Sunday, June 4, 2017

Some Mistakes of Those Who Fast and Perform the Nightly Prayers

All praise be to Allah Almighty, and may blessings and peace be upon the Messenger of Allah and all his family and Companions.

The blessed month of Ramadan is a season of varied acts of worship including fasting, night prayers, reciting the Quran, giving charity, kindness, thikr (remembrance of Allah Almighty), supplication, seeking forgiveness, and asking for the attainment of Paradise and salvation from Hellfire. The guided person is the one who preserves its times during its days and nights and fills them with what delights him and brings him closer to his Lord in the correct manner, without increase or decrease. It is known to every Muslim that sincerity of worship to Allah Almighty and following the Messenger, sallallaahu 'alayhi wa sallam, are conditions for the acceptance of deeds.

That is why the Muslim should learn the rulings of fasting: upon who is it obligatory, the conditions of it being obligatory, the conditions of its validity, who may break his fast in Ramadan and who may not, the etiquettes of a fasting person and what is recommended for him, the invalidators of fasting, and rulings on the night prayers.

Many people are negligent in learning these rulings, which is why you see them making many mistakes. These mistakes include:

1- Not knowing the rulings on fasting and not asking about them, while Allah Almighty says (what means): {So ask the people of the message if you do not know.} [Quran 21:7] The Prophet, sallallaahu 'alayhi wa sallam, said, "He for whom Allah, the Exalted, intends good, He gives him insight into the religion." [Al-Bukhari and Muslim]

2- Receiving this noble month with entertainment and amusement instead of remembering and thanking Allah Almighty for making them reach this great month and instead of receiving it with sincere repentance, returning to Allah, the Exalted, and reckoning themselves for every single detail before they are reckoned and recompensed for the good and evil they did.

3- It is noted that, when Ramadan comes, some people repent, pray and fast but, as soon as it ends, they return to abandoning the prayer and committing acts of disobedience. These are the worst people because they do not know Allah Almighty except in Ramadan. Do they not know that the Lord of all the months is one Lord, that disobedience is forbidden at all times, and that Allah Almighty watches them at all times and places? Let them repent to Allah, the Exalted, with sincere repentance by abandoning acts of disobedience, regretting what they did, and being determined not to return to that in the future so that their repentance is accepted, their sins are forgiven, and their misdeeds are wiped out.

4- The belief of some people that Ramadan is the chance for sleep and laziness by day and for staying up late at night. Most probably, they stay up late while doing things that displease Allah Almighty, such as entertainment, playing, heedlessness, chatting, backbiting, and tale bearing. This involves great danger and grave loss for them. These few days bear witness of the obedience of the obedient slaves and the disobedience and heedlessness of the disobedient and the heedless ones.

5- It is noted that some people are upset because of the advent of the month of Ramadan and are happy with its end because they believe that it deprives them of fulfilling their desires. They only fast to go along with the people and follow them. They prefer other months over it although it is the month of blessings, forgiveness, mercy, and salvation from Hellfire for the Muslim who performs the obligations, abandons forbidden acts, complies with orders, and avoids prohibitions.

6- Some people stay up late in the nights of Ramadan often performing acts that have dire consequences, like entertainment, amusement, wandering in the streets, and sitting on pavements having suhoor (meal taken before fasting) after midnight and sleeping during the performance of the Fajr prayer at its due time in congregation. This includes many violations:

a) Staying up late doing useless things. The Prophet, sallallaahu 'alayhi wa sallam, disliked sleeping before the 'Isha' prayer and speaking after it except about that which is good. Ahmad, may Allah have mercy upon him, narrated a hadith in which the Prophet, sallallaahu 'alayhi wa sallam, said, "Night talks are only allowed for one who intends to perform night prayers and the traveler in his journey." [Ahmad: As-Suyooti: good]

b) Wasting precious time in Ramadan without utilizing it. Man will regret every moment in which he did not remember Allah Almighty.

c) Advancing the suhoor before its recommended time at the end of the night, directly before the break of dawn.

d) The greatest catastrophe is sleeping and not performing the Fajr prayer in congregation, whose reward equals performing qiyam (night prayer) all or half the night according to the hadith narrated by Muslim, may Allah have mercy upon him, in his Saheeh on the authority of 'Uthman ibn 'Affan, may Allah be pleased with him, who related that the Messenger of Allah, sallallaahu 'alayhi wa sallam, said, "Whoever performs the 'Isha' prayer in congregation, it is as if he prayed half the night, and whoever performs the Fajr prayer in congregation, it is as if he prayed the entire night." [Muslim] Thus, they are characterized with the qualities of the hypocrites, who do not pray except in laziness, delay prayers from their specified times, do not attend the congregational prayer, and deprive themselves of the great virtue and ample reward resulting therefrom.

7- Avoiding the physical invalidators of fasting, like eating, drinking and intercourse, while not avoiding the moral invalidators, like backbiting, tale bearing, lying, cursing, abusing, and freely looking at women in streets and shops. Every Muslim should guard his fast and avoid these forbidden acts and invalidators. Perhaps there is a fasting person who attains nothing from his fast except hunger and thirst, and perhaps there is a person who performs night prayers who attains nothing but sleeplessness and exhaustion. The Prophet, sallallaahu 'alayhi wa sallam, said, "Whoever does not give up false statements (i.e. telling lies) and acting upon them, Allah Almighty will not be in need of him leaving his food and drink (i.e. his fasting)." [Al-Bukhari]

8- Abandoning the Taraweeh (collective night prayer in Ramadan in the masjid) prayer, whose performer, who performs it out of sincere faith and hoping to attain the reward of Allah Almighty, was promised the forgiveness of sins. Abandoning it means disdaining this great reward. Many Muslims do not perform it while others perform only a little portion of it and then leave under the pretext that it is a Sunnah.

Yes, it is a confirmed Sunnah that was performed by the Messenger of Allah, sallallaahu 'alayhi wa sallam, his rightly guided caliphs, and those who followed them with excellence. It brings the slave closer to Allah, the Exalted, and it is a reason for the forgiveness of Allah Almighty to His slave and His love for him. Abandoning it is considered a great deprivation, and we seek refuge with Allah Almighty from this. Perhaps the performer of this prayer may attain the night of Al-Qadr and obtain great forgiveness and reward. Acts of the Sunnah were legislated to compensate what is lacking in performing obligations. They are from the reasons for the love of Allah Almighty for His slaves and for His answering supplications, expiating sins, doubling rewards, and elevating ranks.

One should not miss the Taraweeh prayer so that he may obtain its reward, and he should not leave until the imam finishes so that he may obtain the reward of performing prayers the whole night, for the Prophet, sallallaahu 'alayhi wa sallam, said, "If someone prays with the imam till the imam leaves, then he will be rewarded as if he prayed the whole night." [Abu Dawood, At-Tirmithi, An-Nisa'i and Ibn Majah with a sound chain of narrators]

9- It is noted that some people may fast, but they do not even pray or only do so in Ramadan. Such people do not benefit from fasting or charity because prayer is the foundation of the Islamic religion upon which it is established.

10- Resorting to travelling abroad in Ramadan without a need or necessity for the sake of breaking their fast under the pretext that they are travelling. In such journeys, it is impermissible and unlawful to break one's fast. Allah Almighty is never deceived by the tricks of fraudulent people. Most of those who do this are addicted to alcoholic drinks and drugs. May Allah, the Exalted, keep us and all Muslims safe therefrom.

11- Breaking one's fast with some things that are forbidden either due to their nature, like intoxicants or drugs such as cigarettes and hookah, or due to buying them with unlawfully earned money, like bribes or money given in return for perjury, lying, false oaths and usurious dealings. Whoever eats and drinks from unlawful sources, Allah Almighty does not accept his deeds and does not answer his supplications. If he gives charity therefrom, then his charity is not accepted, and if he performs Hajj, then his Hajj is not accepted.

12- It is noted that some imams perform the Taraweeh prayer so quickly that its purpose is not achieved. They recite the noble Quran quickly when what is required therein is a measured recitation. They do not give time to feel any tranquility when bowing, prostrating, standing after bowing, or sitting between the two prostrations. This is impermissible and without tranquility the prayer is not considered complete. One should feel tranquility in standing, sitting, bowing, prostrating, standing after bowing and sitting between the two prostrations. The Messenger of Allah, sallallaahu 'alayhi wa sallam, said to the one who did not take the time to feel tranquility in his prayer, "Go back and pray, for you did not pray." [Al-Bukhari and Muslim] The worst thief is the one who steals from his prayer as he does not complete its bowing, prostration, and recitation. Prayer is a balance. Whoever gives what is due is rewarded fully, and whoever gives less than what is due, then woe to those who give less than what is due.

13- Prolonging the supplication of the qunoot and saying supplications that were not reported. This causes boredom for those praying. What was narrated about the supplication of the qunoot are a few simple words on the authority of Al-Hasan ibn 'Ali, may Allah be pleased with him, who said:

The Messenger of Allah, sallallaahu 'alayhi wa sallam, taught me some words that I should say in the qunoot of the witr (uneven) prayer. They were: "O Allah, guide me among those whom You have guided, grant me security among those whom You have granted security, take me into Your charge among those whom You have taken into Your charge, bless me in what You have given, guard me from the evil of that You have decreed for You decree and nothing is decreed for You. He whom You befriend is not humiliated. Blessed and Exalted are You, our Lord." [At-Tirmithi: good]

Nothing better than this is known to have been said by the Prophet, sallallaahu 'alayhi wa sallam, in the qunoot.

'Ali ibn Abi Talib, may Allah be pleased with him, narrated that the Messenger of Allah, sallallaahu 'alayhi wa sallam, used to say, at the end of the witr prayer, "O Allah, I seek refuge in Your pleasure from Your anger. And I seek refuge in the well-being that You grant from Your punishment. And I seek refuge in You from You. I cannot count Your praise: You are as You have praised Yourself." [Ahmad, Abu Dawood, At-Tirmithi, An-Nisa'i and Ibn Majah] People say this supplication during the qunoot of the Witr, and then they say other long and boring supplications. According to the hadith narrated by Abu Daawood and Al-Haakim, who said that it is sound, the Prophet, sallallaahu 'alayhi wa sallam, liked the shortest supplications that bear the most comprehensive meanings and left what is other than that. One should confine himself in the supplication of the qunoot to the reported supplications that gather the good of the life of this world and the Hereafter. They are present in the books of athkar (plural of thikr) in order to emulate the Prophet, sallallaahu 'alayhi wa sallam, and not to exhaust the performers of the prayer.

14- It is a Sunnah to say, after offering the tasleem in the Witr prayer: "Subhan Al-Malik Al-Qudoos," (i.e. Glory be to the King, the Holy.) thrice; this is so according to the hadith narrated by Abu Dawood and An-Nasa'i, which has a sound chain of narrators. People do not say it and the imams in the mosques should remind them of this.

15- It is noted that many performers of taraweeh and other prayers precede the imam in bowing, prostrating, standing, sitting, descending and rising because they are deceived by the accursed Satan and fail to properly respect the prayer. The state of the one praying with the imam is one of four; one is correct and the other three are prohibited. The three prohibited states are anticipation, delay, and simultaneously performing the actions with the imam.

The correct state is following the imam. The one praying should perform the actions of prayer directly after his imam so that he does not precede him, nor performs them simultaneously with him, nor lags behind him. Anticipation invalidates the prayer as the Prophet, sallallaahu 'alayhi wa sallam, said, "Is he who raises his head before the imam not afraid that Allah

Almighty transforms his head into that of a donkey or his figure (i.e. face) into that of a donkey?" [Al-Bukhari and Muslim] That is, because he neglected his prayer and it is invalidated.

If it was not invalidated, he might have attained a reward and should not have been afraid of the punishment of Allah Almighty turning his head into that of a donkey.

16- It is noted that some of those praying hold copies of the Quran in the night prayers of Ramadan and follow the recitation of the imam. This is not permissible, and was not reported that the predecessors did so. This should only be done by the person who corrects the imam if he makes a mistake. The one praying is enjoined to listen to the recitation of the imam. Allah Almighty says (what means): {So when the Quran is recited, then listen to it and pay attention that you may receive mercy.} [Quran 7:204]

Imam Ahmad, may Allah have mercy upon him, said that the people agreed that this verse refers to the prayer. Shaykh 'Abdullah ibn 'Abdur-Rahman Al-Jibreen drew attention to this matter in his warnings against making mistakes in prayer. He said that this distracts the one praying from humble submission and contemplation and is considered absurd.

17- Some imams, in some mosques, raise their voices too much in the supplication of the qunoot. One's voice should not be raised except to the extent that it reaches the performers of prayer. Allah Almighty says (what means): {Call upon your Lord in humility and privately; indeed, He does not like transgressors.} [Quran 7:55] When the Companions, may Allah be pleased with them, raised their voices in takbeer (saying Allahu Akbar), the Prophet, sallallaahu 'alayhi wa sallam, prohibited them from doing so and said, "O people! Be merciful to yourselves (i.e. do not raise your voice) for you are not calling a deaf or an absent one." [Al-Bukhari and Muslim]

18- It is noted that in the prayers that should be prolonged, like the night prayers of Ramadan and kusoof (i.e. solar or lunar-eclipse), many imams shorten their bowing, prostration, rising after bowing, and sitting between the two prostrations. The prayer should be proportionate to follow the Sunnah of the Prophet, sallallaahu 'alayhi wa sallam. The periods of his bowing and prostration were close to the periods of his standing. When he raised his head after bowing, he would keep standing till the people thought that he forgot. When he raised his head after the prostration, he would keep sitting until the people would think that he forgot.

Al-Bara' ibn 'Azeb, may Allah be pleased with him, said, "I viewed the prayer of the Prophet, sallallaahu 'alayhi wa sallam, so I found that his standing, bowing, standing after bowing, prostration and sitting between the two prostrations are almost equal in duration." Another narration reads, "except standing and sitting are almost equal." The intended meaning is that, if he prolongs his standing, he prolongs his bowing, prostration and what is between them and, if he shortens his standing, he shortens his bowing, prostration and what is between them.

The imams in the mosques are advised to read the description of the prayer of the Messenger of Allah, sallallaahu 'alayhi wa sallam, in Zad Al-Ma'ad and in the book of prayer by Ibn Al-Qayyim, may Allah have mercy upon him. He excelled in describing it, and this benefited us. May Allah Almighty have mercy upon him, and may He forgive us, him, our parents, and all Muslims. May the blessings of Allah Almighty be upon our Prophet Muhammad, sallallaahu 'alayhi wa sallam, and all his family and Companions.


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