Aspects Of Islamic Faith - 67: Compassion Even In Worship
Islamic Perspectives - Muslim Journals
& Information - By Adil Salahi
The Prophet (peace be upon him) was the most
compassionate of people. At the same time, he was the
most devout person to have ever lived.
He always wanted to express his gratitude to God by
attending to voluntary worship. Since he was the most
privileged person in human life, as the mission God
assigned to him was to bring to mankind God's final
message outlining the religion He accepts from His
servants, he realized that he had much to thank God
for. However, he has taught us that we are all
indebted to God for all He has given us. Indeed brief
reflection is sufficient to indicate that every one of
us has much to be grateful for.
Expressing gratitude to God is best done by fulfilling
the worship duties He has assigned to us, such as
prayer, fasting, paying zakat and the pilgrimage.
Adding more of these voluntarily is a highly
recommended way of thanksgiving. Hence, the Prophet
recommended us to do voluntarily whatever we can of
all these types of worship. In prayer, he recommended
us regular additions with each of the five daily
prayers. Furthermore, he recommended us to add
voluntary prayers, particularly at the times when
there are long gaps between obligatory prayers. The
two longest periods between prayers are at night
between Isha and Fajr, and during the day between
sunrise and Dhuhr, which falls due at noon. Therefore,
the Prophet used to pray regularly during both of
The time of the night after Isha prayer is a period of
rest, when people go to sleep. Hence, the Prophet set
a practical example for us. He used to wake up and
offer prayers for sometime during the night. However,
he did not urge us to do the same. He only pointed out
that this is a time when worship is most rewarding. It
strengthens our faith and establishes stronger ties
with God. It affects us psychologically, making us
happier and more content with what we have in life.
Because this time of night is the time of sleep, the
Prophet made his recommendation clear, so as to
encourage us to wake up for night worship from time to
The Prophet also used to offer some voluntary prayer
in mid-morning, which is known as the Duha prayer.
However, he just let it be known that he did so,
without speaking verbally about this. He realized that
people were normally engaged in their work, seeking to
earn their living. Therefore, he did not wish to
burden them with an additional duty. Ayesha, the
Prophet's wife, says: "God's messenger used to refrain
from doing something that he would have loved to do,
for fear that people would emulate him and then it
becomes a duty to them. The Prophet never offered Duha
prayers. However, I do pray it." (Related by Al-Bukhari).
What Ayesha means is that if people learn that the
Prophet used to offer this prayer regularly, they
would be eager to do like him. This may in time come
to be thought of as a duty or something close to duty.
He, therefore, refrained from doing it. Ayesha also
says that she used to offer this prayer. The question
that arises here is why did she when the Prophet did
not. The answer is that she reported what happened in
her own home, but she learned that the Prophet offered
this prayer when he stayed with his other wives. We
also have reports that the Prophet offered this prayer
on different occasions. Another version of this Hadith
quotes Ayesha as saying: "I never saw the Prophet
offering Duha voluntary prayers, but I do offer it."
This explains the meaning she intended.
How many rak'ahs in Duha prayer? Scholars differ, but
they agree that it was a short prayer. The Prophet
never used to make any rak'ah in this prayer long. He,
however, offered it in varying numbers of rak'ahs.
Hence, we conclude that the minimum is two rak'ahs and
the maximum is eight.