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Aspects Of Islamic Faith - 50: Attending To Urgent Matters

Islamic Perspectives - Muslim Journals

Arab News & Information - By Adil Salahi

Muslims offer their obligatory prayers five times every day. These prayers are spread between dawn and a few hours into the following night. The best way to offer these obligatory prayers is at the mosque, with the congregation and early in the time range allowed for each. When a prayer is offered with the congregation, everyone attending it receives its reward multiplied 27 times. The Prophet’s companions were very keen to offer their prayers with him in the mosque. After he finished the prayer, he would sit for a few minutes, glorifying and praising God. Women in the congregation would leave first. Men would stay behind, listening to anything the Prophet (peace be upon him) might want to say to them. However, this habit was changed one day, as we learn from this Hadith:
Uqbah reports: “I offered the Asr prayer behind the Prophet in Madinah. When he finished, he stood up and moved quickly, walking across people who were still seated. He went to the rooms of one of his wives. The people were alarmed at the speed of his movement. He returned shortly and realized that people were alarmed. He explained, saying: ‘I remembered that there was some gold with us, and I feared that it might hold me back. I ordered that it should be immediately distributed’.” (Related by Al-Bukhari).

The Prophet’s action caused some alarm among his companions, because when we attend to worship, we are calm and eager to complete our act of worship in the best manner. In this case, the Prophet’s action was uncharacteristic. While he normally sat for a few minutes after the prayer, this time he immediately went home to attend to an urgent business. He did not explain to his companions what he wanted to do. He left them so that they could continue with their usual glorification of God. On his return, which was not delayed, he gave the explanation.

When we read this version of the Hadith we wonder why the Prophet needed to attend so quickly to the division of the gold he had at home. Other versions tell us the gold did not belong to him or to his wives, but it was either zakah or charity given to him so that he would give it to those entitled to benefit by it. It is important to ensure that zakah, i.e. the obligatory charity, should be paid out as soon as it becomes due. It belongs to God who has clearly stated who qualifies to take a share of it. Such people, poor, needy or in debt and unable to repay their debts, are in need of it. It is theirs by God’s order who gives us all that we have. Therefore, we must not withhold it for any reason. The Prophet had earlier forgotten about this gold and attended to his prayer. While praying he remembered it, so he was keen not to delay its distribution.

We also realize from this Hadith that remembering things we need to do while praying does not invalidate prayers, even though what we remember has no relation to the prayer we are engaged in. We learn that we can immediately leave after finishing an obligatory prayer if we have something urgent to attend to. This does not need to be related to religion. Any urgent legitimate business may be addressed immediately after prayer, even if we need to go across the rows of worshippers and they have to move sideways to let us through. Staying in the mosque for glorification after an obligatory prayer is not a duty.

 

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