Questions on Jurisprudence
Questions on Jurisprudence
Abdul Hussein Shareefaldin Al-Musawi
I was first introduced to the Masa'il Fiqhiyya when I was a student in Qumm, Iran. Sayyid 'Ali Asgher Milani, the grandson of the late Ayatullah Milani, gave me a copy of the book and urged me to translate it so as "...to let the world know the truth of the Twelver Shi'i practices."
When I read the book, I was impressed by the author's erudite and academic approach. Although he was dealing with very delicate and sensitive issues regarding Muslim liturgies, he approached them in a non-polemical, non-rhetorical and non-provocative manner. I was also impressed by his copious citations of his sources, in virtually every issue he dealt with.
I decided to translate this book as it deals with questions on ritual issues which Muslims frequently ask about. I believe that both Muslim and non-Muslim scholars of Islam will benefit immensely from the translation of this work especially as many of them are not aware of the genesis of the Twelver Shi'i practices.
Translating a text on Islamic jurisprudence is fraught with difficulties. I have remained as faithful as possible to the original Arabic version. However, where necessary, I have used square packets to insert words in a sentence so as to facilitate a more meaningful translation in English. The normal packets have been used to translate or explain Arabic terms.
The translation of this work would not have been possible without the help extended to me by many people. I am indebted to Sayyid Fadhil Milani, Sayyid Muhammad Hussein Jalali and Dr. Mahmud Ayoub for their help in dealing with some difficult parts of the text.
Shaheen Lakhani helped type parts of the text. Hasanain Kara was instrumental in designing the cover of the book. Taha Jaffer and Tehsin Takim both made invaluable contributions towards the final text.
Finally, I am also indebted to my wife, Fatima, and our two children for their sacrifices so that I could devote time to the translation. Needless to say, I am entirely responsible for any errors that may have occurred in this work.
Sayyid 'Abd al-Husayn Sharaf al-Din was born in Kadhimiyya, Iraq, in the year 1290 A.H./1872 A.D. He left Lebanon to pursue his studies in Iraq at the age of 17.
Sayyid Sharaf al-Din attained the level of ijtihad (independent reasoning in legal issues) at the age of 32 in the year 1322 A.H., returning to his home in Jabal 'Amil after having been away for fifteen years. He based himself in the city of Sur and became known to his people in a short period of time. Later, the highest ranking religious authority in Lebanon, Sayyid 'Ali al-Amin, authorized him to issue fatawa (juridical rulings).
In addition to his engagement in social work in Sur and Jabal 'Amil, Sayyid Sharaf al-Din continued his efforts writing and publishing. He also struggled for the unity of the Muslims. In the year 1327 A.H. he published al-Fusul al-Muhimah fi Ta'lif al-Ummah, a book which emphasized the necessity to unite the Muslims. In this text, he addressed the disputes and differences between the Shiites and the Sunnis.
In 1331 A.H., he had the opportunity to implement his views on Muslim unity. He visited Egypt and met Sheikh Salim al-Bishri, the head of al-Azhar. The outcome of their discussions and long correspondence was the book al-Muraja'at, which is highly recognized and circulated in the Muslim world, having been translated into twenty languages. Al-Muraja'at is one of the best known books in Islamic studies due to its objective approach, depth, concise language and the strength of its arguments.
One of the steps he took to unite the Muslim umma was choosing the 12th of Rabi' al-Awal to celibate the birthday of the Prophet Muhammad rather than 17th of Rabi' al-Awal. He deliberately chose this date because it was the one recognized by the Sunni Muslims, and he wished to ping all the Muslims, Shiites and Sunnis, closer to each other. After observing this event in his mosque, Sayyid Sharaf al-Din would go the Sunnis to celepate the occasion with them.
In the Name of God, the most Merciful, the most Kind
There is no difference - between all the Islamic schools of thought amongst the ahl al-qibla - in allowing the combination of the two obligatory prayers, al-zuhr and al-'asr, at 'Arafa at the time of the noon (al-zuhr) prayer. Technically, this is [called] jam' al-taqdim (the preceding combination). Similarly, there is no difference between them in allowing the combination of the two obligatory [prayers] - al-maghrib and al-'isha' - at al-Muzdalifa at the time of the 'isha' [prayers]. Technically, this is called jam' al-ta'khir (the delayed combination). There is no difference [amongst the scholars] in preferring these two combinations. Indeed, they are amongst the prophetic practices. However, they (the scholars) have differed as to the permissibility of combining the prayers in other instances.
The point of disagreement here is the permissibility of combining two obligatory prayers by performing them together at the time stipulated for one of them either by pinging it forward (taqdiman) as at 'Arafa or by delaying it (ta'khiran) like the combination in al-Muzdalifa.
The Imams from the family of Muhammad (S.A.W.) have declared that this is permissible at all times although it is better to separate them. Their followers (Shi'as) have followed them in this [ruling] at all times and places. Most of the time, they combine al-zuhr and al-'asr and [also] al-maghrib and al-'isha', whether they are traveling or at home, whether they have an excuse [to combine] or without an excuse. Jam' al-taqdim and jam' al-ta'khir are equally valid for them [at all times].
As for the Hanafis, they have prohibited the combination [of prayers] absolutely except when combining at 'Arafa and al-Muzdalifa. [This is] despite the presence of numerous clear sahih (authentic traditions) which allow the combination, especially when travelling. However, despite the clear [traditions] they interpreted them to refer to an unintentional combination (al-jam' al-suri). The invalidity of this [view] will become clear to you soon, God willing.
As for the Shafi'is, Malikis and Hanbalis, they have allowed it (the combination) when travelling although there are differences between them. Otherwise, they are not allowed to combine except for [genuine] excuses, for example, when there is rain, soil, sickness and fear. There are also differences between them on the conditions which constitute travelling which can be [termed] legal.
Our proofs which we rely on between us and our God, the Almighty, on this and on other issues are the authentic [traditions] from our Imams, peace be upon them. We shall argue with the masses (jumhur) by referring to their authentic traditions since they clearly point to what we claim. For us, sufficient proofs are [provided by] what the two Sheikhs have reported in the Sahihs. We present to you what Muslim has narrated in his Sahih in the chapter on the combination of prayers when at home. He says:
"Yahya b. Yahya reported: 'I read from Malik from b. Abu al-Zubayr from Sa'id b. Jubayr from Ibn 'Abbas [who] said: 'The Prophet of God (S.A.W.) prayed the zuhr and 'asr prayers together and [he also offered] the maghrib and 'isha' prayers together even though there was neither any fear nor was he travelling.'"
Muslim said: "And Abu Bakr b. Abi Shayba narrated to us that Sufyan b. 'Uyayna reported from 'Amr b. Dinar from Abu Sha'sha' Jabir b. Zayd from Ibn 'Abbas who said: 'I prayed with the Prophet (P) the eight [cycles] (of prayer) together and the seven [cycles] together.' 'Amr b. Dinar said: 'I said: 'O Abu Sha'sha' I think he delayed the zuhr and hastened [to pray] the 'asr and he delayed the maghrib and hastened [to pray] the 'isha'.' He (Abu Sha'sha') said: 'I think so too.'" I (the author) say: "They only follow [their] conjectures, and the conjecture does not lead to the truth."
Muslim said: "Abu al-Rabi'i al-Zahrani said that Hammad b. Zayd reported from 'Amr b. Dinar from Jabir b. Zayd from Ibn 'Abbas: 'Indeed the Prophet of God (P) prayed in Medina the seven and eight cycles, the zuhr and 'asr and the maghrib and the 'isha' [together].'"
He (Muslim) said: "And Abu al-Rabi'i al-Zahrani told me that Hammad narrated to us from al-Zubayr b. al-Kharit from 'Abd Allah b. Shaqiq who said: 'One day Ibn 'Abbas delivered a sermon to us after the 'asr [prayer] until the sun had set and the stars had begun to appear. The people started to say: 'The prayer! The prayer!.' He said: 'A man from the Banu Tamim, who was not smiling or inclined [in stature], came to him (Ibn 'Abbas) and said: 'The prayer! the prayer!.' Ibn 'Abbas said: 'Do you teach me the sunna O one who has no mother?' Then he said: 'I saw the Prophet of God (P) combine the zuhr and 'asr and the maghrib and 'isha'.' 'Abd Allah b. Shaqiq said: 'Something about that bothered me, so I came to Abu Hurayra and I asked him about it and he verified his statement.'"
Muslim said: "And Ibn Abi 'Umar told us that Waqi' reported that 'Imran b. Hudayr reported from 'Abd Allah b. Shaqiq al-'Uqayli that a man said to Ibn 'Abbas: 'The prayer!', then he kept quiet. Then he said: 'The prayer!' then he kept quiet. Then he said: 'The prayer!' and he kept quiet. Ibn 'Abbas said: 'You have no mother! Do you teach us about the prayer, we used to combine the two prayers in the time of the Prophet of God (P)'".
I (the author) say: Al-Nasai narrated from 'Amr b. Harm from Abu Sha'sha' that Ibn 'Abbas prayed the zuhr and 'asr in Basra without any interval between them. He did that as he was busy, he reported it from the Prophet (P).
Muslim said that Ahmad b. Yunus and 'Awn b. Salaam both told us from Zuhayr. Ibn Yunus said that Zuhayr narrated that Abu al-Zubayr reported from Sa'id b. Jubayr from Ibn 'Abbas who said: "The Prophet of God (P) prayed the zuhr and 'asr together in Medina when there was neither fear nor [was he] travelling." Abu al-Zubayr said: "I asked Sa'id: 'Why did he do that?' He replied: 'I asked Ibn 'Abbas just as you have asked me. He said: 'He did not wish to impose any difficulty on anyone in his community.'"
Muslim said: "And Abu Bakr b. Abu Shayba and Abu Karib reported to us, they said: 'Abu Mu'awiya, Abu Karib and Abu Sa'id al-Ashaj said (and the words are of Abu Karib) that they (Abu Karib and Abu Sa'id) said that Waqi' and Abu Mu'awiya said, both of them [reporting] from al-A'mash from Habib b. Abu Thabit from Sa'id b. Jubayr from Ibn 'Abbas who said: 'The Prophet of God (P) combined the zuhr and 'asr and the maghrib and 'isha' [prayers] in Medina even though there was neither fear nor rain.'"
He (Muslim) said: "In the tradition of Waqi'i he said: 'I asked Ibn 'Abbas: 'Why did he do that'? He said: 'So that he should not [impose a] burden on his community.'" And, [according to] the hadith of Abu Mu'awiya, Ibn 'Abbas was asked: "What did he intend by that?" He said: "He did not wish to impose difficulty on his community."
Muslim said: "Yahya b. Habib al-Harithi said that Khalid b. al-Hirth said that Qurra b. Khalid said that Abu al-Zubayr told us that Sa'id b. Jubayr reported that Ibn 'Abbas said: 'Indeed the Prophet of God (S.A.W.) combined the prayers when on a journey he was undertaking in the battle of Tabuk, he combined the zuhr and 'asr and the maghrib and 'isha.'" Sa'id said: 'I asked Ibn 'Abbas: 'What made him do that?' He replied: 'He did not wish to burden his umma.'"
Muslim said: "Yahya b. Habib said that Khalid b. al-Hirth told us that Qurra b. Khalid narrated that Abu al-Zubayr said that 'Amir b. Wa'ila Abu al-Tufayl reported that Mu'adh b. Jabal said: 'In the battle of Tabuk, the Prophet of God (P) combined the zuhr and 'asr and the maghrib and 'isha' [prayers].' He said: 'I asked: 'What made him do that?' He (Mu'adh) said: 'He did not wish to burden his community.'"
I (the author) say: These authentic traditions are clear as to the reason for the legislation of combining [the prayers] - all [indicate] to give respite to the community, so as not to burden it with separating [the prayers], [thereby] having mercy on the diligent ones who [comprise] most of the people. The last two traditions - the hadith of Mu'adh and the one before it - are not restricted to the specific situation - I mean travelling - since the reason for combining [the prayer] in them (the two traditions) is general. It is not the journey per se, nor for sickness, rain, soil and fear per se. Rather, it is a general [ruling] which can be applied in any specific case. So it is not restricted to it, rather, it is applicable to all occasions. Due to that you see that Imam Muslim did not mention the [last] two traditions in the chapter on "combining [the prayer] when travelling," since they are not restricted to it. Rather, he cited the traditions in the chapter on the "combination [of prayer] when at home" so that they can be a proof for the permissibility of combining [the prayers] at all times. This is [based upon] his understanding, knowledge and justice.
His (Muslim's) sahih hadiths on this issue and those which you have heard and not heard are all according to the conditions stipulated by al-Bukhari. The transmitters in their isnads have all been used by al-Bukhari in his Sahih, so I wonder what prevented him (al-Bukhari) from mentioning all of them (the traditions) in his Sahih? What led him to reduce them to a negligible portion? Why did he not append a chapter in his book on the combination [of prayer] when at home or when travelling? Given the abundant sahih hadiths - according to the conditions stipulated by him - which are available on the combination [of prayers] and given that, on the whole, most of the Imams do accept it (the combination), why did he select those traditions on combining which have the least [impact] in pointing to it (the combination of prayer)? Why did he insert them in a chapter which could alter its (intended) meaning? I consider al-Bukhari above and exclude him from being like those who alter words from their intended meanings, or like those who hide the truth even though they may know it.
I present to you what he has selected on this topic and has inserted at an improper place. He says in the chapter on the delaying of the zuhr prayer until the [time of] 'asr in the book of the timings of prayers in his Sahih: "Abu Nu'man narrated to us that Hammad b. Zayd told him from 'Amr b. Dinar who reported from Jabir b. Zayd on the authority of Ibn 'Abbas who said: 'The Prophet (P) prayed in Medina the seven and eight [cycles] of the zuhr and 'asr and the maghrib and 'isha.' Ayyub said: 'Perhaps it was a rainy night.' He said: 'Maybe.'" I (the author) say: they only follow conjectures.
He (al-Bukhari) also reported in the chapter on the time of the maghrib from Adam: He said: "Shu'ba told us: ''Amr b. Dinar reported: 'I heard Jabir b. Zayd reporting from Ibn 'Abbas who said: 'The Prophet (P) prayed the seven [cycles] together and the eight [cycles] together.'"
And he reported with an incomplete chain of transmission (arsala) in the chapter on remembering the 'isha' and darkness from Ibn 'Umar, Abu Ayyub and Ibn 'Abbas that the Prophet (P) prayed the maghrib and 'isha' - that is he combined them at the time of one of them at the expense of the other.
This is a very small portion from a large number of authentic traditions on the combination [of prayers] which are sufficient to prove what we maintain, as is obvious. This is supported by what [is reported] from Ibn Mas'ud when he said: "The Prophet (P) combined - in Medina - the zuhr and 'asr and the maghrib and 'isha' and this [fact] was mentioned to him. He (the Prophet) said: "I did this so that my umma should not be burdened." Al-Tapani has reported this.
It is reported from 'Abd Allah b. 'Omar when it was said to him: "Did you not see the Prophet (P) combine the zuhr and 'asr and the maghrib and 'isha' prayers whilst he was staying [in town], not travelling?" He replied saying: "He did that so as not to impose a burden on his community."
In short, there are, among all the 'ulama' of the masses, those who say that it is permissible to combine and those who do not say it; they ratify the authenticity of these traditions and their apparent import. This is what we say, that it is allowed [to combine] in all cases. Refer, if you wish, to what they have appended to it so that it may be clear to you.
Yes, they have interpreted the traditions in accordance with their schools of thought. They were bemused by their interpretation, like one who is in the total darkness of the night. It is sufficient for you to note what al-Nawawi has related from them in his comment on these traditions in his commentary on the Sahih of Muslim. He says, after considering the apparent meaning in [the traditions on] combining [the prayers] at home: "The 'ulama' have [differing] interpretations and views on this, some of them interpreted the combination [of prayer] due to rain". (He said): "This is the famous [opinion] from the prominent erstwhile scholars (al-kibar al-mutaqaddimun)." (Al-Nawawi said): "It (the opinion of the 'ulama') is weak due to the second narration (riwaya) from Ibn 'Abbas [which states the Prophet prayed together] without fear or rain." (Al-Nawawi said): "Some of them have interpreted that it was due to cloudiness, and that he (the Prophet) prayed the zuhr then the clouds cleared and it became apparent to him that the time for the 'asr prayer had set in so he offered it at that time." (He said): "This is also not valid for [although] it may be remotely possible for the [prayers of] zuhr and 'asr, it is not possible [for it to have occurred] at the [time of] maghrib and 'isha'." (Al-Nawawi said): "Among them are those who have interpreted it as referring to the delaying of the first [prayer] to it's latest time for offering it so he offered it at the last [possible] time and when he had finished it (al-zuhr) the time for al-'asr had entered so he offered it at that time hence, the combination of the two prayers was not intended." (He said): "This is a weak [argument] too or it is invalid as it is completely opposite to that which is apparent, it is not possible [to admit it]." (Al-Nawawi said): "The act of Ibn 'Abbas when delivering a sermon and the fact that people called out to him 'the prayer! the prayer!' and his not paying heed to them, his deriving proof from a hadith to justify his act of delaying the maghrib to the time of 'isha' and his combining them at the time of the second [prayer] ('isha') and Abu Hurayra's verification of him and his not disapproving it is clear in refuting this interpretation."
I say: Ibn 'Abd al-Barr and al-Khattabi and others have refuted him, saying that the combination is a dispensation (rukhsa). If it (the combination) is not intended then it would be most difficult to undertake every prayer at its [specified] time since the beginning and end of the [prayer] times are things which many specialists are not aware of, let alone the general masses. (They said): "Amongst the proofs that the combination is a dispensation is the saying of Ibn 'Abbas: 'He did not wish to impose a burden on his community.'" (They said): "Also, the clear reports on the combination of two mandatory [prayers] is only to undertake them together at the time [assigned] for one of them rather than the other, either by pinging forward (al-taqdim) the second one from its appointed time and offering it with the first one at it's time or by delaying the first one from it's appointed time to the time of the second one and offering them together at that time." (They said): "This is what immediately comes to mind by the general usage of the word combining (al-jam') in all the sunna, and this is the point of dispute."
(Al-Nawawi said): "Amongst them are those who have interpreted [the traditions] claiming that the combination was due to an excuse like sickness or something like it in meaning." (He said): "This is the view of Ahmad b. Hanbal and the Qadi Husayn amongst our companions. Al-Khattabi, al-Mutawalli and al-Ruwyani from our companions have [also] chosen it and this is the chosen interpretation as it is the apparent [meaning] of the traditions."
I say: There is no apparent [meaning] in the traditions and no remote proof for it, it is an arbitrary judgement as al-Qastalani in his commentary on the Sahih of al-Bukhari has admitted.
Some of the eminent scholars have followed it up by saying: "It has been stated that the combination [of prayers] was due to illness," al-Nawawi has supported this view. However, there is an objection to it since if the [prayers] were combined for illness then only those who were ill would have prayed with him (the Prophet). It is apparent that he (P) combined [the prayers] with his companions, this is what Ibn 'Abbas clearly announced in a tradition which has been established from him.
I say: When the authentic traditions on combining [the prayers] do not have an interpretation which the 'ulama [uniformly] accept, a group of the masses have reverted to a position which is close to our opinion on the issue though they did not [even] intend to do so. Al-Nawawi mentioned them after [citing their] false interpretations as you have read. He further states: "A group of the Imams have allowed the combining of prayers when at home for a need if one does not become habituated to it (the combination).
This is the view of Ibn Sirrin and Ashhab amongst the companions of Malik. Al-Khattabi has reported it from al-Qaffal al-Shashi al-Kabir from the companions of al-Shafi'i, and from Ibn Ishaq al-Maruzi and from a group of hadith transmitters. Ibn al-Munzir has [also] chosen this opinion." Al-Nawawi [further] said: "This view is supported by the apparent [meaning] of Ibn 'Abbas' saying: 'He did not wish to burden his community', he was not afflicted by sickness or by anything else, and God knows this matter best." More than one of their prominent scholars have stated this. Perhaps in this era, their researchers are in agreement with our views, as more than one of them have told me. However, they do not dare to openly declare that to the public. Perhaps caution prevents them [from doing that]. There is no difference of opinion on separating the prayer, it is better [to separate] as opposed to combining where there is a difference of opinion. However, it has escaped their notice that separating [the prayers] could lead to many busy people abandoning the prayer as we have sometimes seen whereas combining [the prayers] is the best [solution] to ensuring they are undertaken. Therefore, it is more prudent for the jurists to issue a juridical verdict to the people to combine [the prayers] and they should make things easy, not difficult - for Allah wishes ease not hardship for you - He has not made religion a burden for you. The proof that combining [the prayers] is permissible at all times is available, thanks be to God, it is a correct sunna, enunciated as you have read. Rather, it is a clear, written and fixed prescription. Do not be inattentive, I will relate to you the clear [verses] so that it will become clear that the times of the obligatory prayers are only three: the time of the two obligatory prayers, al-zuhr and al- 'asr, which are shared between them, and time of the two obligatory prayers al-maghrib and al-'isha' which are also shared between them and the third is the obligatory morning prayer especially fixed; so hear it and remain silent. (Undertake the prayer at the time of the declining sun to the darkness of the night and the morning recitation; for indeed the morning recitation is witnessed 17:78).
Imam Razi has said about it's interpretation in the chapter of Isra' (chapter 17) page 428 in the fifth volume of his Tafsir al-Kabir: "If we interpret the ghasaq (darkness) as being the time when darkness first appears then the [term] ghasaq refers to the beginning of al-maghrib. On this basis, three timings are mentioned in the verse: "the time of noon, the time of the beginning of al-maghrib and the time of al-fajr." (Al-Razi said): "This requires that noon be the time of al-zuhr and al-'asr, this time is shared between these two prayers. The time of the beginning of al-maghrib is the time for al-maghrib and al-'isha' so this time is also shared between these two prayers." (He said): "This requires allowing the combining between al-zuhr and al- 'asr and between al-maghrib and al-'isha' at all times." (Al-Razi said): "However, there is proof to indicate that combining [the prayer] whilst at home without any excuse is not allowed. This leads [to the view] that the combining be allowed when travelling or [when there is] rain etc.."
I say: We have examined the discussion on what he has mentioned concerning the proofs that combining [the prayer] whilst home without any excuse is not allowed and we have not found - God is our witness - a trace or relic for it. Yes, the Prophet (P) used to combine [the prayer] when he had an excuse just as he used to combine when there was no excuse so that his community would not be burdened. There is no dispute that the separation [of prayer] is better therefore the Prophet of God (P) would prefer it except when there was an excuse as was his habit in all the recommended [practices], peace be upon him and his family.
The opinions of the Muslims who emphasize personal reasoning (ahl al-ra'y) have differed on this. Malik and al-Awza'i have said that the verse is not a part of the Qur'an and have unanimously forbidden its recitation in the obligatory [prayers] whether it be at the beginning of sura al-Hamd or the sura after it, or whether it (the prayer) is recited loudly or silently. Yes, they have allowed it's recitation in the supererogatory prayers.
As for Abu Hanifa, al-Thawri and their followers, they recited it at the beginning of the mother of the Qur'an (sura al-fatiha) but they made it compulsory to recite it silently even when the prayers are recited loudly. This shows their agreement with Malik and al-Awza'i; maybe it proves it since we do not know the reason for reciting it silently in the prayers recited loudly except if it (the basmala) is not a part of the mother of the book.
But al-Shafi'i recited it (the basmala) loudly in the loud prayers and in the silent prayers he recited it silently. He counted it as a verse in the opening [chapter] of the book. This is [also] the opinion of Ahmad b. Hanbal, Abu Thawr and Abu 'Ubayd. Differing reports have been reported from al-Shafi'i as to whether it is a verse in every chapter except for sura al-Bara'a (chapter 9) or whether it is not a verse except for the mother of the book. Both reports have been transmitted from him. But the researchers amongst his companions have agreed that the basmala is a part of all the chapters. They have interpreted away the two sayings reported from their Imam, al-Shafi'i.
As for us - the Imami community - we have agreed, in following the Imams of guidance of the family of the Prophet hood - that it is a complete verse in the sab' al-mathani (the seven most repeated verses) and of every chapter in the great Qur'an except for [the chapter of] al-Bara'a (chapter 9) and that one who omits it intentionally in the prayer, his prayer becomes invalid whether it be an obligatory or recommended prayer. [We have also agreed that] it is essential to recite it loudly when the prayer is offered loudly and that it is recommended to recite it loudly in the silent prayers and that it is part of a verse of sura al-Naml (chapter 27). The textual proofs of our Imams in all of this are overwhelming and it's meaning successively transmitted .The contents are clear to refute their opposition to it (the basmala) like the saying of Imam Abu 'Abd Allah al-Sadiq, peace be upon him, "What is it with them? They depend on the greatest verse in the book of God, the Almighty, the most Glorious, and they claim it is an innovation if they declare 'In the name of God the most merciful, the most beneficent' openly."
Our argument is based on the path of the masses and it's authentic traditions which are many:
First: What has been established from Ibn Jurayj from his father from Sa'id b. Jubayr from Ibn 'Abbas on the saying of the most High: "We have given you the seven most repeated verses." He said: "The opening [chapter] of the book, in the name of God most beneficent, most compassionate; Praise be to the Lord of the Universe and he recited the chapter." Ibn Jurayj said: "I said to my father: 'Did Sa'id tell you from Ibn 'Abbas that he said: 'In the name of God most merciful, most beneficent' is a verse?' He replied: 'Yes.'" This hadith has been reported by al-Hakim in his al-Mustadrak and al-Dhahabi in his al-Talkhis; they have both declared that its chain of transmission (isnad) is correct.
Second: What has been correctly reported from Ibn 'Abbas. He said: "When Gapiel used to come to the Prophet (P) and would recite 'In the name of God most merciful, most beneficent' he would know that it was a chapter [to be revealed]."
Third: What has also been correctly reported from Ibn 'Abbas who said: "The Prophet did not use to know the end of a chapter until 'In the name of God most merciful, most beneficent' was revealed."
Fourth: What has also been correctly reported from him: "The Muslims did not know the end of a chapter until 'In the name of God most merciful, most beneficent' was revealed. When 'In the name of God most merciful, most beneficent' was revealed they realized that the chapter had ended."
Fifth: What has been correctly reported from Umm Salama. She said: "The Prophet (P) used to recite 'In the name of God most merciful, most beneficent, Praise be to God the Lord of the Universe' to the end of the chapter, he would recite it word by word." It is also reported from Umm Salama by another chain that she said: "Indeed the Prophet of God (P) would recite in the prayer 'In the name of God most merciful, most beneficent' and would count it as a verse. Praise be to God, the Lord of the Universe [would be] two verses, the most beneficent, most merciful, three verses, the master of the day of judgement, the fourth, You alone do we worship and from You alone we seek help, and he gathered five fingers."
Sixth: What has been correctly reported from Na'im al-Mijmar. He said: "I was behind Abu Hurayra and he recited 'In the name of God most merciful, most beneficent' then he recited the mother of the Qur'an until he reached 'and amongst those who have gone astray' and he said: 'amin' and the people said: 'amin' When he recited the greetings (salam) he said: 'By Him in whose hand is my soul, I am portraying the prayer of the Prophet of God (P).'"
Also from Abu Hurayra who said: "The Prophet of God (P) would recite 'In the name of God most merciful, most beneficent' loudly in the prayer."
Seven: What has been correctly reported from Anas b. Malik: He said: "Mu'awiya led the prayer in Medina, he recited it loudly and he recited in it 'In the name of God most merciful, most beneficent' at the beginning of the mother of the Qur'an but he did not recite 'In the name of God most merciful, most beneficent' for the sura after it until he completed that recitation. When he recited the salam, the Muhajirun and Ansar who had heard [the recitation] yelled from all sides: 'O Mu'awiya, did you steal [something] from the prayer or did you forget?' After that, whenever he prayed, he would recite 'In the name of God most merciful, most beneficent' in the sura after the mother of the Qur'an.'" This hadith has been reported by al-Hakim in his al-Mustadrak and has met the conditions stipulated by Muslim. More than one author of the Musnad works have reported it like Imam al-Shafi'i in his Musnad. He added his comments to it which are interesting for us to cite. He said: "Mu'awiya was a ruler of great power and might. If the loud recitation of the tasmiya (basmala) had not been established amongst all the Muhajirun and Ansar companions, they would not have been able to exhibit their disapproval when he omitted the tasmiya."
We have a comment on this tradition which every researcher should take note of: One who examines this hadith will find proofs in it for our rulings on reciting the basmala and on not allowing the division of the sura which is recited in the prayer after the mother of the Qur'an since there was no reason for their refuting it except based on our ruling on the two issues.
Eight: What has been correctly reported from Anas also from another chain. He said: "I heard the Prophet (P) reciting in the prayer 'In the name of God most merciful, most beneficent' loudly."
Ninth: What has been correctly reported from Muhammad b. al-Sirri al-'Asqalani: He said: "I prayed behind al-Mu'tamir b. Sulayman the morning and evening prayers an amount which I cannot [even] count; he used to recite 'In the name of God most merciful, most beneficent' loudly before the opening [chapter] of the book and after it [at the opening] of the sura. I heard al-Mu'tamir saying: 'I will not desist from following the prayer of my father.' And my father said: 'I will not desist from following the prayer of Anas b. Malik.' And Anas said: 'I will not desist from following the prayer of the Prophet of God (P).'" I figure from this and other traditions that they used to recite, after the mother of the book, the complete sura [starting] with the basmala upto its end, as is our ruling, this is proven by many [other] traditions.
From al-Qatada: He said: "Anas b. Malik was asked: 'How was the recitation of the Prophet of God (P)'? He replied: 'It was elongated, then he recited 'In the name of God most merciful, most beneficent' and he elongated the rahman, he [also] elongated the rahim.'"
From Hamid al-Tawil from Anas b. Malik, he said: "I prayed behind the Prophet (P) and behind Abu Bakr, 'Umar, 'Uthman and 'Ali; and all of them would recite 'In the name of God most merciful, most beneficent' loudly."
All these traditions and those before them have been reported by the leader of the muhaddithun (hadith reporters) Abu 'Abd Allah Muhammad b. 'Abd Allah al-Hakim al-Nisaburi in his al-Mustadrak. He says at the end [of these traditions] "I have cited this tradition as a testimony to what preceded it. These traditions, which we have cited, are opposed to the tradition of Qatada from whom our Imams report - and the words are from Anas - He said: "I prayed behind the Prophet (P) and behind Abu Bakr, 'Umar and 'Uthman, and I did not hear any of them recite 'In the name of God most merciful, most beneficent.'" Al-Hakim then said: "This chapter has [traditions] from the Commander of the faithful, 'Uthman and 'Ali, Talha, Ibn 'Ubayd Allah, Jabir b. 'Abd Allah, 'Abd Allah b. 'Umar, al-Hakam b. 'Umayr al-Thamali, al-Nu'man b. Bashir, Samura b. Jundab, Burayda al-Aslami and 'A'isha, the daughter of the truthful one (may God be pleased with them) all of them are reports I have in a chapter which I have left out for the sake of pevity; I have apidged from them what is germane to this chapter. Similarly, I have mentioned [them] in the chapter on the companions, the successors and their followers (may God be pleased with them) who recite 'In the name of God most merciful, most beneficent' loudly."
I say: Al-Razi mentions in his Tafsir al-Kabir that al-Bayhaqi narrated [traditions] on reciting "In the name of God most merciful, most beneficent" loudly in his Sunan from 'Umar b. al-Khattab, Ibn 'Abbas, Ibn 'Umar and Ibn al-Zubayr. Then al-Razi says in these words: "As for 'Ali b. Abu Talib's (may God be pleased with him) reciting the tasmiya loudly, this has been established by mutawatir [traditions], one who follows 'Ali b. Abu Talib in his religion is properly guided." (Al-Razi said): "The proof of it is the saying of the Prophet of God (P) 'O God let the truth revolve where 'Ali goes.'"
Sufficient for our proof that the basmala is a Qur'anic verse at the beginning of every chapter except for al-Bara'a is the fact that since the coming of the Qur'an to this day all the companions, the successors and all the followers and the followers of their followers in all the generations of this umma are agreed on this by a consensus which they implement by writing the basmala at the opening of every chapter except for al-Bara'a.
They wrote it (the basmala) just as they wrote all the other verses without any distinctive mark [distinguishing it] even though they all agreed that they would not write anything but the Qur'an in it. Otherwise [they would have] a clear distinctive mark [separating it from the Qur'an] thus ensuring that nothing which is not a part of it (the Qur'an) could be mixed with it. Do you not see how they separated from it (the Qur'an) the names of it's chapters and the symbols of it's thirtieth (ajza') and sixtieth part and its quarters, fifths, tenth parts? They put these outside the chapters in such a way that it can be known that they are outside the Qur'an, thus preserving it and being cautious of it. Maybe you are aware that the umma is hardly united on an issue as completely as it is united on this. This in itself is a proof that "In the name of God most merciful, most beneficent" is an independent verse at the beginning of every chapter, the previous and later generation have written it at its beginning, thanks be to God for [showing] the correct [way].
Also, amongst the famous transmissions of the Prophet of God (P) is his saying: "Every matter of importance which does not begin with 'In the name of God most merciful, most beneficent' will fail and every important matter which doesn't begin with 'In the name of God most merciful, most beneficent' is incomplete or mutilated." It is well known that the Qur'an is the best that Allah has revealed to His Prophets and Messengers and that every chapter in it is important and great. Allah has challenged human beings in it but they failed to ping forth something like it. Is it then possible for the Qur'an to be incomplete? God is most High and His wise criterion (the Qur'an) is most great, His chapters are above all of that completely.
Prayer is [the path to] success, it is the best act as is recited from the highest minarets and pulpits, those in deserts and cities know this. Nothing can equal or compare with it (the prayer) after faith in God, the most High, and in His books and Messengers and the last day. Is it allowable for God, the most High, to legislate it incomplete and mutilated? No pious or corrupt person will dare say this but the pious Imams Malik and al-Awza'i and Abu Hanifa, may God be pleased with them, were negligent of this obligation. Every one who strives to derive rulings from the shari'a proofs is excused and rewarded whether he is right or he errs.
The argument of our opponents on the issue
They have argued in [several] ways: One: If the basmala was a verse of al-fatiha then it would mean the repetition of the [words] "most merciful, most compassionate" in the fatiha (since they also occur in the fatiha). Moreover, if it (the basmala) was a part of every chapter, this would mean it would be repeated in the Qur'an 113 times. The answer: Circumstances may require that due to the great importance of the issue and to stress and pay attention to it. There is a lot of this [type of repetition] in the wise book. It is sufficient for you [to note] the chapters of al-Rahman (55), al-Mursalat (77) and al-Kafirun (109). What is more important in this world and the hereafter and deserves more stress and consideration than the name of God most beneficent, most compassionate? Were the Prophets sent and angels descended and heavenly books revealed except by the name of God most beneficent, most compassionate? Guidance is by Him, the most High and Glorious. Were the heavens and earth and those who live in them established except by the name of God most beneficent, most compassionate? "O human beings, remember the blessings of God upon you, is there a creator apart from God, who sustains you from the heavens and earth, there is no god but Him, so how come you fapicate [things]?"
Second: What has been reported from Abu Hurayra as a marfu'u tradition from the Prophet, who said: "God the most High says: 'I apportioned the prayer between Me and My slave into two halves. When the slave says: 'Praise be to the Lord of the Universe', the most High says: 'My slave has praised Me.' And when he says: 'The most merciful, beneficent', God the most High says: 'My slave has lauded me.' And when he says: 'The master of the day of judgement', God the most High says: 'My slave has glorified Me.' And when he says: 'I worship You alone and from You I seek help', God the most High says: 'This is between Me and My slave.'" The reason for it being used as proof is that "In the name of God most merciful, most beneficent" is not mentioned amongst the verses of the fatiha. If it was a verse the tradition would have mentioned it.
The answer: This is contrary to the narration of Ibn 'Abbas, also attributed, with an incomplete chain of transmission, to the Prophet in which it is stated: "I have apportioned the prayer between Me and My slave; when the slave says: 'In the name of God most beneficent, most compassionate' God the most High states: 'My slave has invoked Me.'" The tradition is long but we see from it that it includes the basmala so the tradition of Abu Hurayra is refuted. Moreover, Abu Hurayra reported from the Prophet of God (P) that he recited "In the name of God most merciful, most beneficent" loudly in the prayer. He (Abu Hurayra) would recite it loudly and would say: "I am showing you the prayer of the Prophet of God (P)." His two traditions on this have been presented to you.
Third: What has been reported from 'A'isha: "The Prophet (P) would start the prayer with the takbir (glorifying God) and the recitation of 'Praise be to God, the Lord of the Universe." There is no argument for them based on this [tradition] because 'Praise be to God, the Lord of the Universe' has been made to be the name of this chapter just as you would say: "I recited: 'Say! He is the One Lord'" and so and so recited "We have given you a clear victory" etc. So the meaning of the hadith is that he (P) would begin the prayer with the takbir and by the recitation of this sura the beginning of which is "In the name of God most merciful, most beneficent."
Fourth: The tradition of Ibn Mughfil in which he states: "My father heard me when I was reciting 'In the name of God most merciful, most beneficent' and he said: 'O my son, be careful of innovation, for I have prayed behind the Prophet of God (P), Abu Bakr, 'Umar and 'Uthman and I did not hear even one of them recite it."
The answer: The Imams of the [science of] wounding and authenticating (al-jarh wa'l-ta'dil) do not know of Ibn Mughfil nor is there any trace of his tradition amongst them. Ibn Rushd has mentioned him when discussing the basmala in his book Bidaya al-Mujtahid but he omitted [to mention] what has been reported from Abu 'Umar b. 'Abd al-Barr in the text that Ibn Mughfil is an unknown person.
Fifth: The report of Shu'ba from Qatada from Anas b. Malik. He said: "I prayed with the Prophet of God (P), Abu Bakr, 'Umar and 'Uthman and I did not hear anyone of them recite 'In the name of God most merciful, most beneficent.'" Similar to this is the hadith of Hamid al-Tawil also reported from Anas. He said: "I stood behind Abu Bakr, 'Umar and 'Uthman and not one of them would recite 'In the name of God most merciful, most beneficent.'"
The answer: You have read our arguments on what has been correctly reported from Anas. It contradicts these two reports, so examine what we have mentioned before. Imam al-Razi has mentioned this report of Anas in the argument with his opponents. Then he says: "The answer to this is from several dimensions - First: Shaykh Abu Hamid al-Asfarayani says: Six reports have been reported from Anas on this topic. As for the Hanafis, they have reported three narrations from him one of which states: 'I prayed behind the Prophet of God (P) and behind Abu Bakr, 'Umar and 'Uthman and they would start the prayer with 'Praise be to God, the Lord of the Universe.' The second one states: 'They did not used to recite 'In the name of God most merciful, most beneficent' and the third one states 'I did not hear any one of them recite 'In the name of God most merciful, most beneficent.'" These three narrations are in agreement with the view of the Hanafis. He (al-Asfarayani) said: "Another three [reports] contradict these.
The first one is his (Anas') report that when Mu'awiya omitted 'In the name of God most merciful, most beneficent' in the prayer the Muhajirun and Ansar rebuked him and this shows that [reciting] the basmala loudly was like a common practice, well established amongst them." And he said: "The second of them (the report) is reported by Abu Qalaba from Anas that the Prophet of God, peace be upon him and his family, and Abu Bakr and 'Umar would recite 'In the name of God most merciful, most beneficent' loudly" and the third of them (the reports) that he (Anas) was asked about [reciting] "In the name of God most merciful, most beneficent" loudly and persisting in it and he said: "I do not know this issue." Al-Razi said: "It is clear that the reports from Anas on this issue are greatly confused and haphazard; they are contradictory, so it is essential to refer to all the other proofs." Imam al-Razi says: "Also, there is another accusation in this and this is that 'Ali, on whom be peace, would recite the tasmiya in a loudly exaggerated form. When the Banu Umayya came to power they went to extreme lengths in prohibiting the loud recitation [of the basmala], striving to obliterate the memories of 'Ali, peace be upon him.
Al-Razi said: "Perhaps Anas was scared of them (the Umayyads) so for this reason his verdicts were confused." And he said: "Whenever we are uncertain of something, [one thing] we do not doubt is that when there is a contradiction between the likes of Anas and Ibn Mughfil and the verdict of 'Ali b. Abu Talib, peace be upon him, who remained [on the verdict] all his life, it is more appropriate to accept the saying of 'Ali." He said: "This is the decisive answer to the question." Then al-Razi said: "One who takes 'Ali as the Imam of his religion has surely clung firmly to his religion and his self." I say: Thanks be to God who has guided us to this, but for His guidance we would not have been guided.
Recitation [of the fatiha] in the Prayer
The jurists have differed on [the question of] the recitation [of the fatiha] in the prayer. Abu Bakr al-Asam, Isma'il b. 'Aliyya, Sufyan b. 'Uyayna and al-Hasan b. Salih have claimed that it is not obligatory in any prayer, it is merely recommended.
This is a rare verdict, it is contrary to the proofs and goes against the consensus of the community. They have argued based on what Abu Salama and Muhammad b. 'Ali have reported from 'Umar b. al-Khattab when he prayed the maghrib prayer without reciting [the fatiha] in it. He was asked about that and he said: "How was the bowing (ruku') and the prostration?" They said: "It was fine." He said: "Then there is no problem."
The answer: If he ('Umar) did not attribute it [to the Prophet] then it was his opinion. Perhaps he was amongst those who believed that omitting the recitation unintentionally does not invalidate the prayer, and God knows best.
Al-Hasan al-Basri and others have stated that the recitation is obligatory in one cycle [of prayer]. Like the previous case, this is a rare verdict and goes against the consensus reached by the umma. They have argued based on his (P) saying: "There is no prayer except with the fatiha of the book" adhering [to the view] that an exception to a negative [statement] is a positive one, so they say that even if one fatiha is recited in the prayer it is essential to maintain that this is correct due to the rule based on [the concept of] 'exception'.
The answer: According to the custom ('urf), this hadith is not applicable to the case of the prayer when it is offered with the [complete] fatiha neither is the hadith a specific rule which nullifies a general rule. It is by no means applicable in this case. The tradition is applicable for the prayer which is devoid of the fatiha and in that case it (the prayer) is not a [valid] prayer. It is like his (P) saying: "There is no prayer except by purification." [This shows] his stressing the fatiha for it is a part of the prayer and [stressing] the purification for it is a condition for it (the prayer). There are many [examples] of this [kind of] speech. Don't you see, if it was said "there is no oxymel except with vinegar," for example, no one would understand that what is called vinegar, even if it be a drop or less than that, is sufficient or not sufficient [to make oxymel]. They merely understand that oxymel is composed [of things] and that vinegar is one of the most important parts of it. If the vinegar is removed then the oxymel is nonexistent.
If, as they claim, the proof they derive from this hadith is proper, then the proof could lead [to the view] that no act or speech in the prayer is obligatory as long as the fatiha is recited, as is clear to one who examines it.
Imam Abu Hanifa and his companions said: "It is not obligatory to recite the fatiha itself in any prayer, what is essential in the prayers is any [form] of recitation. Abu Hanifa saw it sufficient to recite any Qur'anic verse even if it be just one word like "Madhamatani" (two green gardens). But his two companions Abu Yusuf and Muhammad b. al-Hasan al-Shaybani deemed it sufficient [to recite] three short verses like "thumma nazara" then "'abasa wa basara" then "adbara wa istakbara" or [it was sufficient to recite] one verse which was equivalent to three short verses or more than them. The Hanafis have acted according to this.
Abu Hanifa also allowed the translation of what is recited in the prayer from the Qur'an in any foreign language even if one knows Arabic well. He deemed it sufficient to recite "do balk sabz" the translation of madhamatani (two green gardens) in Persian instead of the fatiha and the sura, but his two companions allowed the translation only for those unable [to recite] it in Arabic, not for those able to recite it in Arabic; the Hanafis have acted according to this.
The recitation [of al-fatiha] is obligatory for them in the first two cycles in every prayer of two cycles like the Friday and morning prayers or the zuhr and 'asr and 'isha' for a traveller. As for the prayer of more than two cycles, like the maghrib and 'isha' for one praying at home and the zuhr and 'asr, the recitation is obligatory for them in [any] unspecified two cycles. Thus one praying can choose to recite it in the first two cycles or the last two or the first and the third cycles or the first and the fourth or the second and the third cycles or the second and the fourth. If he recites [al-fatiha] it in the first two cycles, for example, he can choose in the last two; if he wishes, he can recite [the fatiha] or he can glorify God or, if he wishes, he can remain silent spanning the time of the glorification, this is their school of thought which is common to their jurisprudence.
They have argued that any form of recitation is sufficient based on the hadith of Abu Hurayra which is present in the two Sahihs. He said: "The Prophet of God (P) entered the mosque, then a man entered and prayed. Then he came to greet the Prophet of God (P). After the Prophet of God (P) returned his greetings, he said to him: 'Go back and pray, for you have not prayed.' The man went back and prayed the way he would [normally] pray then he came to the Prophet (P), he greeted him and the Prophet of God said: 'And peace be unto you, go back and pray for you have not prayed' and he did this three times. The man said: 'I swear by the one who has sent you with the truth, this has not pleased me, so teach me.' He (P) said: 'When you stand up to pray, first glorify God then recite what is easy for you from the Qur'an then bow down until you are at ease whilst bowing, then stand straight and then prostrate until you are at ease in prostration, then sit up until you are at ease whilst sitting, then do all that in your whole prayer.'"
The point from which they derive their proof is his saying: "Then recite what is easy for you from the Qur'an" as it apparently [supports] their claim.
The answer: Abu Hurayra is amongst those whose traditions we do not value as we have explained at length [elsewhere]. We have presented rational and scriptural indubitable proofs in a published book which we have devoted to him, so any one who is fond of researching the clear truths should refer to it.
It is not possible for the Prophet of God (P) to have acted according to this tradition as it occurs in a situation in which it was essential [for him] to explicate the issue. We examined [the tradition] and we did not find a trace of explanation which is worthy of the Prophets, upon whom be peace, since it lacks much of what the umma have concurred of what is essential in prayer like the intention, and sitting when bearing the last testimony, and the essential parts of prayer following each other in proper sequence; similarly the last testimony and sending greetings to the Prophet and the greetings etc. Moreover, leaving him to offer an incorrect prayer three times is [something which] does not concur with the character of the Prophet (P), this [act] is not permissible for him (S.A.W.).
Abu Dawud has reported this anecdote in his Sunan in the chapter on the prayers of one whose backbone cannot be straight in the bowing and prostration - with a chain of transmission to Rifa'a b. Rafi' al-Ansari - he was amongst those present at Badr - that the Prophet (P) said to the man whose prayer was not proper "When you stand up and face the qibla and glorify God then recite the mother of the Qur'an and recite what Allah wishes you to recite."
This anecdote is also reported by Ahmad b. Hanbal and Ibn Hibban with a chain of transmission ending with Rifa'a b. Rafi'i. It states that the Prophet (P) said to that man whose prayer was improper: "Then recite the mother of the book and then recite what you wish."
It is well known that Abu Hurayra cannot be compared with Rifa'a, neither is he equal to Rifa'a in his speech or action. Without doubt, when the two are in conflict, Rifa'a's traditions are to be given preference over the traditions of Abu Hurayra. Therefore you see that in Fath al-Bari, al-Qastalani interprets what is reported in the hadith of Abu Hurayra to accord with what is reported in the hadith of Rifa'a. One who studies the views of the past and later [scholars] on the hadith of Abu Hurayra and his saying: "Recite what is easy for you from the Qur'an" will find all of them (apart from the Hanafis) either refuting or interpreting it. If you wish, refer to their views on this hadith of Abu Hurayra in all the commentaries on the two Sahihs.
Moreover, Abu Hurayra himself contradicted this hadith of his by what has been correctly reported from him when he said: "I heard the Prophet (P) say: 'The prayer in which the opening [chapter] of the book is not recited is not complete.'" And he [also] said: "Indeed, the Prophet of God (P) commanded me to go out and announce in Medina that there can be no prayer without the recitation of the Qur'an, even if it be with the opening [chapter] of the book or more [than that]." And he said: "I heard the Prophet of God (P) say: 'One who prays without reciting the fatiha of the book then it (the prayer) is incomplete, it is incomplete, it is incomplete'"
There is another outstanding issue which they ask about, I mean the reason why the Hanafi jurists accepted the apparent [meaning] in the hadith of Abu Hurayra: "Recite what is easy for you from the Qur'an." [They did this] without [quoting] the clear text, that is, it is essential to be calm when standing, sitting, whilst bowing and in prostration. Moreover, what they accept is against the clear sahih traditions and opposed to [the views of] most of the Muslims. What they did not accept is supported by the Sihah and by the masses.
Perhaps the Hanafis can cite as proof for their view on this issue by [citing] the saying of Almighty Allah: "Recite what is easy for you in the Qur'an."
The answer: This verse is certainly not connected with what is being discussed concerning the recitation in the prayer. This is clear from the context in sura al-Muzammil (chapter 73), whosoever so wishes let him refer to it and examine what the commentators have said about it so that the truth may become clear for him.
Furthermore, the Hanafis have argued for the permissibility of translating into foreign languages what is recited in the prayer from the Qur'an by several arguments:
1) That Ibn Mas'ud made some foreigners recite: "The tree of Zaqqum is a food for the sinners (ta'am al-athim)." A foreigner recited it as the food for the orphans (ta'am al-yatim). He (Ibn Mas'ud) said to him: "Say the food of the corrupt one (ta'am al-fajir)." Then he (Ibn Mas'ud) said to him: "It is not a mistake to recite in the Qur'an al-hakim instead of al-alim, to insert a verse of mercy in the place of a verse of chastisement."
Answer: This is not connected to what we are discussing, it doesn't prove anything to what the claimant is claiming. Even if it is correct, the view of Ibn Mas'ud is restricted to him, it does not prove anything.
Two: The saying of the Almighty: "It is in the previous books," similarly: "This is in the previous scriptures, the scriptures of Apaham and Moses."
The reason for deriving proofs by these verses is that the community is agreed that the recitation was not in Arabic letters in previous books, nor were the scriptures of Apaham and Moses in Arabic, rather, they were in Hepew or Aramaic.
Answer: This, like the previous case, does not constitute proof for the claimant, rather, it is more and more remote [from the truth].
Third: The Almighty said: "And He revealed this Qur'an to me so that I may warn you thereby." The non-Arabs do not understand the Arabic letters unless the meaning is mentioned to them in their language so that they may be warned by it.
Answer: This would only be proper proof for allowing the commentary of the Qur'an in their language so that they may benefit from its wisdom, etiquettes, commands and prohibitions. This is one thing; [to talk] gibberish in the prayer in which one is commanded to recite the Qur'an is another. When the fatiha is recited, to what Arab or non-Arab do the letters of the mother of the book, [which are] recorded in the scriptures, not come into his mind? What person of taste would negate the enunciation of the recitation of the fatiha and the recitation of the Qur'an for gibberish in Persian or other foreign eastern or western languages?
Imam al-Razi has refuted these views - for he has transmitted them from the Hanafis - and has other views, so refer to them. I hold Imam Abu Hanifa above this, he failed completely in his derivation of proofs. I feel sorry for him that he fell to this low level. In deriving secondary shar'i rulings, he depended on analogy and seeking that which is good (istihsan). He arrived at the decision based on this. As if he deemed it to be in the interests of non-Arabs to translate for them the recitation in the prayer in their languages; he saw this to be the best [way] for their understanding it's meaning and for their humility in it (the prayer). It is as if he drew an analogy of the recitation [of the fatiha] of a non-Arab in his language with listening to an exhortation and his hearing academic lessons in his language. This is the theory of Ataturk regarding the prayer, he did not take it from Abu Hanifa, it is merely a personal thought. What helped Ataturk in holding the theory is that he did not respect shar'i proofs, he did not know or learn them in the reforms that appeared good for him to undertake. If there was in the shar'i proofs something which would allow him to have recourse to istihsan, there would have been some justification for his views; but how wrong he was!
Al-Shafi'i, Malik, Ahmad b. Hanbal and others have made it compulsory to recite the fatiha in Arabic in all the cycles of the obligatory and supererogatory prayers. Their proof for that is the hadith of Abu Hurayra in the anecdote of an Arab whose prayer was not proper due to the statement of the Prophet of God (S.A.W.) whereby he taught him the prayer and instructed him to recite [the fatiha] and then told him: "Do that in every [cycle of] prayer." You already know our view on this tradition for we have said that we do not accord any value to it.
The Imamiyya, in following the Imams of the purified family, maintain that the recitation of the fatiha in correct Arabic is obligatory in the first two cycles in every obligatory and recommended prayer, whether the prayer [is offered ] alone or with the Imam. As for one following [in congregational prayer], the Imam recites on his behalf. As for the last two cycles, it is obligatory to recite either the fatiha or the tasbih (glorification), one can choose between the two. The Imam cannot recite the fatiha or tasbih on behalf of those following him.
Our proofs for all of this lies in the traditions of our Imams, upon whom be peace, they are the other half of the book. Moreover, the recitation [of the fatiha] by the Prophet (P) in the first two cycles is proven in all the Sihah and Masanid works in the hadith of Abu Qatada al-Hirth b. Rab'i and others.
The rule is, what the Prophet (P) used to do is obligatory due to his saying: "Pray as you see me pray." If it is proven from him that [he would recite] the fatiha in the last two cycles, it has also been proven from him that he would [also] recite the dhikr in them. The form [of the dhikr] "Glory be to Allah, praise be to Allah, there is no god but Allah, Allah is the greatest" has been transmitted from the Imams of his pure family. This is attested to by the hadith of Sa'd b. Abi al-Waqqas available in the Sahih of al-Bukhari and other Sahih and Musnad works. The people of Kufa complained of him to 'Umar to the point that they mentioned that he could not pray correctly. Sa'd said: "By God, I used to lead them in prayer the [way] of the Prophet of God, I did not distort it, I stand still and lengthen the standing by reciting the fatiha and the sura in the first two cycles. Then I would reduce it in the last two cycles." That is, he hastened through them (the last two cycles) by shortening them to either the tasbih or the fatiha alone to [the exclusion of] everything else and the Almighty God knows [best].
Following [the footsteps of] the Imams of the purified family, the Imamiyya agree that the takbirat al-ihram is a pillar in ever obligatory or recommended [prayer]. Without it, no prayer can be offered. It's form - Allah is the greatest- is special to it. So if one begins his prayer by glorifying God (tasbih) or by uttering there is no god but God or by saying God is great (Allahu kabir) or only God is the greatest (Allahu al-Akbar) or God is most powerful etc., then the prayer is not valid. [Neither is] gibberish in any one of the foreign languages [allowed]. The proof that it is obligatory is adequately provided [by the fact] that the Prophet of God (S.A.W.) never started any of his prayers except by this form. You have read recently that the original [form] which he used to perform his (S.A.W.) prayer is the obligatory [way] as he said: "Pray the way you see me pray."
Moreover, its incumbency is established in the book and the sunna and the consensus of the community. The Almighty Allah has said: "And Your Lord, so glorify Him.
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