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All praise be to Allâh, the Lord of the worlds, and may salutations, prayer, peace and blessings descend upon His beloved, the best of creation, Prophet Muhammad.
A Muslim is duty bound to obey Allâh and his Messenger in all matters of life, ranging from personal purity and prayer to the political and economic affairs of the state. The laws of Islam regulate his worship, character, dealings, individual and social behavior, and his speech and deeds, in both private and in public.
To be informed of his obligations, and to make himself aware of Islam’s commandments a believer must turn to both the Qur’ân and the Sunnah of the Prophet . For the purposes of his understanding both sources are interdependent and indispensable. The Qur’ân is the word of Allâh, and the Messenger’s Sunnah, serves as its exposition and practical application. The origins of both lie in revelation and, although one is ascribed to Allâh and the other to the Prophet , both stem from the same divine source. Allâh says of his Messenger , ‘Nor does he speak of (his own) desire. It is nothing but a revelation that is revealed.’ [al Najm 53:4]
Even with the Qur’ân being present, a person’s faith and his understanding of it will both remain incomplete without recourse to the Sunnah. The Prophet was the perfect embodiment of the Qur’ân’s teachings, and his example was the supreme standard set by Allâh for all to follow. To obey his Lord and please Him, it is imperative that the believer adopts the way of the Prophet and abides by it. Allâh says, ‘Whoever obeys the Messenger, he has indeed obeyed Allâh.’ [al Nisa 4:80]
The Sahâbah who were chosen by Allâh to be his Prophet’s companions best understood this obligation and fulfilled it to the utmost. In their zeal to follow the prophetic example, they closely observed and emulated even the minutest details of his actions and behavior. They beheld his manner of ablution and washed accordingly. His instructions were ‘Pray as you have seen me praying’, [Bukhari 605] and so they stood by close in the congregational salâh and strove to catch every detail of his posture, movements and recitation, and then molded their prayer to his. The same procedure was devotedly followed with the Prophet’s fast and supererogatory prayers, personal habits, inclinations, likes and dislikes. Each companion based what he could of his actions on what he had seen or heard directly from the Prophet . The rest he would learn from his fellow companions who had seen or received the teachings at first hand.
After the Prophet left this world, many of his companions emigrated from Madînah either by conscription in military expeditions or by simply taking up residence in other cities. Privileged with the legacy of the Prophet’s auspicious company and tutoring, and held in love and reverence by the inhabitants of these cities, they quickly became religious authorities tasked with the responsibilities of instruction, guidance, and consultation. They discharged their duty to the best of their ability, imparting the knowledge they had acquired and faithfully conveying the treasure of prophethood to their pupils amongst the Tabi’un, who in turn passed it on to their disciples amongst the Tab’ Tabi’een. It was these very teachings that were collected by scholars such as Imam Abu Hanifah and the other fuqaha and developed into a vast and complex yet coherent system of fiqh governing every aspect of Muslim life. It was founded, not on the detached opinions of a few individuals as some continue to allege, but on the teachings and practices of the Sahâbah , taken ultimately from the Prophet himself.
These schools of fiqh, which were further developed, refined and consolidated by the learned followers of the Imams and adopted and endorsed by virtually all the Muslims throughout the centuries, have survived till this day and are still adhered to by the clear majority of the ummah. Sadly, of late, they have come under attack from some who purport to follow the Qur’ân & Sunnah directly, and who callously dismiss the madhahib as being the ‘opinions of a few individuals’ and denounce their adoption as ‘blind following’. This emerging trend amongst the Muslims of inviting all and sundry to abandon the madhahib and take direct recourse to the original sources of the Sharî’ah is but a simplistic slogan, which in one call endeavors to dispose entirely of a complex system of fiqh that has endured the trials of time, and that has been so carefully cultivated by a brilliant Islamic scholarship over many centuries. Claims by such individuals, of today of being able to draw inspiration directly from the Qur’ân and Sunnah and of extracting guidelines and rules without the academic mediation of learned authorities are superficial, and wholly without foundation or substance.
One of the most conspicuous implementations of this fiqh in the daily life of a Muslim is the manner of performing salâh. It is the first and greatest obligation of Islam after faith, and a visible act of worship that is repeated a number of times daily, in congregation. It exemplifies the application of fiqh, and in its few and short movements epitomizes the refined and consolidated learning and practice of centuries. This ideological struggle between the vast majority who adhere to the madhahib of fiqh and the dissenting minority who seek to discard them is no more apparent than in salâh.
It has always been the view and practice of a great portion of the Muslim ummah to perform their salâh according to the Hanafi fiqh. This practice originates not from any wish to follow the opinions of individuals, but from an earnest and honest desire to fulfill the Prophet’s command ‘Pray as you have seen me praying.’[Bukhari 605] It stems from the belief that this is the prayer of the Prophet himself, as observed, preserved and conveyed by a great number of Sahâbah and collected and adopted by the Tabi’un and Tab’ Tabi’een including Imam Abu Hanifah and his fellow ‘ulamâ.
Under the pretext of a simplistic return to the Qur’ân and Sunnah and as part of the wider censure of fiqh discussed earlier, this method of salâh has also been subjected to a sustained and concerted attack of unscholarly criticism and denunciation, and at times even ridicule and scorn. This has created great confusion and has thrown many people into an undeserved state of guilt leading them to think that their method of salâh has no basis in the Sharî’ah, and that their daily prayers are nothing but a series of motions that contradict the Sunnah of the Prophet .
This book describes the procedure of salâh from the beginning to the end according to the fiqh of Imam Abu Hanifah, his mujtahid companions and their countless followers. Rather than simply list the juristic pronouncements of the Imams, it details every movement and posture of salâh and substantiates them from the ahadeeth of the Prophet , the narrations of the Sahâbah and Tabi’un and, where relevant, from the verses of the Qur’ân. It thus demonstrates that the method of salâh in the Hanafi fiqh is not only in total agreement with the Qur’ân and Sunnah but is, in fact, derived exclusively from them as understood, practiced and taught by the Sahâbah and the learned Muslims of the early generations.
The book is divided into three parts. Part One contains a very brief and simple description of salâh from the beginning to the end. In this section no evidences are mentioned nor any discussion entered into regarding any aspect of salâh.
The second part of the book serves as a commentary to Part One. Here, each sentence from the first part has been repeated as a heading together with supporting verses of the Qur’ân (if applicable), ahadeeth of the Prophet and verdicts and practice of the Sahâbah and Tabi’un. Some of the names of the Sahâbah, Tabi’un, Tab’ Tabi'een, and the mujtahid Imams of fiqh who were known to have adopted the same view and practice have also been listed. In this section only supporting narrations are mentioned. The opposing arguments of those who hold an alternative view on the method of performing any particular action of salâh are not discussed.
Part Three consists of a number of chapters, each of which examines a particular issue of salâh in detail that has been made a point of controversy by certain people. The evidences of the Hanafi fiqh in each of these questions have been listed together with a detailed analysis of the opposing arguments. An attempt has also been made to reconcile apparently contradictory ahadeeth on the same subject by way of giving them a suitable explanation in a different context or incorporating them into the meaning of other ahadeeth.
The book also contains a section on biographies that provides some brief details about the lives and works of many of the scholars whose verdicts have been quoted, especially in relation to the referencing and classification of hadeeth. There is also a glossary at the end that explains the technical terms used in the book.
I have made every attempt to fully exploit the resources available to me and thus collect as many ahadeeth from as many different sources as possible on the various topics of salâh discussed, in particular those that have been made controversial. Rather than rely on the attribution of ahadeeth by other authors, I have personally referred to the original collections to ensure both the correct referencing of the ahadeeth and their suitability to be used in any particular context. This has been done with virtually every reference of hadeeth in the book. In the few exceptional cases where this has not been possible I have mentioned the names of the authors whose ascription I have depended on.
It should also be noted that whenever a hadeeth has been quoted from more than one source, as is most often the case, the names of the transmitting authors have been placed in order of seniority according to their dates of death. For example one footnote reference reads: ‘Abdul Razzaq 2539, Ibn Abi Shaibah 2378, Ahmad 1009, Ibn Majah 275, Abu Dawood 61 & 618, and Tirmidhi 3.’ These are the names of the authors with the reference number of the same hadeeth in their individual collections. They have been listed in order of seniority as their respective dates of death are: Abdul Razzaq (d. 211 AH), Ibn Abi Shaibah (d. 235 AH), Ahmad (d. 241 AH), Ibn Majah (d. 273 AH), Abu Dawood (d. 275 AH), and Tirmidhi (d. 279 AH). This has been done throughout the book.
Mostly for the sake of brevity, as in the example given above, only the names of the authors of hadeeth are mentioned without the complete details of their works. There is a reference note at the end of the book, which lists the respective works of these authors that are being referred to in such cases. It should also be remembered that the references given are from the original Arabic works, whose details such as edition numbers and dates of publication are given in the bibliography at the end of the book.
Despite these undertakings, I make no claims about this work and confess that it is far from complete and can be improved upon greatly. It is a small and humble effort on my part, and like any human endeavor it will not be void of shortcomings and flaws. If what I have written is correct then it is from Allâh and to Him belongs all praise, and if it is incorrect then it is from myself and Shaitân, and Allâh and his Prophet are innocent of it.
I pray and hope that this work will furnish readers with a better understanding of the method of salâh according to the Hanafi fiqh, and enable them to appreciate that Muslims who offer their prayers in this manner have an equal if not greater entitlement than others to the claim of’ following the Qur’ân and Sunnah and of performing their salâh in conformity with that of the noble Prophet .
I finally pray to Allâh that He makes this modest endeavor sincere, protects it from error, graces it with divine acceptance and pleasure, and makes it a source of light in both worlds and a means of salvation on the Day of Reckoning. Ameen.
Riyadh ul Haq
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Last modified 08/12/05 09:25 AM - Iqra - ISSN #1062-2756