Prayer and Charity – Ramadan Renewal Xtra

Struggling to keep on top of your podcast subscriptions? SeekersHub Ramadan Renewal Xtra offers you a bitesize summary of each night’s lessons at SeekersHub Toronto this Ramadan. Catch up on the essential lessons, captured by our media team in this special episode.

Litanies and Night Vigil: A Comprehensive SeekersHub Reader

09Litanies and night vigil form the 10th chapter of Imam Al-Ghazali’s seminal work, the Ihya, which is widely regarded as the greatest work on Islamic spirituality in the world.

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Can You Pray After Eating Without Rinsing Your Mouth? (Video)

Answered by Shaykh Faraz Rabbani

Question: Assalamu alaykum

Can you pray after eating without rinsing your mouth?

Answer:  Wa’leykum Salam,

Here is a video answer by Shaykh Faraz Rabbani to this question:

Shaykh Faraz Rabbani is a scholar and researcher of Islamic law and Executive Director of SeekersHub Global After ten years overseas, Shaykh Faraz returned to Canada in the Summer of 2007. In May 2008 he founded SeekersHub Global to deal with the urgent need to spread Islamic knowledge—both online and on the ground—in a reliable, relevant, inspiring, and accessible manner. He has been repeatedly listed as one of the world’s 500 most influential Muslims (The Muslim500).

The Prayer Comes in While I Am in Class. What Can I Do? (Habib Umar Bin Hafiz)

Answered by  Habib Umar bin Hafiz

Question: Assalam aleykum

I am student, and usually the time for Dhuhr prayer comes in while I am in class. We are not allowed to leave the class for prayer, so what is the best thing to do in this situation?

Answer: [Assalam alaykum]

Establishing the Prayer in the Most Beautiful Manner

It would be beautiful if you finish your class and then arrange a congregation (group prayer) with your classmates. It is even better and more beautiful if the teacher(s) and headmaster join you.

Performing the Prayer in the Beginning of the Time

The special virtue of performing a prayer at the first of its time is a matter of difference of opinion, and what is narrated in the sunnah is that the Prophet (may Allah peace and blessings be upon him and his folk) would pray a prayer mostly at the first half of its time and that he would sometimes delay a prayer beyond its first time. It is related that he would delay the Dhuhr prayer on a hot day to a cooler time.

Praying at Work or School

And so the one who is busy at work while the prayer time comes in should manage his work time to be able to pray (giving priority to congregation without necessarily praying at the first of the prayer’s time) and so should the students at school. All praises be to Allah; our schools are usually surrounded by mosques or have prayer spaces inside them that can be used after classes or after the school day ends. Furthermore, it happens during the year that prayer times coincide with breaks between classes.

Priority of the Congregation Over the Beginning of the Time

In any case, there is sufficient time to pray during a class period, as the time for prayer is extended. Therefore, praying in congregation later is better than praying early while alone and being remiss with your class duties, while Allah has given you a stretch of time.

Prohibition of Delaying the Prayer Beyond its Time

However if it is the case that you will end up delaying a prayer beyond its time because of class (which usually does not happen in schools in the Islamic world), then you have to leave for prayer.

Importance of Balancing Duties and Managing Time

Therefore you should combine between giving your educational or work duty its due importance and managing your time so that you can perform prayers in congregation.

Virtue of a Larger Congregation

Last but not least, having a larger congregation is always better, for a man praying with another man is better than praying alone, and praying with two men is better than praying with one man, and praying with three men is better than praying with two men, and so on and so forth.

Translated by: Abdullah Alrajhy

Habib Umar bin Hafiz  is a descendant of the Prophet (upon him be Allah’s peace and blessings). Born into a family of scholars, Habib Umar, pursued the sacred sciences from a young age, including Quran, Hadith, Fiqh, ‘Aqeedah, Arabic, and Spirituality. In 1994, he established Dar al-Mustafa, an educational institute in Tarim, Yemem.

Link to the original answer

أنا طالب في المدرسة عند دخول الوقت لصلاة الظهر تكون عندنا حصة و لا يسمح لنا بالخروج من القاعة للصلاة, فما الأفضل لنا فعله ؟
يكون من الطيب أن تكمل حصتك، ثم بعد انتهائها تتفق مع جماعة من الطلاب لتصلوا جماعة، وإن خرج معكم المدرس والمدير وأهل المدرسة فذلك أجمل وأفضل. فإن فضيلة أول الوقت مختلَف فيها، والوارد في السنة أن تكون صلاته صلى الله عليه وآله وسلم غالباً في النصف الأول من أوقات الصلوات، وقد يؤخر شيئًا من الصلوات عن أول وقتها كما جاء في الإبراد بالظهر. إذن فالمنشغل أيضاً بعمل يتجاوز وقتَ الصلاة ينبغي له أن يرتب، مثله في ذلك مثل الطلاب في المدارس. والحمد لله فعامة المدارس حواليها مساجد أو وسطها مصليات يقدر الناس أن يصلوا فيها، فيمكن بعد انتهاء الحصة أو الدوام أن يخرجوا إلى ذلك المكان، على أنه قد يصادف في بعض أيام السنة أن يكون وقت الصلاة في وقت الاستراحة. وعلى أي حال فلن يخرج وقت الصلاة وأنت في هذه الحصة، فوقت الصلاة متسع، فإذا أتممت الحصة فاجتماعكم جميعاً يكون أزكى من أن تقدِّمها أنت فرادى، أو أن تخلَّ بواجبك مع سعة الوقت الذي آتاك الله إياه. فإن وصل الحد إلى إخراج الفريضة عن وقتها -وهذا لا يحصل غالباً في المدارس الموجودة في العالم الإسلامي- فيجب القيام للصلاة. فلأجل ذلك ينبغي أن تجمع بين تعظيم مهمتك في العلم أو في أي عمل آخر وبين ترتيب أن تكون الصلاة في جماعة، وكلما استوعبت فيها عدداً أكبر كان أفضل، فإن صلاة الرجل مع الرجل أزكى من صلاته وحده، وصلاته مع الرجلين أزكى من صلاته مع الرجل، وصلاته مع الثلاثة أزكى وهكذا ..

The Adhan: Why We Are Missing Out On Great Benefits, by Shaykh Faraz Rabbani

The Prophet Muhammad ﷺ made a tremendous promise to those who respond upon hearing the adhan – “My intercession will be granted to them on the Day of Resurrection…”

However, many of us don’t know or don’t remember the sunnas of doing the adhan and hearing the call to prayer (adhan). This is particularly the case in lands where the adhan is not publicly given. It is as if we don’t believe in what the Prophet ﷺ has promised. It could be the key to Paradise for us. May Allah make it so!

Shaykh Faraz Rabbani gives a step by step list of things to do.

Photo by Md. Mafizul Hasan Hawlader.

The Adhan: A Source of Often Neglected Great Benefits, by Shaykh Faraz Rabbani

Wearing Noise-Cancelling Headphones in Prayer to Concentrate Better

Shaykh Faraz Rabbani on key principles related to what is avoided in prayer—including all actions external to prayer; anything that looks like one’s is not in prayer; anything that can lead to distraction; and all unnecessary actions. He also briefly explains the principle of avoiding things that cause others to think ill of one without good reason.

Photo by Shinji Akhirah.

What To Do After Hearing The Adhan – The Prophet’s ﷺ Promise

The Prophet ﷺ made a tremendous promise to those who respond upon hearing the adhan – “My intercession will be granted to them on the Day of Resurrection…”

However, many of us don’t know or don’t remember the sunnahs of doing the adhan and hearing the adhan. This is particularly the case in lands where the adhan is not publicly given. It is as if we don’t believe in what the Prophet ﷺ has promised. It could be the key to Paradise for us. May Allah make it so!

Shaykh Faraz Rabbani gives a step by step list of things to do.

Photo by Md. Mafizul Hasan Hawlader.

The Tashahhud is Lofty – Don’t Rush It

The ‘tashahhud’ consists of the words we recite in every sitting of our prayers. These are the words with which the Beloved Messenger of Allah ﷺ greeted Allah on his ascent beyond the Heavens, in a place beyond place–a place not even the Angel Gabriel could go.

All greetings, blessings and good acts are from You, my Lord. Greetings to you, O Prophet, and the mercy and blessings of Allah. Peace be unto us, and unto the righteous servants of Allah. I bear witness that there is none worthy of worship except Allah. And I bear witness that Muhammad is His servant and messenger.

At Tahiyyaatu lilaahi was Salawaatu wat tayibaatu As Salaamu ‘alaika ayyuhan nabiyyu wa rahmatul laahi wa barakaatuh As Salaamu ‘alainaa wa ‘alaa ‘ebaadillaahis saaliheen, (Hands on knees, raise right forefinger:) Ash hadu allaa ilaah ilallaah Wa ash hadu anna Muhammadan ‘abduhuu wa rasuuluh
tashahhud in Arabic

Our tashahhud relives that intimate meeting between Allah and His Most Beloved Prophet ﷺ. It is the Prophet’s greeting, the Divine Response; the Prophet’s acceptance of this response, and his seeking to spread that mercy, honour, and blessing to all those seeking righteousness; and then the statement of faith and commitment.
Shaykh Faraz Rabbani explains the importance and greatness of the tashahhud and reminds us of the need to say these precious words with purpose, presence, and yearning. Brief, but powerful. Reflect!

Resources on tashahhud for seekers:

Must I Repeat Prayers Behind an Imam With a Short Beard or Bare Head?

Answered by Ustadh Salman Younas

Question: I have been advised that a prayer must be repeated if it is performed behind someone who does not have a fist length beard or his head covered and wears short sleeved clothing. Is it correct?

Should I pray alone when on more than one occasion I have noticed that the Imam has left the toilet seat up, causing me to doubt his purity?

Answer: Assalamu `alaykum

The most appropriate position to adopt for the laity is that one does not have to repeat such prayers.

The reasoning that is forwarding for repeating prayers where the Imam performs such actions is:

(a) the mentioned acts are prohibitively disliked (makruh tahriman).
(b) any prayer in which a prohibitively disliked act occurs is necessary to repeat.
(c) the Imam committing any of the mentioned acts is committing a prohibitively disliked action.
(d) therefore, anyone praying behind him must repeat his prayer.

Are These Acts Prohibitively Disliked?

The first question that needs to be tackled is whether these acts are in fact prohibitively disliked. The answer to this is that some of them are not prohibitively disliked and there is differences of opinion on others.

1. Praying Bare-Headed

In the case of praying bare-headed, the statements of a number of Hanafi scholars indicate that the dislikedness is slight or contrary to what is best, not one that is prohibitive in nature, which would entail that repeating such a prayer is not necessary. Further, this dislikedness is not unconditional but when the act is performed for a specific reason.

Imam al-Kasani states that covering the head with a turban is “better” (afdal) than praying bare-headed because it indicates esteem for the prayer. Similarly, according to Imam al-Shurunbali the dislikedness relates back to a lack of respect indicated by such an action, which in the current context generally suggests that the opposite ruling of covering the head is of recommendation. [al-Kasani, Bada’i al-Sana’i (1:301); al-Shurunbulali, Imdad al-Fattah (365)]

The majority of Hanafi scholars specified the dislikedness of praying bare-headed when it was done out of laziness (takasul). They understood this as referring to an individual knowing the value of praying with his head-covered but simply choosing to ignore it, an act that was viewed as showing a lack of respect for the prayer.

While there were some scholars who deemed praying bare-headed as unconditionally disliked, this does not seem to be the dominant position of the school. Rather, if one prayed bare-headed out of a sense of humility, a number of scholars stated that it would be recommended to not cover, while others stated it would still better to wear a head-cover. [Ibn Maza, Muhit al-Burhani (2:139); Sadr al-Shahid, Sharh al-Wiqaya (1:141-42); al-Shurunbulali, Imdad al-Fattah (365)]

In light of the above, one would not have to repeat a prayer wherein the Imam was bare-headed since: (i) it is not a prohibitively disliked action, and (ii) there is little way for one to know of the Imam’s intention i.e. is he doing it out of humility or otherwise.

In connection to the latter point, it should be noted that there are other views from scholars of the four schools that treat the issue as a less serious offense. The opinions range from permissibility of praying without a head-covering to slight dislikedness. Some scholars, for example, stated that head-covering is a customary action that becomes recommended if deemed an act of adornment by a particular society. Otherwise, it would not be specifically recommended. [al-Shatibi, al-Muwafaqat (2:489)]

2. Praying in a Short-Sleeved Shirt

There is nothing wrong with praying in a short-sleeved shirt. It would only be deemed slightly disliked to do so if it is customary considered “lowly clothing”. Even if this were the case, one would not have to repeat a prayer where the Imam wears such clothing as it is not a prohibitively disliked action. [Sadr al-Shahid, Sharh al-Wiqaya (1:142)]

3. The Beard

The issue concerning the beard is perhaps more controversial. Leading scholars of the Hanafi school considered a fistful beard to be necessary (wajib) although a number of scholars over the past century have considered an actual fistful to be a confirmed sunna based on what they view as being rightly entailed by the principles of the school and the statements of earlier jurists. This is the position adopted by a number of my own teachers.

Opinion is also divided among other schools. The Shafi`i school, for example, considers the beard a sunna and its trimming below a fistful to be an act that is disliked but not sinful. [al-Haytami, Tuhfa al-Muhtaj (9:376)] A number of scholars in the Maliki school do not stipulate a particular length for the beard but prohibit trimming in a manner that leads to disfigurement and/or define length by the customary practice of people. [al-Nafrawi, al-Fawakih al-Dawani (2:307)]

This indicates that there is leeway on this issue particularly as it relates to obliging people – especially lay people – in repeating their prayers behind individuals who may be following valid positions from other schools of thought.

The Principle of Repeating Prayers With Disliked Actions

As mentioned earlier, the principle that it is necessary to repeat a prayer with a disliked action applies to actions that are prohibitively disliked, not slightly disliked. However, what is often neglected in this discussion is that there are differences on this principle and what it entails even within the Hanafi school.

When it comes to a prayer performed with a prohibitively disliked action, the opinions we can find in the Hanafi school are:

(i) it is necessary to repeat with

some saying it is necessary within the time of the prayer,

some saying it is necessary within the time of the prayer and also after it exits, and

some saying it is necessary within the time of the prayer and recommended after it exits.

(ii) It is only recommended to repeat such a prayer.

(iii) It is recommended to repeat the prayer if a disliked action occurred in a select integral of the prayer and necessary if it occurs in every integral.

Of these three opinions, all have basis in the school and were held/chosen by leading jurists.The opinion that it is necessary (i) may be the strongest of these opinions as argued by Ibn Abidin and others. [Ibn Abidin, Radd al-Muhtar (1:486); Shaykhizada, Majma al-Anhur (1:390)]

With this said, the application of this opinion i.e. repetition is necessary, is not always clear in the Hanafi school. This would likely require an independent research paper to detail but, for example, prayer in congregation is considered necessary yet the statements of certain jurists suggest that it is not necessary to repeat a prayer that is performed individually. Similar is the case with reciting surahs in the Qur’an out of order, which is necessary but requires no prostration of forgetfulness. On the other hand, certain jurists said that if one prays with clothing that has animate figures, he or she should repeat his prayer.

Consequently, according to some scholars, these rulings may demonstrate different understandings of the principle “any prayer with a prohibitively disliked action requires repetition.” The disliked action here may be in reference to:

(a) one connected to actions that are part of the the essence of prayer or its integrals (praying in congregation or with a short beard are not),
(b) one generally connected to the prayer whether from its essence/integrals or not.

Each of these is indicated by the jurists in their application of the principle in question. [Ibn Abidin, Radd al-Muhtar (1:307)]

Considerations of Context & Conclusion

The preceding paragraphs demonstrate two things. Firstly, the actions mentioned in the question as requiring repetition of the prayer do not require it as they are not prohibitively disliked. This is especially the case for prayers behind an Imam who is bare-headed or wearing a short-sleeved shirt, since their rulings are fairly clear in the Hanafi school.

Secondly, even if we assume that these acts are prohibitively disliked, an argument that could be reasonably made about an individual without a fistful beard, there is significant difference on the principle itself and the types of acts it applies to. According to at least two of the three opinions mentioned (ii, iii), repetition of such a prayer would not be necessary, while even according to some versions of opinion (i), repetition would not be necessary if the prohibitively disliked action related to other than the essence/integrals of the prayer itself. The beard, head cover, and short-sleeved shirt are all elements external to the actual prayer.

Perhaps most importantly, the question that should be asked is whether the laity should be given the opinion expressed in the question, and the most appropriate answer in my view seems to be no. The reasons for this are many and include:

(a) The diversity of our communities where an Imam may be following a school or a valid opinion different to that of his followers. Indeed, leading scholars, such as those of Dar al-Ulum, Karachi, have given verdicts (fatawa) stating that even when it relates to the validity/invalidity of a prayer, what counts is the opinion of the Imam’s school, not the follower, which a fortiori applies to aspects of dislikedness too.

(b) Individuals do not choose the Imams of their mosques and such an opinion has the adverse effect of dissuading them from praying in congregation. The laity should be encouraged to be part of their mosque and to pray with their fellow Muslims.

(c) Many people from among the laity are already struggling with their religion, such as praying in congregation to begin with, making up missed prayers, praying their sunan, and so forth, and this unnecessarily adds to their burden in a manner causing difficulty (haraj).

(d) Such opinions have been noted to cause divisiveness in the community due to their misapplication.

Given these considerations, among many others, and the fact that the principle itself is differed upon from a number of perspectives, the laity should not be given the opinion that such prayers be repeated.

If a particular individual out of his own caution and desire does decide to repeat such prayers, he or she may do so. Here, caution and wisdom must be exercised by such an individual so as not to become a cause of division in the community, nor someone who begins to harbor ill opinions of others who may not share his or her view on certain matters.

Indeed, the common practice of labeling people, especially Imams, as “evil-doers” (fussaq) for following valid opinions other than one’s own, such as on the beard, is unacceptable and stems from ignorance of traditional attitudes towards differences of opinion. Rather, we recognize the diversity of our tradition and community, as well as the needs/struggles of people around us in order to advise them in a manner that allows for their spiritual growth as individuals and members of a single ummah.

(Note: This answer provides a brief summary of the views on repeating prayers with disliked actions. It does not aim to be completely comprehensive in detailing the views and reasoning of classical jurists relating to this principle, which requires engaging with texts of legal theory, and suffices with an exposition minimally required to answer the question at hand.)

And Allah alone knows best,

Checked & Approved by Shaykh Faraz Rabbani

Am I a Hypocrite for Losing Focus in Prayer?

Answered by Shaykh Shuaib Ally

Question: Assalam alaykum,

I think I might be a hypocrite. Whenever I do an act of worship, I find it very difficult to think about Allah, and I nearly always end up thinking of something or someone else, and it feels like I am worshipping them. Am I committing major shirk?

Answer: Wa alaikum assalam wa rahmatullah,

I pray that this message finds you well, insha’Allah.

Being Fearful of the State of one’s Worship

Having fear that one’s worship will not be accepted is not a sign of hypocrisy or shirk. It is, rather, a sign that a person recognizes the importance of worship, and is trying to fulfil them, while also recognizing their own shortcomings.

The Qur’an describes fear over one’s state as a sign of belief, not one of hypocrisy or shirk. It describes believers as “those who are fearful of the punishment of their Lord;” [Qur’an; 70.27]; and “those who give what they have been given, while their hearts tremble at the thought that they will return to their Lord” [Qur’an; 23.60]; and, “for those who fear standing before their Lord shall be two gardens” [Qur’an; 55.46].

It is in this vein that ‘Umar b. al-Khattab (may God be pleased with him) is reported to have said, “Had I known that God had accepted one of my prostrations, or one silver coin in charity, nobody would have been more beloved to me than death.”

However, the proper way to deal with this fear is not to be paralyzed by it, but to take the steps towards beneficial action.

Difficulties in Focusing in Prayer

Building focus and concentration in prayer here is the desired goal, as prayer is truly beneficial when one’s heart and body work in concert, not when one is distracted by outside concerns. The Qur’an says, “Successful are believers; those who are attentive in their prayers” (Qur’an; 23.1-2).

However, while one should work on building this presence of mind, one should recognize that being distracted is a good sign that the devil is attempting to come between you and your Lord.
The Prophet (may the peace and blessings of God be upon him) said that “when the iqama is done, the devil approaches, to the point that he comes between a person and his soul, saying, ‘Remember this and remember that,’ about things that he hadn’t thought about prior, until a person can no longer remember how much he has prayed” [Bukhari, Muslim].

Imam al-Shaʿrawi, in his exegesis, explains the verse, “Obey Allah, and obey the Messenger, and be on guard…” [Qur’an; 5.92] by saying that we are instructed here to be on guard because the devil cannot stand one obeying, and thus seeks to confuse a person or otherwise compromise their worship while they are doing so.

In this regard, al-Shaʿrawi relates a story that has been told about Imam Abu Hanifa (may God be pleased with him), who was approached by a man who had buried some money and could no longer find it. He instructed him to spend the night in prayer, and then come back and report to him. The man later came and told the Imam that while he was standing in prayer, he suddenly envisioned the precise location of his money. The Imam replied, ‘By God, I knew that the devil would not allow you to complete the night with your Lord.’

Achieving Presence of Mind in Prayer

Imam al-Ghazali, in his Ihya ʿUlum al-Din, puts forward various pieces of advice related to building concentration in prayer. He lists among them:

-Proper preparation for prayer, including thinking about the afterlife and standing before your Lord

-Pondering over the words and meanings that are recited during prayer

-Removing from one’s immediate surroundings anything that can distract during prayer

-Removing from one’s life things that distract during prayer

-Removing from one’s heart love of this world, that is a root cause for much distraction

-Immediately dragging one’s mind back to prayer when you catch it wandering

For further practical advice on how to achieve presence of heart in prayer, please see the following comments from a number of leading scholars: Presence of Heart in Prayer: A Reader

Please see also: How to Strengthen Faith in Allah and Return to Him? A Reader

Shuaib Ally