By: ‘Allamah Muhammad Jawad Maghniyyah
Translated from the Arabic by Mujahid Husayn
بِسْمِ اللَّـهِ الرَّحْمَـٰنِ الرَّحِيمِ
Salat (prayer) is either obligatory (wajib) or supererogatory (mandub). The most important of prayers are the obligatory prayers performed daily five times, and there is consensus among Muslims that a person who denies or doubts their wujub is not a Muslim, even if he recites the shahadah, for these prayers are among the ‘pillars’ (arkan) of Islam. They are the established necessity of the faith (al-Din) that doesn’t need any ijtihad or study, taqlid.
Supererogatory prayers are of various kinds, and among them are those which are performed along with the obligatory daily prayers (fara’id). The schools differ regarding the number of their rak’ahs. The Shafi’is consider them to be eleven rak’ahs: two before the morning (subh) prayer, two before the noon (zuhr) prayer and two after it, two after the sunset (maghrib) prayer, two after the night (‘isha’) prayer and a single rak’ah called ‘al-watirah’
The Hanbalis consider them to be ten rak’ahs; two rak’ahs before and after the noon prayer, two after the sunset and The night prayer, and two rak’ahs before The morning prayer.
According to the Malikis there is no fixed number for the supererogatory (nawafil) prayers performed with the obligatory salat,
Though it is best to offer four rak’ahs before the zuhr and six after the maghrib prayer.
The Hanafis classify the nawafil performed along with the fara’id into ‘masnunah’ and ‘mandubah’.1 The ‘masnunah’ are five: two rak’ahs before the subh; four before the zuhr, and two after it, except on Friday; two after the maghrib and two after the ‘isha’ prayer.
The ‘mandubah’ are four: four -or two- rak’ahs before the ‘asr, six after the maghrib, and four before and after the ‘isha’ prayer.
The Imamis observe: The rawatib are 34 rak’ahs: eight before the zuhr, eight before the ‘asr, four after the maghrib, two after the ‘isha’ (recited while sitting and counted as a single rak’ah; it is called ‘al watirah’), eight rak’ahs of the midnight prayer (salat al-layl), two rak’ahs of al-shaf’, a single of al-watr,2 and two rak’ahs before the morning prayer, called ‘salat al-fajr’.
The fuqaha’ begin with salat al-zuhr, because it was the first salat to be declared obligatory, followed by the ‘asr, the maghrib, the ‘isha’ and the subh prayer, in that order. All the five prayers were made obligatory on the night of Prophet’s cosmic journey (al ‘Isra’), nine years after the beginning of his mission (bi’thah). Those who hold this opinion cite as proof verse 78 of the Surat al-’Isra’ which stipulates all the five prayers:
“Perform salat from the declining of the sun to the darkening of the night and the recital of the dawn; surely the recital of the dawn is witnessed.”(Qur’an 17:78)
The schools concur that salat is not valid if performed before its appointed time and that the time of the zuhr prayer sets in when the sun passes the meridian. They differ concerning its duration.
The Imamis say: The specific period of the zuhr prayer extends from the moment the sun crosses the meridian up to a period required to perform it, and the specific period of the ‘asr prayer is the duration required to perform it just before sunset. The time between these two specific periods is the common period for the two salats. This is the reason they consider it valid to perform both the prayers successively during their common period.3 But if the time remaining for the end of the day is sufficient only for performing the zuhr prayer, the ‘asr prayer will be offered first with the niyyah of ada’ and later the zuhr prayer will be performed as qada’.
The four Sunni schools observe: The time of the zuhr prayer begins when the sun crosses the meridian and continues till the shadow of an object becomes as long as its height; and when the length of the shadow exceeds the height of the object, the time for the zuhr prayer comes to an end. Here the Shafi’is and the Malikis add: These limits are for an unconstrained person (mukhtar), and for one who is constrained (mudarr), the time for zuhr prayer extends even after an object’s shadow equals its height. The Imamis consider the time when an object’s shadow equals its height as the end of the time of fadilah (honor) for the zuhr, and when it equals twice the height of the object as the time of fadilah for the ‘asr prayer.
The Hanafis and the Shafi’is state: The time of ‘asr prayer begins when the length of an object’s shadow exceeds its height and continues up to sunset.
The Malikis say: For the ‘asr prayer there are two times, the first for ordinary circumstances and the second for exigencies. The former begins with an object’s shadow exceeding its height and lasts until the sun turns pale. The latter begins from when the sun turns pale and continues until sunset.
The Hanbalis observe: One who delays offering the ‘asr prayer till after an object’s shadow exceeds twice its height, his salat will be considered ada’ if performed before sunset, though he will have sinned because it is haram to delay it until this time. They are alone in all the schools in holding this opinion.
The Shafi’i and the Hanbali schools (in accordance with the view of their respective Imams) state: The time for the maghrib prayer begins when the sun sets and ends when there radish after glow on the western horizon vanishes.
The Malikis say: The duration for the maghrib prayer is narrow and confined to the time required after sunset to perform the maghrib prayer along with its preliminaries of taharah and adhan, and it is not permissible to delay it voluntarily. But in an emergency, the time for the maghrib prayer extends until dawn. The Malikis are alone in considering it impermissible to delay the maghrib prayer beyond its initial time.
The Imamis observe: The period specific to the maghrib prayer extends from sunset4 for a duration required to perform it, and the specific period of the ‘isha’ prayer is the duration required to finish it before midnight. The time between these two specific periods is the common time for both maghrib and ‘isha’ prayers. Hence they allow the joint performance of these two salats during this common time.
That was with respect to someone who is in a position to act out of free choice (mukhtar), but as to a person constrained by sleep or forgetfulness, the time for these two salats extend until dawn, with the period specific for the ‘isha’ prayer becoming the time required to perform it just before dawn and the specific period for the maghrib prayer becoming the time required to perform it just after midnight.
There is consensus among The schools, with the exception of the Maliki, that the time for the morning prayer begins at day-break (al fajr al-sadiq) and lasts until sunrise. The Malikis say: The subh prayer has two times: for one in a position to act out of free choice it begins with daybreak and lasts until there is enough twilight for faces to be recognized; for one in constrained circumstances it begins from the time when faces are recognizable and continues up to sunrise.
It is wajib for a person ignorant of the qiblah to inquire and strive to determine its exact or approximate direction5, and in case neither of the two is possible, the four Sunni schools and a group from among the Imamis say: He may perform salat in any direction; his salat will be valid and it will not be wajib for him to repeat it except in the opinion of the Shafi’is.
Most Imamis observe: He will perform Salat in four directions to comply with the command for salat and to ascertain its proper performance. But if there isn’t sufficient time for performing salat four times or if one is incapable of performing it in four directions, he may perform, salat in the directions that he can.
If a person prays not facing the qiblah and comes to know about his mistake, the Imamis state: If the error is known during the salat and the correct qiblah lies between his two hands, the part of the salat already performed will be valid and he will have to correct his direction for the remaining part of the salat. But if it is known that he has been praying facing the right or the left (90 degree off the direction) or his back towards the qiblah (180 degree off the direction), the salat will be invalid and he will perform it anew.
If the error is known after performing the salat, it should be performed again if its time is still there, not otherwise. Some Imamis say: The salat will not be repeated if there is only a little deviation from the qiblah, irrespective of whether its time is still there or not.
But if it has been performed facing the right or the left (90 degree off), it should be repeated if its time is there, not otherwise. If the salat is performed with one’s back to the qiblah (180 degree off), it should be repeated regardless of whether its time is still there or has passed
The Hanafis and the Hanbalis observe: If after inquiring and striving to find the qiblah one is unable to ascertain its approximate direction and performs salat in a direction which turns out to be wrong,
he must change his direction accordingly if the mistake is known during the salat, and if it is known afterwards his salat is valid and he has no further obligation.
The Shafi’is say: If it becomes certain that there has been a mistake in determining the qiblah, it is wajib to repeat the salat, but if there is only a likelihood of mistake, the salat is valid Irrespective of whether the probability arises during the salat or after it.
As to one who neither makes an inquiry nor an effort to determine the qiblah, but by chance performs the salat in the right direction, the Malikis and Hanbalis consider his salat to be invalid.
The opinion of the Imamis and the Hanafis is that his salat is valid provided he has no doubts while praying and was sure about the direction of the qiblah at the time of starting the salat, because, as pointed out by the Imamis, in such a situation it is correct for him to make the niyyah of acquiring nearness (qurbah) to God.
The schools concur that it is wajib (necessary) upon both men and women to cover those parts of their bodies during salat which should ordinarily be kept covered before ‘strangers’6. Beyond that their positions differ. Is it wajib for a woman to cover, fully or partly, her face and hands during salat, although she is not required to do so outside salat? Is it wajib for a man to cover other parts of his body during salat apart from the area between the navel and the knees, though it is not wajib to do so outside salat?
The Hanafis observe: It is wajib upon a woman to cover the back of her hands and the soles of her feet as well, and upon a man to cover his knees in addition to the area between the navel and the knees.
The Shafi’is and Malikis say: It is permissible for a woman to keep her face and both the palms and the back of her hands uncovered during salat.
The Hanbalis state: It is not permissible for her to expose any part except the face.
The Imamis observe: It is wajib for both men and women to cover only those parts of their body during salat which they are supposed to cover ordinarily in the presence of a ‘stranger’. Hence it is permissible for a woman to expose during salat that part of her face which is washed during wudhu’; her hands up to the wrists, and her feet up to the ankles both the back as well as the palms of hands and the soles of feet. For a man, it is wajib to cover the rear and the private parts, though better to cover the entire area between the navel and the knees.
The covering should meet the following requirements where the ability and freedom to meet them exist:
1. Taharah: The purity of The covering and the body are necessary for the validity of salat in the opinion of all the schools, although each of them concedes certain exceptions in accordance with the following details:
The Imamis state: Blood from wounds and sores, irrespective of its quantity, is considered excusable on The dress as well as the body if its removal entails difficulty and harm (mashaqqah and haraj). A blood spot smaller than the size of a dirham coin, regardless of its being due to one’s blood or that of someone else, is also excusable provided that: it is in a single place and not in different places; it is not the blood of hayd, nifas and istihadah; it is not the blood of anything intrinsically najis, such as dog and pig, or the blood of a dead body.
Also excusable is the impurity of anything that does not constitute part of essential dress during salat, e.g. a sash, cap, socks, shoes, ring, anklet and that which one carries with oneself, e.g. knife or currency. The impurity of the dress of a woman rearing a child, irrespective of whether she is the mother or someone else, is exempted on condition that it be difficult for her to change it and that she washes it once every day. In other words, in their opinion every najasah on dress or body is exempted in conditions of emergency (idtirar).
The Malikis observe: Cases of uncontrolled discharge of urine or excrement, as well as piles, are excusable; so is any impurity on the body or clothes of a woman suckling an infant that may be soiled by the infant’s urine or feces. So also are exempted the body and clothes of a butcher, surgeon and scavenger. Also exempted is: blood –even that of a pig- if it is less than the size of a dirham coin: the discharge from boils, the excrement of fleas, and other things which need not be mentioned because they occur rarely.
The Hanafis say: Najasah, blood or anything else, if less than the size of a dirham coin is exempted. Also exempted in emergencies is the urine and excrement of a cat and mouse. Tiny splashes- as small as the point of a needle- of urine, the blood that unavoidably stains a butcher, and the mud on roads- even if it is usually mixed with najasah and provided the najasah itself is not visible- are exempted. Consequently, they consider najasah in a small quantity as exempted, such as the urine of an animal eating which is halal, if it covers a fourth of the clothes and less than one-fourth of the body.
According to the Shafi’is, every najasah which is in such a small quantity that the eye cannot see it is exempted. So is the mud on roads which is mixed with a small quantity of najasah, worms present in fruits and cheese, najis liquids added in medicines and perfumes, excrements of birds, najis hair in small quantity if they do not belong to a dog or a pig, and other things as well which are mentioned in detailed works.
The Hanbalis say: Minute quantities of blood and pus are ex- empted, and so is the mud on roads whose najasah is certain, as well as the najasah that enters the eyes and washing which is harmful.
2. Wearing Silk: There is consensus among the schools that wearing silk and gold is haram for men both during and outside salat, while it is permissible for women. This is in accordance with this statement of the Prophet (S):
Wearing silk and gold is unlawful for the men of my ummah, while it is lawful for its women.
Accordingly, the Imamis observe: A man’s salat is not valid if he wears pure silk and any clothing embroidered with gold during it, regardless of whether it is a waistband, cap, socks, or even a gold ring. They allow wearing silk during salat in times of illness and during war.
The Shafi’is state: If a man performs salat while wearing silk or over something made of it, it will be considered a haram act, though his salat will be valid (al-Nawawi, Sharh al-Muhadhdhab, iii, 179). I have not found an express statement in the books of the remain- ing schools concerning the validity or invalidity of salat performed in silk, though the Hanafis as well as the Hanbalis (in accordance with one of two narrations) concur with the Shafi’is regarding the general rule that if there is any command prohibiting something which is not directly connected with salat such as the command prohibiting usurpa- tion- the salat will be valid if it is not observed and The person will be considered as having performed a wajib and a haram act together.
Accordingly the salat performed in a dress of silk is valid. The author of al-fiqh ‘ala al-madhahib al-’arba’ah reports a consensus for the Sunni schools that that it is valid for a man constrained to perform salat while wearing silk, and it is not wajib for him to repeat it.
3. Lawfulness of the Clothing: The Imamis consider it necessary that the clothing worn to be lawfully owned. Hence if a person performs salat in usurped clothes with the knowledge of their being so, his salat is invalid. This is also the opinion of Ibn Hanbal in one of the two statements narrated from him.
The other schools regard salat in usurped clothes as valid on the grounds that the prohibition does not directly relate to salat so as to invalidate it.
The Imamiyyah are very strict concerning usurpation, and some of them even observe: If a person performs salat in clothes in which a single thread is usurped, or carries with him an usurped knife, dirham, or any other thing, his salat will not be valid. But they also say: If one performs salat in usurped clothes out of ignorance or forgetfulness, his salat is valid.
4. The Skin of Uneatable Animals: The Imamis are alone in holding that it is invalid to perform salat while wearing the skin (even if tanned) of an animal whose flesh is not allowed to be eaten, as well as anything consisting its hair, wool, fur or feathers. The same is true of clothes bearing any secretion from its body- eg. sweat and saliva- as long as it is wet.
Hence, even if a single hair of a cat or any such animal happens to be present on the dress of a person performing salat and if he performs it with the knowledge of its presence, his salat is invalid.
They exclude wax, honey, the blood of bugs; lice, fleas and other insects which have no flesh, as well as the hair, sweat and saliva of human beings.
They also consider salat invalid if any part of a dead animal (maytah) happens to be on the clothes irrespective of whether the animal is one used for food or not, whether its blood flows when cut or not, and its skin is tanned or not.
A Subsidiary Issue: If there is only a single clothing to cover the body and that too is najis to an extent that is not excusable, what should one do if he has no alternative other than either performing salat in the najis clothing or in the state of nature?
The Hanbalis say: He should perform salat in the najis clothing, but it is wajib upon him to repeat it later.
The Malikis and a large number of Imamis observe: He should perform salat in the najis clothing and its repetition is not wajib upon him.
The Hanafis and the Shafi’is state: He should perform salat naked and it is not valid for him to cover himself with the najis clothing.
An Usurped Place: The Imamis consider salat performed in an usurped place and usurped clothing as invalid provided it is done voluntarily and with the knowledge of the usurpation. The other schools observe: The salat performed in an usurped place is valid, though the person performing it will have sinned, since the prohibition does not relate directly to salat; rather, it relates to dispensations (of property). Their position in this regard is the same as in the case of usurped clothing.
Furthermore in the opinion of the four schools the Salat of usurper himself is valid in usurped property.
The Imamis also consider as valid the salat of the true owner and anyone whom he permits, and regard as invalid the salat of the usurper and anyone whom the owner has not granted permission. The Imamis however permit salat in vast stretches of (owned) land which are either impossible or difficult for people to avoid, even if the permission of the owner has not been acquired.
Taharah (purity) of the Place: The four Sunni schools observe: The place should be free from both wet and dry najasah (impurity). The Shafi’is overdo by saing: The taharah of all that which touches and comes into contact with the body or clothes of the performer is wajib.
Therefore, if he rubs himself against a najis wall or cloth or holds a najis object or a rope laying over najasah, his salat will be invalid. The Hanafis require only the location of the feet and the forehead to be tahir. The Imamis restrict it to the loca- tion of the forehead, i.e. the place of sajdah. As to the najasah of other locations, the salat will not be invalid unless the najasah is transmitted to the body or clothing of the performer (the person performing salat).
Salat Performed on a Mount: The Hanafis and the Imamis require the place to be stationary; hence it is not valid in their opinion to perform salat while riding an animal or something that swings back and forth, except out of necessity, because one who has no choice will perform salat in accordance with his capacity.
The Shafi’is, Malikis and Hanbalis observe: Salat performed on a mount is valid even during times of peace and despite the ability to perform it on the ground, provided it is performed completely and meets all the requirements.
Salat Inside the Ka’bah: The Imamis, Shafi’is and Hanafis state: It is valid to perform salat, faridah or nafilah, inside the Ka’bah. The Malikis and the Hanbalis say: Only nafilah, not faridah, is valid therein.
A Woman’s Prayer Beside a Man: A group of Imami legists observe: If a man and a woman perform salat in a single place so that she is either in front of him or beside him, and there is neither any screen between them nor does the distance between the two exceed 10 cubits, the salat of the one who starts earlier will not be invalid, and if both star simultaneously, the salat of both will be invalid.
The Hanafis say: If the woman is in front or beside a man, the salat will be invalid if performed in a single place with no screen at least a cubit high between them, the woman has sex appeal, her shanks and ankles are adjacent to his, the salat is not a funeral prayer, and the salat is being jointly performed, i.e. either she is following him or both are following a single imam.
The Shafi’is, the Hanbalis and most Imamis are of the view that the salat is valid, though the manner of performance is makruh. The Locale of Sajdah: The schools concur that the place where the forehead is placed during prostration should be stationary and should not be inordinately higher than the location of the knees (during sajdah). They differ regarding that on which sajdah is valid.
The Imamis state: It is valid to perform sajdah only on earth and those things which grow on it which are not used for food or clothing. Therefore, a person cannot perform sajdah on wool, cotton, minerals and that which grows on the surface of water, for water is not earth.
They permit sajdah on paper because it is made of a material which grows on earth. They argue their position by pointing out that sajdah is an ‘ibadah (obedience) prescribed by the Shari’ah that depends for its particulars on textual evidence (nass). The legists of all the schools concur regarding the validity of sajdah on earth and that which grows on it, thus Imamis restrict it to that because there is certainty. They offer as further evidence these traditions of the Prophet (S):
The salat of any of you will not be valid unless he performs wudhu’ as instructed by God and then performs sajdah by placing his forehead on the earth. The earth has been created a masjid (a place for performing sajdah) and a purifier.
Khabbab says: "We complained to The Prophet (S) regarding the excessive heat of sun-baked ground on our foreheads, but he did not accept our complaint."7
Had it been valid to perform sajdah on carpets, why would they have complained?! However Imamis permit sajdah on cotton and linen in the case of emergency.
The four schools observe: It is valid to perform sajdah on anything, including even a part of one’s turban, provided it is tahir. Rather, the Hanafis permit sajdah on one’s palm even without an emergency, though it is considered as makruh.
For the Shi’a it is only acceptable to perform "Sujood”on a material that is not worn (used to make cloths) or eaten (i.e. foods for people) The best thing to make sujood on is earth (soil/clay) the second being Hasir (bamboo-nitted mat/rug). That’s what the prophet used to do based on even Sunni refernces such as Sahih Bukhari, volume 1, section on prayer on the "Khumrah”(a formed clay, referred to as "turbah”today):
Sahih al-Bukhari Hadith: 1.376
Narrates ‘Abdullah bin Shaddad:
Maimuna said, "Allah’s Apostle was praying while I was in my menses, sitting beside him and sometimes his clothes would touch me during his prostration.”Maimuna added, "He prayed on a Khumra (a small mat ufficient just for the forehead while prostrating during prayers).
Sahih al-Bukhari Hadith: 1.378
Allah’s Apostle used to pray on Khumra.
Sahih al-Bukhari Hadith: 1.331
Narrated Jabir bin ‘Abdullah:
The Prophet said: "... The earth has been made for me (and for my followers) the place for prostrating and a mean to perform Tayammum, therefore anyone of my followers can pray wherever the time of a prayer is due."
Sahih al-Bukhari Hadith: 1.373
Narrated Abu Juhaifa:
I saw Allah’s Apostle in a red leather tent and I saw Bilal taking the remaining water with which the Prophet had performed ablution. I saw the people taking the utilized water impatiently and whoever got some of it rubbed it on his body and those who could not get any took the moisture from the others’ hands. Then I saw Bilal carrying an ‘Anza (a spear-headed stick) which he planted in the ground. The Prophet came out tucking up his red cloak, and led the people in prayer and offered two Rakat (facing the Ka’ba) taking ‘Anza as a Sutra for his prayer. I saw the people and animals passing in front of him beyond the ‘Anza.
Sahih al-Bukhari Hadith: 7.752
The Prophet used to construct a loom with a Hasir (a wooden carpet) at night in order to pray therein, and during the day he used to spread it out and sit on it.
It is noteworthy that both Hasir (wooden carpet) and Khumra (formed clay) are natural made of earth, and are not eatable nor used for clothing. Thus they can be used for the place of Sajdah. Regural rugs (woollen or synthetic materials) are not natural made of earth.
That which is rumored regarding Shi'is that they do not break their fast during Ramadan until the stars become visible, has no basis. In fact they denounce this opinion in their books on fiqh with the argument that the stars may be visible before sunset, at the time of sunset or after it, and declare that "one who delays the maghrib prayer till the stars appear is an accursed man (mal'un ibn mal'un).”
They have said this in condemnation of the Khattabiyyah (an extrimist sect which deviated from Shi’a), the followers of Abu al-Khattab, who held this belief. Thanks to God that they are now one of the extinct sects. lmam al-Sadiq a.s. was told that the people of Iraq delay the maghrib prayer until the stars become visible. He answered, "That is on account of Abu al-Khattab, enemy of Allah."
Others disagree and point out that there is no abrogation involved here, nor is it a case of one being particular and the other general. The way to reconcile the two verses, they point out, is that the former verse applies to those who know the direction of the qiblah and commands them to turn towards it. The latter verse specifically applies to one who is at a loss regarding its direction and orders him to perform salat in any direction he wants. This opinion seems to be more credible.
Most Imamis and the Hanbalis say: There is no difference between Muslim and non-Muslim women. But according to the Imamis it is makruh for a Muslim woman to expose herself before a non-Muslim woman, because she may describe what she observes from that muslim woman to non-muslim man.