Selected issues from: The Book of Prayer

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Seek help with steadfastness and prayer– though this is hard indeed for anyone but the humble; who know that they will meet their Lord and that it is to Him they will return

[Qur’an, 2: 45/46]

Ali ibn Aḥmad ibn Sa’eed ibn Ḥazm, Abu Muḥammad, that is Ibn Ḥazm, was born in Cordoba, Spain.  His own lifespan (born 994 CE, died 1064 CE) covered a period of Islamic rule in Spain often characterised by political turbulence, but also regarded as being a golden age of Islamic civilization in Europe.  A true polymath, the breadth of Ibn Ḥazm’s works and overall contribution to knowledge is quite exceptional: not only spanning the full range of the Islamic sciences, but also including philosophy, ethics, literature, poetry and being credited with pioneering what has become the study of comparative religion.  Ibn Ḥazm’s contribution to the rich tapestry of Islamic thought ranks no less to that of other famous polymaths like al-Ghazāli and Ibn Taymiyyah.

The fourth edition of our selected translation from Kitāb al-Ṣalāh (the book of prayer) taken from al-Muḥalla bil’Athār, expands the list of topics to 23.  Originally this work grew out of a series of study-sessions with Sheikh Abdul Basit, covering Volume 2 of al-Muḥalla.  Over time the transcript evolved organically, being updated to reflect a streamlining of the translation, as well as addressing errata.  As with previous editions, where possible, we have included an array of accompanying footnotes. These provide additional referencing for the cited Qur’ānic verses, aḥādith, as well as some supplementary explanatory notes. Where Ibn Ḥazm errs, for example by declaring a known narrator as being unknown, this has been corrected and referenced with the comments of the scholarly authorities in this regard.

Ibn Ḥazm begins the book of prayer with discussing a fundamental characterisation, utilising the wording of the famous ḥadith of Ṭalḥa ibn Ubaidallah, he argues that prayer is only two types: the 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 time slot, 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 legal schools, arguing that there are no lawful 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.

The newer items added for the fourth edition include topics relating to the Jummah (Friday) prayer, rulings on where a prayer is missed due to sleep or forgetfulness, and funerary prayer in absentia.  As has always been the intention, this work will again be periodically reviewed and expanded God-willing, to include other prayer-related topics.

al-Muhalla-Book-of-Prayer-edition-4.pdf (1373 downloads )

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