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Offering Fajr Sunnah When Jamaah Has Started

By Mufti Taqi Usmani


Q.) Several of the brothers from Pakistan when they arrive late in Masjid (Fajr jamaah has started) they proceed to perform sunnah salat and ignore the fard salat. When asked we are told that this is permitted by Imam Abu Hanifah (Rahmat-ul-Allah alayh) if you feel that you can finish the sunnah before the Imam finishes the fard and is standard practice in Pakistan. I have never come across any hadith to this effect. The hadiths copied below seem to negate this idea.

(1) Abu Hurairah reports that the Prophet, Sall-Allahu alayhi wa sallam, said: "Whoever fails to pray the two (sunnah) rak'ahs of Fajr until the sun rises, (he should then) pray them." (Reported by Bayhaqi. Nawawi says its chain is good.)

(2) Qays ibn Umar relates that he went to the Fajr prayer and found the Prophet, Sall-Allahu alayhi wa sallam, praying. Although Qays had not prayed the sunnah prayer, he joined the Prophet, Sall-Allahu alayhi wa sallam, and prayed with him. When he had finished salat al-Fajr, he prayed the two rak'ahs (sunnah) prayer. The Messenger of Allah passed by him and inquired: "What is this prayer?" Qays then informed him of all that had happened. The Prophet, Sall-Allahu alayhi wa sallam, kept silent and did not say anything. (Reported by Ahmad, Ibn Khuzaymah, Ibn Hibban, Tirmidhi, Abu Dawud and Ibn Majah. Al-Iraqi says its chain is Hasan.)

(According to the principles of fiqh, if the Prophet, Sall-Allahu alayhi wa sallam, kept silent on something, it meant he must have approved of it. Otherwise, he would have been obliged to speak out against it.)

(3) Ahmad, Bukhari and Muslim relate from Imran ibn Husayn that, during a journey, the Prophet, Sall-Allahu alayhi wa sallam, slept past the time of salat al-Fajr and when he woke he waited for the sun to rise a little and then he ordered the mu'adhdhin to make the adhan. Then, the Prophet , Sall-Allahu alayhi wa sallam, prayed the Fajr sunnah, after which he ordered the iqamah to be made and prayed salat al-Fajr.

It is apparent from this hadith that one is to make up the sunnah prayer before or after the sun rises, regardless of whether only the sunnah prayer is missed or both the sunnah and fard are missed, are whether there is a valid excuse or not. It may be made up by itself or with the obligatory dawn prayer. (Ashmead M. All)


A.) There is a difference of opinion among the Muslim jurists on the question whether a person who comes to the Masjid for praying sunnah of Fajr and finds the jamaah started should join the jamaah immediately or should pray sunnah first and then join the jamaah. The opinion of Imam Al-Shafi'i and Imam Ahmad is that he should join the jamaah and pray sunnah after the jamaah is finished, either before sun rise or after that. On the other hand Imam Abu Hanifah and Imam Malik are of the views that if one expects to find at least one rakat of the jamaah he may pray sunnah preferably in his home or at a place in the Masjid which is distant from the Imam. This view of Imam Abu Hanifah's based firstly on the Mutawatir Ahadith prohibiting any prayer after the fard of Fajr upto the sun rise and secondly on the basis of the practice of a large number of Sahaba who used to pray sunnat before they joined the jamaah. This practice is reported from Abdullah Ibn 'Umar, Abdullah ibn Masud, Abdullah ibn Abbas and Abu al-Darda (Radi-Allahu anhum ajma'een). These reports may be seen in Tahavi 1:183 and Musannaf Abdur Razzaq v.2 p.444 No. 4021 etc.

So far as the Hadith you have quoted from Qays Ibn Amr, Imam al-Tirmidhi has mentioned that the chain of its narrators is broken. Moreover, this Hadith is reported in different versions. Therefore, this narration is not held by Imam Abu Hanifah and Imam Malik to be of such a status that may repudiate the rule prescribed in the Mutawatir Ahadith that no prayer after fard of Fajr is allowed until sun rises.

It is to be noted that such differences in the opinions of the Muslims Jurists have long been discussed and debated. Every Muslim Jurist has some basis in the Qur'an, Sunnah or in the practice of the Sahabah and their differing views are based on various interpretations of the same resources of the Islamic Shariah. Therefore, whoever adopts a practice based on any one of these schools of interpretation should not be blamed of violating the Shariah or the Sunnah, nor should these differences be taken as a means of creating disputes or quarrels between the Muslims because every Muslim Jurist did his best to reach the truth and no one is totally incorrect.


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