By Muftī Rashīd Aḥmad Ludhyānwī
What do the noble scholars say in respect to gathering in the masājid for the purpose of dhikr and the recitation of the qur’ān on the nights of the two ‘īds, 15th of sha‘bān, the last 10 days of ramaḍān and other blessed nights as it has become the common practice in our times? Likewise, in some masājid, great emphasis is given on delivering a speech (on these nights), what is the shar‘ī ruling in regard to this?
There are three methods of performing ‘ibādah on these blessed nights in the masājid:
1. One did not intend to come to the masjid specifically to perform ‘ibādah. Instead, people came to the masjid by chance and engaged themselves in ‘ibādah. This method is permissible. However, if such a person made dhikr and performed nafl ṣalāh at home, he would receive more reward. Moreover, it is more virtuous to perform nawāfil at home than performing them in Masjid al-Ḥarām and Masjid al-Nabawī. Consider the following ḥadīth:
عن زيد بن ثابت (رضي الله عنه) ان النبي (صلى الله عليه وسلم) قال: صلاة المرأ في بيته أفضل من صلاته في مسجدي هذا الا المكتوبة (رواه أبو داود)
Translation: It has been narrated on the authority of Zayd ibn Thābit (raḍiyallāhu ‘anhu) that Nabī (ṣallallāhu ‘alayhi wasallam) said: “A man’s prayer in his house is more virtuous than his prayer which is performed in this masjid of mine (i.e. Masjid al-Nabawī) except the obligatory prayers.” (Abū Dāwūd)
2. If coming to the masjid is given importance, then this is bid‘ah. This is because giving importance to carrying out optional ‘ibādah in the masjid is due to one considering it to be more virtuous (than performing ‘ibādah at home). And this is overdoing what the sharī‘ah has sanctioned. Rather, by doing this, one is confronting Allāh and his Rasūl (ṣallallāhu ‘alayhi wasallam). Because to perform nawāfil at home is clearly proven from ḥadīth.
3. In the blessed nights if the optional acts are carried out in congregation, e.g. nafl ṣalāh in congregation or ihtimām (emphasis) is made of speeches, then even this method is bid‘ah. This is far worse than the second method (mentioned above). One evil of it is that which has been mentioned in the second method and the other is that a nafl (optional) act is carried out in congregation which is forbidden.
قال ابن عابدين: وفي الإمداد: ويحصل القيام بالصلاة نفلا فرادى من غير عدد مخصوص، وبقراءة القرآن، والأحاديث وسماعها، وبالتسبيح والثناء، والصلاة والسلام على النبي – صلى الله عليه وسلم – الحاصل ذلك في معظم الليل وقيل بساعة منه. وعن ابن عباس – رضي الله عنهما – بصلاة العشاء جماعة، والعزم على صلاة الصبح جماعة، كما قالوه في إحياء ليلتي العيدين. وفي صحيح مسلم قال رسول الله – صلى الله عليه وسلم – «من صلى العشاء في جماعة فكأنما قام نصف الليل، ومن صلى الصبح في جماعة فكأنما قام الليل كله». اهـ.
[تتمة] أشار بقوله فرادى إلى ما ذكره بعد في متنه من قوله ويكره الاجتماع على إحياء ليلة من هذه الليالي في المساجد، وتمامه في شرحه، وصرح بكراهة ذلك في الحاوي القدسي. قال: وما روي من الصلوات في هذه الأوقات يصلى فرادى غير التراويح.(رد المحتار ج ٢، ص ٢٦. دار الفكر)
Some people complain that it is difficult to attain khushū‘ in ‘ibādah at home due to noise and children crying etc. This is shayṭān’s deception. Khushū‘ in reality is to follow the sunnah method in performing ‘ibādah. If ‘ibādah is performed according to sunnah, then khushū‘ and khuḍū‘ shall follow. And no matter how much one wanes and cries and adopts the expression of khushū‘, but if it is not in line with sunnah, then in light of sharī‘ah this is not khushū‘ in reality.
It is a matter to ponder upon that in spite of tight conditions Rasūlullāh (ṣallallāhu ‘alayhi wasallam) would perform Tahajjud and other nawāfil ṣalāhs at home and he would consider it to be meritorious. Whereas nowadays, we claim that we are unable to attain khushū‘ at home, this is clearly shayṭān’s trick.
Rasūlullāh (ṣallallāhu ‘alayhi wasallam) would be performing nafl ṣalāh whilst ‘Ā’ishah (raḍiyallāhu ‘anhā) would be lying down with her legs stretched out. When Rasūlullāh (ṣallallāhu ‘alayhi wasallam) would go into sajdah, he would tap her feet and she would draw them in. this would continue for other rak‘āt too. The night was dark and neither was there a lantern available, nor was the house wide enough that if one was to lie down properly, the other could make sajdah, also Masjid al-Nabawī was just one step away from his house, then too Rasūlullāh (ṣallallāhu ‘alayhi wasallam) continued to perform his nawāfil at home.
Similarly, some say that when performing ‘ibādah alone, we tend to feel sleepy, but if we gather in the masjid and sit in a talk and perform some nawāfil together, then we can do much more ‘ibādah. However, if we perform ‘ibādah alone at home, we would not even do half of what we’d do in the masjid.
Understand well, the objective of ‘ibādah is not kammiyyah (quantity), rather the reward of ‘ibādah is based on its kayfiyyah (quality). ‘Ibādah which is less in quantity but is carried out in accordance to sunnah is far more better than that ‘ibādah which is in abundance but against the sunnah. The sunnah method is to perform nafl ‘ibādah until one is feeling fresh and lively and once one begins to feel exhausted, one should rest.
Consider the following narration:
عَنْ عَائِشَةَ، قَالَتْ دَخَلَ عَلَىَّ رَسُولُ اللَّهِ صلى الله عليه وسلم وَعِنْدِي امْرَأَةٌ فَقَالَ مَنْ هَذِهِ. فَقُلْتُ امْرَأَةٌ لاَ تَنَامُ تُصَلِّي. قَالَ عَلَيْكُمْ مِنَ الْعَمَلِ مَا تُطِيقُونَ فَوَاللَّهِ لاَ يَمَلُّ اللَّهُ حَتَّى تَمَلُّوا. وَكَانَ أَحَبَّ الدِّينِ إِلَيْهِ مَا دَاوَمَ عَلَيْهِ صَاحِبُهُ وَفِي حَدِيثِ أَبِي أُسَامَةَ أَنَّهَا امْرَأَةٌ مِنْ بَنِي أَسَدٍ. (رواه مسلم)
‘Ā’ishah (raḍiyallāhu ‘anhā) said: The Messenger of Allāh (ṣallallāhu ‘alayhi wasallam) came to me when a woman was sitting with me. He said: Who is she? I replied: She is a woman who does not sleep but prays. He said: Do such acts which you are capable of doing. By Allāh, Allāh does not grow weary but you will grow weary. The religious act most pleasing to Him is one the doer of which does it continuously. (And in the ḥadīth transmitted by Abū Usāmah [the words are]: “She was a woman from Banu Asad.”) (Ṣaḥīḥ Muslim)
And Allah knows best
22 Jumādā al-Ūlā 1396
(Aḥsan al-Fatāwā (1/271-3) Sa‘īd)
Translated on: 14 Sha‘bān 1439 – 30 April 2018