The prayer of Taraweeh and the prayer of funerals
Source: Al-Nass Wal-Ijtihad, Text and Interpretation
By: Allama Abdul Husayn Sharafuddin al-Musawi
The prayer of Taraweeh 113
This kind of prayers had not been legislated by the Prophet (S) nor had it been offered at the time of Abu Bakr and Allah had never legislated to offer Nafila 114 prayer congregationally except for the prayer of Istisqa’ (invoking Allah for rain).
Allah had legislated congregation to offer the obligatory prayers like the five daily prayers, the prayer of Tawaf (circumambulation), the prayers of the two feasts (Eid), prayers of Aayat (signs; eclipse and the likes) and the prayer of funerals (for the dead).
The Prophet (S) was used to offer the supererogatory prayers in the nights of Ramadan individually. He advised the Muslims to offer these prayers and they offered them as they had seen the Prophet (S) offer them. So was the matter during the reign of Abu Bakr until he died in the year thirteen of hijra and then Umar became the caliph.
In that year Umar fasted at Ramadan and offered the prayers as the Prophet (S) and Abu Bakr had done without any change. When the next Ramadan of the fourteenth year of hijra came, Umar with some of his companions came to the mosque. He saw the people busy offering supererogatory prayers; some rising, some prostrating, some reciting the Qur'an and some glorifying Allah in a scene that did not please him and he saw that he had to reform this “unpleasing” scene; therefore he legislated the prayer of Taraweeh 115 for them to be offered at the beginning of night and to be offered congregationally.
He sent his books to the different countries and appointed two imams in Medina; one for men and the other for women to lead the people in offering Taraweeh prayer congregationally. This fact has been mentioned in many true traditions.
Al-Bukhari and Muslim mentioned in their Sahihs that the Prophet (S) had said: “He, who spends the nights of Ramadan in offering its supererogatory worships faithfully and sincerely, Allah will forgive all his previous sins.” The Prophet (S) died and the rites of Ramadan were still as they were; nothing changed even at the time of Abu Bakr and some period of Umar’s rule. 116
Al-Bukhari mentioned in his Sahih too that Abdurrahman bin Abdul Qarriy 117 had said: “One night of Ramadan I went with Umar to the mosque. People were scattering here and there and each one was busy doing something. Umar said: “I see if I could gather them to one imam it would be better.” Then he decided and gathered them to Ubayy bin Ka’b. I went with Umar in another night and we saw the people offering the prayer behind their imam. Umar said: “How good heresy it is!”
Allama al-Qastalani said 118 when mentioning this saying of Umar “How good heresy it is”: “He (Umar) called it “heresy” because the Messenger of Allah (S) had not decided it to be congregational nor to be offered at the beginning of night nor had Abu Bakr (may Allah be pleased with him) decided that…” The same has been mentioned in Tuhfat al-Bari and other books of Hadith.
Allama Abul Waleed Muhammad bin Shuhna said in his book Rawdhat al-Manadhir when mentioning the death of Umar among the events of the year twenty-three of hijra: “He was the first who had prohibited selling bondwomen, the first who had made people say four Takbeer “Allahu akbar-Allah is great” in the prayer of funerals, the first who had gathered people to an imam in offering Taraweeh Prayer…”
As-Sayooti mentioned in his book Tareekh al-Khulafa’ the initiatives of Umar that he had quoted from al-Askari 119 saying: “He (Umar) was the first to be called Ameerul Mo’mineen, the first who had decided Taraweeh prayer to be congregational and to be offered at the beginning of night in Ramadan, the first who had prohibited temporary marriage, the first who had made people say four Takbeers in the prayer of funerals…”
Muhammad bin Sa’d said in his Tabaqat: “He (Umar) was the first who had decided Taraweeh prayer to be congregational and to be offered at the beginning of night in Ramadan and ordered people to follow that and sent his books with this order to the different countries. It was in Ramadan of the year fourteen of hijra. He appointed two imams to lead the prayer of Taraweeh in Medina; one for men and the other for women…”
Ibn Abdul Birr said in his book al-Istee’ab when mentioning the biography of Umar: “It was he, who had lit the month of fasting (Ramadan) with the prayer of Taraweeh.”
These scholars (may Allah forgive them) saw that Umar had found out (with his Taraweeh) a wisdom that Allah and His Messenger had been inattentive of.
It was they themselves who were inattentive of the wisdom of Allah and His laws and systems. The wisdom behind not legislating supererogatory prayers of Ramadan to be offered congregationally is to let a believer be alone with his Lord in the heart of night in his house invoking Him, complaining to Him his grief, supplicating, repenting, hoping, resorting and confessing that there is no shelter save Allah’s and there is no savior save Him.
Therefore Allah has let the obligations of Ramadan free from the tie of congregation to let the believers be alone with their Beneficent Lord in a spiritual connection. Making these obligations congregational may limit their use and benefit.
In addition to that; offering these Nafilas individually would not deprive the houses of blessing and honor of prayers and it would encourage the young generation to love prayers and to try imitating their parents and grandparents. This would have great effect on children and would fix faith in their minds and hearts.
Once Abdullah bin Mass’ood asked the Prophet (S): “Which is better; to pray in my house or in the mosque?”
The Prophet (S) said: “Do you not see how near to the mosque my house is? To pray in my house is more beloved to me than to pray in the mosque except for the obligatory prayers.” This has been mentioned by Ahmad, Ibn Maja, Ibn Khuzayma and Zakiyuddeen Abdul Adheem bin Abdul Qawiy al-Munthiri.
Zayd bin Thabit narrated that the Prophet (S) had said: “O people, offer your prayers in your houses except for the obligatory prayers because offering prayers in the house is better.” It has been mentioned by an-Nassa’iy and Ibn Khuzayma.
Anas bin Malik narrated that the Prophet (S) had said: “Honor your houses with some of your prayers.” The Prophet (S) also said: “The example of the house, in which Allah is mentioned, and the house, in which Allah is not mentioned, is like a living person and a dead one.” It has been mentioned by al-Bukhari and Muslim.
Jabir bin Abdullah narrated that the Prophet (S) had said: “If one of you finishes his prayer in the mosque, let him give a share of his prayer to his house. Allah will grant his house with good because of his prayer (in it).” It has been mentioned by Muslim, Ibn Khuzayma and others.
But the caliph Umar (may Allah be pleased with him) was a man of organizing and strictness. He admired the congregational prayers, which had great social benefits which our ulama had discussed in full details. The Islamic Shari’ah has not ignored this side of the obligatory prayers but at the same time it has let the Nafilas to the other benefits of people. Allah has said: “And it behooves not a believing man and a believing woman that they should have any choice in their matter when Allah and His Messenger have decided a matter” (Qur’an 33:36).
The prayer of funerals
The Prophet (S) was used to say five Takbeers (Allahu akbar-Allah is great) in the prayer for the dead but the second caliph Umar admired to say only four Takbeers and he made people do that too. Many scholars have mentioned this fact such as as-Sayooti in his book Tareekh al-Khulafa’, Ibn Shuhna in his book Rawdhatul Manadhir and others.
Professor Khalid Muhammad Khalid has also mentioned this in his book Democracy which we have mentioned above.
Ahmad bin Hanbal mentioned in his Musnad 120 a tradition narrated by Zayd bin Arqam that Abdul A’la had said: “Once I offered a prayer for a dead person behind Zayd bin Arqam and he recited five Takbeers. Abu Eesa Abdurrahman bin Abu Layla came to him (to Zayd), caught his hand and said to him: “Have you forgotten?” Zayd said: “No, but I have offered the prayer behind my beloved Abul Qasim (the Prophet) (S) and he recited five Takbeers. I will not give up that forever.”
Zayd bin Arqam has offered the prayer of funeral for the companion Sa’d bin Jubayr, who was famous as Sa’d bin Habta, 121 and recited five Takbeers as mentioned by Ibn Hajar in his Isaba and by Ibn Qutayba in his Ma’arif.
Ahmad bin Hanbal mentioned a tradition narrated by Huthayfa that Yahya bin Abdullah al-Jabir had said: “Once I offered a prayer of funerals in al-Mada’in behind Eesa the mawla of Huthayfa and he recited five Takbeers and then he turned towards us and said: “I have neither forgotten nor have I mistaken but I have recited Takbeer as my master Huthayfa bin al-Yaman have offered a prayer for a dead and he had recited five Takbeers and then he turned towards us and said: “I have neither forgotten nor have I mistaken but I have offered the Takbeers as the Prophet (S) have recited them.” 122
113. Nightly prayer during Ramadan.
114. Supererogatory practice (prayer).
115. Nafila is a prayer offered in the nights of Ramadan. The Sunni offer it congregationally while we, the Shia, offer it individually as the Prophet (S) has offered and as he has ordered: “Offer prayers as you see me offering them.”
116. Sahih of al-Bukhari, vol.1 p.233, Sahih of Muslim, vol.1 p.283.
117. Abdul Qarriy was the official of Umar over the treasury. He narrated traditions from Umar, Abu Talha, Abu Ayyoob and Abu Hurayra. His son Muhammad, az-Zuhri and Yahya bin Ja’da bin Hubayra narrated traditions from him. He died in the year eighty of hijra.
118. In the fourth page of his book Irshad as-Sari fee Sharh Sahih al-Bukhari, vol.4.
119. He was al-Hasan bin Abdullah bin Suhayl bin Sa’eed bin Yahya surnamed as Abu al-Laghawi. He had written a book called al-Awa’il (the firsts or the initiatives).
120. Vol.4 p.370.
121. Habta was his mother.
122. Mentioned by Ahmad in his Musnad, vol.5 p.406, and by ath-Thahabi in his Mizan al-I’tidal from Jareer ad-Dhabbi from Yahya al-Jabir.