Excerpts from the Book of prayer (Al-Muḥalla bil’Athār) by Ibn Hazm
Presented for the first time in English is a translated selection of sixteen-issues from the book of prayer (Kitāb as-Ṣalāh) by Ibn Ḥazm. The book of prayer appears in the fourth part of his magnum opus: Al-Muḥalla bil’Athār (The Adorned Treatise).
Although not part of the original text, we have included some accompanying footnotes. These provide additional referencing for the cited Qur’ānic verses and ḥadith, as well as some supplementary explanatory notes. The issues (Mas’ala) relating to prayer, are found at numbers 275 to 283 and 287 to 293. A summarised list is enclosed below for ease of reference.
Ibn Ḥazm begins the book of prayer with discussing the fundamental characterisation. Utilising the wording of the famous ḥadith of Ṭalḥa bin Ubaidallah, he argues that prayer is fundamentally of only two types: obligatory and voluntary. Definitive evidence establishes that the number of prayers, a major pillar of Islam, are only five that are performed in a given day or night. Consequently, this leads to a detailed discussion as to the status of the Witr prayer. He dispels the idea that the Witr is obligatory or holds some form of obligatory requirement.
Uniquely Ibn Ḥazm sets out his position that prayers which are deliberately missed cannot be made up. Prayer being intimately connected with a particular timeslot, which once it has elapsed, has gone forever and cannot be ‘made up’. He rejects all arguments advanced purporting to the opposite view expounded by other schools of thought, arguing that there are no legal mechanisms to allow a prayer to be performed outside of its designated time. If one has missed prayers, then one must make repentance and offer many voluntary prayers to seek to atone for that
There is also an extensive discussion regarding the various ways the Witr prayer can be performed, with its related accompanying evidences.
List of Mas’āil (issues) covered:
- M275: The Ṣalāh is of two types: the obligatory and the Ta’ṭawa’ah’ (voluntary).
- M276: There is no prayer upon men and women if they haven’t reached maturity
- M277: Prayer is not obligatory upon the insane / mental illness, the menstruating woman or the woman who has post-natal bleeding
- M278: Oversleeping & missing the ṣalāh from its fixed time
- M279: The issue of deliberately leaving the prayer from its time
- M280: Intentionally leaving the ṣalāt until its time has elapsed and making istigfar to Allah and performing a lot of voluntary prayers
- M281: The Five Mandatory Prayers
- M282: Divisions of Voluntary (prayers)
- M283: Two Rak’ah before Maghrib; preventing people from offering the voluntary prayer after sunset and before Maghrib
- M287: It is not permitted to specify the night of Jumma’ for extra prayers over the rest of the nights
- M288: Good Deeds
- M289: Voluntary prayer in congregation
- M290: The Best Witr
- M291: (Praying) Witr at the end of the night is best
- M292: Reading in Witr with what is convenient from the Qur’ān as well as the ‘mother of the Qur’ān’
- M293: Praying witr seated or standing or riding on a mount