Shaykh Farid Dingle answers a question related to praying Tarawih salaah when one has overdue obligatory prayers to complete (according to the Shafi school of thought).
For the past three years I haven’t been praying salah consistently and sometimes didn’t pray for months on end. I’m now taking my deen more seriously and I am making up these missed prayers. Inshallah it will be easier in the future.
I wanted to ask, since Ramadhan is coming up – am I allowed to pray Tarawih?
Here’s my specific situation: Me and my family sometimes go to a community mosque during Ramadhan, a small place, for iftar and tarawih. We follow behind the imam, as he makes intention for the women behind him too. My family are not aware of me missing prayers for so long and I am too afraid to tell them – I want to keep this
private. I read somewhere that one should not do sunnah prayers when they have fardh to make up, but I don’t know how I’ll be able to wriggle out of Tarawih. In this case, is it okay for me to offer my Tarawih prayer? I could try and make an excuse to go home, but I don’t want to end up having to lie. And praying Tarawih, I feel, would help me become more connected to Allah, and I would really love to participate in it. Ramadan is also during my exam season, so I need all the blessings I can get. I would love some guidance with this.
Wa alaykum assalam wa rahmatullahi wa barakatuh,
You can just make-up prayers behind the imam as he prays Tarawih.
The issue of praying supererogatory prayers (sunna/nafl) while one has make-up prayers (qada) is nothing particular to do with supererogatory prayers themselves; rather, the issue is delaying making up obligatory prayers without a valid excuse, such as another more pressing obligation.
For example, if one had an obligatory prayer that one had missed without a valid excuse, such as just being lazy or finding it awkward to pray at work, one could not delay making it up for, say, answering a personal email or having a cup of tea. One could only delay it for something obligatory, such as eating main meals, sleeping, going to work if one supports oneself. One such non-obligatory thing is supererogatory prayers.
For this reason, the Shafi’i scholars tell us that one cannot pray supererogatory prayers while one has make-up prayers to perform because it entails delaying an immediate obligation for other than another more pressing obligation.
Okay, so based on this principle, someone who has years of make-up prayers no longer has any free time whatsoever: it is just them and the prayer mat until the finish. Is that right?
The answer is that Islam is reasonable, and while this principle might apply to one or two make-up prayers that one might well take a day off work or stop a conversation to pray immediately, one cannot apply this for weeks or months on end. To do so would most probably make one go insane, or cause one to lose one’s job or marriage, or the like.
Practically, one should make a realistic schedule of prayers that one makes up a day, and stick to it no matter what, without going to extremes.
For more detail, please see: http://seekershub.org/ans-blog/2017/06/18/18205/
A simple solution to praying Tarawih when you have make-ups is to intend praying a missed Fajr for each two rakas that the Imam does. This is acceptable because, in the Shafi’i school, it is valid to pray an obligatory prayer (fard) behind a supererogatory prayer (nafl/sunna).
This way you would not be delaying making up prayers without a valid excuse.
I pray this helps.
Checked and approved by Shaykh Faraz Rabbani