet (Allah bless him and grant him peace) said, “Whoever sees me in a dream has certainly seen me for the devil cannot impersonate me. The vision of the believer is one of forty-six parts of prophethood.” [Bukhari]

There is no indication in any of these narrations that the dream-vision is limited to only those who have seen the Prophet (Allah bless him and grant him peace) in real life. All of them are general and to state otherwise is to condition the narration without proof. Imam Nawawi stated, “the meaning of this narration is that the vision of the dreamer is true…” [Sharh Sahih Muslim] Rather, the second narration is clear in associating the dream-vision of the Prophet (Allah bless him and grant him peace) with the vision of the  generality of believers. There is no mention of the believer being someone who had previously seen the Prophet (Allah bless him and grant him peace) or not.

(b) Rational Proof: The rational possibility of such a vision occurring for anyone, a possibility which cannot be rendered impossible unless with clear proof. Such a proof does not exist and therefore the vision of the Prophet (Allah bless him and grant him peace) remains possible for anyone.

(c) Mass-Transmitted Reports: The occurrence of this vision for numerous individuals, scholars and non-scholars alike, in every generation of Muslim history. The number of incidents are too numerous to mention and books are replete with their mention. They range from the time of the students of the companions down to our own times, including the greatest scholars of our religion such as the four Imams.

Wasalam
Salman

Checked & Approved by Faraz Rabbani