Home / Refutations / Mujaddid Alf-e-Thani on the Tahajjud Jamaat Bid’ah of the Ghair Muqallid “Hanafis”

Mujaddid Alf-e-Thani on the Tahajjud Jamaat Bid’ah of the Ghair Muqallid “Hanafis”


In the following letter, the great Mujaddid, Shaykh Ahmad Sirhindi (rahmatullaahi alayh), elaborates on the Hanafi ruling which prohibits any Nafl congregation which violates Rasulullah ﷺ exhortation to conceal (ikhfaa) Nafl salaat, and thus to avoid its manifestation (iz-haar). This manifestation and violation of the dimension of ikhfaa is realised usually through an excessive number of people involved in the congregation, or by invitation to and organisation of the congregation. Ghair Muqallid “Hanafis” have adopted this bid‘ah on a widescale in the UK in the name of “Qiyam ul-Layl”, employing both Ghayr Muqallidism (hopping from Madhhab to Madhhab in search of rulings to suit one’s desires), and latching onto the tafarrudaat (anomalous errors) of a few scholars of the past. All of the Nafl Jamaats of Rasulullah ﷺ cited as Daleel by these Ghayr Muqallids were completely unlike their bid‘ah performances of Riyaa (show and ostentation). Such Nafl Jamaats of Rasulullah ﷺ were completely devoid of any invitation or organisation, were done extemporaneously (on the spur of the moment), were very limited in numbers, and maintained the dimension of ikhfaa (concealment). A thorough refutation of the Dhalaal (misguidance) issued by these Muqallids of the Nafs will be issued in due time insha-Allah.

Volume 1, Letter 288

“In the Name of Allah, the Compassionate, the Merciful. Praise be to Allah who honoured us by the following the leader of the Messengers (Allah bless him and grant him peace), and saved us from the perpetration of innovations in the religion, and blessings and peace be upon him who pulled out the roots of error and upheld the flag of guidance, and upon his righteous family, and his chosen companions.

It should be understood that most of the people of this time, from the Khawaas and the awaam, are utterly particular towards the performance of the supererogatory (optional) prayers while they show lethargy towards the prescribed ones, and they give little consideration to the Sunnahs and Mustahabbaat. They hold the supererogatory high and the Fara’id (obligatory) low and lesser.

Seldom do they perform the Fara’id (obligatory) in its (Mustahab) recommended time, and they are careless with regards to the Takbirat Tahreemah (Opening Takbir) of the (five daily) congregational prayers, rather towards the prayer itself. Lazily and carelessly do they perform just the Fara’id and they consider it an accomplishment. And with great concern they perform the supererogatory with complete equanimity and proper congregation, on the Day of Ashura, the Night of Barat (15th Sha’ban) and the Twenty Seventh Night of the month of Rajab, and the night of the first Friday of the same month, which they name Lailatur Raghaib.

They consider this a good and commendable act, and they do not realise that these are the seducements of the Shaytaan, who displays their sins as virtues. The Shaykhul Islam Maulana Isamuddin Harawi comments in the marginal notes of Sharah Wiqayah that performing the supererogatory congregationally, and abandoning the Fara’id congregationally, are the traps of the devil. Be it known that performing the supererogatory prayers congregationally is a reprehensible and abhorred bid’a, regarding which the Seal of the Messengers, upon him be the most complete of blessings and the highest of bestowals, said: “Whoever introduces a new thing in our affair (Deen) will be rejected.”

Know that the performing of the supererogatory prayers in congregation according to some of the jurisprudential rulings is reprehensible absolutely, whilst in other reports, the reprehensibility (karahat) is conditioned on invitation and gathering. Thus, without invitation, if one or two persons perform supererogatory prayers in congregation in a corner of a Masjid, it is permissible without any reprehensibility. As for three persons there is ikhtilaaf (disagreement) amongst the Masha’ikh. As for four persons, according to some reports, it is reprehensible unanimously, whilst in other more correct reports it is reprehensible.

In Fataawa Siraajiyah it says that the supererogatory prayer performed in congregation is reprehensible except the Taraweeh and Salatul Kusoof. In Fataawa Ghiyaasiyah it says that Shaykh al-Imam al-Sarkhasi said, “Allah have mercy on the supererogatory prayers performed congregationally in times other than Ramadhan, for it is indeed reprehensible if is by invitation. However, if it is prayed with one or two (persons), it is not reprehensible, and for three, there is ikhtilaaf, and for four, it is reprehensible without disagreement.”

And it says in Khulasah, “when a supererogatory prayer is said in congregation by invitation, it is reprehensible, but if it is performed in a corner of a Masjid without the observance of Azaan and Iqaamat, it is not reprehensible.”

Shamsul aimmah, al-Hulwani said, “If there are three besides the Imaam, it is not reprehensible, and for four, there exists ikhtilaaf, and the correct view is that it is reprehensible.” And in Fataawa al-Shafiyah it says, “a supererogatory prayer should not be performed in congregation except in the month of Ramadhan (i.e. Taraweeh). And it is indeed reprehensible if it is done by invitation, i.e. with Azaan and Iqaamat. But if one or two perform behind without any invitation, then it is not reprehensible. And if performed with three behind [the Imam], there exists ikhtilaaf amongs the Masha’ikh, and if there is four behind, it is reprehensible unanimously.”

And reports similar to these are many, and the jurisprudential books are filled [with such reports]. And if a report is found which is silent regarding the number [of persons], and permits the congregational prayers absolutely, then it should be interpreted to be restricted [reconciling it] according to the other reports, and what is intended by ‘absolute’ is ‘restricted’, and the permission should be restricted to two or three. Although the Hanafi ulama in Usool (principle) take the absolute as unrestricted and do not seek to interpret it as restricted, in the case of reports, to interpret absolute as restricted is permissible, rather [sometimes] necessary.

And if, as an impossible likelihood, it is not interpreted and remains as [meaning] absolute, then undoubtedly this absolute meaning will come into conflict with the restricted meaning if both are of equal strength – equality in strength is prevented since the reports of reprehensibility due to its abundance becomes the adopted ruling (Mukhtaar) and the Mufta bihi, contrary to the reports of permissibility. And even if we concede equality of strength, we say that in the case of contradiction between evidences of reprehensibility and the evidences of permissibility, preference is given to [the ruling of] reprehensibility, since prudence lies therein, as is the principle of the jurists.

Hence, the people who perform the congregational prayers on the Day of Ashura, the night of Barat, and in the night of al-Raghaib, where two hundred, three hundred people assemble in the Masaajid, who imagine that the prayer, the assembly, and the congregation are virtuous acts, are perpetrators of a reprehensible act by the agreement of the fuqaha.

And holding the disapproved as the approved is of the great sins. Since holding the unlawful (haram) as approved drags one into infidelity (kufr), considering the disapproved (makruh) as good (hasan) is one degree less than that. The ugliness of this act should well be noticed.

And in their hand for removing the reprehensibility is not inviting. Yes, not inviting does remove the reprehensibility according to some reports, but is [still] restricted to two or three (persons), and that also on the condition that it takes place in a corner of the Masjid. And disregarding that is but a futile act.

Invitation means informing one another for saying the supererogatory prayer, and this meaning is realised in the case of these congregations. Since so and so tribe on the day of Ashurah etc. are engaged in inviting one another, saying that you should go to the Masjid of so and so Shaykh, or so and so Alim, and that you should go and say the prayer with equanimity. This kind of call is more effective than the Azaan and the Iqaamat, thus invitation becomes established.

And if by invitation it is specifically meant Azaan and Iqaamat, as it comes in some reports, which consider it the reality of Azaan and Iqaamah, then the answer is the same as has passed above i.e. it is restricted to one or two (persons) along with the other conditions mentioned above. It should be understood that the foundation of the performing supererogatory prayers is secrecy and privacy because of running the risk of show and letting others hear. And in saying the obligatory ones, display and publicity is a requirement as it is exempt from the stain of show and letting others hear – thus the performing thereof in congregation is quite appropriate…”

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