Saturday, June 03, 2006

The Importance of Witr

After 9 weeks, Alhamdulilah the daroos of Saheeh al-Bukhari resumed :) May Allah preserve the Shaykh and allow us to continue to benefit from his ilm, and implement the teachings into our life. Ameen. I'll post the lesson notes in two parts - below is the first part, of Lesson 125 - the Book of Witr. I pray that Allah forgives any errors in my note taking. Ameen.
The reason why Imam Bukhari (رحمة الله عليه) places the Book of Witr in his Saheeh after the Books of Jumu’ah and Eidain but before other prayers because it is also an important prayer other than the five Fardh prayers.

Witr salah is the most important daily prayer other than the five daily prayers. Some ulema consider Witr salah to be wajib but others call it an emphasised sunnah, but they all consider it to be obligatory. It is performed after Esha salah and although it seems very simple, it is very complicated and detailed in its components and structure. The ulema mention 20 major issues (masail) where there are points of difference. Hence, the Book of Witr is very complicated.

Witr is sometimes pronounced watr, as in Surah al Fajr:

وَالْوَتْ وَالشَّفْعِ

And by the even and the odd [89:3]

Both are correct according to different qiraat. Both words mean something which is single, or odd. Shafaa means even. Allah has also been described as Witr i.e. one. He has also been described as loving that which is Witr, and so has the Prophet (صلى الله عليه وسلم). In salah, everything is either one or even e.g. tasbeeh in rukuh is 3, 5, 7 etc and never an even number.

Maghrib and Witr salah are both three rakaats and both are significant. Maghrib ends prayers of the day and Witr ends prayers of the night.

Chapter 1 – Chapter of that which has been said about Witr.

In this chapter Imam Bukhari (رحمة الله عليه) wishes to explain some of the things that have been narrated from the Prophet (صلى الله عليه وسلم) with regard to Witr. Some ulema including Imam Abu Hanifah (رحمة الله عليه) say that Witr is wajib (obligatory). Other ulema say it is sunnah including Imam Abu Yusuf (رحمة الله عليه), Imam Muhammad (رحمة الله عليه), Imam Malik (رحمة الله عليه) and Imam Shafi (رحمة الله عليه), and the majority of the ulema. A point that should be understood here is that it is very easy for common people to misunderstand and misinterpret the verdicts of the ulema. A common phrase we often hear is “It’s just sunnah”. By uttering such phrases we belittle the importance and significance of many sunnah, whether the sunnah is related to the prayers or the habits of the Prophet (صلى الله عليه وسلم). The ulema are very careful before calling something fardh, wajib or sunnah. One of the reasons why the ulema call something makruh is because although the evidence is available to call the thing haraam, there may be circumstantial evidence or a mitigating factor for which they fear calling it haraam. This is one of the usuls (principles) of fiqh.

There is a famous story of Imam Abu Yusuf (رحمة الله عليه) who in Kufa was regarded as a faqih. Someone asked Imam Abu Hanifah (رحمة الله عليه) about the status of Witr. Imam Abu Hanifah (رحمة الله عليه) replied that it is wajib. Imam Abu Yusuf (رحمة الله عليه) said to Imam Abu Hanifah (رحمة الله عليه) that you have committed kufar (Imam Abu Yusuf was not a student of Imam Abu Hanifah at this time). Imam Abu Yusuf’s reasoning was that there are five daily prayers which have been made Fardh by Allah. Imam Abu Hanifah (رحمة الله عليه) replied that listen very carefully. Your takfir does not concern me as I am aware of the difference between Fardh and wajib. He continued that the difference between the Fardh and wajib is like the difference between the heavens and the earth. Imam Abu Hanifah (رحمة الله عليه) had said it is Wajib not Fardh. He then went on to explain to Imam Abu Yusuf (رحمة الله عليه). According to this narration, Imam Abu Yusuf became a student of Imam Abu Hanifah from this moment onwards.

Imam Abu Hanifah (رحمة الله عليه) says Witr salah is wajib. Imam Abu Yusuf (رحمة الله عليه) and Imam Muhammad (رحمة الله عليه) and other ulema say it is sunnah.
However, Imam Malik (رحمة الله عليه) and Imam Ahmad ibn Hanbal (رحمة الله عليه) say if someone misses Witr salah his testimony cannot be accepted in an Islamic court. This shows the importance stressed by the scholars to Witr.

Imam Malik (رحمة الله عليه), Imam Shafi (رحمة الله عليه) and Imam Ahmed ibn Hanbal (رحمة الله عليه) say time for Witr is between Esha and break of dawn. But if someone hasn’t prayed by break of dawn, he can still pray all the way till Fajr (even though the time has finished). You cannot pray qadha of Witr but according to these ulema you can pray qadha Witr.

The points above are some of the reasons why despite calling the salah a sunnah, these ulema consider it to be obligatory and hence should not be missed. All of the ulema agree that Witr is the most important salah apart from Fardh including the two sunnah of Fajr.

One of the reasons why Imam Abu Hanifah (رحمة الله عليه) called it wajib is because of certain hadeeth including a hadeeth in Saheeh Muslim from Abu Sa'id al Khudri.

Abu Sa'id (al Khudri) reported Allah's Apostle صلى الله عليه وسلم) as saying: Observe Witr prayer before it is morning. Abu Sa'id reported that they (the Prophet's Companions) asked the Apostle of Allah (صلى الله عليه وسلم) about Witr (prayer). (In reply to their inquiry) he said: Observe Witr prayer before it is morning.

And another narration in the Sunan of Abu Dawud:

Narrated Kharijah ibn Hudhafah al-Adawi:
The Apostle of Allah (صلى الله عليه وسلم) came out to us and said: Allah the Exalted has given you an extra prayer which is better for you then the red camels (i.e. high breed camels). This is the witr which Allah has appointed for you between the night prayer and the daybreak.
The Prophet (صلى الله عليه وسلم) nor the sahabah ever missed Witr salah.


Anonymous said...

Assalamu 'alaikum
May people continue to benefit from your work on the Shaykh's dars [ameen]. Keep up the good work!

Question: did Skaykh say that making qadha of witr was the majority opinion/opinion of Imam Abu Hanifah? Or is it not common to make qadha of witr [ie. should those following hanafi school of fiqh make qadha or not?]

Student of Knowledge said...

Walaikum salaam. Jazakumullahu khairan for your comments. Please pray for the Shaykh and pray that any little i have done is sincere. ameen.

With regard to your query, i appear to have had a lapse of concentration and not written anything in my notes about the Hanafi opinion with regard to qadha Witr. however, i think the Shaykh said is is preferable to pray qadha Witr according to Hanafi opinion. What I'll do is go through the lesson again when I have the recording (hopefully will be released on MP3 soon!) to confirm this insha'Allah and will post some notes. Maybe someone else will be able to verify this?

Sa'ud said...


This is in my notes :
According to Abu Hanifa, in one narration it says that you can do qadaa of witr, and one narration says that if you haven’t prayed isha, you should pray isha and witr together.

This is in my notes but if i remember correctly and Allah knows best,according to the 2nd narration, if you have prayed and isha and not witr, you cannot make witr qadhaa and Allah knows best. I wasn't able to write that down in my notes. Maybe someone else who heard it or has notes can confirm this?

and also bro student of knowledge, May Allah reward you with good for the notes and keep you steadfast in your 'amaal.

Soul Scripture said...

Assalamu 'alaikum wahrehmatullahi
The brother above is correct, according to the hanafi fiqh:
1 narration is you pray witr qadhah if you miss it. The other narration is that only if you miss isha do u pray isha and witr qadhah together. Shaykh did not say which opinion was strongest.
Shaykh said, that according to all schools of fiqh, you should pray the qadha for missed witr as it is considered to be obligatory/wajib according to the Hanafi Fiqh.

I pray that helps/clarifies the issue inshaAllah.


Student of Knowledge said...

this question was answered by Shaykh in Lesson 126 (i.e. majority opinion of Hanafi fiqh with regard to qadha Witr). below is a summary;

Imam Abu Hanifah (رحمة الله عليه) says that qadha Witr salah can be performed at any time. However, Imam Abu Yusuf and Imam Muhammad (also of the Hanafi fiqh) say that once Esha time ends and Fajr begins you do not pray qadha Witr. The fatwa according to the majority of the Hanafi fiqh is with the view of Imam Abu Hanifah i.e. that you pray qadha Witr.