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Traditional Scholarship & Modern Misunderstandings
Understanding The Ahle al-Sunnah -
By Abu Ammar

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21) Raf ul Yad'ain

Raf'ay-yadayn simply means to raise the hands during prayer. When people begin their salat, they raise their hands to signify that they have left all things and submitted themselves towards Allah alone. This also signifies the individual's testimony of Allah's Unity. The Hanafis (as members of the Ahl as-Sunna wa'l-Jama'a) believe that this act of raising the hands to the level of the ears should only be undertaken at the start of the prayer and not during it.

There are those who hold the opinion that raf' al-yadayn should also be done before and after the ruku'; they hold their position because of the following reasons:

1) The Prophet (may Allahbless him and grant him peace) used to do this.

2) This was the practice of the Khulafa' ar-Rashidun and the 'Ashara al-Mubashshara (the ten Companions of the Prophet (may Allah bless him and grant him peace) who were given glad tidings of Janna on this earth during their lives). Altogether, there are proofs from twenty Companions.

3) The narrations of raf' al-yadayn are mutawatir (ahadith which have been narrated by many authentic narrators during the period of the Companions, The Tabi'un, and their students).

4) Raf' ay-yadayn is a pillar of salat and leaving it makes the salat invalid.

However, the position of the Hanafi madhab is that towards the end of our beloved Prophet's (may Allahbless him and grant him peace) life the practice of raf' al-yadayn had been abrogated, and that the Messenger of Allah (may Allahbless him and grant him peace) during his last prayers on this earthly life only performed raf' al-yadayn at the beginning of his salat.However, there were still some Sahaba who unknowingly continued the practice of raf' al-yadayn, without realizing that it had indeed been abrogated and obsolete.It was for this reason that at times, those who knew of its abrogation, began to ask those who continued its practice for their reason for doing so.

Regarding the claim that twenty Companions, including the 'Ashara al-Mubashshara and the Khulafa ar-Rashidun, performed raf' al-yadayn ,this incidentally proves that the majority of the Companions did not practise raf' al-yadayn . Secondly, if this claim is true then why is this not recorded in Bukhari and Muslim, or in any other famous book of Hadith? If the support for twenty Companions practising raf' al-yadayn is not found in any Hadith book then how can this claim be true?

The claim that the hadith regarding raf' al-yadayn is mutawatir is also not true. This is because Imam Muslim and Imam al-Bukhari have only narrated the action of raf' al-yadayn from two Companions: 'Abdullah ibn 'Umar (may Allah be pleased with him) and Malik ibn Huwayris. Imam Zuhri narrated the hadith from Salim and Salim in turn narrated from 'Abdullah ibn 'Umar. Abu Qalaba and Nasr narrated from Malik ibn Huwayris, and from them, Khalid and Qatada narrated. In any one of these chains there is only one narrator at a time, whilst in the other there were two at a time. How can this be called mutawatir? The above narrator's position and the narrations which go against the above narrations will be discussed later, insha'llah.

Regarding the claim that omitting raf' al-yadayn invalidates salat, nobody from among the Companions or even the Prophet (may Allahbless him and grant him peace) himself said that omitting raf' al-yadayn invalidates salat. The evidence for raf' al-yadayn being a pillar of salat is not even found in the books which contain collections of fabricated hadith. It is another matter if someone decides to introduce fabricated hadith!

Analysis of Those Narrations Which Prove Raf' ay- yadayn

Ibn Jurayj narrated from Zuhri who narrated from Salim who narrated from 'Abdullah ibn 'Umar (may Allah be pleased with him) that Ibn 'Umar (may Allah be pleased with him) said:

"I saw the Prophet (may Allahbless him and grant him peace) offering salat; he raised his hands up to his shoulders at the beginning of salat and also before and after the ruku', but not between the two prostrations"

[Bukhari and Muslim , chapter on 'Raf' ay-yadayn']

Those who follow the Hanafi madhab believe that this hadith only proves that the Prophet (may Allahbless him and grant him peace) performed raf' al-yadayn during his lifetime, but it does not prove that he (may Allahbless him and grant him peace) performed it in his last prayers. Also it does not prove that raf' al-yadayn is an emphasized Sunna. One example is given below:

Imams al-Bukhari & Muslim record that when Hazrat 'A'isha (may Allah be pleased with her) was in her menstruation, the Prophet (may Allah bless him and grant him peace) used to place his head in her lap and recite the Qur'an [Bukhari & Muslim, Bab al-Hayd]. From this hadith we cannot conclude that reciting the Qur'an in the lap of one's menstruating wife is an emphasized Sunna. In the same way, the naration from Ibn 'Umar does not prove that raf' al-yadayn is an emphasized Sunna. Also Ibn 'Umar's narration seems to go against some of his other narrations.

Imam adh-Dhahabi writes:

"Ibn'Umar said that he swore by Allah that raf' al-yadayn is bid'a and that he had never seen the Prophet (may Allah bless him and grant him peace) practicing it

(adh-Dhahabi, Mizan al-I'tidal, Biography of Bishr ibn Harab]

Ibn 'Umar, in another place, said that the Prophet (may Allah bless him and grant him peace) said: "Raf' ay-yadayn is only done in seven places: once to start salat and six times during hajj" [Kanz al-'ammal, vol. 7, p35]

The teacher of Imam al-Bukhari and Muslim, Imam Humaydi, writes: "The Prophet (may Allah bless him and grant him peace) used to only practise raf' al-yadayn at the start of the prayer" {Musnad Humaydi, vol. 1, p277]

Imam an-Nasa'i writes: "Malik ibn Huwayris reported that the Prophet (may Allah bless him and grant him peace) used to perform raf' al-yadayn before and after the ruku', and also between the two sajdas"

[an-Nasa'I, Bab Raf' al-Yadayn]

From the above narrations it can be seen that Ibn 'Umar's narration of raf' al-yadayn goes against his own narrations based on a direct commandment from the Prophet (may Allah bless him and grant him peace). It also goes against the narrations of Imam Humaydi, Imam an-Nasa'i andMalik ibn Huwayris.

Examination of Above Narrations

(1) Imam al-Bukhari's above narration is against Imam Nasa'i's narration.

(2) Imam Abu Dawud said this narration is not directly from the action of the Prophet (may Allahbless him and grant him peace), but is in fact the action of 'Abdullah ibn 'Umar (may Allah be pleased with him).[Sunan of Abu Dawud, chapter on 'Salat']

(3) Ibn 'Umar's above narrations prove that the Prophet (may Allahbless him and grant him peace) did raf' al-yadayn nine or ten times during salat [Bukhari, chapter on 'Salat']

(4) Imam Malik writes, regarding the above narrations by Ibn 'Umar: "The Prophet (may Allah bless him and grant him peace) use to do raf' al-yadayn five times in salat." He also said: "This is the action of Ibn 'Umar (may Allah be pleased with him) and not the action of the Prophet (may Allah bless him and grant him peace) [Imam Malik, al-Muwatta', chapter on 'Salat']

We can see that when this narration was narrated in Madina it was narrated to be five raf' al-yadayn in salat. When it reached Bukhara it changed from five to nine or ten raf' al-yadayn in salat.

Let us first examine the narrators of Ibn 'Umar's hadith - 'Abd al-Malik ibn Jurayj and Imam Zuhri:

'Abd al-Malik ibn Jurayj

Imam adh-Dhahabi and Imam al-'Asqalani write:

"Ibn Jurayj did not take narrations directly from people but he would attribute the narrations to them in such a way as to convince people that he actually heard the narrations from those people directly. The scholars of Hadith have called this process tadlis. Imam Ahmad said that Ibn Jurayj has narrated some ahadith which were fabricated. Also Ibn Jurayj is said to have performed mut'a [a marriage contract for a limited period] with 90 women in Makka al-Mukarrama [this was after it was made haram for Muslims]. Khurasani said that his narrations were weak. Also he never heard a narration from Imam Zuhri but only asked his permission if he could use his name in narrations"

[adh-Dhahabi, Mizan al-I'tidal and Tadhkirat al-Huffaz; al-'Asqalani, Tahzib at-Tahzib, Biography of 'Abd al-Malik ibn Jurayj]

Imam Zuhri

The main narrator of the above narration is Imam Zuhri. Indeed the narration is almost completely based on his narration. Before Imam Zuhri, the chain of narration of this Hadith was Umar ibn 'Abd al- Aziz, then Salim, then Imam Zuhri. After Imam Zuhri, his students made it more famous.

Imam adh-Dhahabi writes:

"Imam Zuhri's full name was Muhammad ibn Muslim ibn 'Abdullah ibn Shihab az-Zuhri. However, he is famous as Ibn Shihab az-Zuhri. He was born in the 50th year AH in Madina. He saw only a few Companions of the Prophet (may Allah bless him and grant him peace). He was such a great scholar that many scholars of his time used to praise him, including even 'Abdullah ibn 'Umar (may Allah be pleased with him).

[adh-Dhahabi, Tadhkirat al-Huffaz and Tahzib at-Tahzib, Biography of Imam Zuhri]

It is a fact that Imam Zuhri has narrated hadith (which have been collected by Muslim and Bukhari) which show that the family of the Prophet (may Allah bless him and grant him peace) and the Companions did not get on well with each other [Sahih Muslim and Sahih Bukhari, Bab al-Fay]. The truth is that the Prophet's (may Allah bless him and grant him peace) family and the Companions did get on well with each other.

Hafiz al-'Asqalani wrote:

"It was a habit of Imam Zuhri to perform tadlis and attribute the narrations to people like 'Abd ar-Rahman ibn Azhar, Ibn Ka'b, Abban, Ibn Uthman, Ibn Hakim, Ibn as-Salimi, 'Abdullah ibn Ja'far, 'Ubadah ibn as-Samit, Rafi', Umm 'Abdullah, Abu Hurayra, and 'Abdullah ibn 'Umar. Concerning 'Abdullah ibn Umar, the scholars of Hadith are split as to whether Imam Zuhri actually saw him or not. In the same way, there is no proof that Imam Zuhri did take narrations from 'Urwa ibn Zubayr. Nethertheless, the scholars of Hadith accept these narrations which Imam Zuhri allegedly took from 'Urwa. For us, this is evidence and we should therefore believe that Imam Zuhri heard something from 'Urwa. Imam Zuhri was from a group of scholars of Hadith who used to 'grab' hadith when they heard them

[Tahzib at-Tahzib, Biography of Imam Zuhri]

Tadlis - What is it?

Hafiz al-'Asqalani writes:

"The literal meaning of the arabic word 'tadlis' is 'hiding'. Technically, it means to hide a hadith narrator. If a muhaddith did tadlis, he would use a narrator's name but it would be a name by which he was not commonly known. Thus, the identity of the weak narrator was hidden. The stronger narrators in the chain would be emphasized so that the attention of the hearer of the hadith would be diverted

[al-'Asqalani, Sharh an-Nukhba, chapter on 'Tadlis']

Imam adh-Dhahabi and Hafiz al-'Asqalani write:

"Imam Zuhri narrated 2, 200 ahadith, of which about a half have a chain leading to the Prophet (may Allah bless him and grant him peace). He used to perform tadlis, albeit of a minor manner. Imam Zuhri's murasil ahadith [where a Tabi'i quoted a hadith directly from the Prophet (may Allah bless him and grant him peace) without mentioning the Companion from whom he received it] used to be weaker than other peoples'

[adh-Dhahabi, Tadhkirat al-Huffaz; al-'Asqalani,Tahzib at-Tahzib, Biography of Imam Zuhri]

Imam adh-Dhahabi narrated that Imam Shubah Wasiti writes: "I would rather fall from the skies and be broken to pieces, than to perform tadlis" [Tadhkirat al-Huffaz, Biography of Imam Shubah Wasiti]

Hafiz al-'Asqalani writes:

"Yazid ibn Zuray was asked, 'What is the legal ruling regarding tadlis?' To this, he replied 'It is an absolute lie'

[Tahzib at-Tahzib, Biography of Yazid ibn Zuray]

Imam adh-Dhahabi writes:

"Sulayman ibn Harb said that Imam Jarir 'Azdi was asked about tadlis. The Imam said, 'I reject it. A mudallis [one who performs tadlis] shows that which he has not heard' "

[Tadhkirat al-Huffaz, Biography of Imam Jarir ibn Hazin 'Azdi]

Hafiz Ibn Kathir writes:

"Imam ash-Shafi'i rejects all the narrations of any muhaddith who did tadlis, but other scholars say that if a mudallis identified who he took narrations from and if that was a reliable source, that particular narration would be accepted"

[Ibn Kathir, Ikhtisar 'Ulum al-Hadith, chapter on 'Tadlis']

Hafiz al-'Asqalani writes:

"If a mudallis uses the words 'Qala' [so and so said], or 'An, [from so-and-so]in a narration, the hadith will be rejected. However, if the mudallis uses a word implying that he directly heard the narration i.e. 'sami'tu' [I heard] then he would be lying. The rule concerning such people is that even if the mudallis was truthful, the hadith would not be accepted"

[al-'Asqalani, Sharh an-Nukhbah, chapter on 'Hadith Mu'dal']

Idraj and Imam Zuhri

Imam Zuhri used to do idraj, so it was difficult for people to understand his narrated ahadith.

Hafiz al-'Asqalani writes:

"Idraj literally means 'inserting something.' Its technical meaning is to insert one's own words into the text of a narration. Sometimes the text could be added at the start, or at the end. To find the actual hadith text from a mudrij [person who performs idraj] is very difficult. Either the hadith was analyzed be someone who had very deep knowledge, or the mudrij showed which words he inserted into the hadith text"

[al-'Asqalani, Sharh an-Nukhbah, chapter on 'Hadith Mudrij']

Imam al-Bukhari writes:

"It was reported by Imam Malik that the famous scholar of Hadith, Rabi'a Turayy, used to advise Imam Zuhri to show clearly in his narrations which were his own words and which were those of the Prophet (may Allah bless him and grant him peace)"

[al-Bukhari, Ta'rikh al-Kabir, Biography of Rabi'a Turayy]

Muslim and Bukhari contain ahadith in which Imam Zuhri has inserted his own words. Scholars of Hadith have refuted these words. An example is given below:

Imam Muslim and Imam al-Bukhari write:

When Hazrat Abu Bakr (may Allah be pleased with him) became the khalifa, Hazrat 'Ali (may Allah be pleased with him) did not give bay'a (pledge of allegiance) to him nor did the tribe of Banu Hashim. However, six months later, after Hazrat Fatima (may Allah be pleased with her) passed away they all [including 'Ali] gave bay'a to him"

[Bukhari, chapter on 'Khaybar'; Muslim, Bab al-Fayy]

Hafiz al-'Asqalani writes:

"Imam Ibn Hibban, Imam al-Bayhaqi, and other scholars of Hadith say that this narration contains some of Imam Zuhri's own words. Somebody told Imam Zuhri that when Abu Bakr (may Allah be pleased with him) became the khalifa, Hazrat 'Ali (may Allah be pleased with him) did not give bay'a for six months. Imam Zuhri did not contain himself with only 'Ali, but asserted that the whole tribe of Banu Hashim did not give bay'a to Abu Bakr until Hazrat Fatima (may Allah be pleased with her) passed away. The fact is that Imam Zuhri's words are wrong, and also that Hazrat 'Ali (may Allah be pleased with him) gave bay'a to Hazrat Abu Bakr on the first day he was appointed khalifa

[Fath al-Bari, end of Chapter of Khaybar]

Hafiz Qastalani also writes the same as above. Hafiz Ibn Kathir writes that the narrations which say that 'Ali (may Allah be pleased with him) gave bay'a to Abu Bakr (may Allah be pleased with him) on the first day he was appointed khalifa are more authentic than those which do not support this. The reason for this is that 'Ali (may Allah be pleased with him) used to pray behind Abu Bakr (may Allah be pleased with him) and stayed with him all the time [Ta'rikh Ibn Kathir,. Yawm as-Saqifa]

The references prove that Imam Zuhri used to perform tadlis and idraj. The scholars have pointed out that some of his narrations are not reliable.

Ijaza and Imam Zuhri

Ijaza literally means 'giving permission.' Its technical meaning is for a muhaddith to give permission to his students to narrate his ahadith, or any book of Hadith which he has knowledge of [al-'Asqalani, Sharh al-Nukhbah, chapter on Ijaza]. This is the correct way to give ijaza, but Imam Zuhri's way to give ijaza was very strange.

Imam adh-Dhahabi writes that Ubaydullah reported:

"I saw that the students of Imam Zuhri used to bring books to the Imam and ask him for permission to narrate from it using the Imam's name. The Imam used to allow them without knowing what was in those books. This was because neither the Imam used to read the ahadith, nor did the students read the ahadith to him"

[adh-Dhahabi, Tadhkirat al-Huffaz, Biography of Imam Zuhri]

Shaykh Salih Subhi writes:

"Imam Ibn Hazm said that if a scholar of Hadith gives permission to his students to narrate a book of Hadith using his name, and the scholar has not read the narrations, nor has anyone read them to him, then this is a bid'a and not permissible. Other scholars of Hadith have been more strict in this respect and have said that the scholars of Hadith who used to do this, in effect, gave permission to their students to attribute lies to them"

['Ulum al-Hadith, chapter on Ijaza]

From the above, it is evident that the authenticity of Imam Zuhri's narrations are in question. It could be the case that one of the students of the Imam used to narrate non-authentic ahadith and use the Imam's name, as he had given him permission to do so without checking the hadith.

Our Shaykh Shah Abul Husayn Zayd Faruqi writes:

"Hafiz Ibn al-Qayyim writes in his book I'lam al Muwaqqi'in(vol. 3 p 85), that Imam Malik wrote a letter to his colleague Imam Layth ibn Sa'd, whose knowledge was greater than his own. When ImamLayth replied to the letter, he mentioned a few things about Imam Zuhri. He wrote: 'There is no doubt that our teacher, Imam Zuhri, was a great scholar but we have to accept that some of Imam Zuhri's verbal and written statements used to contradict one another. When we used to ask him something, sometimes the written answer would be different from the answer he used to give us verbally. Even some of his written statements used to contradict one another. The Imam did not realize what he had said before and what he was writing at the time. These are the reasons why I have left him' "

[Faruqi, A, Z., Sawani Hayat Imam Abu Hanifa, Biography of Imam Layth]

This statement highlights the fact that Imam Zuhri's narrations are not necessarily authentic. For this reason, we cannot use a single narration from Imam Zuhri as being more authentic than the practice of the Companions, Tabi'un, Tabi'u't-Tabi'in or a great group of scholars.

Apology

We regret highlighting weaknesses in Imam Zuhri but we have above, only just quoted what other scholars of Hadith have said about him. We also respect Imam Zuhri greatly as a muhaddith, but he was a man like us and had weaknesses.

Returning to the point of our discussion - the raf' al-yadayn narration is only taken from Imam Zuhri. His students made the narration famous after this.

How the Narration Became Famous

Imam Ibn 'Abdi'l-Barr writes:

"Ibn Umar's narration became famous from Imam Zuhri's students. Eleven students took this narration from Imam Zuhri; they were: Imam Malik, az-Zubaydi, Ma'mar, Awza'i, Muhammad ibn Ishaq, Sufyan ibn Husayn, Aqil ibn Khalid, Abu Hamza, Ibn Uyayna Yunus and Yahya. 26 of Imam Malik's students narrated this hadith from him. They were: Yahya ibn Yahya, Ibn Bukayr, Abu Mas'ab, Sa'id, Ibn Wahab, Ibn al-Qasim, Ibn Sa'id, Ibn Abi 'Uways, 'Abd ar-Rahman, Juwayria bint Asma', Ibrahim, Ibn al-Mubarik, Bishr, 'Uthman, 'Abdullah, Khalid, Maki ibn Ibrahim, Ibn Hasan, Ibn Mas'ab, 'Abd al-Malik, Ibn Nafi', Abu Qura, Musa, Matraf, Qutayba, and Imam ash-Shafi'i. After all these people narrated this hadith and told their students this narration, it soon became very famous"

[At-Tamhid, chapter on 'Raf' ay-yadayn']

From this, it can be concluded that this narration was not famous at the time of the Sahaba and the Tabi'un. When people try to find evidence to support raf' al-yadayn they say that there are over a hundred ahadith supporting it. In reality, there is only one hadith which has been transmitted by Imam Zuhri, and his students have transmitted it further. So many chains were produced after Imam Zuhri.

When Imam Awza'i debated with Imam Abu Hanifa concerning raf' al-yadayn , the only hadith Awza'i could give as evidence for it was the one from Imam Zuhri. This demonstrates that if there were any other hadith to support raf' al-yadayn then Awza'i would certainly have revealed it.

Furthermore, Bukhari and Muslim only wrote ahadith with chains leading to Imam Zuhri. If there were any other hadith, then they would have included them.

Imam Malik's Opinion on Raf' al-Yadayn

Imam Malik had the most knowledge of Imam Zuhri's narrations. Let us see what his opinion about this was.

Imam Ibn al-Qasim, who was Imam Malik's student, writes that Imam Malik said:

"Apart from the begining of the prayer, I am unaware of performing raf' al-yadayn at any other time. I believe that the practice of raf' al-yadayn during the prayer is weak"

[al-Madunah, Bab Raf' al-Yadayn]

Imam Malik's saying that he was unaware of performing raf' al-yadayn does not mean that he was unaware of the hadith. This was because he himself heard it along with ten of his colleagues and transmitted it to 26 of his students. The real meaning of his saying is that he was unaware of the practice of it. This was because neither Imam Zuhri, nor any of his students performed raf' al-yadayn . Likewise, the people of Madina did not practise it, nor the people coming for Hajj from all over the world. Another point to raise is that Imam Malik, who is a main narrator of this hadith, did not practice raf' al-yadayn himself. The practice of raf' al-yadayn was very uncommon in Imam Malik's time.

How can we use this narration as evidence for raf' al-yadayn when the scholars who narrated it did not act upon it, and when there are doubts concerning the reliability of the two main narrators (Ibn Jurayj and Imam Zuhri)?

Second evidence for Raf' al-Yadayn

The second evidence of people who peforming raf' al-yadayn is that Imam al-Bukhari and Imam Muslim write:

"Abu Qalaba and Nasr ibn Asim, say that they saw Malik ibn Huwayris performing raf' al-yadayn before ruku and after ruku in salat and he reported that the Prophet (may Allah bless him and grant him peace) used to do this as well"

[Bukari and Muslim, Bab Raf' al-Yadayn]

The people who perform raf ay-yadayn give this as their evidence and say that it is a Sunna mu'akkada (emphasised sunna which the Prophet [may Allah bless him and give him peace] performed regularly) and that non performance of it means that the prayer is not accepted properly.

We answer this by saying that this narration cannot prove that raf' al-yadayn is Sunna mu'akkada and also you cannot prove from this narration that the Prophet (may Allah bless him and grant him peace) used to perform raf' al-yadayn all the time. Also, Malik ibn Huwayris's narration goes against his other narration:

"Imam Nasa'i writes that Malik ibn Huwayris reported that the Prophet (may Allah bless him and grant him peace) used to perform raf' al-yadayn before and after the ruku' and in the middle of the two sajdas"

[an-Nasa'i, Bab Raf ay-Yadayn]

From Malik ibn Huwayris's second narration there is also proof of performing raf' al-yadayn between the sajdas, but the people who perform raf' al-yadayn only do it before and after the ruku' and not in the middle of the sajdas. Their argument is that this action has been abrogated - this inspite of the fact that Malik ibn Huwayris's narration does not confirm this.

Secondly, Malik ibn Huwayris was only in Madina for a few weeks and did not stay with the Prophet (may Allah bless him and grant him peace) at times, so he did not know the last actions of the Prophet (may Allah bless him and grant him peace). This suggests that he did not know whether the Prophet (may Allah bless him and grant him peace) performed raf' al-yadayn or not. On the other hand, 'Abdullah ibn Ma'sud saw the Prophet's (may Allah bless him and grant him peace) last actions concerning raf' al-yadayn . He saw the Prophet (may Allah bless him and grant him peace) perform the prayer without raf' al-yadayn . 'Abdullah ibn Mas'ud's narration is more reliable than Malik ibn Huwayris's as Ibn Mas'ud stayed with the Prophet (may Allah bless him and grant him peace) all the time.

Proof that Malik ibn Huwayris Stayed in Madina for Only a Few Weeks

Imam al-Bukhari and Imam Muslim write:

"Malik ibn Huwayris came to Madina with some other people and stayed in Madina for twenty nights and then they really wanted to go home. So when the Prophet (may Allah bless him and grant him peace) found this out, he gave them permission to leave for Basra, where Malik was from"

[Bukhari, Muslim, Bab al-Adhan]

From this narration there is proof that Malik ibn Huwayris was only in Madina for a short time and so he could not have known the last actions of the Prophet (may Allah bless him and grant him peace) concerning raf' al-yadayn . Malik ibn Huwayris's narration about raf' al-yadayn does not prove that the Prophet (may Allah bless him and grant him peace) performed raf' al-yadayn all the time; it only proves that Malik ibn Huwayris saw him (may Allah bless him and grant him peace) perform raf' al-yadayn in that period. This also does not prove that it is a Sunna mu'akkada. If someone tries to prove from this narration that it is Sunna mu'akkada to perform raf' al-yadayn then people could also say that it is Sunna mu'akkada to pick a child up during salat!

Imam al-Bukhari writes: "The Prophet (may Allah bless him and grant him peace) while praying salat picked up his grand-daughter, Amama, and put her down when he went into sujud" [Bukari, Bab as-Salat]. No one can say from this narration that it is a Sunna mu'akkada to pick up a child while praying, so how can some say that because Malik ibn Huwayris saw the Prophet (may Allah bless him and grant him peace) perfom raf' al-yadayn in salat on a particular occasion it is Sunna mu'akkada.

Narrators of the Second Hadith Supporting Raf' al-Yadayn

There are four main narrators of the narration supporting raf' al-yadayn . They are, Abu Qalaba, Khalid al-Hazza, Nasr ibn Asim, and Qatada. Of course, we believe that they had full knowledge of Hadith but they were human and had some weaknesses.

Abu Qalaba

Imam adh-Dhahabi and Hafiz al-'Asqalani write:

"Abu Qalaba's full name was 'Abdullah ibn Zayd; he used to live in the city of Basra. He was a great and knowledgeable man. He was against and had no regards towards 'Ali (may Allah be pleased with him). He used to narrate ahadith from people whom he had never met before, for example: 'Abdullah ibn 'Umar, 'Abdullah ibn 'Abbas, 'A'isha, and Abu Hurayra. When he related ahadith, it seemed as if he had heard the hadith directly from the Companions of the Prophet (may Allah bless him and grant him peace), but in reality he heard them from other people"

[adh-Dhahabi, Mizan at-I'tidal and al-'Asqalani, Tahzib at-Tahzib, Biography of Abu Qalaba]

Khalid ibn Hazza

Hafiz adh-Dhahabi and Hafiz al-'Asqalani write:

"Imam Ibn Sa'd Khalid was not an authentic Imam. Abu Khatam said that hadith narrated by Khalid cannot be used as evidence. When Khalid came to Syria he told ahadith to the people but the scholars rejected his narrations. He had also lost his memory. Despite this, Ibn Mu'in and Nasa'i praised him"

[adh-Dhahabi, Mizan at-I'tidal;al-'Asqalani, Tahzib at-Tahzib and Muqaddama Fath al-Bari, Biography of Abu Qalaba]

Abu Qalaba's other student Ayyub also narrated this hadith, but he never mentions raf' al-yadayn . This hadith is also found in Sahih al-Bukhari. The scholars of Hadith agree that Ayyub was more knowledgeable than Khalid.

Nasr ibn Asim

Hafiz al-'Asqalani writes:

"Imam Dawud said that he was from amongst a misled sect, but others said that he repented from his wrong beliefs"

[Tahzib at-Tahzib, Biography of Nasr ibn Asim)]

Qatada

Imam adh-Dhahabi and Hafiz al-'Asqalani write:

"Qatada was a great scholar and a mufassir [scholar of Tafsir (Quranic exegesis)]. He was very intelligent, and many scholars praised him. He narrated ahadith of such people whom he had never heard, met, nor seen. He saw only one Companion of the Prophet, Malik ibn Anas, but he attributed narrations from many other people despite this.

He had evil beliefs about Islam; he openly declared his sinful beliefs. Despite the fact that Qatada held wrong beliefs, the scholars still took narrations of hadith from him (may Allah forgive him)

[adh-Dhahabi, Mizan al-I'tidal and Tadhkirat al-Huffaz, Biography of Qatada Basri; al-'Asqalani, Tahzib at-Tahzib]

From all the above references, it cannot be proved that the Prophet (may Allah bless him and grant him peace) did raf' al-yadayn all the time. Also, Malik ibn Huwayris did not stay with the Prophet (may Allah bless him and grant him peace) during the last period of the Prophet's (may Allah bless him and grant him peace) life. The four main narrators of this hadith have been criticized by the scholars of Hadith. Therefore this hadith does not stand at the same level as 'Abdullah ibn Mas'ud's hadith.

The Third Evidence Used to Support Raf' al-Yadayn.

Qadi Shawkani writes:

"The Prophet (may Allah bless him and grant him peace), when performing his last salat, performed raf' al-yadayn "

[Nayl al-Awtar, chapter on Raf' al-Yadayn]

The people who perform raf' al-yadayn say that the above narration proves that raf' al-yadayn was not abrogated. In response to this we say that this hadith is not authentic. This is the reason why it was not written in Sahih al-Bukhari, or Muslim - even Imam al-Bayhaqi did not include it in his book of sunan. All the narrators of this hadith are weak.

Examining the Narrators of the Hadith

'Abd ar-Rahman Harwi

Imam adh-Dhahabi writes that Harwi used to fabricate hadith and tell them to people [Mizan al-I'tidal, Biography of 'Abd ar-Rahman Harwi]

If Harwi used to fabricate his narrations of hadith it follows that his narrations cannot be relied upon.

Usamah ibn Muhammad Ansari (the student of Musa ibn 'Uqba)

Imam adh-Dhahabi writes:

"Imam Abu Khatim said that Usamah was not strong in the knowledge of Hadith. Imam Yahya ibn Mu'in said that he fabricated hadith and attributed them to the great scholars of Hadith. He was a liar. Imam Daraqutni said that he was not reliable and that is why the scholars did not take any narrations of hadith from him. Imam Ibn Addi said that all his narrated ahadith are not safe. He narrates one hadith that says that you should make du'a' to Allah Most High when you see a beautiful face, and He will accept it"

[Mizan al-I'tidal, Biography of Usamah ibn Muhammad Ansari]

Qadi Shawkani writes that Usamah ibn Muhammad Ansari was a liar and he fabricated hadith [al-Majmu'at al-Ahadith, chapter on Sadaqa, p.67]

It is strange that Qadi Shawkani wrote in his book that Usamah ibn Muhammad was a liar, and yet despite this took his narration as evidence in his other book. The other surprising thing is that Qadi Shawkani always discusses the narrators of the hadith, but with this hadith he does not mention or discuss anything about them. It seems as if he is totally unaware of them.

We are also surprised concerning those people who present this hadith as evidence of their practice of raf' al-yadayn . They are proud and say that they are following the Sunna of Rasulu'llah (may Allah bless him and grant him peace).

Performing Salat Without Raf' al-Yadayn - Proof from Ahadith

Imam Muslim writes:

"Once we were performing salat and the Prophet (may Allah bless him and grant him peace) came to us and asked us: 'Why are you doing raf' al-yadayn as a stubborn horse waving its tail?' He also told us: 'Perform your salat with peace'

[Muslim, chapter on Sukun fi as-Salat]

The above hadith proves that one must not perform raf' al-yadayn in the middle of one's salat.

Imam Muslim writes in another narration, after the above:

"Jabir ibn Samrah reported: 'At the end of the salat, we used to wave our hands left and right when saying salam. The Prophet (may Allah bless him and grant him peace) told us not to wave our hands but only to say the salam."

The above narrations prove that the Prophet (may Allah bless him and grant him peace) stopped raf' al-yadayn as well as waving the hands during the Prayer.

Imam Humaydi, who was the teacher of Imam al-Bukhari and Muslim, writes:

" 'Abdullah ibn 'Umar said: 'The Prophet (may Allah bless him and grant him peace) only performed raf' al-yadayn at the beginning of salat, not before or after doing ruku' ' "

[Musnad Humaydi, Vol. 2, p. 277, Maktabah Salafiyya, Madina al-Munawwara]

Imam Ibn Abi Shayba and Imam 'Abd ar-Razzaq write:

" 'Ali (may Allah be pleased with him) reported: 'The Prophet (may Allah bless him and grant him peace) performed raf' al-yadayn at the beginning of salat.'

" 'Abdullah ibn Mas'ud and Brabin Azib reported: 'We saw the Prophet (may Allah bless him and grant him peace) only performing raf' al-yadayn at the beginning of the salat.'

" Aswad, Imam Shabi, Ibrahim an-Nakha'i, 'Ali and Ibn Mas'ud's student (may Allah be pleased with them) only performed raf' al-yadayn at the beginning of salat"

[Musnad Ibn Abi Shayba and Musnad 'Abd ar-Razzaq, Chapter on Raf' al-Yadayn]

Imam Ibn al-Qasim writes:

"Imam Malik said that Imam Zuhri told him that he heard from Salim, who said that his father ['Abdullah ibn 'Umar] reported, that the Prophet (may Allah bless him and grant him peace) only performed raf' al-yadayn at the beginning of the salat and not in any other part of it."

This narration also proves that Imam Zuhri narrated a hadith stating that the practice of raf' al-yadayn was only performed at the beginning of the salat.

Imam Malik said that he has no knowledge of doing raf' al-yadayn in any other part of the salat apart from the beginning [al-Mudawwana, chapter on 'Raf' al-Yadayn']

Imam Malik also said:

"To do raf' al-yadayn is weak, except at the beginning"

[al-Mudawwana, chapter on 'Raf' al-Yadayn']

How could Imam Malik say that he had no knowledge of someone who practices raf' al-yadayn even when he himself heard a hadith supporting it from Imam Zuhri? The answer to this is, as mentioned earlier, that Imam Malik knew the hadith of raf' al-yadayn but he never saw anyone in Makka or Madina who practiced it. The reason for this is that the practice of raf' al-yadayn was abrogated.

Imam at-Tirmidhi writes:

" 'Abdullah ibn Mas'ud said that he would perform the salat the way that the Prophet (may Allah bless him and grant him peace) did. When he performed the salat he only did raf' al-yadayn at the beginning of the salat.

"Many Companions of the Prophet (may Allah bless him and grant him peace), their students (Tabi'un), Sufyan, the Scholars of Kufa and many other scholars followed this hadith"

[at-Tirmidhi, Bab Raf' al-Yadayn; Ibn Hazm in his Muhalla (chapter of salat) writes that this hadith is authentic; Ahmed Shakir, a famous Najdi scholar, also writes that this hadith is authentic in his Takhrij Ibn Hazm]

Even other scholars wrote this hadith in their books, for example: Imam Abu Dawud Ibn Abi Shayba, Imam 'Abd ar-Razzaq, Imam Abu Ya'la and many others.

Imam at-Tirmidhi wrote in his narration:

"The Companions of the Prophet (may Allah bless him and grant him peace), Tabi'un and scholars of Kufa were performing salat without raf' al-yadayn ."

[at-Tirmidhi, Bab Raf' al-Yadayn]

Who Were the Scholars of Kufa?

Imam Ibn Sa'd, Hafiz Ibn al-Qayyim and Hafiz Ibn Taymiyya write:

" 'Umar (may Allah be pleased with him) gave an order to build the city of Kufa. When the city was built, people from various Islamic areas came to live in the city. Many Companions of the Prophet (may Allah bless him and grant him peace) moved to Kufa and started to live there. Umar (may Allah be pleased with him) sent 'Abdullah ibn Mas'ud and Ammar ibn Yasir to teach the people in Kufa. After sixteen or seventeen years, when 'Ali (may Allah be pleased with him) became the Khalifa, he transferred the capital from Madina to Kufa. A large number of Companions (may Allah be pleased with them) moved to Kufa. They taught people about Islam. Kufa thus became the centre point for Islamic scholars"

[Tabaqat Ibn Sa'd; Minhaj as-Sunna Alam al-Muwakki'in, chapter on 'Kufa']

Kufa was the central point of Islamic knowledge, which is why so many scholars of Hadith travelled to it repeatedly to gain knowledge.Hafiz al-'Asqalani writes:

"Imam al-Bukhari travelled to various cities to gain knowledge of Hadith. He went to the city of Jazeera twice, Basra four times, and stayed in the Hijaz [Makka and Madina] for six years. Imam al-Bukhari said himself that he could not account for how many times he went to Kufa and Baghdad to learn knowledge of Hadith"

[Muqaddima Fath al-Bari, Biography of Imam al-Bukhari]

Imam at-Tirmidhi's narrations prove that no one practiced raf' al-yadayn in the city of Kufa which became the centre point of Islamic knowledge and thought. Imam Malik's narration proves that no one was practicing raf' al-yadayn in Makka or Madina, as this practice had been abrogated.

The Debate Between Imam Awza'i and Imam Abu Hanifa

These two Imams once debated the matter of raf' al-yadayn , and it is described by Sufyan ibn Uyayna:

"Once Imam Abu Hanifa and Imam Awza'i met in a market in Makka. Imam Awza'i asked Imam Abu Hanifa why he did not practice raf' al-yadayn during the salat.

Abu Hanifa: There is no authentic hadith about practicing raf' al-yadayn .

Awza'i:Why isn't there an authentic hadith? Here is one: Imam Zuhri told me, who was told by Salim, who was told by Ibn 'Umar (may Allah be pleased with him) that the Prophet (may Allah bless him and grant him peace) practiced raf' al-yadayn before and after theruku'.

Abu Hanifa: Hamad told me, who was told by Ibrahim, who was told by Ikrama, who was told by Aswad who was told by 'Abdullah ibnMas'ud (may Allah be pleased with him) that the Prophet (may Allah bless him and grant him peace) only practiced raf' al-yadayn at the beginning of performing his salat and not afterwards.

Awza'i:The narration that I have presented to you has a shorter chain and your hadith has a longer chain; for this reason, my hadith is more reliable than yours.

Abu Hanifa: It does not matter if the chain of the hadith is long or short. The priority of the hadith depends on the narrators of the hadith and how much knowledge of Hadith they had. The narrators of the hadith which I have presented possess more expertise in the knowledge of Hadith. For example, Hamad is more knowledgeable than Imam Zuhri. Ibrahim is more knowledgeable than Salim; Ikrama is a great scholar and Ibn Mas'ud is unique.

Imam Awza'i then became silent"

[Musnad Imam Abu Hanifa, chapter on 'Raf' al-Yadayn]

This debate shows that Imam Awza'i had no other evidence. If he had then he would have presented it to defend his case in support of raf' al-yadayn . Imam Abu Hanifa replied so beautifully that Imam Awza'i was forced to become silent.

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22) Recitation of Qiraah behind Imam

Those of us who adhere to the madhab of Imam Abu Hanifa believe that when an individual performs salat alone then it is wajib to recite al-Fatiha, but when one is praying behind the Imam then al-Fatiha should not be recited, whether the Imam is reciting loudly or quietly.The evidence available from the Qur'an and Sunna are as follows:

Allah says in the Qur'an:

"When the Qur'an is recited, listen to it"

[Sura al-A'raf: 204]

Hafiz Ibn Kathir writes:

"The Prophet (may Allah bless him and grant him peace) said: 'The Imam's recitation is enough for the followers' "

[Tafsir Ibn Kathir, Sura al-Fatiha]

Hence the position taken by those who adhere to this madhab is that it is impermissible to recite behind the Imam in any salat.

There are people who believe that we should recite behind the Imam even when the Imam recites loudly or quietly. Their evidence is from the hadith in which the Prophet (may Allah bless him and grant him peace) said:

"The salat of the person who does not recite al-Fatiha is not accepted"

[Bukhari & Muslim, Kitab as-Salat, Wujub al-Qira'at]

Rather than reading this hadith in isolation, when we read other sources of Islamic law we can establish that the meaning of this hadith is that it is essential to recite al-Fatiha when praying salat alone. Some people have also established from the above hadith that it implies that the recitation of al-Fatiha in every rakat is fard (compulsory). It is also worth mentioning that this hadith is established from a single narration, and an action cannot be proved to be fard from such type of narration. There is proof from Qur'an and Sunna which supports the view that if someone reads any part of the Qur'an in the salat, the salat will be accepted. Allah says in the Qur'an:

"Recite the Qur'an [in salat] that which is easy for you"

[Sura al-Muzzammil, verse 20]

If Surat al-Fatiha was fard then the verse would have stated this explicitly. There is also another hadith which states that the Prophet (may Allah bless him and grant him peace) taught a man how to perform salat, yet he did not mention al-Fatiha. Imam al-Bukhari and Imam Muslim write:

"The Prophet (may Allah bless him and grant him peace) was sitting in the masjid and a man came and performed salat. The Prophet (may Allah bless him and grant him peace) ordered him to perform salat again. When he finished, the Prophet (may Allah bless him and grant him peace) told him again to perform salat. The man said, 'This is the best way that I can perform salat. Teach me a better way.' The Prophet (may Allah bless him and grant him peace) said 'When you stand, say takbir then recite from the Qur'an whatever is easy for you' "

[Bukhari & Muslim, Bab al-Wujub al-Qira'a]

Imam Daraqutni writes:

"The Prophet (may Allah bless him and grant him peace) said that whoever joins the salat with the Imam in ruku' [before the Imam stands straight], that ruku will not have to be repeated"

[Daraqutni, Adrak Imam Qabla ar-Ruku']

If the recitation of Sura al-Fatiha was fard, the Prophet (may Allah bless him and grant him peace) would have told the man to reciteal-Fatiha first and then to recite any other part of the Qur'an which was easy for him. Also the Prophet (may Allah bless him and grant him peace) would not have said that the ruku' of the person who joins the Imam in ruku' does not have to be repeated. In such a case al-Fatiha is missed. If al-Fatiha was fard the person joining the salat at ruku' would have had to repeat his salat, simply because a fard was missing.

Allama Sa'idi writes:

"The meaning of the above debated hadith is similar to the following ahadith: The Prophet (may Allah bless him and grant him peace) said, 'Whoever lives close to the mosque and does not pray in the mosque his salat is not accepted.'

"There is another hadith, which states that if a person makes wudu' and does not recite bismillah, the wudu' is invalid. There is also another hadith stating that a person is not Muslim if his neighbour sleeps in a hungry state. Another hadith states that if a person does not fulfil their promise then he is not a Muslim.Of course, the person who fails to fulfil their promise is still a Muslim and, in the same way, if someone does not recite al-Fatiha in salat, his salat is still accepted but without full perfection. If this was not the case the Prophet should have said: 'The salat of the one who does not recite al-Fatiha is false' "

[Sa'idi, Sharh Muslim, Bab Wujubi Qira'at]

There is a further explanation of this hadith, which we shall touch upon later insha'llah. We accept that there are scholars who hold the view that people should recite al-Fatiha behind the Imam. The scholars have also written books on this subject.

Hafiz Ibn Taymiyya writes:

"Some scholars say that al-Fatiha should be recited behind the Imam. The scholars of Hadith say this opinion is weak. Qur'an and authentic ahadith and the opinion of the early Muslims [salaf] is with those scholars who say that al-Fatiha should not be recited behind the Imam"

[Ibn Taymiyya, Tanaw Ibadat, p. 76]

Hafiz Ibn Kathir writes:

"Imam Ahmad and Imam Abu Hanifa say there should be no recitation behind the Imam during any salat. This is more accurate because Imam ash-Shafi'i has one opinion which is similar to this"

[Tafsir Ibn Kathir, Sura al-A'raf, verse 204]

Imam Abu Dawud writes:

"One day the Prophet (may Allah bless him and grant him peace) was leading the prayer. After he had finished praying he asked, 'Perhaps some of you were reciting behind me?' The followers replied, 'Yes.' The Prophet said, 'That was why I was facing difficulty in reciting." Abu Hurayra, Imam Zuhri and Imam Awza'i said that after this advice from the Prophet everyone stopped reciting behind the Imam"

[Abu Dawud, Bab Man al-Qira'at]

From this narration, we can see that people used to recite behind the Imam but stopped it afterwards.

Surely, after reading such statements, it should suffice to understand which position is in accordance with the Prophet's (may Allah bless him and grant him peace) command of 'Pray as you see me pray.' Whoever decides to embark on their own research on this subject will find it difficult not to arrive at the same conclusion of Hafiz Ibn Taymiyya and Hafiz Ibn Kathir.

Evidence For Reciting al-Fatiha Behind the Imam

Let us now examine the evidence of the people who insist that they should recite behind the Imam. Essentially, they claim that there are three ahadith which state that the Prophet said that we should recite behind the Imam. In fact, there is not a single hadith in which the Prophet (may Allah bless him and grant him peace) has commanded us to recite behind the Imam. As we have seen thus far, there is proof from the Qur'an and Sunna to suggest that we should NOT recite behind the Imam.

Let us examine the three narrations which have been put forward. The first narration is from 'Ali ibn 'Abdullah from Sufyan from Zuhri from Mahmud who reported:

"The Prophet (may Allah bless him and grant him peace) said that the salat of whoever does not recite al-Fatiha is not complete"

[Bukhari & Muslim, Bab al-Wujib al-Qira'a]

Those who recite behind the Imam put forward this hadith as their evidence to recite Sura al-Fatiha in every salat behind the Imam. There is no word in this hadith that proves that al-Fatiha should be recited behind the Imam. If we take the literal meaning of reciting behind the Imam, then this narration would go against the Qur'an and authentic ahadith. The actual meaning of this narration is that when a person is praying alone and does not recite al-Fatiha then his salat is not complete. This is the actual opinion held by narrators of this narration. The following proves this:

Imam Muslim writes:

"Ma'mar reported from Zuhri that the Prophet Muhammad said, 'The salat of the person who does not recite Sura al-Fatiha and another part of the Qur'an is not accepted' "

[Muslim, Bab al-Qira'a]

Imam Muslim's narration confirms that this hadith is for the person who is praying alone because when a person prays alone he reads Sura al-Fatiha and another part of the Qur'an. Even the people who recite al-Fatiha behind the Imam do not say that there should be another part of the Qur'an recited. So it is clear that this hadith is for those people who are praying alone.

An Objection Raised

Imam al-Bukhari narrated a narration from Sufyan which is about the wujub of only reciting al-Fatiha whereas Imam Muslim narrates from Ma'mar a hadith which says that the person's prayer is not accepted if they do not recite Sura al-Fatiha AND another part of the Qur'an. We prefer Sufyan's narration over Ma'mar's because Sufyan is more reliable.

This objection can be cleared easily by looking at what the books of al-jarh wa ta'dil say about the quality of hadith narrators.

Imam adh-Dhahabi and Hafiz al-'Asqalani write:

"Imam Yahya ibn Mu'in was asked by his students as to who had memorised more of Imam adh-Dhahabi's narrations and whom he prefered. He replied: 'Imam Ma'mar. Imam Ahmad ibn Hanbal said that Sufyan heard ahadith from Imam Zuhri at a young age, so this is why when he reported ahadith from Zuhri he made mistakes in twenty of them' "

[al-'Asqalani, Tahzib at-Tahzib; adh-Dhahabi, Mizan al-I'tidal, Biography of Sufyan and Ma'mar]

This reference proves that Ma'mar's narration is more authentic than Sufyan's narration.

Hafiz Ibn Kathir writes:

"Sufyan sometimes committed tadlis [which means that when he narrated some of the hadith he made out that he heard it directly from Zuhri, but he had actually heard it from someone else who in turn heard it from Zuhri].One day, Sufyan was sitting with his students and he told them a hadith, which he was narrating from Zuhri. One of the students questioned: 'Did you hear this directly from Zuhri?' Sufyan paused and said: 'No, I heard it from 'Abd ar-Razzaq, who heard it from Ma'mar, who heard it directly from Zuhri"

[Ibn Kathir, Iftisar 'Ulum al-Ahadith, Bab at-Tadlis]

This reference proves that Sufyan at times committed tadlis and since Ma'mar's name is not mentioned under those who committed tadlis, we can safely assert that he did not.

Someone may say that Sufyan's narrations are prefered over Ma'mar's even if Ma'mar is more reliable concerning Zuhri's narrations. In response to this we assert that Sufyan's narrations do not actually prove that we should read al-Fatiha even if we are praying behind an Imam. Let us examine what Imam Zuhri and his other students (including Imam Malik and Sufyan himself) understood from this narration.

The main narration comes from Imam Zuhri, then his students: Imam Malik, Sufyan, Yunus, Ma'mar, Awza'i and others narrate this narration:

Imam Abu Dawud writes:

"Sufyan narrates from Imam Zuhri that the hadith, that a prayer of the person who does not recite al-Fatiha and another part of the Qur'an is not accepted, is meant for the person who is praying alone. Imam Zuhri says that when the Prophet used to lead the prayer loudly the people used to recite behind him. This narration is from Imam Zuhri, narrated by Sufiyan, Ma'mar, 'Abdullah ibn Muhammad, Awza'i, 'Abd ar-Rahman ibn Ishaaq, Yunus, 'Usama and Imam Malik"

[Abu Dawud, Bab Tark al-Qira'a Khalf al-Imam]

From this we can prove that the hadith concerning nullification of the prayer of the one who does not recite Al-Fatiha in their prayer is meant for that person who is performing salat alone, and not behind the Imam. This is what Imam Sufyan, his teacher and colleagues understood by this narration. This hadith is found in two versions: one version is narrated by Sufyan concerning just reading Al-Fatiha (and without any clarification). The other version is that the person's prayer is not accepted who does not recite al-Fatiha AND another part of the Qur'an. This narration comes from Sufyan, Ma'mar and others. The second narration is an explanation of the first one. Imam Sufyan himself explained that this narration is for that person who is performing salat alone.

More Evidence Supporting the Recitation Behind the Imam

Imam Muslim writes:

"Someone asked Abu Hurayra, 'What do we do when we are behind the Imam? Should we recite al-Fatiha or not?' He answered, 'Recite it in your heart' "

[Muslim, Bab Wujubi Qira'at]

The people who recite behind the Imam take evidence from this narration by saying that reciting al-Fatiha behind the Imam is fard as Abu Hurayra said that it should be recited in the heart. These words are neither from Allah nor the Prophet (may Allah bless him and grant him peace), but are the words of Abu Hurayra himself. In Bukhari, Muslim, and other books of ahadith there is no such narration which says that when you are behind the Imam you must recite al-Fatiha in your heart. There are,however, narrations which say that when the Imam is reciting al-Fatiha one should listen to it.

Imam Muslim writes in Sahih Muslim:

"Abu Hurayra relates that the Prophet (may Allah bless him and grant him peace) said, 'When the Imam recites, listen and stay quiet' "

[Muslim, Bab at-Tashahhud]

How can it be possible that Abu Hurayra contradict his own narrations? The actual meaning of Abu Hurayra's words concerning reciting in the heart is to contemplate its meanings. This is the true meaning which does not go against the Qur'an and the Sunna.

Qadi Shawkani (Imam al-Qurtubi has also written something similar) writes:

"The word 'Nafsaka [Your self] means to think about the meaning"

[Fath al-Qadir, Sura al-A'raf, verse 203]

Imam an-Nawawi writes:

"Some Maliki scholars have explained Abu Hurayra's words about 'reading in the heart' as to mean thinking about the words of al-Fatiha, because if you read something in the heart it cannot be called recitation because recitation is actually when one reads from the tongue. So it is only called recitation when the tongue is actually moving. The proof of this is that all the scholars say when a woman is in an impure state she cannot recite with the tongue, but she can think about the meaning in her heart"

[Sharh Muslim, Bab Wujubi Qira'at]

From the above we can see that Abu Hurayra's words do not mean to recite behind the Imam but rather they mean to think about the meaning in the heart.

The Status of the Words of the Companions

It is said that the words of Abu Hurayra prove that recitation behind the Imam is fard. This objection can be easily cleared, as the words of the Companions cannot prove something to be fard, wajib, halal or haram, as only the Qur'an and ahadith of the Prophet (may Allah bless him and grant him peace) can prove this. This is particularly so when the words of the Companion contradict any hadith that the Companion himself reported. The words of the Companions are normally proof of something when there is nothing related to it (from the Qur'an and Sunna).

Hafiz Ibn Taymiyya writes:

"The words of the Sahaba cannot prove anything to be fard, wajib, halal or haram, especially when words go against authentic hadith. So when the words go against the hadith it is not necessary for Muslims to follow it. There is a narration saying that Abu Hurayra used to wipe his neck during wudu. We know that to perform this wiping is against Sunna. This is why groups of scholars criticise those people who wipe the neck during wudu"

[Kitab al-Wasila, Bab Hadith al-Ama]

After Hafiz Ibn Taymiyya's statement one cannot prove that reciting al-Fatiha behind the Imam from Abu Hurayra's words.

More evidence supporting recitation behind the Imam

Imam Abu Dawud writes :

" 'Ubada ibn Samid reported: 'Once we prayed Fajr behind the Prophet and he experienced difficulty in his recitation. When he finished praying he asked, 'Maybe one of you was reciting behind me?' We said, 'Yes.' The Prophet said, 'Do not recite anything behind me except al-Fatiha.' Narrated by Muhammad ibn Ishaq, Muqhul, and Naf'i from 'Ubada."

[Abu Dawud, Bab al-Qira'at fi as-Salat]

From this narration one cannot prove that the recitation behind the Imam is necessary. Here are some reasons for this:

1) This narration opposes the Qur'an and the authentic ahadith which say that one should not recite behind the Imam (of which we have mentioned but a few, above).

2) This narration is very weak. The reason for this is that the narrators of this hadith have been criticised by the scholars of Hadith.

3) Abu Dawud, who collected this hadith, wrote a second chapter in which there is the full explanation of this hadith. When we read the full explanation we can see that we should not recite behind the Imam.

4) The narrator of this narration himself, never recited behind the Imam.

The Narrator of This Hadith

Abu Dawud writes:

"Muqhul sometimes got this narration confused because sometimes he said he got the narration from 'Ubada and sometimes that he said he heard it from Naf'i and sometimes he said he heard it from Mahmud"

[Abu Dawud, Bab Qira'a Khalf al-Imam]

The other narrator of this hadith is Naf'i, who is unknown. Imam adh-Dhahabi and Hafiz al-'Asqalani write:

"Naf'i only ever narrated one hadith [which was the one above]. This is the reason why Imam Ibn 'Abdi'l-Barr says that he is unknown. Imam al-Bukhari and Imam Abu Hatim never mentioned Naf'i's name in their books. Ibn Habban said that Naf'i's narration is weak, but he was not a liar"

[Mizan al-'Itidal, Tahzib at-Tahzib, Biography of Naf'i ibn Mahmud]

The other narrator of this narration is Muhammad ibn Ishaq, who was very knowledgeable in Islamic history but very weak in narration of hadith. Imam adh-Dhahabi and Hafiz al-'Asqalani write:

"The scholars of Hadith have different opinions about Muhammad ibn Ishaq. Yahya ibn Mu'in says that he is authentic but his narration of hadith is not good. 'Ali ibn Madini says his two narrations are unknown. An-Nasa'i said that he is not strong in the knowledge of Hadith. Imam Daraqutni said that his hadith cannot be used as evidence. Imam Abu Bakr said that Muhammad ibn Ishaq was Qadri. Imam Hasham and Imam Sulayman said that he was a liar. Imam Malik said that he is a liar and is a Dajjal. 'Abdullah ibn Mubarak said, 'I saw Muhammad ibn Ishaq in Masjid al-Haif. I did not go near him because people might have said that I have wrong beliefs like him.' Imam Ahmad said, 'When he narrates hadith, he narrates hadith from those people whom he never met. Imam Yahya ibn Sa'id says, 'I bear witness that Muhammad ibn Ishaq is a liar. He has narrated one thousand ahadith which no one else has narrated.' Imam al-Bukhari never wrote any hadith that was narrated by Muhammad ibn Ishaq. No one can use his narration of hadith as evidence for halal and haram but there are a few people who praised him, like Imam Shoba"

[Mizan al-I'tidal, Tahzib at-Tahzib, Tadhkirat al-Huffaz, Biography of Muhammad ibn Ishaq]

We can see that the majority of scholars have criticised Muhammad ibn Ishaq so how can we use his narration as evidence?

Imam Abu Dawud writes :

"Naf'i reported: One day, 'Ubada and I performed salat behind Abu Na'im. 'Ubada was standing besides me. He recited behind the Imam. When the salat was over, I asked him, 'Why, when the Imam was reciting loudly, did you recite behind him?' He told me about the hadith that has been mentioned above"

[Abu Dawud, Bab Qira'at Khalf al-Imam]

From this we can see that Naf'i (who is the narrator of the hadith) did not recite behind the Imam, and nor did the other people who were there. Secondly, it is proved that 'Ubada was reciting al-Fatiha loud enough so that the next person could hear him. So the people who use this hadith as evidence should only recite loud enough so that the next person can hear them. If everyone recites loudly behind the Imam it would sound like similar to the "Amin" said in unison. So these are the reasons why this narration cannot be used as evidence. We also know that there are authentic ahadith that exhort one to listen to the Imam when he is reciting. So how can we leave the authentic hadith and follow the weak hadith?

Hafiz Ibn Taymiyya writes :

"To listen to the recitation of the Imam is mentioned in the Qur'an and the authentic ahadith. The whole Umma agrees on this. All the Companions say that when the Imam recites al-Fatiha or any other Sura it is fard to listen and to stay quiet. Imam Shafi'i saying is also like this. This is the reason that the knowledgeable Shafi'i scholars, like Imam Qadri and Imam Abu Muhammad, say that if the Imam is reciting loudly, and someone recites behind him, that person would be denying the Qur'an, Sunna and the opinion of all the Companions"

[Ibn Taymiyya, Tanaw al-'Ibadat, p. 87]

After Hafiz Ibn Taymiyya's statement no-one can say that recitation behind the Imam is fard and that the one who recites behind the Imam risks his salat beingnot accepted.

Evidence From the Qur'an For Not Reciting Behind the Imam

Allah says in the Qur'an:

"When the Qur'an is being recited, listen to it and be silent"

[Sura A'raf, verse 204]

Hafiz Ibn Kathir explains the meaning of this verse as follows:

"You should remain quiet when the Imam is reciting Qur'an loudly in the fard salat. There is a hadith in which the Prophet said, 'When offering salat behind the Imam you should recite takbir. When he recites takbir, and when he recites qira'at you should remain quiet

"There is also another narration:

' 'Abdullah Ibn Mas'ud heard some people reciting Qira'at behind the Imam and said to them, "What is wrong with you? Why are you not obeying the Qur'an?" '

"This implies that when the Qur'an is being recited one should remain quite. Imam Zuhri states that this verse was revealed because one man used to recite behind the Prophet (may Allah bless him and grant him peace). Abu Hurayra said that before this verse was revealed people were in the habit of reading behind the Imam aloud in salats Fajr, Maghrib and Isha and when this verse was revealed they stopped this practice.

"Imam Zuhri says that in the salat, where the Imam recites loudly, you should not recite behind him because the Imam's recitation is sufficient for you, even if you cannot hear. But there were some people who thought that they could recite behind the Imam if his voice did not reach them, but I [Ibn Kathir] say that this is wrong; no-one should recite behind the Imam, whether his voice reaches them or not. This is because Allah says in the Qur'an:

'When the Qur'an is being recited, listen to it and remain quiet.'

"A group of scholars say the following:

'Imam Ahmad and Abu Hanifa say that a person should not recite qira'at behind the Imam in any salat because the Prophet (may Allah bless him and grant him peace) stated that the Imam's reciting is sufficient for the followers.

"Imam ash-Shafi'i has two opinions on this subject:

1) A person should recite qira'at behind the Imam

2) A person should not recite qira'at behind the Imam

"I [Ibn Kathir] say that the second opinion is correct as it corresponds with the Qur'an.

"Imam al-Bukhari states that a person is entitled to recite qira'at in every salat behind the Imam whether the Imam recites quietly or loudly, but the Sahaba and Tabi'un say that it is essential to listen to the Imam and remain quiet. This is the opinion held by Ibn 'Abbas, Mujahid, Ibn Jubayr, Ibn Mas'ud, and many other great Sahaba and Tabi'un"

[Ibn Kathir, Tafsir Ibn Kathir, Sura A'raf, verse 204]

Imam at-Tabari writes:

"This verse was revealed about salat, but some scholars say that the verse is not for salat but is also for the Jumu'a and 'Id Khutba. The Companions agree with this. Ibn Mas'ud, Abu Hanifa, Imam Zuhri, Zayd, Ibn Musayb, Hasan al-Basri, 'Ubaydh, Ata, Dhahak, Ibrahim, an-Nakhai, Qatada, Shabi (who had seen 500 of the Prophets Companions) and Sadai all hold this opinion"

[at-Tabari, Tafsir Tabari, Sura A'raf, verse 204]

Hafiz Ibn Taymiyya writes:

"Imam Ahmad Ibn Hanbal says that the whole Umma has agreed upon the fact that when the verse: 'When the Qur'an is recited, listen and remain quiet' was revealed for salat all scholars agreed that it is not essential for the muqtadi [follower] to recite but he should stay quite and listen. This opinion is authentic because it is in line with the Qur'an"

[Fatawa Ibn Taymiyya, Vol. 2, p. 143, 168 and 412]

From the tafsirs of Hafiz Ibn Kathir and Imam at-Tabari it is clear that the verse from Sura al-A'raf was revealed for salat.The Sahaba and Tabi'un also agreed on this. It may still be said that the Sahaba and Tabi'un, who say that this aya was revealed for salat, made a mistake. To remove this doubt, Hafiz Ibn Taymiyya and Ibn Kathir were quoted. These are the names of the people who along with other great scholars have passed the Din down to us. When these people interpret any verse of the Qur'an, they say that their interpretation is authentic and any other opinion is useless. This is because of their knowledge in the Islamic Sciences.

Hafiz Ibn Taymiyya writes:

"The Tabi'un gained knowledge from the Sahaba and settled in different places. The people of Makka had the most knowledge in Qur'anic Tafsir because Ibn 'Abbas once lived there and his students gained knowledge of Tafsir from him. An example is Mujahid who was the most knowledgeable in interpreting the Qur'an. Imam ash-Shafi'i, Ahmed and al-Bukhari used to prefer the Tafsir of Mujahid over others. Indeed, Mujahid was the 'sign of Allah on this earth.' Students of 'Abdullah ibn 'Abbas were Ata ibn Rubah, 'Ikrimah, and Sa'id ibn Jubayr

"In Kufa 'Abdullah ibn Mas'ud taught the people the knowledge of the Qur'anic Tafsir. They and their students had great knowledge in the field of Tafsir.

"In Madina, Zayd ibn Aslam had the most knowledge of the Qur'anic Tafsir. This is the reason why Imam Malik's quotations of Tafsir are from Zayd ibn Aslam. Hasan al-Basri, Musruq, Qatada, and Abu 'Aliya were also great scholars of Tafsir"

[Ibn Taymiyya, Usul at-Tafsir, p 21]

Hafiz Ibn Kathir writes:

"Mujahid, 'Ikrimah, Ata, Hasan al-Basri, Musruq, Sa'id and Abu 'Aliya had great knowledge of Tafsir but Mujahid was the 'Proof of Allah on this earth.' Sufyan ath-Thawri used to say that if Mujahid's Tafsir had said such and such a thing then futher research is useless as his Tafsir is sufficient"

[Muqaddima Tafsir Ibn Kathir]

Therefore, if anyone should state that Sura al A'raf's verse was not revealed for salat, his statement can be ignored. This is because this opinion would be against the Sahaba and Tabi'un. This is proved from the above statements.

Evidence From Hadith For Not Reciting Behind the Imam

Imam Muslim writes :

"Abu Musa al-Ash'ari reported, 'The Prophet (may Allah bless him and grant him peace) taught us how to perform salat, and said, "First straighten the rows, then one person should become Imam, then follow him; when he says takbir say takbir and when he recites, remain quiet"

[Sahih Muslim, Book of Salat, Chapter on 'Tashahhud'; also reported in: Abu Dawud; Ibn Majah; Musnad Ahmad; Nayl al-Awtar, Kitab al-Qira'at; Muhallah Ibn Hazm, Chapter on 'Salat']

Imam Muslim writes:

"My student, Abu Nasr, asked me if the hadith narrated by Abu Hurayra in which it says '...when he [the Imam] recites, remain quiet' is authentic. I [Imam Muslim] replied, 'Yes, it is authentic"

[Sahih Muslim, Chapter on 'Tashahhud']

Imam Muslim writes:

"Zayd ibn Thabit was asked if a person should recite behind the Imam and he in reply said, 'Behind the Imam there is no qira'at' "

[Sahih Muslim, Chapter on 'Sujudi Tilawa]

Imam Malik writes:

"Jabir reported that if a person performs salat and fails to read Sura al-Fatiha, his salat is nullified, but if he is behind the Imam then his salat is valid"

[Muwatta Imam Malik, Majati Umal Qur'an]

Imam Malik further writes:

"Nafi' [who was a famous student of Ibn 'Umar] reported that when anyone asked Ibn 'Umar, 'Should a person recite Sura Al-Fatiha behind the Imam?' he used to reply that the Imam's reciting of Sura al-Fatiha is sufficient for you. Ibn 'Umar did not read Sura al-Fatiha behind the Imam"

[Muwatta Imam Malik, Book of Salat, chapter on 'Qira'at Khalf al-Imam]

Imam Ahmad writes:

"Ibn Sirin asked Ibn 'Umar, 'Should I recite al-Fatiha behind the Imam?' He replied, 'The Imam's recitation is sufficient for you' "

[Musnad Ahmad, Narrations of Ibn 'Umar]

Imam Ahmad writes:

"Jabir ibn 'Abdullah reported that the Prophet (may Allahbless him and grant him peace) said, 'The Imam's recitation is the person's recitation who is reading behind him' "

[Musnad Ahmad, Narrations of Jabir ibn 'Abdullah]

Ibn Majah also wrote this hadith in his book of salat. In Ibn Majah's narrative chain there is a person called Ja'far who is considered weak.

Imam Ahmad writes:

"Abu Hurayra narrated that the Prophet (may Allah bless him and grant him peace) said, 'The Imam is selected to be followed and when he says takbir, you say takbir; when he goes into ruku', you go into ruku'; when he goes into sajda, you go into sajda, but when he reads qira'at, you remain quiet"

[Musnad Ahmad, Narrations of Abu Hurayra; also see: an-Nasa'i, Nayl al-Awtar, Muhalla Ibn Hazm, Chapter of salat; Ibn Taymiyya, Fatawa Ibn Taymiyya, Kitab al-Qira'at, vol. 2 p.144]

Imam Ahmad ibn Hanbal writes:

"Abu Darda reported, 'One day the Prophet (may Allah bless him and grant him peace) told us (and I was the closest to the Prophet) about recitation behind the Imam. He said, 'The Imam's recitation is sufficient for the muqtadi' "

[Musnad Ahmad, Narrations of Abu Darda]

Imam at-Tirmidhi writes:

"Imam Ahmad ibn Hanbal said that instruction from the hadith that states, '...salat is not accepted if Sura al-Fatiha is not read...' is for that person who is reading alone"

[at-Tirmidhi, Qira'at Khalf al-Imam]

Imam 'Abd ar-Razzaq (who was a great teacher of Imam Bukhari and Muslim) writes:

" 'Ali said that he who recites qira'at behind the Imam goes against nature. One person asked Ibn Mas'ud whether he should recite behind the Imam. Ibn Mas'ud replied, 'No.' Zayd ibn Aslam reported that the Prophet had prohibited a person from reading Qqra'at behind the Imam.

"Abu Ishaq said that Ibn Mas'ud's students did not recite behind the Imam. 'Ubaydullah asked Jabir ibn 'Abdullah whether he recited behind the Imam at Zuhr and 'Asr? He replied 'No?' "

[Musannaf 'Abd ar-Razzaq, Qira'at Khalf al-Imam]

Imam 'Abd ar-Razzaq, who died in 221AH, was neither a Hanafi nor Abu Hanifa's student. No-one can say that Imam 'Abd ar-Razzaq made up the narration to support the Hanifi position, so it should be accepted that this narration is not fabricated.

Imam Ibn Abi Shayba writes :

"The Prophet (may Allahbless him and grant him peace) said, 'For any person who recites behind the Imam, my wish is that fire should be placed in his mouth.'

Nafi', Zayd ibn Aslam, Ibn 'Umar, Jubayr and Sa'id ibn Jubayr all hold that there is no qira'at behind the Imam whether he reads aloud or reads quiet"

[Musannaf Ibn Abi Shayba, Qira'at Khalf al-Imam]

Imam Ibn Abi Shayba, who strongly opposed Abu Hanifa, had written a full chapter against Abu Hanifa. In the same book he wrote the above narration without criticism. If this narration had not been true then he would have rejected it or at least criticised it. Also, because he has not criticised these reports, it is proof in itself that the narration had taken place. No-one can say that he had fabricated these narrations in order to support Abu Hanifa.

Imam Daraqutni writes:

"The Prophet said that there is no recitation behind the Imam. 'Ali says that a person who recites qira'at behind the Imam has gone against the Sunna"

[Daraqutni, chapter on 'Qira'at']

Daraqutni was also opposed to Imam Abu Hanifa and even tried to tamper with ahadiths which supported the Hanafi school. He did not critisise the above true narrations, which supports the contention that the above narrations are authentic.

Imam adh-Dhahabi writes :

"One man was performing salat behind the Prophet (may Allahbless him and grant him peace) and was reciting. The person next to him tried to stop him with certain signals or signs. When the prayer had finished, they went to the Prophet (may Allahbless him and grant him peace) and told their case. The Prophet (may Allah bless him and grant him peace) said, 'The Imam's qira'a is sufficient for the followers' "

[adh-Dhahabi, Talqis Mustadrak, chapter on 'Salat']

The book Mustadrak, is written by al-Hakim. In this book there are all sorts of narrations both authentic and fabricated. Imam adh-Dhahabi has, in his book, examined every hadith to see whether it is authentic. Imam adh-Dhahabi's above hadith has been recorded as authentic.

Hafiz Ibn Taymiyya writes:

"When the Imam recites loudly it means that the Muqtadi should listen. This is the reason that the Imam recites loudly so the Muqtadi can say Amin with him. When the Imam recites quietly, they do not say Amin with him. If the Imam should recite and the Muqtadis also recite, this will mean that the Imam has been given the order to recite to people who do not want to listen to the qira'at [as if they wanted to listen they would remain quiet]. This is the same as saying to a person to do a speech to a nation that does not want to listen to it. This is such nonsense that Islam does not permit it. There is a hadith which states that when a ­­­­Khutba is being read and a person is talking, it is as though a pile of books is loaded onto a donkey. This is similar to a person reciting qira'at behind the Imam in the audible prayers"

[Fatawa Ibn Taymiyya, Vol. 2, p. 147]

So now, with all that has been mentioned and all the evidence cited, it should be clear that when the Imam recites qira'at the Muqtadi should stay quiet and listen - for the Imam's recitation is sufficient for the Muqtadi.

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