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Aspects Of Islamic Faith 125: Practical Restrictions In Worship

Islamic Perspectives - Muslim Journals

Arab News & Information - By Adil Salahi

We discussed last week the question of women traveling alone, which is the first of four points of restriction outlined in the following Hadith: Abu Saeed Al-Khudri, an Ansari companion of the Prophet (peace be upon him) who was very close to him said: I heard the Prophet mentioning four things that I admired: that a woman must not travel a distance of two days unless she is accompanied by her husband or a mahram relative; two days are not allowed to fast which are the two days of Eid Al-Fitr and Eid Al-Adha; no voluntary prayer may be offered after two obligatory ones: after Asr until the sun has set and after Fajr until the sun has risen; travel may be undertaken only to three mosques: the Sacred Mosque (in Makkah), this mosque of mine (in Madinah) and the Aqsa mosque (in Jerusalem). (Related by Al-Bukhari)

The Prophet makes clear that fasting is prohibited on two days of the year. These are the two days of Eid. Eid Al-Fitr celebrates the end of Ramadan, the fasting month. Hence, it separates the duty of fasting from the time when fasting is not required but can be undertaken either to compensate for Ramadan days on which a person does not fast for a valid reason or as a voluntary act of worship.

The other day is that of Eid Al-Adha, when Muslims are strongly recommended to sacrifice a sheep for each family. The sacrifice commemorates Prophet Ibrahim's action when God gave him a ram to sacrifice, thus saving his son, Ismael, whom he was ordered to sacrifice. Also most pilgrims have to sacrifice a sheep as a duty of their pilgrimage. We are recommended to partake of the meat of the sacrifice, keeping one-third for our families and giving away two-thirds to relatives and poor people. It is then a time of celebration. Fasting means self denial. The two cannot go together. Hence, the prohibition to fast on that day.

Prayer is also discouraged during two periods of the day: After one has offered the obligatory dawn and mid-afternoon prayers, i.e. Fajr and Asr. The time range for Fajr is about 90 minutes ending at sunrise, while Asr's time range extends from mid-afternoon until sunset. When we have offered these obligatory prayers we should not offer any voluntary prayer until the sun has either risen well into the sky or has set. This is to demonstrate that Islamic worship is totally unlike that of pagan people who worshipped the sun and prayed to it at its rise and setting.

The fourth point the reporter of the Hadith mentions is traveling to certain mosques in order to pray there. Islam considers the whole earth a place where prayer can be offered. Only certain places, like bathrooms, are not suitable for prayer. Otherwise, we can pray anywhere. A mosque has an important role in the life of the Muslim community, but it has no special status that makes people travel especially to visit and pray there. The only exceptions are the three sacred mosques: the Grand Mosque in Makkah where the Kaaba, built by the Prophets Ibrahim and Ismael (peace be upon them), is situated; the mosque built by Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) in Madinah; and the Al-Aqsa mosque built by Prophet Jacob in Jerusalem. Prayers in these mosques receive multiple reward.

That travel may not be undertaken to any other mosque is to remove any thought of sanctity given to any place, particularly to tombs of people who are given a special status. There are many places in the Muslim world where people thought by some to be saints are buried. Their places of burial are treated as shrines and are regularly visited by people who want to pray and supplicate there. This is totally forbidden in Islam. No one can judge any person, giving him or her a special status. The deceased can be of no benefit to the living. The reverse is true as the living can pray to God to bestow mercy on the dead. God will answer such supplication, if He so pleases. But the dead can do nothing on behalf of the living.

 

  EsinIslam.Com

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