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Aspects Of Islamic Faith - 67: Compassion Even In Worship

Islamic Perspectives - Muslim Journals

Arab News & 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 these periods.

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 time.

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.

 

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