The Ritual Acts of Worship of a Muslim

The Prophet Muhammad (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) said, “Islam is built upon five [pillars]: testifying that there is none worthy of worship except Allah and that Muhammad is the Messenger of Allah, establishing the prayers, giving the Zakat, making the pilgrimage to the House and fasting the month of Ramadaan.”194 Here, the Messenger of Allah (peace be upon him) has given a parable in which he gives a picture of Islam like that of a house. The foundations or pillars of the house are five.

These actions are what are known as the “five pillars of Islam.” The first pillar, the declaration of the testimony of faith, was discussed earlier. Hence, this chapter is devoted to a discussion of the other four pillars. Before discussing each pillar separately, a couple of introductory points need to be made.

First, all of these ritual acts have both an outward or physical aspect and an inward or spiritual aspect to them. The scholars have emphasized that before any act of worship is acceptable to Allah, it must meet two conditions:

(1) The act must be proper and correct according to Allah’s guidance and
(2) the act must be done solely and purely for the sake of Allah. Allah states, for example, “So whoever hopes for the meeting with his Lord, let him work righteousness and associate none as a partner in the worship of His lord” (18:110). Commenting on this verse, ibn al-Qayyim wrote,

This is in reference to the only type of deed that Allah will accept. The deed must be in accordance with the Sunnah of the Messenger of Allah (peace be upon him) and done solely for the Countenance of Allah. A doer cannot possibly fulfill both of these conditions unless he has knowledge. If he does not know what has been narrated from the Messenger of Allah (peace be upon him), then he cannot intend that. If he is not knowledgeable of whom he worships, he cannot intend Him alone in his deeds. If it were not for knowledge, his deed could not be acceptable. It is knowledge that guides to sincerity and purity and it is knowledge that indicates what is the actual following of the way of the Prophet (peace be upon him).195

Allah asks of His servants purity in their hearts. Although this purity is reflected in the deeds itself, it is the purity that is the key to Allah being pleased with a certain deed. Allah created death and life in order to test humankind to see who are the best in deeds. He did not create humankind and test them to see who performs the most deeds with the least quality. Allah has stated, “Blessed is He in whose Hand is the dominion, and He is the One who Decrees all things, Who has created death and life, that He may test you which of you is the best in deed. He is the All-Mighty, the Oft-Forgiving” (67:1-2).

Commenting on this verse, al-Fudail ibn Iyaad stated that “best in deeds,” means the most pure and most correct. He stated, “If a deed is sincere and pure but not correct, it is not accepted. If it is correct but not pure, it is not accepted. [It will not be accepted] until it is both pure and correct. It is pure if it is solely for the sake of Allah and it is correct if it is according to the Sunnah.” 196

Second, these ritual acts are indeed acts of worship in themselves yet, at the same time, they should have a lasting influence on the individual. The Muslim, for example, should not complete the prayer and not have that prayer have any effect on his behavior and actions. In the hadith quoted earlier, the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) stated that Islam is built upon these ritual pillars. That means that they form a foundation—a foundation that support an entire life based on the concept of submission to Allah alone.197

194 Recorded by al-Bukhari and Muslim.

195 Quoted from Ali al-Saalihi, Al-Dhau al-Muneer ala al-Tafseer, (Riyadh: Mu’assasat al-Noor, n.d.), vol. 4, p. 173.

196 Quoted in Abdul Rahman ibn Rajab, Jaami al-Uloom wa al-Hikam (Beirut: Mu’assasat al- Risaalah, 1991), vol. 1, p. 72,

197 For more on the spiritual benefits of each of the pillars of Islam, see the author’s Purification of the Soul.

Establishing the Prayers

The Meaning of “Establishing the Prayers”

A very important aspect that one should note about this pillar is that what is being referred to is not simply the “performance” of prayer. In the Quran also, Allah is not ordering simply the performance of prayer.

Instead, Allah is requiring from the believers iqaamat al-salat (“the establishment of the prayers”). Hence, this pillar of Islam is not simply praying but it is something special, which Allah and His Prophet (peace be upon him) called, “establishing the prayer.” Only if one performs the prayer properly and correctly does one fulfill this pillar. This points out that the number of people who pray are many while the number that establish the prayer are few. This is like the statement narrated from Umar about the Hajj, “The number who performed the Hajj are few while the riders [present at the Hajj] are many.”198

Al-Dausiri also pointed out one difference between the two phrases of “establishing the prayer” and “performing the prayer.” He said, “[Allah] did not say ‘performers of prayer’ but He said, ‘those who establish the prayer.’ Allah distinguished between them in order to distinguish between the true and real prayer and the prayer in form only. The true prayer is the prayer of the heart and soul, the prayer of humility, the prayer of those who stand silently and in fear in front of Allah.”199 The prayer “in form only” was never the goal of the command.

Definitely part of the establishing of the prayer is the establishment of the spiritual and inward aspects of the prayer, as al-Dausiri has alluded to. But that is certainly not the only difference between the two as can be seen in the definition or statements about “establishing the prayer” as given by many of the scholars of Islam. For example, the famous commentator on the Quran, ibn Jarir al-Tabari wrote, “Establishing it means to perform it within its proper limits, with its obligatory aspects, with what has been made obligatory concerning it by the one upon whom it has been made obligatory.” Then he quoted the Companion ibn Abbas as saying, “Establishing the prayer is to perform its bowing, prostrations and reciting in a complete manner as well as having fear of Allah and complete attention to it.”200 The early scholar Qatada also stated, “The establishing of the prayer is to stick to and guard its timing, ablution, bowing and prostration.”201

In general, one can say that the “establishing of the prayer” means that one performs and executes the prayer in the proper manner as prescribed in the Quran and Sunnah. This includes both the outward as well as the inward aspects of the prayer. Neither of the two are sufficient in themselves to truly establish the prayer. One must be in a state of purity for the prayer. One must perform the prayer in its proper time. One should, in the case of men, perform the prayer in congregation in a mosque if feasible. One must perform the prayer according to its rules and regulations, at the same time, though, the physical acts must be accompanied with diligence, submission, humbleness, calmness and so on. One must perform all of the acts of the prayer properly and in the manner demonstrated by the Messenger of Allah (peace be upon him). These are all part of establishing the prayer. These are essential aspects of this very important foundation of the entire structure of Islam.

From all of the above it is clear that what Allah is referring to is not something light or something that can be taken lightly. It is to fulfill the prayers in the best way that one can do so, according to the Sunnah of the Prophet (peace be upon him), with the correct intention and with the proper attention on the prayer.

However, it may be that the person establishes the prayer to some extent. The person has, from a legal point of view, performed his prayer but the reward from Allah for that prayer may be lacking. As the Prophet (peace be upon him) has said, “A person may finish from [the prayer] and all that is recorded for him of his prayer is one-tenth of it, one-ninth, one-eighth, oneseventh, one-sixth, one-fifth, one-fourth, one-third or one-half.”202

The meaning of “establishment of the prayer” has been stressed here because that is what the pillar of Islam is. This pillar is not simply the performance of the prayer. It is not performing it in any way or with just physical motions. Nor is it simply praying in the heart without any physical parts to it whatsoever. Nor is it praying the prayer at the time one finds convenient. One must be careful to perform this pillar of Islam in the best and correct manner. On this point, Nadwi wrote,

Salat [prayer] is not merely the name of certain physical movements. It is not a wooden, lifeless ritual or something of a military discipline in which one’s choice or volition has no place. It is an act in which all the three aspects of human existence, physical, mental and spiritual, find their due expression. The body, the mind and the heart participate in it jointly and in an ideal manner. The acts of standing erect, kneeling and prostration appertain to the body, recitation appertains to the tongue, reflection and contemplation to the mind, and fear, repentance and lamentation to the heart.203

The importance of the prayer in Islam cannot be overstated. It is the first pillar of Islam that the Prophet (peace be upon him) mentioned after mentioning the testimony of faith, by which one becomes a Muslim. It was made obligatory upon all the prophets and for all peoples.

Once a man asked the Prophet (peace be upon him) about the most virtuous deed. The Prophet (peace be upon him) stated that the most virtuous deed is the prayer. The man asked again and again. The first three times, the Prophet (peace be upon him) again answered, “The prayer,” then on the fourth occasion he stated, “Jihad in the way of Allah.”204

The importance of the prayer is demonstrated in many of the Prophet’s statements. For example, the Prophet (peace be upon him) said, “The first matter that the slave will be brought to account for on the Day of Judgment is the prayer. If it is sound, then the rest of his deeds will be sound. And if it is bad, then the rest of his deeds will be bad.”205

The importance of the prayers lies in the fact that no matter what actions one performs in his life, the most important aspect is one’s relationship to Allah, that is, one’s faith (imaan), God-consciousness (taqwa), sincerity (ikhlaas) and worship of Allah (’ibaadah). This relationship with Allah is both demonstrated and put into practice, as well as improved and increased, by the prayer. Therefore, if the prayers are sound and proper, the rest of the deeds will be sound and proper; and if the prayers are not sound and proper, then the rest of the deeds will not be sound and proper, as the Prophet (peace be upon him) himself stated.

In reality, if the prayer is performed properly—with true remembrance of Allah and turning to Him for forgiveness— it will have a lasting effect on the person. After he finishes the prayer, his heart will be filled with the remembrance of Allah. He will be fearful as well as hopeful of Allah. After that experience, he will not want to move from that lofty position to one wherein he disobeys Allah. Allah has mentioned this aspect of the prayer when He has said, “Verily, the prayer keeps one from the great sins and evil deeds” (29:45). Nadwi has described this effect in the following eloquent way,

Its aim is to generate within the subliminal self of man such spiritual power, light of faith and awareness of God as can enable him to strive successfully against all kinds of evils and temptations and remain steadfast at times of trial and adversity and protect himself against the weaknesses of the flesh and the mischief of immoderate appetites.206

As for the Hereafter, Allah’s forgiveness and pleasure is closely related to the prayers. The Messenger of Allah (peace be upon him) said, “Allah has obligated five prayers. Whoever excellently performs their ablutions, prays them in their proper times, completes their bows, prostrations and khushu’207 has a promise from Allah that He will forgive him. And whoever does not do that has no promise from Allah. He may either forgive him or He may punish him.”208

The prayers are a type of purification for a human being. He turns and meets with his Lord five times a day. As alluded to above, this repeated standing in front of Allah should keep the person from performing sins during the day. Furthermore, it should also be a time of remorse and repentance, such that he earnestly asks Allah for forgiveness for those sins that he committed. In addition, the prayer in itself is a good deed that wipes away some of the evil deeds that he performed. These points can be noted in the following hadith of the Prophet (peace be upon him): “If a person had a stream outside his door and he bathed in it five times a day, do you think he would have any filth left on him?” The people said, “No filth would remain on him whatsoever.” The Prophet (peace be upon him) then said, “That is like the five daily prayers: Allah wipes away the sins by them.”209

In another hadith, the Prophet (peace be upon him) said, “The five daily prayers and the Friday Prayer until the Friday Prayer are expiation for what is between them.”210

The essential importance of the prayer with respect to a Muslim’s faith can be seen in the statement of the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him), “Between a man and polytheism (al-shirk) and disbelief (al-kufr) is the abandoning of the prayer.”211 In this hadith, the Prophet (peace be upon him) used the definitive al-shirk and al-kufr, which is a reference to something known and understood. This is understood to refer to the kufr that takes one out of the fold of Islam. Furthermore, both the words shirk and kufr have been used, and this is another sign that the act must take one out of the fold of Islam.

Siddiqi’s words showing the importance of prayer are a good summary to this whole discussion. He wrote,

Prayer is the soul of religion. Where there is no prayer, there can be no purification of the soul. The non-praying man is rightly considered to be a soulless man. Take prayer out of the world, and it is all over with religion because it is with prayer that man has the consciousness of God and selfless love for humanity and inner sense of piety. Prayer is, therefore, the first, the highest, and the most solemn phenomenon and manifestation of religion.212

The Prophet (peace be upon him) stated its place in Islam when he said, “The head of the matter is Islam. Its pillar is prayer. And its apex is Jihad.”213

198 Cf., Al-Raaghib al-Isfahaani, Mu’jam Mufradaat Alfaadh al-Quran (Beirut: Dar al-Fikr, n.d.), p.

199 Abdul Rahman al-Dausiri, Safwat al-Athaar wa al-Mafaheem min Tafseer al-Quran al-Adheem (Kuwait: Dar al-Arqam, 1981), vol. 2, p. 8.

200 Muhammad ibn Jareer al-Tabari, Jami al-Bayaan an Ta’weel Ayi al-Quran (Beirut: Dar al-Fikr, 1988), vol. 1, p. 104.

201 Quoted in Ismail ibn Katheer, Tafseer al-Quran al-Adheem (Kuwait: Dar al-Arqam, 1985), vol. 1, p. 168.

202 Recorded by Abu Dawud and Ahmad. According to al-Albani, it is sahih. Al-Albani, Sahih al-Jami, vol. 1, p. 335.

203 Abul Hasan Ali Nadwi, The Four Pillars of Islam (Lucknow, India: Academy of Islamic Research and Publica ons, 1976), pp. 22-23.

204 This is from a hadith recorded by Ahmad and ibn Hibban. According to al-Albani, the hadith is hasan. Muhammad Nasir al-Din al-Albani, Sahih al-Targheeb wa al-Tarheeb (Beirut: al-Maktab al- Islami, 1982), vol. 1, p. 150.

205 Recorded by al-Tabaraani. According to al-Albani, it is sahih. Al-Albani, Sahih al-Jami, vol. 1, p.503.

206 Nadwi, p. 24.

207 Khushu’ in the prayer is where the person’s heart is attuned to the prayer. This feeling in the heart is then reflected on the body. The person remains still and calm. His gaze is also lowered.
Even his voice is affected by this feeling in the heart. For more details on this concept (as well as the difference between it and khudu’), see Muhammad al-Shaayi, Al-Furooq al-Laughawiyyah wa Atharuhaa fi Tafseer al-Quran al-Kareem (Riyadh: Maktabah al-Ubaikaan, 1993), pp. 249-254.

208 Recorded by Malik, Ahmad, Abu Dawud, al-Nasaa’i and others. According to al-Albani, it is sahih. Al-Albani, Sahih al-Jami, vol. 1, p. 616.

209 Recorded by al-Bukhari and Muslim.

210 Recorded by Muslim.

211 Recorded by Muslim.

212 Abdul Hameed Siddiqi, trans., Sahih Muslim, (Beirut: Dar al-Arabia, n.d.), vol. 1, p. 206.

213 An authentic hadith recorded by Ahmad, al-Tirmidhi and others.

Some Important Points Concerning the Laws of Prayer

This is not the proper place to give a detailed discussion of the laws concerning the prayers. However, a few points shall be made.

The five daily prayers are obligatory upon every adult214, sane Muslim.
However, women who are experiencing their menses or post-partum bleeding are not to perform the prayers, as they are not in a state of ritual purity (described below). Furthermore, such women do not make up those prayers at a later time.

Before commencing with the ritual prayer, one must also be in a state of physical purity. Allah says, “O you who believe! When you intend to offer the prayer, wash your faces and your arms up to the elbows, rub (by passing wet hands over) your heads, and (wash) your feet up to the ankles” (5:6). The Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) said, “The prayer is not accepted without purification.”215 Thus, for example, if one is “sexually defiled,” either through sexual activity or a wet dream, of if a woman has just completed her menses or post-partum bleeding, a complete washing, known as ghusl, must be made before commencing the prayer. Otherwise, one must be in a state of purity via ablution or wudoo, which involves washing the face, head, arms and feet. The ablution is to be repeated before the next prayer if one has relieved oneself, passed gas, had a deep sleep or lost consciousness. This prerequisite for the prayer further emphasizes the fact that worship of God involves all of one’s being. However, outside of the ritual prayer, if one simply wants to supplicate to Allah, then ablution is not required.

In addition to being in a state of purity, one’s clothing and place of prayer must also be free of impurities. In other words, the clothing and area should be free of urine, feces, blood and any other impure substance. Hence, the entire atmosphere and the feeling of the individual should be one of purity as he begins to enter into this noble state of prayers and communication directly with his Lord.

It is important to realize that the times of the daily prayers are fixed. Allah says, “Verily, the prayers are enjoined on the believers at stated times” (4:103). These mings are delineated in the following hadith: “The Angel Gabriel came to the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) and said, ‘Stand and pray.’ He prayed the Noon Prayer when the sun had passed its zenith. Then he came in the afternoon and said, ‘Stand and pray.’ Then he prayed the Afternoon Prayer when every object and its shadow had become the same length. Then he came at sunset and said, ‘Stand and pray.’ He prayed when the sun had disappeared. Then he came in the night and said, ‘Stand and pray.’ He prayed when the twilight had disappeared. Then he came at dawn and said, ‘Stand and pray.’ He prayed when the dawn had lit up—or he said became brightened. Then he came on the next day for the Noon prayer and said, ‘Stand and pray.’ He prayed the Noon Prayer when an object and its shade were the same length. Then he came for the Afternoon Prayer and said, ‘Stand and pray.’ He prayed the Afternoon Prayer when the shadow of an object was twice the object’s length. Then he came for the Sunset Prayer, and it has only one time. Then he came for the Night Prayer and it was when half or one third of the night had passed and he prayed the Night Prayer. Then he came in the dawn when it was very light and said, ‘Stand and pray,’ and he prayed the Dawn Prayer. Then he said, ‘The timings [for the prayers] are between these two,’ [that is, between the two sets of times in which he prayed with him].”216

Unfortunately, sometimes some Muslims find themselves busy during the day and therefore delay all of their prayers until nighttime, when they combine the Noon, Afternoon, Sunset and Night Prayers together at home. Converts in particular may find that the prayers are difficult with their work schedule and, at the same time, they may not have the confidence to pray in front of others or to ask for space at work to pray and so forth. This practice of delaying the prayers is incompatible with Islamic Law. The prayers must be said at their proper times and the individual should not take this matter lightly. He should exert himself for the sake of Allah and discover some way by which he will be able to perform the prayers during their proper times. At the very most, if he does need to combine some prayers, he may combine the Noon and Afternoon Prayers during the time of either the Noon or Afternoon Prayers.

Similarly, he may also combine the Sunset and Night Prayers at the time of either the Sunset or Night Prayers. However, no other combination is permissible. Furthermore, the individual should resist combining the prayers as a matter of being lackadaisical and, again, should strive to perform each prayer in its proper time.

Thus, in order for the prayer to be sound and proper, the following conditions must be met:
(1) One must have knowledge that the time of the prayer has begun;
(2) the individual must be in a state of purity;
(3) the clothing, body and place of prayer must also be free of impurities;
(4) the private parts must be covered in a proper fashion—for the man, the area between the navel and the knees must be covered with clothing that does not reveal what is supposed to be covered and the man should wear a garment that covers at least one shoulder; for the woman, all of her except her face and hands is to be covered in the prayer;
(5) the individual must face the qiblah, or the direction towards Allah’s Sacred Kaabah in Makkah;
(6) the individual must have the proper intention for prayer.

It is especially important for the individual to perform the five daily prayers in a congregation in a mosque. Numerous texts of the Quran and Sunnah indicate the importance of prayer in congregation. For example, the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) said, “The prayer of a person in congregation is twenty-five levels better than the prayer of a person prayed in his house or in the market. This is because when one of you performs ablution in an excellent manner and then goes to the mosque desiring only the prayer, he will not walk a step except that he will be raised a rank and a sin will be expiated. While he prays, the Angels invoke prayers upon him for as long as he remains seated in his place of worship, saying, ‘O Allah have mercy on him, O Allah forgive him, O Allah turn towards him.’ And you are continually considered in the prayer as long as you are waiting for the prayer.”217 Actually, many scholars state that performing the five daily prayers in a congregation is obligatory upon men. In addition to the obvious importance of congregational prayers in general, this author believes, based on his own experience, that it is extremely important for new converts to attend the prayers in congregation as much as possible.

First, it demonstrates the convert’s seriousness in Islam; it shows that he is zealous about performing the most basic act of his new faith. This will immediately send a good sign to the Muslims in his community and they will be more willing to invest their time in such an individual.

Second, it is a good opportunity for the convert to befriend Muslims and learn from their example. It is very difficult to try to change one’s life to an Islamic life while remaining within one’s circle of non-Muslim friends. Hence, attending the mosque will open the door for the convert to make new Muslim friends.

Third, it is an important opportunity for the convert to learn about Islam. In the mosques, usually, one will find people who have knowledge of Islam. The new convert will not have to feel lost and on his own but will find devout Muslim who will be able to guide him and assist him. Obviously, these advantages apply equally to the male as well as the female convert. Hence, the female convert should also take advantage of this opportunity and try to perform some of her congregational prayers in the mosque as well.

The Quran, of course, is in Arabic.218 The first chapter of the Quran is known as soorah al-Faatihah. This chapter forms an essential portion of the prayer and is read in every unit of the prayer. Obviously, it takes time for an individual to learn how to read this short chapter and to be able to memorize it. Until he is able to memorize this chapter, he applies the principle found in the following hadith: A man came to the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) and told him that he was not able to learn anything of the Quran and requested that the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) teach him some words that would suffice him. The Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) taught him to say, “Subhaanallah. Wa-lhamdulillaah. Wa laa ilaahah illa-llah. Wallahu akbar. Wa la haula wa la quwwata illa-billaah al-Alee al-Adheem.”219 The individual said, “Those are [words of praise] for Allah. What can I say for myself?” The Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) told him to say, “Allahumma, irhamni. Wa-rzuqni. Wa-‘afini. Wa-hdini.”220 When the man stood and left, the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) said, “He has filled his hand with goodness.”221

This author would also advise the convert to learn Arabic expressions and passages of the Quran directly from people who speak Arabic properly. The convert should not rely upon transliterations, as such transliterations cannot convey the true manner of pronouncing the words if the individual is ignorant of the Arabic language in the first place. This author knows from his own personal experience that if the convert learns the phrases of the prayer or portions of the Quran incorrectly, it becomes all the more difficult for him to correct himself later. Thus, from the beginning, one should learn the pronunciation of the Arabic in the best manner possible directly from those who speak it correctly.

214 Meaning: past the age of puberty.

215 Recorded by Muslim.

216 This hadith is sahih. See al-Albaani, Irwaa #250. Recorded by Ahmad, al-Nasaa`ee and al- Tirmidhi.

217 Recorded by al-Bukhari,Muslim and Abu Dawood.

218 A “translation” of the Quran is not considered the Quran. The Quran is only the Arabic text.

219 These phrases mean, respectively, “Exalted and perfect is Allah. All praise and thanks be to Allah. There is none worthy of worship except Allah. Allah is the greatest. There is no power or might except in Allah, the Exalted, the Great.”

220 These phrases mean, respectively, “O Allah, have mercy of me, provide for me, pardon me and guide me.”

221 Recorded by Abu Dawood and others. According to al-Albaani, it is hasan.

A Brief Description of the Prayer

When the Messenger of Allah (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) would stand for prayer, he would face the direction of the Kaabah in Makkah, with the intention of performing the prayer.222

Then he would begin his prayer by saying, “Allahu akbar” (“Allah is greatest”) and would raise his hands with this saying. Then he would put his right hand over his left above his chest. He would put his sight towards the ground. He would begin the prayer by reciting various supplications, praising and extolling Allah therein. Then he would seek refuge in Allah from the accursed Satan. Then he would recite, “In the name of Allah, the One Full of Mercy, the Ever Merciful,” but he would not recite this aloud. Then he would recite soorah al-Faatihah, the first chapter of the Quran, reciting each verse separately. When he reached the end of soorah al-Faatihah, he would say amen. He would say that aloud and lengthen its pronunciation. Then he would recite another portion of the Quran after finishing reading soorah al-Faatihah, sometimes making a lengthy reading while others times a short one.

The Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) would recite the Quran audibly in the Morning Prayer, the first two units (rakahs) of both the Sunset and the Night Prayers. He would recite it silently in the Noon and the Afternoon Prayers as well as in the last two units of the Sunset and Night Prayers. He would also recite it audibly in the Friday Prayer, the two Eid Prayers, the Prayer for Rain and the Eclipse Prayers.

He would make the last two rakahs about half as short as the first two, the length of about fifteen verses or sometimes he would only recite soorah al-Faatihah in them.

When he would finish the entire reciting, he would pause a little, raise his hands, say the takbeer (“Allah is great”) and then bow. He would put his hands on his knees and separate his fingers. Sometimes he would put his hands on his knees as if he were grasping them. He would keep his arms away from his side and would stretch out his back and keep it straight, such that if one were to pour water on his back it would settle there.

He would be very calm and still in his bow. He used to say, “Subhanna Rabbiyal-Adheem (Exalted and perfect is my Lord, the Great),” three times. Also while bowing, he would state a number of words of remembrance and supplications, sometimes one and sometimes another. He also prohibited the reciting of the Quran while bowing or prostrating.

Then he would raise his back from the bowing position and saying, “Sami- Allaahu liman hamidah (Allah has heard him who praises Him).” He would also raise his hands while moving to stand straight. While standing, he would say, “Rabbanaa wa lakal-hamd (Our Lord and to you is the praise).” Sometimes he would say more than simply that. Then he would say the takbeer and go down to prostrate. He would put his hands on the ground before his knees. He would lean on his hands and spread them out. He would bring his fingers together and direct them towards the qiblah. He would place them parallel to his shoulders or, sometimes, parallel to his ears. He would firmly place his nose and forehead on the ground. He used to say, “I have been ordered to prostrate on seven bones: the forehead—and he pointed to his nose [as well]—, the two hands, the two knees and the ends [toes] of the two feet.” He also said, “There is no prayer for the one whose nose does not touch the ground in the manner that the forehead does.” He would remain calm and still in the prostration. He would say, “Subhanna Rabbiyal-Adheem (Exalted and perfect is my Lord, the Great),” three times. He would also recite a number of words of remembrance and supplications in this position, varying the different supplications that he would make. He stated that one should exert himself in making numerous supplications in this position. Then he would raise his head while pronouncing the takbeer. Then he would spread out his left leg and sit on it, resting his bones and being still. His right leg would remain erect on the foot, with the toes pointing toward the qiblah. At this juncture, he would say, “O Allah, forgive me, have mercy on me, strengthen me, raise me [in rank], guide me, pardon me and provide for me.” Then he would state the takbeer and make a second prostration like the first one. Then he would raise his head while making the takbeer and sit straight on his left leg, until all his bones returned to the sitting position, and then he would get up, pushing up off the 149 1430 2009 ground. In the second rakah he would do the same that he did in the first but he would make this rakah shorter than the previous one.

At the end of the second rakah, he would sit for the saying of the tashahhud. If it were a two-rakah prayer, he would sit on his left leg like he did so in between the two prostrations. He would sit similarly in the first tashahhud of the three- and four-rakah prayers. While sitting for the tashahhud, he would put his right hand on his right thigh and his left hand on his left thigh. He would spread out his left hand and make a fist with his right, pointing with his right index finger and fixing his gaze upon it.

He would recite after each two rakahs, the tahiyyat223 and the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) would also state the prayers upon himself224 in the first tashahhud as well as later, and he established that for his Nation as well. The Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) used to make various different types of supplications during his prayer.

Then he would make the salutations to his right, saying, “Peace be upon you and the mercy of Allah,” and to his left as well. Occasionally, during the first greeting he would add, “and His blessings” at the end of the phrase.

222 From Abdul Adheem ibn Badawi, The Concise Presentation of the Fiqh of the Sunnah and the Noble Book (Riyadh: International Islamic Publishing House, forthcoming).

223 This is the portion beginning with al-tahiyyaatu li-laah. Its translation is: “All compliments, prayers and pure words are due Allah. Peace be upon you, O Prophet, and the mercy of Allah and His blessings. Peace be upon us and upon the righteous servants of Allah. I bear witness that none is worthy of worship except Allah and I bear witness that Muhammad is His servant and messenger.”

224 This portion can be translated as: O Allah send prayers upon Muhammad and on the family of Muhammad as you sent prayers upon the family of Abraham, for You are Worthy of Praise, Full of Glory. O Allah, pour blessings upon Muhammad and upon the family of Muhammad as you poured blessings upon the family of Abraham, for You are Worthy of Praise, Full of Glory.

The Giving of the Zakat

Linguistically, the root of the word Zakat implies purification, blessing and growth. Allah has stated in the Quran, “Indeed whosoever purifies himself (tazakkaa) shall achieve success” (87:14). Another word used in the Quran and hadith for the Zakat is sadaqa. This word is derived from sidq (the truth). Siddiqi explains the significance of these two terms as they are used here,

Both these words are highly meaningful. The spending of wealth for the sake of Allah purifies the heart of man of the love of material wealth. The man who spends it offers that as a humble gift before the Lord and thus affirms the truth that nothing is dearer to him in life than the love of Allah and that he is fully prepared to sacrifice everything for His sake.225

In Islamic Law, its technical meaning is in reference to a specific portion of one’s varied wealth that one must give yearly to a specific group of recipients.

There is no question that among the pillars of Islam, Zakat ranks very close to that of prayer. They are often mentioned together in the Quran— in eighty two instances to be exact. One can also see from the Quran, that one of the keys to receiving Allah’s mercy in the Hereafter is the payment of Zakat. In surah al-Tauba, verse 71, Allah states, “The believers, men and women, are helpers and supporters of one another, they enjoin what is right and forbid what is evil, they offer their prayers perfectly, they give the Zakat and they obey Allah and His Messenger. Allah will bestow His mercy on them. Surely, Allah is All-Mighty, All-Wise.” (9:71)

The payment of Zakat should purify a person. It also purifies his wealth. Allah said to the Prophet (peace be upon him), “Take (O Muhammad) alms from their wealth in order to purify them and sanctify them with it” (9:103). Beyond that, it can purify a believer’s soul by cleansing him of the diseases of stinginess and miserliness.

It also purifies the wealth of the person by removing any evil effect from it. The Prophet (peace be upon him) once said, “Whoever pays the Zakat on his wealth will have its evil removed from him.”226

Zakat also has a very important role to play for society as a whole. There are some obvious factors that may be stated here. For example, Zakat helps the poor of society as they receive wealth that they need. This should also help to strengthen the ties of brotherhood within a Muslim society, as the poor know that the rich will come to their aid through Zakat and other means of charity. Even for those who are not very rich, it makes them realize that they can afford to give for the sake of Allah. They may realize that they will not starve or die if they give some of their wealth for the sake of Allah. Furthermore, it can make those who possess wealth realize that such wealth has actually come as a blessing from Allah. Hence, the person must use it in the way that is pleasing to Allah. One of the most pleasing aspects is to fulfill one’s responsibility of paying Zakat upon such wealth.

Muslims who do not pay their Zakat are not only harming themselves but they can actually harm the entire Muslim Nation. The Messenger of Allah (peace be upon him) said, “A people do not keep from giving the Zakat on their wealth except that they will be kept from having rain falling from the sky. If it were not for the animals, it would not rain at all.”227

Allah and His prophet have made it clear that not paying Zakat is an act that is displeasing to Allah. Indeed, Allah has threatened a great punishment for such behavior. For example, the following verse of the Quran is a reference to those who do not pay the Zakat on their wealth: “And let not those who covetously withhold of that which Allah has bestowed on them of His Bounty (wealth) think that it is good for them. Nay, it will be worse for them. The things which they covetously withheld shall be tied to their necks like a collar on the Day of Resurrection. And to Allah belongs the heritage of the heavens and the earth, and Allah is Well-Acquainted with all that you do” (3:180).

The Prophet (peace be upon him) described the punishment that will come to those who do not pay the proper Zakat on their wealth. In one hadith in Sahih al-Bukhari, Abu Hurairah narrated that the Prophet (peace be upon him) said, “[On the Day of Resurrection] camels will come to their owner in the best state of health they have ever had (in the world), and if he had not paid their Zakat on them, they would tread him with their feet; similarly, sheep will come to their owner in the best state of health they ever had in this world and, if he had not paid their Zakat, would tread him with their hooves and would butt him with their horns... I do not want anyone of you to come to me on the Day of Resurrection carrying over his neck a sheep that will be bleating. Then he says, ‘O Muhammad (please intercede for me).’ I will say, ‘I can’t help you for I conveyed Allah’s message to you.’ Similarly, I do not want anyone of you to come to me carrying over his neck a camel that will be grunting. Such a person will say, ‘O Muhammad (intercede for me).’ I will say to him, ‘I cannot help you for I conveyed Allah’s Message to you.’”

The Prophet (peace be upon him) warned of the consequences of not paying such Zakat. Note the following hadith from Sahih al-Bukhari: “Whoever is made wealthy by Allah and does not pay Zakat on his wealth, then on Day of Resurrection his wealth will be made like a bald-headed poisonous snake with two poisonous glands. It will encircle his neck and bite his cheeks and say, ‘I am your wealth, I am your treasure.’” After stating that, the Prophet (peace be upon him) then recited the above verse from surah ali-Imran.

In another verse that also includes those who do not pay Zakat, Allah has said, “[There are] those who hoard up gold and silver and spend it not in the way of Allah– announce unto them a painful torment. On the Day when that wealth will be heated in the fire of hell and it will brand their foreheads, flanks and backs. [It will be said to them], ‘This is the treasure which you hoarded for yourselves. Now taste of what you used to hoard’” (9:34-35).

225 Siddiqi, vol. 2, p. 465.

226 Recorded by ibn Khuzaima and al-Tabaraani. According to al-Albani, it is hasan. Al-Albani, Sahih al-Targheeb wa al-Tarheeb, vol. 1, p. 312.

227 Recorded by ibn Majah. According to al-Albani it is authentic. See Muhammad Nasir al-Din al- Albani, Silsilat al-Ahadeeth al-Saheeha (Beirut: al-Maktab al-Islami, 1979), vol. 1, hadith no. 106

The Amount of Money to be Given as Zakat

Zakat is obligatory upon different forms of wealth, such as money, crops, fruits, livestock and treasures found in the earth. In today’s world, the most common form of wealth is that of money. Zakat is to be paid on one’s money if that amount of money reaches the minimum required for Zakat and if it has been in the person’s possession for a year’s time. The amount to be paid on such holding is 2.5%.

The minimum required holding of wealth before one is obligated to pay Zakat is known as the nisaab. There is actually a distinct nisaab for gold and for silver. Today, people hold cash and currency rather than gold or silver. This has led to some difference of opinion as to whether the nisaab for cash should be based on its gold equivalent or its silver equivalent. If gold is taken as the basis, Zakat is only obligatory if the amount of gold one possesses reaches twenty mithqaals228 or if a person holds its equivalent value in currency. If the Muslim possesses this amount of money for a year’s me, he pays 2.5% once in that year as Zakat.

Zakat is distributed to specific categories of people. Allah has mentioned those categories in the following verse: “The alms are only for the poor, the needy, those employed to collect (the funds), and to attract the hearts of those who have been inclined (towards Islam); and to free the captives; and for those in debt; and for Allah's Cause, and for the wayfarer (a traveler who is cut off from everything); a duty imposed by Allah. And Allah is All-Knower, All-Wise” (9:60).

In general, most mosques have committees and accounts for Zakat. If a Muslim gives them his Zakat payment, informing them that it is Zakat, it should then be distributed to the proper recipients and the Muslim would have fulfilled his responsibility to Allah.

228 Contemporary es mates range from 85 to 93.6 grams.

The Fast of the Month of Ramadaan

The fast of Ramadaan refers to abstaining from food, drink and sexual intercourse during the days of the month of Ramadaan.

Fasting is a source of self-restraint, piety and God-consciousness. It was prescribed by Allah for the prophets before Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him). In the verses obligating the fast of the month of Ramadaan, Allah has pointed out its goal or purpose: “O believers! Fasting is prescribed for you as it was prescribed for those before you, that you may attain taqwa [selfrestraint, piety and God-consciousness]” (2:183).

The Prophet (peace be upon him) said that fasting is a protection from the Hell-fire: “Fasting is a shield from the Hell-fire like one of your shields used in fighting.” 229 Furthermore, it will also come as an intercessor on the Day of Judgment. The Prophet (peace be upon him) has said, “The fast and the Quran shall come as intercessors on the Day of Resurrection. The fast shall say, ‘O
Lord, I prevented him from his food and drink during the day, so let me intercede for him.’ The Quran will say, ‘I kept him from sleep during the night, so let me intercede for him.’ Then they will be allowed to intercede.”230

It is an act that demonstrates one’s sincerity to Allah. Only Allah is aware if a person truly fasted or not. No one can know if he secretly broke his fast. Therefore, Allah has a special reward for those who fast. This is stated in the following report: Allah has said, “He leaves his food, drink and desires because of Me. Fasting is for My sake and I shall reward it. And every good deed shall
be rewarded ten-fold.”231

By Allah’s grace and mercy, if a person fasts the month of Ramadaan with faith in Allah and hoping for its reward, Allah will forgive all of his previous minor sins. The Prophet (peace be upon him) said, “Whoever fasts the month of Ramadan with faith and hoping for its reward shall have all of his
previous sins forgiven for him.”232

Ibn al-Qayim noted some of the beneficial and important aspects of fasting when he wrote,

The purpose of fasting is that the spirit of man was released from the clutches of desires and moderation prevailed in his carnal self, and, through it, he realized the goal of purification and everlasting felicity. It is aimed at curtailing the intensity of desire and lust by means of hunger and thirst, at inducing man to realize how many were there in the world like him who had to go even without a small quantity of food, at making it difficult for the Devil to deceive him, and at restraining his organs from turning towards things in which there was the loss of both worlds. Fasting, thus, is the bridle of the God-fearing, the shield of the crusaders and the discipline of the virtuous.233

There is also a hadith of the Prophet (peace be upon him) that warns of the punishment for one who breaks his fast improperly. In this hadith, the Prophet (peace be upon him) said, “While I was sleeping, two men came to me and took hold of my arms. They brought me to a steep mountain and said, ‘Climb.’ I said, ‘I am not able to.’ They said, ‘We will make it easy for you.’ So I climbed until I came to the summit of the mountain where I heard terrible cries. I said, ‘What are these cries?’ They said, ‘Those are the cries of the inhabitants of the Fire.’ Then they took me further until I came to a people who were strung up by their hamstrings, and their jawbones were torn and flowing with blood. I said, ‘Who are these people?’ He said, ‘Those are the people who break their fast before the time it was permissible to do so.’”234

Fasting is obligatory upon every sane, adult, healthy, non-traveling Muslim. In addition, women must also be pure of menses and post-partum bleeding. If a person is traveling or ill, he is not required to fast. If he does fast, that fast will fulfill the requirements of the fast. However, if he does not fast, he must make up those missed days of fasting later. If a woman has her menses or post-partum bleeding, she is not allowed to fast and will make up those days later. The essential components of the fast are only two.

First, the person must have the intention of fasting for the sake of Allah. If a person simply goes without eating or fasts for the sake of losing weight, such would not be an act of worship of Allah. Thus, the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) said, “There is no fast for the one who does not make the intention to fast before Fajr (dawn).”235

Second, the Muslim must refrain from anything that breaks the fast from the dawn of dawn until sunset. The matters that invalidate the fast are the following six:

(1 and 2) Intentionally eating or drinking: However, if a person forgetfully eats or drinks, then he does not have to make up the fast nor is there any expiation in his case. The Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) said, “Whoever forgets while he is fasting and eats or drinks something should complete his fast, for it was Allah who fed him or gave him to drink.”236

(3) Intentionally vomiting: If a person is overcome by nausea and vomits, then he does not have to make up the fast nor is there any expiation in his case.

(4 and 5) Menstruation and post-partum bleeding. Even if these occur at the last moment before sundown, they break the fast according to the consensus of the scholars.

(6) Sexual intercourse. The one who commits this act must perform the expiation that is described in the following hadith: Abu Hurairah narrated: While we were sitting with the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) a man came and said, “O Messenger of Allah, I have been destroyed.” He asked him, “What has happened to you?” He replied, “I had intercourse with my wife while I was fasting.” The Messenger of Allah (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) then told him, “Do you have a slave that you can free?” He replied, “No.” He then said, “Can you fast two months consecutively?” he replied, “No.” The Messenger of Allah (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) then asked him, “Can you feed sixty poor people?” He replied, “No.” The Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) then kept silent when a big basket full of dates was brought to him. He said, “Where is the questioner?” The man replied, “It is I.” The Messenger of Allah (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) told him, “Take these dates and give them in charity.” The man said, “To someone poorer than I, O Messenger of Allah (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him)? By Allah, there is no family between Madinah’s mountains poorer than I.” The Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) laughed to such an extent that his premolars could be seen. He then said, “Feed your family with it.”

Muhammad ibn Uthaimeen was once asked whether a person who embraces Islam during the daytime of Ramadaan must commence fasting immediately. His response was, “If a non-Muslim embraces Islam during the daytime of Ramadaan, it is obligatory upon him to fast the remainder of that day as he 2009 is now one of the people upon whom the fasting is obligatory. However, he does not have to make up that day at a later date [due to the portion of the day that he missed]. Similarly, he does not have to make up the days of that month of Ramadan that he did not fast before becomingMuslim.”237

229 Recorded by Ahmad, al-Nasaa’i and others. According to al-Albani, it is sahih. Al-Albani, Sahih
al-Jami, vol. 2, p. 720.

230 Recorded by Ahmad. According to al-Albani, it is sahih. Al-Albani, Sahih al-Jami, vol. 2, p. 720.

231 Recorded by al-Bukhari.

232 Recorded by al-Bukhari and Muslim.

233 Quoted in Nadwi, Four Pillars, p. 173.

234 Recorded by ibn Hibban and ibn Khuzaima. According to al-Albani, it is sahih. Al-Albani, Sahih al-Targheeb wa al-Tarheeb, vol. 1, p. 420.

235 Recorded by Abu Dawood, al-Tirmidhi and al-Nasaa`ee. See al-Albaani, Saheeh al-Jaami al- Sagheer #6538.

236 Recorded by Muslim.

237 Ali Abu Lauz, Answers, p. 24.

The Pilgrimage to the House of Allah in Makkah

The next pillar of Islam mentioned in this narration of this hadith is making the pilgrimage to the House of Allah, or the Kaaba. Linguistically, hajj means, “He repaired, or betook himself, to, or towards a person... or towards an object of reverence, veneration, respect or honor.”238 In Islamic Law, it means a particular journey at a particular time to a particular place for the purpose of worshiping Allah. In other words, it is the journeying to Makkah during the months designated for the performance of Hajj as an act of worship for the sake of Allah.

The performance of Hajj is an obligation upon every Muslim who has the means to perform it. This can be clearly proven from the Quran and Sunnah. However, it is much more than an obligation. It is one of the foundations or pillars of Islam itself.

The reward for the performance of the Hajj is great. The Prophet (peace be upon him) said, “Whoever performs the Hajj for the sake of Allah and does not commit any lewdness or sins returns like the day in which his mother gave him birth,” that is, without any sins.239

The Prophet (peace be upon him) also said, “One Umrah240 until the next Umrah is an expiation for what is between them. And the Hajj that is accepted by Allah and performed properly has no reward other than Paradise.”241

Another hadith reads: The Messenger of Allah (peace be upon him) was asked, “What is the best deed?” He stated, “Belief in Allah and His Messenger.” He was then asked, “What next?” He said, “Jihad in the way of Allah.” He was again asked, “What next?” He replied, “The Hajj which is performed correctly and accepted by Allah.”242

Furthermore, Hajj is equivalent to Jihad for women and people who are not capable of Jihad. In one hadith, the Prophet was asked whether or not women are required to take part in Jihad. He answered, “Yes, upon them is the Jihad which does not contain fighting: Hajj and Umrah.”243

Hajj has numerous benefits to it. Besides those mentioned in the hadith, one can note that it is a place for Muslims from all around the world to come and worship Allah together. This is an excellent opportunity for Muslims to meet each other, understand each other and get closer to each other. Furthermore, all differences between them are swept away as they all dress in a similar fashion and perform the same rituals. The poor, the rich and all others are all standing in the same manner in front of Allah.

Siddiqi describes the significance of Hajj in the following manner,

It is rightly said that it [the Hajj] is the perfection of faith since it combines in itself all the distinctive qualities of other obligatory acts. It represents the quality of salat [prayer] since a pilgrim offers prayers in the Kaba, the House of the Lord. It encourages spending of material wealth for the sake of the Lord, the chief characteristic of Zakat. When a pilgrim sets out for Hajj, he dissociates himself from his hearth and home, from his dear and near ones to please the Lord. He suffers privation and undertakes the hardship of journey— the lessons we learn from fasting and itikaf.244 In Hajj one is trained to be completely forgetful of the material comforts and pomp and show of worldly life. One has to sleep on stony ground245, circumambulate the Kaba, run between Safa and Marwa and spend his night and day wearing only two pieces of unsewn cloth. He is required to avoid the use of oil or scent or any other perfume. He is not even allowed to get his hair cut or trim his beard. In short, he is commanded to abandon everything for the sake of Allah and submit himself before his Lord, the ultimate aim of the life of a Muslim. In fact, physical pilgrimage is a prelude to spiritual pilgrimage to God, when man would bid goodbye to everything of the world and present himself before Him as His humble servant saying: “Here I am before Thee, my Lord, as a slave of Thine.”246

Hajj is obligatory once in a lifetime upon anyone who has the means to perform it. Allah says in the Quran, “And Hajj to the House is a duty that mankind owes to Allah, those who can afford the expenses. And whoever disbelieves, then Allah stands not in need of any of the worlds” (3:97). Similarly, when responding to the question of Gabriel, the Prophet (peace be upon him) also specifically pointed out that Hajj is obligatory upon the one who has the means to perform it.

Scholars differ as to exactly how this condition is to be met. In general, though, it shows that Hajj is not meant to be a hardship. It is a great act of worship that people should do their best to perform but only if it is feasible for them. In general, this feasibility includes having the physical health, financial well-being and the provisions needed to undertake the Hajj. Some scholars also add that the journey should not be so treacherous that the pilgrim’s life is put at risk. In addition, women must have a mahram [male relative or husband] to travel with them as they are not allowed to travel alone, although some scholars allow them to travel in “trustworthy” groups made up of men and women.

If one does not meet these conditions, one is not obliged to perform the Hajj. He must wait until he has the ability to perform it. When he does have the ability to perform it, there is a difference of opinion over whether he must perform it immediately at that time or if he may delay it until a future year. That is the next topic of discussion.

There is a difference of opinion over whether or not the performance of Hajj may be delayed. That is, suppose there is a person who has not fulfilled the obligation of Hajj and he has the means and ability to make Hajj this year. If he decides to delay its performance until some later year, is he considered sinful or not? Is it permissible for him to delay it or must he perform it the first time that he has the opportunity to perform it?

Malik, Abu Hanifa, Ahmad and some Shafi’is state that one must perform Hajj at its first feasible opportunity. Otherwise, one is being sinful. Evidence for this position includes:

The Prophet (peace be upon him) said, “If anyone breaks [a bone] or becomes lame, he comes out of the sacred state and he must perform the Hajj the following year.”247 The deduction from this hadith is that if one can perform the Hajj whenever he wishes, the Prophet (peace be upon him) would not have explicitly mentioned that the person should perform the Hajj in the following year.

Another hadith states, “Hurry to perform the Hajj, that is, the obligatory one, as none of you knows what may happen to him.”248

It is also narrated that Umar ibn al-Khattab once said, “I considered sending men to those lands to see who had the means but did not perform the Hajj. They should have the jizya249 applied to them as they are not Muslims, they are notMuslims.”250

One of the strongest pieces of evidence presented for saying that one is allowed to delay his performance of Hajj, even though he has the ability to perform it, is the fact that Hajj was made obligatory in the 6th year after the Hijrah and the Messenger of Allah (peace be upon him) himself did not perform the Hajj until the tenth year. However, Al-Shaukaani has offered the following response to this argument,

[First,] there is a difference of opinion concerning when Hajj became an obligation. One of the opinions is that it became obligatory in the 10th year. Hence, there was no delay [on the part of the Messenger of Allah (peace be upon him)]. If it is accepted that it was obligatory before the 10th year, the Messenger of Allah (peace be upon him) delayed his performance because of his dislike to perform the Hajj in the company of the polytheists, as they would perform the Hajj and circumambulate the Kaaba in the nude. When Allah purified the House of those people, the Messenger of Allah (peace be upon him) made Hajj. Hence, he delayed his Hajj due to an excuse. [That is acceptable,] the dispute is only concerning one who delays his Hajj without any valid excuse.251

The one who denies the obligation of the Hajj is a disbeliever. The person who intentionally delays his performance of Hajj, although he had the means, until he dies is an evildoer. He has left himself open to the punishment and displeasure of Allah in the Hereafter.

The actual rites of the Hajj are many and various. Pilgrims come from all over the world. They are required to wear specific clothing. They perform different rites on specified days. On the ninth of the Islamic month of Dhu-l- Hijjah, for example, they gather on the mount of Arafah and pray to Allah, beseeching His forgiveness and mercy.

By the grace and mercy of Allah, there are many organizations today that arrange the pilgrimage for Muslims from all over the world. Some of these organizations specialize in taking Muslim converts to the pilgrimage. The author prays that every new Muslim will be able to perform this blessed event in the company of learned Muslims who can guide them and instruct them along the way.

238 E. W. Lane, Arabic-English Lexicon (Cambridge, England: The Islamic Texts Society, 1984), vol. 1, p. 513.

239 Recorded by al-Bukhari and Muslim.

240 Umrah is sometimes called the “lesser pilgrimage”. It contains less rites and may be done throughout the year.

241 Recorded by al-Bukhari and Muslim.

242 Recorded by al-Bukhari and Muslim.

243 Recorded by Ahmad and ibn Majah. According to al-Albani, it is sahih. al-Albani, Irwa, vol. 4, p.

244 Itikaf is were one secludes himself in the mosque for personal worship and devotion. Most commonly, this is done at the end of the month of Ramadan.

245 This is not a must but it is how many pilgrims spend their nights.

246 Siddiqi, vol. 2, p. 577. The last statement he made is very close to what the pilgrims chant during the pilgrimage.

247 Recorded by Ahmad, Abu Dawud, al-Nasaa’i and others. According to al-Albani, it is sahih. Al- Albani, Sahih al-Jami, vol. 2, p. 1112.

248 Recorded by Ahmad. According to al-Albani, it is sahih. Al-Albani, Sahih al-Jami, vol. 1, p. 569.

249 Jizya is a tax paid to the state by the non-Muslim citizens in lieu ofmilitary service.

250 This narration was recorded by Saeed ibn Mansur and al-Baihaqi. According to al-Haitami, this is an authentic narration. Al-Haitami, al-Zawajir, vol. 1, p. 198.

251 Muhammad ibn Ali al-Shaukaani, Nail al-Autaar, (Riyadh: Dar Zamam, 1993), vol. 4, pp. 337- 338. Ibn Uthaimeen states that the Hajj was made obligatory in the ninth year and the number of delegations coming to meet with the Prophet (peace be upon him) in Madina is one of the reasons that the Prophet (peace be upon him) was not able to perform the Hajj. See Muhammad ibn Uthaimeen, Al-Sharh al-Mumti’ ala Zaad al-Mustaqni’ (Riyadh: Mu’assasat Asaam, 1996), vol. 7, pp. 17-18.


Obviously, there are many details concerning the ritual acts of worship that fall beyond the scope of this work. By the grace of Allah, numerous works are now available in English that provide those details for non-Arabic speakers.

Specifically, this author would recommend the following works: The Concise Presentation of the Fiqh of the Sunnah and the Noble Book by Abdul Adheem ibn Badawi (published by the International Islamic Publishing House in Riyadh) is a good, brief introduction to all fields of Islamic law.

Minhaj al-Muslim by Abu Bakr al-Jazairi (published in two volumes by Darussalam in Riyadh) covers most of the basics of all parts of the law.

Fiqh al-Sunnah by al-Sayyid Sabiq—this five-volume work may be a bit heavy and detailed for the new Muslim. However, over time, it should become a reference well worth looking into.

There are also a number of important works concerning specific ritual acts. Al-Albaani’s The Prophet’s Prayer Described is the most detailed description of the prayer in English. Mamdouh Muhammad’s The Hajj from A to Z and The Salat from A to Z are also quite popular.