Saturday, July 15, 2006

Praying Salah on a Plane/Train/Coach

Here are the first part of my notes from Lesson 127, commentary of Hadeeth 543 (Book of Witr). Remainder of notes to follow insha'Allah.


Chapter 4 – Chapter of Witr upon the animal

Narrated Ibn 'Umar (رضى الله عنه) : Allâh's Messenger Sallallaahu 'alaihi wasallam) used to pray Witr on the back of the camel (while on a journey) [Hadeeth 543, al Tajrid al Sarih]

Imam Bukhari (رحمة الله عليه) wishes to show the permissibly of praying Witr salah on an animal or mount in this chapter.

Nafil salah can be performed upon an animal or mount according to all ulema without any attenuating circumstances. The equivalent today would be praying on a plane, train or in a car. But all ulema agree that fardh salah cannot be prayed on a means of transport. Hence, the question is what about Witr salah?

Imam Abu Hanifah (رحمة الله عليه) says Witr salah is wajib and therefore cannot be performed on transport without any reason or any attenuating circumstances. Imam Abu Yusuf (رحمة الله عليه) and Imam Muhammad (رحمة الله عليه) of the Hanafi fiqh call Witr sunnah but still say it must be performed on the ground and not on a mount. This is also the view of several other ulema.

Imam Malik (رحمة الله عليه), Imam Shafi (رحمة الله عليه) and Imam Ahmad ibn Hanbal (رحمة الله عليه) say that Witr can be performed on a mount. They rely on this hadeeth and other similar hadeeth for their evidence. The Hanafi ulema do not act literally on this hadeeth because of conflicting reports from the Prophet (صلى الله عليه وسلم) and Abdullah ibn Umar (رضى الله عنه).

This hadeeth is abridged. The longer version states that Abdullah ibn Umar (رضى الله عنه would pray Witr on a camel and then tell people that the Prophet (صلى الله عليه وسلم) would pray like this i.e. on a mount. In other hadeeth, it is said that he would pray nafil on a camel and then he would dismount and pray Witr salah.

All ulema agree that Witr salah was actually fardh (wajib) for the Prophet (صلى الله عليه وسلم), even though the same scholars say that Witr is sunnah for the ummah. So why did the Prophet (صلى الله عليه وسلم) pray on a mount if Witr was an obligatory prayer for the Prophet (صلى الله عليه وسلم)? Imam Malik (رحمة الله عليه) answers that the Prophet (صلى الله عليه وسلم) would only pray Witr on a camel when he was travelling on a shar’ee journey i.e. at a distance where there is a concession for all the fardh salah which are prayed qasar so all four rakaat prayers become two, hence this was a concession for Witr salah for the Prophet (صلى الله عليه وسلم) i.e. on a journey he could pray Witr salah on a mount.

Also, Hanafi ulema believe that this hadeeth may be related to a time before Witr salah took on a special nature i.e. in the earlier days of Islam, and also just as many other laws of Islam evolved e.g. at one point, people could respond to salaam whilst praying salah etc and similarly this law of praying Witr on a mount may have evolved.

Next, Shaykh Abu Yusuf Riyadh ul Haq related this hadeeth to modern day circumstances. He said that all ulema agree that nafil salah can be prayed on a train, plane, car etc without having to face the Qiblah but there are 3 cases which have to be considered (this was covered in a previous lesson, commentary of hadeeth 261) as follows:
1. Person is within his own city
2. Person is travelling but not on a shar’ee journey e.g. 25 miles
3. Person is travelling on a shar’ee journey e.g. 100 miles where even if person is one mile out of town, he or she can pray shortened prayers.

Most ulema say nafil salah can be prayed seated on on a mount for case 2. Some ulema e.g. Imam Abu Yusuf (رحمة الله عليه) say you can for case 1 e.g. even if you are on a 5 or 10 minutes journey. Imam Malik (رحمة الله عليه) says nafil salah cannot be prayed on a mount etc except for case 3 i.e. on a shar’ee journey.

What about fardh salah on modern day travel on coaches, planes and train? A scheduled stop is beyond the control of the passenger e.g. on a plane, train or even a long coach journey. Shaykh Abu Yusuf Riyadh ul Haq is of the opinion that one should not delay the salah – the ulema do agree that this is not allowed except for pressing circumstances, usually extreme weather (heavy rain where there is ‘water above and below’) or due to the fear of an enemy or animals etc. However, on a plane or train/coach you cannot do anything so either you miss your salah or you pray – as a stop is beyond one’s control and therefore the Shaykh says you should pray.

Monday, July 10, 2006

Imam al-Bukhari Complex

Just a reminder that the lessons will resume this Friday 14th July 2006 insha'Allah when Shaykh Riyadh ul Haq will continue with commentary of the Book of Witr.

Also, I came across a short video on the Imam al-Bukhari Complex located in Uzbekistan - I've posted it below for those that are interested.