Khalid Zaheer
“I am convinced about the veracity of my opinions, but I do consider it likely that they may turn out to be incorrect. Likewise, I am convinced about the incorrectness of the views different from mine, but I do concede the possibility that they may turn out to be correct.” — Imam Shafa’i
MORE Q/A

Optional parts of the prayer

Question:
On September 30th, I heard you speak on Aaj TV. I saw Ghamidi saab a few hours earlier as well answering the same question regarding salah. And you both said the same thing that only a part of the salah is fixed and cannot be changed (the earlier part until the three Quranic verses that are recited plus some supplementary actions and words) and the rest is all discretionary, that if not said does not endanger the validity or the completeness of salah. If I understood correctly then among the optional parts are the tashahud, durood (salawat) and the dua.

I have a couple of questions regarding this topic and I will appreciate your answer.

Ghamidi saab took care and elaborated on the fact that mostly all namaz books state the entire and complete procedure of namaz to be from sanaa to dua. And he gave a reason for this as well: that this was the status quo since those who initially taught Muslims how to pray in the sub-continent. And to conclude he said that what he was saying was right and people should know the difference.

Since you agree with him in this opinion, I would like to know all the sources you consulted before you arrived to this opinion. Or if I wanted to "research" on this topic, what would you suggest I consult?

Regarding the definition of Sunnah that Al-Mawrid representatives give: The consensus among Muslims in the world and its authenticity is protected by Allah. In my limited knowledge I believe that Muslims from around the world collectively (at least Sunni Muslims) believe the complete salah to be from sanaa to dua none of them (not even those from Saudi Arabia) clarify the point that you make. (I give reference to Saudi Arabia because people there learnt directly from one another in large numbers as opposed to certain people teaching the masses of the sub-continent). Even in the pamphlet published by Sheikh Abdul Aziz Ibn Abdullah Ibn Baz (of the Presidency of Islamic Researchers IFTA and Propagation, Riyadh Saudi Arabia) titled “Prophet Mohammad's Manner of Performing Prayers,” there is no distinction in the parts of salah such as those that you mention. Other than this, there are the countless books that I've read that teach the salah and even they do not care to make the distinction that you make. However the pamphlet mentioned above does advise certain additional supplications during the salah at different times (sajdah, raku etc).

Keeping this in mind would it be wrong to say that the sunnah of the Muslim ummah is the belief that the complete prayer starts from sanaa includes tashahud, durood and the dua? And if it is correct then according to your definition this form of salah becomes the Sunnah. Once again my prior question on what base do you form your view that seems to differ from this sunnah.

Also I would like to add that in the detailed book, “Salah” by Inamullah Khawaja of Al-Fawz Academy Islamabad, Pakistan, he writes that the part from attahayatu to the part before ashhaduana was the conversation between Allah and his Prophet at the time of ascension (mirage). He says that "The Prophet (pbuh) on instructions from Allah included these in the tashahud."

Response:
There could be two approaches adopted for understanding religion: we either look at what others are saying and doing and then we follow the majority. The other approach which we have adopted is try to carefully understand what the prophet, alaihisalaam, himself gave as religious practices and what was it that he left at the discretion of the individuals.

The parts of prayer which Ghamidi Sb mentions as definite sunnah are the ones which the prophet himself gave as unchangeable parts of it. The fact that they have all been followed by the entire ummah in the same manner is a proof of those acts being sunnah. For the other acts, he didn't bind anyone to do a particular zikr, and therefore there are differences.

Most scholars tend to mention the different azkar the prophet suggested as a list from which one has to choose any one or a few for our prayers. Our view is that since the prophet, alaihissalaam, never insisted any particular zikr himself and only mentioned them when asked, he therefore allowed flexibility in this matter. We have to see where the prophet is emphasizing something and where he is not. Had the intention been to confine the ummah to only those azkar that he suggested, there should have been a better arrangement for it to have been done compared to the one where the ummah had to wait for two hundred years or more to learn what were the different azkar given to them by their prophet.

We believe that all sunnah is fully preserved and followed by all Muslims. Where there is a difference of opinion, it's there because there was flexibility allowed in those matters. And when there is flexibility allowed, no one can take it away from the Muslims.

Ghamidi Sb has explained the details of his understanding and the manner he has arrived at it in his book "Qanune Ibadaat".

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