Striving for Paradise and Avoiding the Hellfire

28 06 2010

All praise is due to Allaah, Lord of all the worlds. Peace and blessings be upon the Messenger, his household and companions.

Fellow Muslims! Allaah created the creation so that His commandments and rules may be implemented.

“And He is the Irresistible, (Supreme) above His slaves, and He is the All-Wise, Well-Acquainted with all things.” (Al-An‘aam 6:18)

He created the universe so that He might be obeyed therein and that it might be inhabited with righteousness. He gave His legally obligated servants a freewill by which they can carry out the obligations; though this freewill is subject to Allaah’s Will and Might. If one performs things that agree with the Will of Allaah, acts in accordance with the truth for which this universe was created and obeys his Lord, Allaah will reward him with the best reward in this world and the Hereafter. Allaah says,

“Whoever works righteousness – whether male or female – while he (or she) is a true believer (of Islâmic Monotheism) verily, to him We will give a good life (in this world with respect, contentment and lawful provision), and We shall pay them certainly a reward in proportion to the best of what they used to do (i.e. Paradise in the Hereafter).” (An-Nahl 16:97)

But if one goes against what Allaah wills for him, contradicts the law of Islaam and disobeys his Lord, Allaah will punish him in this world and the Hereafter. Allaah says,

“Whoever follows My Guidance he shall neither go astray, nor shall be distressed. But whosoever turns away from My Reminder (i.e. neither believes in this Qur’ân nor acts on its teachings.) verily, for him is a life of hardship, and We shall raise him up blind on the Day of Resurrection.” (Taa Haa 22:123-124)

Men’s actions, be they great or small, are accurately recorded against them. And they shall be recompensed for those deeds. Allaah says,

“And to Allâh belongs all that is in the heavens and all that is in the earth, that He may requite those who do evil with that which they have done (i.e. punish them in Hell), and reward those who do good, with what is best (i.e. Paradise).” (An-Najm 53:31)

The real and permanent recompense is in the Hereafter. As for this world, if there is any recompense there for good or evil deed, that recompense is very little and finite. On the Day of Resurrection, even the sinners will see the life of this world as just like an hour of the day. Allaah says,

“And on the Day that the Hour will be established, the Mujrimûn (criminals, disbelievers, polytheists, sinners) will swear that they stayed not but an hour- thus were they ever deluded (away from the truth (i.e. they used to tell lies and take false oaths, and turn away from the truth) in this life of the world)).” (Ar-Room 30:55)

And He says,

“And on the Day when He shall gather (resurrect) them together, (it will be) as if they had not stayed (in the life of this world and graves) but an hour of a day. They will recognize each other.” (Yoonus 10:45)

But the eternal and infinite recompense is that of the Hereafter. It might be the abode of bliss or the abode of hell. The reward of Paradise is for good deeds and the punishment of Hell is for evil deeds; a suitable recompense. Since righteous deeds are of various kinds in terms of their realities and benefits, the bliss of Paradise is also different in terms of its realities and benefits. Since the dwellers of Paradise had worshipped their Lord in this world, though they did not see Him, Allaah will, as a appropriate reward, honour them by showing His Gracious Face to them and letting them hear His Glorious Word on the Day of Judgment.

Since Allaah saw it in them that they were resolute and decisive in their continuous worshipping of Him and obeying Him, He will then recompense them on that Day with a permanent bliss. Allaah says,

“Verily those who believe (in the Oneness of Allâh – Islâmic Monotheism) and do righteous deeds, shall have the Gardens of Al-Firdaus (the Paradise) for their entertainment. Wherein they shall dwell (forever). No desire will they have for removal therefrom.” (Al-Kahf 18:107-108)

Likewise, since evil deeds are different in terms of their bitter realities and hazards, it follows then that their recompense which is Hell-Fire should also be of different kinds in terms of its severity, pain and bitterness. And since the sinners blocked their own hearts from guidance and eemaan while they were in this world, Allaah will recompense them for that by screening Himself from them and disallowing them from seeing Him on the Day of Resurrection. Allaah says,

“Nay! Surely, they (evil-doers) will be veiled from seeing their Lord that Day.” (Al-Muttafiffeen 83:15)

Since Allaah knows that the dwellers of Hell were always resolute on being perpetual disbelievers and sinners, and that if they were returned to this world they would go back to their disbelief, He then imposes on them a perpetual, everlasting and painful punishment on the Day of Resurrection. Allaah says,

“If you could but see when they will be held over the (Hell) Fire! They will say: “Would that we were but sent back (to the world)! Then we would not deny the Ayât (proofs, evidences, verses, lessons, revelations, etc.) of our Lord, and we would be of the believers!” Nay, it has become manifest to them what they had been concealing before. But if they were returned (to the world), they would certainly revert to that which they were forbidden. And indeed they are liars.” (Al-An‘aam 6:27-28)

Dear brethren! The purest and the best hour for the Muslim in which his degree can be elevated the most, is to make the craving for Paradise and fear of Hell prevalent in his heart. The righteous predecessors always had their hearts filled with fear of Hell and yearning for Paradise, so their deeds were righteous.

An example of this is ‘Abdullaah ibn Rawaahah who, while bidding farewell to his companions during the battle of Mu’tah, was seen crying. And when he was asked for the reason for his crying he said, “By Allaah! I am not crying because I’m going to miss you or because of this world. But what made me cry is the saying of Allaah,

‘There is not one of you but will pass over it (Hell): this is with your Lord; a Decree which must be accomplished.’ (Maryam 19:71)

How am I going to come out safely after passing over it?”

Another example is ‘Umayr ibn al-Humaam. When the Messenger of Allaah, announced, during the battle of Badr, “Rise unto a Paradise whose width is as expansive as the heavens and the earth.” ‘Umayr threw away few dates that he was holding and said,

“If I have to wait until I finished eating these dates, that will indeed be a long life.” He then rushed unto the battlefield and fought gallantly until he was martyred.”

As for Anas ibn an-Nadhr, he said during the battle of Uhud,

“Certainly, I perceive the aroma of Paradise beyond the mountain of Uhud.”

Fellow Muslims! We need to remember Paradise and Hell in our hearts and our assemblies and during our days and nights so that our conditions can become upright and our deeds can be righteous, especially in this time in which materialism and trials are prevalent, sincere advisers are few, eemaan has weakened and the life of this world is falsely adorned so much so that people burden themselves with it, make friends and foes upon it and maintain and sever relationships because of it. It then became the biggest impediment that obstructs people from the way of Allaah. Allaah says,

“Verily, those who hope not for their meeting with Us, but are pleased and satisfied with the life of the present world, and those who are heedless of Our Ayât (proofs, evidences, verses, lessons, signs, revelations, etc.). Those, their abode will be the Fire, because of what they used to earn.” (Yoonus 10:7-8)

Yearning for Paradise leads to righteous deeds as fear of Hell deters from sins. Paradise is the greatest thing that a Muslim should assiduously seek for, for it contains what no eye had seen, what no ear had heard and what no human mind had conceived. Usaamah ibn Zayd narrated that the Messenger of Allaah said,

“Is there anyone who is ready to work diligently for the sake of Paradise? For, Paradise has no harm. By the Lord of the Ka’bah, it is full of shinning light, exuding fragrance, imposing palace, incessant river, ripe fruit, beautiful women and many gorgeous garments. It is a peaceful abode of eternity that is full of fruits and vegetables, silken shawls and bliss in a high and splendid palace.” The companions said, “Yes, we are ready to work for it.” He then told them, “Say: Insha Allaah!” And the people echoed, “Insha Allaah!” (Ibn Maajah and others)

The Messenger of Allaah also said,

“The Paradise is built of bricks of gold and bricks of silver. Its mortar is made of musk, its gravels are pearls and sapphire and its sand is saffron. Whoever enters it shall have bliss and never shall he suffer misery; he shall dwell therein forever and never shall he die. His garment shall not wear out and his youthfulness shall never end.”
And he said, “In Paradise, the believer shall have a tent made of a hollowed pearl whose height is as long as sixty miles. In Paradise, the believer shall have wives with whom he will cohabit, and [the tent will be so large that] none of these wives shall see the others.” (Al-Bukhaaree and Muslim)

As regards the drinks of the dwellers of Paradise, Allaah says,

“The deion of Paradise which the pious have been promised (is that) in it are rivers of water the taste and smell of which are not changed, rivers of milk of which the taste never changes, rivers of wine delicious to those who drink, and rivers of clarified honey (clear and pure).” (Muhammad 47:15)

Aboo Hurayrah narrated that the Messenger of Allaah said about the wives of the dwellers of Paradise,

“One of the dwellers of Paradise will place his hand on the back of one of his wives and he will then see his hand through her garment, skin and flesh. He will also see the marrow of her shank as one of you looks at the string of the pipe tube of sapphire. His liver will be like a mirror to her and her liver will be like a mirror to him.” (Aboo Ya’laa and al-Bayhaqee)

Anas narrated that the Prophet said, “

The least in the rank of the dwellers of Paradise is the one who will be served by ten thousand servants. Each of these servants will bear two dishes; one made of gold and the other of silver. In each plate, there will be colours that are not in the other. He will eat from every angle of the plate and he will find the last morsels of the food more delicious and tastier than the first ones. And above all, the sweating and belching of the dwellers of Paradise shall be of musk. They will never urinate or defecate; neither will they give off mucus or have a cause to blow their noses.” (At-Tabaraanee)

The Almighty Allaah describes Paradise and its eternal bliss in His Book in a manner that was never described in other divine ures. His Messenger also described it in a manner that no Prophet before him had done. Therefore, we should strive and hasten to perform the deeds of the people of Paradise. Let us hasten to do righteous deeds and seek the Paradise of our Lord. Let us ask Him to admit us to Paradise. Nevertheless, greater than the bliss of Paradise are attainment of Allaah’s pleasure and the favour of seeing His Gracious Face. Allaah says,

“Allâh has promised to the believers – men and women, – Gardens under which rivers flow to dwell therein forever, and beautiful mansions in Gardens of ‘Adn (Eden Paradise). But the greatest bliss is the Good Pleasure of Allâh. That is the supreme success.” (At-Tawbah 9:72)

As for the Fire, and who will make you know what the Fire is? It is the abode of evil creatures, the place of filth, disgrace and ignominy. It is so deep that if a rock is thrown into it from its brink it will not be able to reach its bottom in seventy years. Its heat is very scorching. The Prophet said,

“The fire of this world is a seventieth part of the fire of Hell.” (Al-Bukhaaree)

The food of its dwellers shall be of Zaqqoom. It is made of a plant that grows from the Hell and irrigated by the Hell. They shall also eat of a poisonous and thorny plant that gives no nourishment nor satiates against hunger. Its taste is repulsive and bitter. It sticks to the throat and it is washed down into the bowel only with an extremely hot liquid. If it reaches the bowel, it shreds the intestines into pieces.

Their drink shall be of a mixture of blood and puss. Their garments shall be of liquid pitch and iron. And they will also be dressed with fire. May Allaah protect us! Allaah says,

“As for those who disbelieved, garments of fire will be cut out for them, boiling water will be poured down over their heads. With it will melt (or vanish away) what is within their bellies, as well as (their) skins. And for them are hooked rods of iron (to punish them). Every time they seek to get away therefrom, from anguish, they will be driven back therein, and (it will be) said to them: “Taste the torment of burning!’ (Al-Hajj 22:19-22)

‘Abdullaah ibn Haarith ibn Jaz’ said,

“There are, in the Hell-Fire, snakes that are like the camel necks. If they bite someone, they will feel the hotness and pain of its venom for seventy years.” (Ahmad)

Allaah says,

“And say (O Muhammad (peace be upon him)) “Do deeds! Allâh will see your deeds, and (so will) His Messenger and the believers. And you will be brought back to the All-Knower of the unseen and the seen. Then He will inform you of what you used to do.” (At-Tawbah 9:105)

Fellow Muslims! Fear Allaah in private and in public. No one can succeed except by fearing his Lord; and no one can lose except by following his desires and neglecting acts of worship.

Brethren in faith! Your Lord calls you unto the Gardens of Bliss through performing righteous deeds and shunning of evil ones. He says,

“And march forth in the way (which leads to) forgiveness from your Lord, and for Paradise as wide as the heavens and the earth, prepared for the pious. Those who spend (in Allâh’s Cause) in prosperity and in adversity, who repress anger, and who pardon men; verily, Allâh loves Al-Muhsinûn (the good-doers).” (Aal ‘Imraan 3:133-134)

In the hadeeth, the Messenger of Allaah said,

“All of you shall enter Paradise except those who refuse to.” The companions said, “Who will refuse to, O Messenger of Allaah?” He answered, “He who obeys me shall enter Paradise and he who disobeys me has refused [to enter Paradise].”

Let no one incline to the enjoyment of this world, for it is only a mixture of false dreams, a shadow of a tree and a deceiving enjoyment. The Messenger of Allaah said,

“On the Day of Resurrection, a man among the dwellers of Paradise who was one of the most miserable ones in the life of this world will be given a dip in the Paradise and he will then be asked: Son of Adam, have you ever had faced any misery [in your life]? And he will say: No, by Allaah, I have never faced any misery [in my life]. Then a man among the dwellers of Hell who was one of the most affluent ones in the life of this world will be given a dip in the Hell and he will then be asked: Son of Adam, have you ever had any enjoyment [in your life]? He will answer: No, by Allaah, I have never had any enjoyment [in my life].”

This means that that dip in Paradise shall make the former forget every misery he had suffered as that dip in the Hell shall make the latter forget every enjoyment he had had. Allaah says,

“Tell Me, (even) if We do let them enjoy for years, and afterwards comes to them that (punishment) which they had been promised, all that with which they used to enjoy shall not avail them.” (Ash-Shu‘araa 26:205-207)

Therefore, Paradise is only sought through what pleases Allaah and through worshipping Him according what His Messenger had ordained.

[Medinah Khutbah 17, Jumaadal-Ulaa 1426 (24 June, 2005) . Taken from http://www.alharamainonline.org

By Imâm al-Madîna al-Munawarrah ‘Alî Abd-ur-Rahmân al-Hudhaifî





Some people just can’t wait!

25 06 2010





Warning against Backbitting and Tale-Carrying

17 06 2010

Warning against backbitting Praise be to Allâh, who united the believers in a bond of brotherhood, exhorting them on cooperation, goodness, righteousness and mutual respect as regards one’s property and honor. As it was put by the Prophet (Salla Allâhu Alaihi Wa Sallam), property, honor, and life are all to be held sacred among Muslims. I testify that none worthy to be worshiped but Allâh Alone, with Whom there is no associate. He is the Lord of heaven and earth. I testify that Muhammad is Allâh’s servant and Chosen Messenger. May Allâh bless him, his family, his Companions and those who will follow them, as long as this world exists.

O people! Muslims now suffer two rampant diseases, though immunity from them is easy for those who are protected by Allâh. These two diseases are backbiting and tale-bearing. Backbiting (Ghîbah) denotes maligning a person, speaking evil about any of his characteristics or his deeds. Many of the counsels of Muslims today are not free from indulgence in backbiting people and criticizing them, despite the fact that those backbiters themselves are not free from faults and blemishes; rather they harm themselves and those who listen to their reports without denouncing them.

O Muslims! Allâh presented one who backbites his fellow Muslims in the most repulsive picture, in which he is depicted as eating the flesh of the dead body of one who is backbitten.

O Muslims! Your duty when you hear others backbite your brothers is to be earnest to forbid the backbiter and to defend the honors of Muslims, just as the case when you find a man eating from the flesh of a dead body. Allâh the Almighty said what means:

“O you who believe! Avoid suspicion as much (as possible): for suspicion in some cases is a sin: and spy not on each other, nor speak ill of each other behind their backs. Would any of you like to eat the flesh of his dead brother? Nay, ye would abhor it. But fear Allâh: for Allâh is Oft Returning, Most Merciful” (Al-Hujurât: 12).

It is likely that a backbiter will be punished on the Day of Resurrection by ordering him to eat from the flesh of the dead bodies of those whom he backbit in the world, who will be presented as dead in front of him. It was narrated in the Hadith relating the story of Mi’râj (Ascent) that: “The Prophet (SAllâhu’Alaihi wasalam) passed by people with copper fingernails, with which they scratch their own faces and chests. He asked: “Who are those, Jibrîl?” It was answered: “Those are the people who eat the flesh of other people and vilify their honor.” The Prophet (Salla Allâhu Alaihi Wa Sallam) said in an occasion:

“O you who declared faith with your tongues, but your hearts are not imbued with faith! Do not backbite Muslims, and do not search for their faults, for if anyone searches for their faults, Allâh will search for his fault, and if Allâh searches for the fault of anyone, He disgraces and exposes him in his house”.

O Muslims! Sometimes when backbiters are advised to give up such bad habit, they plead innocence by stating that they are telling the truth. The Prophet (Salla Allâhu Alaihi Wa Sallam) was asked concerning backbiting thus: “Suppose that there are actual faults in the one I am talking about?” The Prophet (Salla Allâhu Alaihi Wa Sallam) replied:

“If what you tell about your brother (in faith) is truth, then you will still be guilty of backbiting, but if what you say concerning him is untruth, you will be guilty of committing falsehood against him”.

Thus, the Prophet (Salla Allâhu Alaihi Wa Sallam) explained to his Ummah that backbiting denotes mentioning the real faults of a person. However, the worse evil is to backbite a believer by mentioning faults, which are not in him. Imam Ahmad, as well as the scholars who adopted his school, maintained that backbiting is one of the major sins. This gives a warning to Muslims to stop backbiting others and to be concerned with their own faults. Once a person finds a fault with his brother, he should advice him and guide him to eliminate such fault rather than vilifying him. This is the requisite for establishing a real bond of brotherhood based on faith, and the torch that guides to the way of Islamic methodology.

The other rampant disease is Namîmah (tale-bearing, or going about with calumnies), which denotes carrying the statements made against some people and transmitting such statements to those backbitten people, with the aim of spreading corruption and sowing enmity and hatred among people. This kind of Namîmah is considered the most grievous of all, and one who is guilty of it is to incur torture in the grave, as well as the torment of the Fire of Hell. The Prophet (Salla Allâhu Alaihi Wa Sallam) said: “No talebearer shall ever enter Paradise.” The Prophet (Salla Allâhu Alaihi Wa Sallam) once passed by two graves and said:

“They (The dwellers of these graves) are now being tortured, because of something which was not difficult to resist: One of them neglected cleansing his genitals following urination and the others was given to tale-bearing.”

O Muslims! Anyone, to whom a report is carried, telling that someone is vilifying him, should condemn such an act and forbid the tale-carrier from persisting in his sin. He should also take care of such a talebearer for, just as he carries tales of people to him, he most likely carries tales from him to other people. Allâh the Almighty says which translates as:

“Heed not the type of despicable man, ready with oaths, a slanderer, going about with calumnies,” (Al-Qalam: 10 -11).

May Allâh guide you and I to the best of manners and deeds and keep us away from the bad manners and deeds and guide us to His straightforward path, for He is Most Bounteous, Most Generous. May Allâh bless our Prophet Muhammad (Salla Allâhu Alaihi Wa Sallam), his family and his Companions.

Shaykh ibn al-Uthaymeen (RA)





Abu ad-Dardaa’

12 06 2010

بسم الله الرحمن الرحيم

Imam Ahmad said that Abu ad-Dardaa’ once said:

No man gains full understanding and knowledge unless he detests all the people who are not close to Allah (swt), and then turns his attention to his own self and detests it even more.





How the Bible Led Me to Islam: The Story of a Former Christian Youth Minister – Joshua Evans

5 06 2010

Assalaamu alaykum brothers and sister’s,

Alhamdulillaah, I came across this video of Br. Yusha Evans who was a former Christian Youth Minister. Everyone has their own unique story of how they became Muslim and I have heard many stories of people who have reverted back to al-Islaam and this especially has stood out from the rest – Masha’Allaah.

Please take the time to watch the story of Br. Yusha inshaa’Allaah.





Hadeeth No.18 and No.19 UPLOADED….

5 06 2010

Assalaamu alaykum everyone,

Hadeeth No.18 and No.19 have now been uploaded to the ’40 HADEETH’ page along with its translation.

NB. All translations of the ahaadeeth have been taken from the ‘Commentary on the Forty Hadith of al-Nawawi’ by Shaykh Jamaal al-Din M. Zarabozo.

JZK

Fulaan ibn Fulaan





Esha and Fajr times in the Summer….

5 06 2010

Muslims frequently enquire about the best time to pray Isha given that it starts very late. In this fatwa I will explain…

All praises are due to Allah, the Lord of all things; and may His peace and blessings be upon the Muhammad, the final messenger to mankind.

My previous fatwa on the issue of prayer times for Isha and Fajr times during summer is in accordance with the decree of the Islamic Fiqh Council. I also believe that if there is a difference between my fatwa and the one issued by the Council then the latter should be endorsed and implemented. The relevant selection of the Council’s decree from the second decree of the 19th assembly in Makkah al-Mukarramah held on 8/11/2007 concerning prayer times for countries situated between latitudes of 48 and 66 degrees North and South is as follows:

‘To clarify this decree further in order to answer the specific problematic scenario put forward to the Council, the Council views the previous decree instructing the use of refering (to other regions) for reference, for countries with latitudes between 48 and 66 degrees North and South, to be specifically for the case where astronomical signs for the times are non-existent. As for the case where the signs of prayer times do occur but the disappearance of twilight, indicating the start of Isha, is very late, the Council views it as being obligatory to pray Isha in its legally specified time. However, whoever experiences difficulty in waiting to pray it in its time, like students, office-workers and labourers during the days of their work, they can combine prayers in accordance with the textual evidences relating to the removal of burdens from the Ummah. One example of this is the narration of Ibn ‘Abbas, and others, may Allah be pleased with them, “The Messenger of Allah combined Zhuhr and ‘Asr, and Maghrib and Isha in Madina without (cause of) fear or rain”. Ibn ‘Abbas was questioned about this to which he replied, ‘He wanted to not burden his Ummah’. The condition for this though is that the practice of combining should not be the norm for all people in that country for this whole duration because this will in effect change the concession of combining into a permanent and intended obligatory action from the onset. The Council also views the adoption of approximating and distributing the times in such a situation all the more (appropriate).’


The fatwa issued was a s follows:

The beginning of summer occasions great confusion amongst many Muslims living in the UK, North America, Canada and some other European countries concerning the commencement of Isha, Maghrib and Fajr prayers. Muslims frequently enquire about the best time to pray Isha given that it starts very late. In this fatwa I will explain the different opinions of the scholars in dealing with this issue, and thereafter, I will discuss these opinions, their evidences, and any respective criticisms made against them. Finally, I will explain the best practical opinion taking into consideration the diversity of Muslims residing in the aforementioned countries as well as the abnormal situation they face.

Firstly, it is essential to state that Isha time commences once twilight disappears. This is based on many prophetic traditions such as the statement narrated in Sahih Muslim by Abdullah Ibn ‘Amr that the Prophet (peace be upon him) said, “…and the time for Maghrib continues until the twilight does disappear”. Both Muslim and non-Muslim astronomers disagree on the time twilight disappears especially in areas of extreme latitude such as Canada and many European countries. England has a latitude of between 50 to 60 degrees. Some believe that the twilight never disappears for a certain period of time during the summer while others believe that it does disappear, but extremely late.

This disagreement is a result of different opinions concerning two main factors:

a) The linguistic interpretation of the disappearance of twilight; and,
b) The astronomical interpretation of the disappearance of twilight.

While the vast majority of scholars believe that it is the disappearance of the redness of twilight that truly signifies its ‘disappearance’, Hanafi scholars believe that it is the disappearance of the whiteness. Concerning the second reason behind this disagreement, Muslim scholars differ on which astronomical interpretation should be adopted to determine the disappearance of twilight. The resolution of the ninth Muslim World League conference held in 1406 H (March, 1996) holds that 17 degrees is the correct interpretation for the disappearance of twilight. If we adopt this opinion (which in any case is the opinion of the majority of Muslim scholars as well as astronomers) then all countries located above 49 degrees latitude may well observe the phenomenon of persistent twilight until the break of dawn. If we adopt the other linguistic meaning and the second astronomical interpretation for the disappearance of twilight we allocate 15 degrees as the start of Isha time. According to this degree, twilight does disappear yet it disappears very late in places located roughly at 49 or 50 degrees, but it never disappears in countries which are located at 60+ degrees latitude. According to the opinion of the vast majority of scholars and astronomers, twilight does not disappear for a period of time during summer in many European countries since many of them are located above 49 degrees latitude.

The above discussion is far from sufficient in uniting the opinions of the scholars since the difference discussed above is deeply rooted in the four acceptable official schools of thought as well as astronomical interpretation. Moreover, the wide diversity of Muslims residing in the UK and Europe, their juristic schools of thought, and the absence of any Muslim leadership for Muslims to follow makes it almost impossible to agree on specific criteria for the timings of prayer. In any case, it is almost universally accepted that twilight either does not disappear or persists until very late into the night before disappearing in many European countries. In other words, there are two aspects to this period of confusion or hardship:

  1. when the legislated indications of the commencement of Isha are to be observed, but very late; and,
  2. when the legislated indications for the commencement of Isha disappear completely.

Hence, irrespective of the disagreement amongst scholars and astronomers, there will be places which observe only one aspect while there will be definitely some other countries observing both aspects mentioned above. The issue is further confounded when on the one hand, some followers of some schools of thought believe that they are observing the first aspect only, while on the other hand, followers of other schools of thought in the very same locality, may believe that they are facing both situations. Now, regardless of whether we follow 17, 19, or 15 degrees as being the start of Isha, a comprehensive explanation and solution should be presented taking in consideration the diversity of understanding found amongst the Muslims.

The problem of the absence of the legislated signs indicating the start of Isha, or the very late start, leads to difficulty in understanding the correct position concerning three related issues:

  1. The end of Maghrib,
  2. The start of Isha, and
  3. The start of Fajr.

Let us first discuss the start of Isha time since it is the main matter of concern here.


Start of Isha time

From the previous discussion we conclude that the aspects relevant to this discussion comprise two parts:

  • The first part is when the legal sign is visible, but it starts extremely late, and,
  • The second part is when the legal sign disappears altogether.

Both cases are treated in a very similar way since the late start makes it extremely difficult to pray Isha on time. An example of this is the start of Isha time on May 20th in London just after midnight[1] and a similar time is found on 25th July. The following options result when examining this situation in its totality, taking into consideration all of its various facets:

a) Muslims pray Isha at its stated time even if it starts very late or even if it starts after midnight, which according to many scholars signifies the end of Isha time. This is based upon many prophetic traditions. Let us call this option praying at the astronomical time or praying on time;
b) Because of the difficulty involved, Muslims estimate the time for Isha prayer at odds to its actual astronomical time. Let us call this option estimation, and
c) Because of the difficulty involved, Muslims combine Isha with Maghrib at the time of Maghrib. Let us call this option combination.


Discussion of the first opinion: praying on time

Scholars who hold the first option, i.e. praying on time, base their opinion on numerous evidences that clearly indicate that praying on time is the most important condition for performing prayer. Among such proofs is the Qur’anic verse where Allah says [4:103] “Verily, the prayer is enjoined on the believers at fixed hours”. We also find that the Prophet (peace be upon him) explained the significance of prayer at the appointed time in various ways. For example he said, “The most beloved of actions to Allah is the prayer at its time”. However, this opinion faces problems when twilight persists. In that period, the legal sign for the start of Isha disappears, so what then should be the starting time of Isha? These scholars, in this circumstance, adopt the option of estimation yet their opinions vary as to the best way of estimating. Some scholars believe that the last time on which the legal sign appeared should be the reference time. This time should be adopted throughout the period of persistent twilight. In London, for example, the last day when the legal sign is detectable is the 25th May at 12:38 am.[2] According to this opinion, Isha should be prayed at 12:38 until the legal sign starts to be visible again on the 18th July. A second group of these scholars hold that the reference point should be the nearest city where the legal sign is visible. A third group of these scholars hold that we should divide the night into 3 parts and Isha should start by the end of the first third of the night. This means that Muslims living in London, for example, should pray Isha at around 10:45 pm. The fourth group of those scholars hold that Makkah should be our reference point for matters related to acts of worship as it is our Qiblah and we perform Hajj there. According to this opinion Isha commences one and a half hours after Maghrib.

Discussion of the second opinion: estimation

The second group of scholars believe that estimation is the best solution. We have seen in the previous argument the justification for such an opinion. These scholars do not accept the option of combination due to the following reasons:
a) The Shari’ah intended to distribute the prayers over the day and night. This is why the Shari’ah considered time a vital condition for prayer. They supported their argument by the fact that the Shari’ah discourages people from combining unless there is a pressing need let alone the fact that many scholars prohibited the continuous practice of combining prayers over a long period of time in a manner that gives rise to a habitual action;
b) The estimation of Isha time is a valid approach since many scholars agree that Isha time starts after the end of the first seventh of the night according to an interpretation of some Shafi’i scholars and
c) The principle of estimation in essence is valid since it is mentioned in the famous hadith of the Dajjal during the last days when Allah extends the length of the days of his presence so that one day will be as long as one complete year, another day will be equal to a month in length, and the third day as long as a week, while others are normal days in length. The Companions asked the Prophet (peace be upon him) about praying in these extended days. The reply of the Prophet (peace be upon him) was to command them to estimate the times of prayer. This hadith is reported in Sahih Muslim.

Discussion of the third opinion: combining

Those who believe that we should combine prayers during the whole period, i.e. both scenarios, base their opinion on various justifications: a) The disappearance of the legal sign leaves no option but to combine the two prayers together. b) The late start of Isha makes it extremely difficult for the vast majority of people in these countries to pray on time when the sign is visible, or at similar time when the sign can no longer be observed. This difficulty brings to attention the principle established by Islamic law to remove any hardship. There is no doubt that praying Isha after midnight, or close to midnight, in such countries is a hardship that the Shari’ah seeks to remove. Based on this they believe that, whether the legal sign is visible or invisible, the end ruling is the same, i.e. the period of late visibility should be treated the same as the period of absence. There are numerous prophetic traditions where the Prophet (SAW) combined Maghrib with Isha. Most of the scholars believe that the legal reasoning behind this combination is to remove hardship. For example, the prophet carried out this practice several times while he was on a journey from one city to another.[3] Moreover, the Prophet (peace be upon him) practiced combination once when he was resident in the city of Madinah neither without being sick nor in a state of fear. Ibn Abbas explained the reason behind this by saying “He intended to remove hardship from his ummah”. The scholars deduce from this that in cases of hardship or necessity it is allowed to combine between Dhuhr and Asr prayer any time between the start of Dhuhr and the end of Asr. Likewise it is allowed to pray Maghrib and Isha together in the time of either. According to these scholars, this verdict is conditional on not making this act a habit. In a similar vein, we find that Imam Ahmad allowed the breast-feeding woman who faces difficulty in cleaning her clothes to combine between these prayers. Sa’eed ibn al-Musayyib instructed a shepherd who sought his advice to combine Isha with Maghrib before sleeping if he is afraid of missing Isha prayer due to sleepiness and tiredness. These scholars disagree with the opinion of estimating prayers, as they believe that it is baseless. They believe that this situation is different from the situation mentioned in the hadith of the Dajjal. These scholars explained that this analogy is unacceptable because this hadith is only applied in the case of complete disappearance of all the legal signs. This means that we cannot extend this to cover our case when only one of the legal signs is present but appears very late or is absent altogether.

The strongest opinion concerning the start of Isha time in such countries

As we can see, all the opinions mentioned above are justified by many evidences, while at the same time, none of these opinions are free of criticism. Even if we say we must pray on time irrespective of the necessity of hardship involved in praying late at night, we will still not be safe from valid criticism. Isha might start after midnight, as is the case of cities lying above 49 degrees. Midnight according to many scholars is the end of Isha time. This means that adopting this option results in praying Isha after it has ended! Having analysed the previous argument, the following conclusion can be drawn: 1) There is no opinion free of criticism and 2) All opinions are supported by strong direct or indirect proofs and evidences. Moreover all opinions are supported by quotations from the previous scholars. As a result this disagreement becomes a matter of valid Ijtihad. So if someone were to ask: what shall I do and when do I pray Isha? We will give the following answer:

The male adult should join the congregational prayer in the mosque that he usually prays in whether they combine or chose any criteria for estimation;

  1. Praying in congregation is compulsory upon every able male adult and it is of great significance in Islam. The Prophet (peace be upon him) desired to punish those who did not attend the congregational prayer and he did not excuse a blind person who hears the call for Salah from not attending it. Some scholars mentioned that attending prayer in congregation takes precedence over many conditions of Salah. For example the adult person who is sick and will pray in a sitting posture if he joins the congregation while he could pray in a standing posture if he prays alone should join the congregation;
  2. The times assigned for Isha in such countries are not definite as shown by the previous discussion. Actually it is a matter of ijtihad as we have just stated. In such cases courses of action that maintain unity or remove disagreements should take precedence over individual opinions; and
  3. The reason behind this conclusion is the fact that we cannot confirm that Isha during this period starts at a specific time which puts it within the area of ijtihad. So if it is a matter of ijtihad, one should pray in congregation even if it takes place at a time that does not match his ijtihad. This conclusion is supported by the fact that Islam aims to prevent fitnah between Muslims and block all roads leading to it.

If there isn’t a mosque nearby or the person is not an individual who must join the congregation such as a sick person, a female, or child who has yet to reach religious maturity, then he or she should delay Isha prayer as much as he or she can. The reason behind this conclusion is the fact that praying on time puts great hardship on a person yet at the same time this opinion is not free of criticism. On the other hand combining Isha with Maghrib should not be a habit especially when there is no pressing need. Estimation, as a last resort, should take into consideration the practical side of the situation despite the fact that there is no solid foundation for any of the estimation criteria mentioned earlier. Moreover estimation is not a very strong option during the time of late visibility since the sign is still visible. So we should pray Isha at the closest time to its legal time which starts very late provided that we do not cross midnight. The basis for this is the principle in Islam established by the Qur’anic verse, “fear Allah as much as you can.” Also, by doing so, we are meeting the Shari’ah’s aim of distributing the prayers over the day and night.

A related point to this is a situation where a person has the choice to join either of two congregational prayers: one praying late and the other praying early. In this case this person should join the prayer that is taking place very close to the actual legal start of Isha time, provided that it does not cross midnight, unless there is a harm that arises from doing this. An example of this harm is a split occurring between the Muslims praying in that Mosque.

Fajr time

Another major problem occurs during summer time especially when the twilight does not disappear is determining the beginning of Fajr prayer. This is due to the fact that the continued presence of the twilight makes it impossible to determine the appearance of the white colour of the Fajr or we might even say that there is no start for Fajr. In this case what should be done? Again this is a matter of disagreement between the scholars. The previous opinions and justifications mentioned earlier when we discussed the start of Isha time are also applied here which makes it a matter of valid Ijtihad. To conclude we advice people who cannot join the congregational Fajr prayer to pray Fajr one and half hour before sunrise. Any time around that may be acceptable. Many Muslims ask if they can pray Fajr at times such as 1:15 am since many Islamic calendars show that Fajr time enters at that time in many European countries (England is one example). The answer for this is we should pray at a time that is most likely part of the legal time. We should avoid praying and performing worship based upon our doubt concerning the time. The Prophet (peace be upon him) said, “Leave what is doubtful for that which is not doubtful.” There is no question about the uncertain start of Fajr at 1:15am. So we should delay Fajr to a time where we are most likely sure that the time has definitely started. A good time for that is 1 ½ or 2 hours before sunrise. Another reason for that is the aim of the Shari’ah in distributing the prayers over the day and night. The Shari’ah seeks to establish prayer during the beginning, middle and end of the day. Allah says in the Qur’an, “Perform As-Salat from duluk al shams (midday till the darkness of the night, and recite the Qur’an in the early dawn. Verily, the recitation of the Qur’an in the early dawn is ever witnessed).”[4] The manner in which the Shari’ah legalised combining two prayers gives us a clear indication that there are five times in normal situations and three times for abnormal situations. These are: just after the end of the night and sleep period and just before the start of the day, at midday and the third one is the one performed just after the end of the day and in the beginning of the night. However, if other factors are involved we should exercise a degree of flexibility since the matter is an issue of valid ijtihad. A critical factor in this regard is unity, what leads to it and to remove any form of fitnah.

Maghrib time

Maghrib time starts after sunset and ends when the twilight disappears according numerous prophetic traditions. This conclusion is what the scholars have agreed upon unanimously. We have mentioned earlier that scholars differ on the end of the visibility of twilight. As a result we can conclude that they differ on the Maghrib prayer. According to some scholars and astronomers Maghrib time ends just before midnight as twilight disappears at that time. Moreover, can someone say that Maghrib time ends before Fajr time or even after Fajr since twilight ends at that time? The answer is of course not since it is against the meaning of the time allocated for Maghrib; it will lead to changing the order of prayers and it will lead to combining Maghrib, Isha and Fajr which is completely unacceptable. So when shall we pray Maghrib in these situations? The answer is very simple and can be extracted from the hadith narrated by al-Tirmidhi through Ibn Abbas that the angel Gabriel led the Prophet (peace be upon him) to teach him the prayer times. On the first day he prayed all the prayers at the beginning of their respective times and on the second day he delayed the prayers until just before the end of their times for all prayers except Maghrib where he instead prayed it on both days at the same time. This hadith explains the other hadith that shows that the Maghrib time continues until the disappearance of twilight and it is a clear indication that the time of Maghrib is very limited. That is why the Hanafi school of thought normally prays Maghrib immediately after sunset. Moreover, a deep reflection upon Qur’anic verses and prophetic traditions shows us that the daily prayers are distributed over five different times in normal situations and three times in abnormal situations. As a result we should pray Maghrib just after the sunset and should not delay it for more than an hour after sunset. Other guidelines provided earlier should be applied here as well.

We have explored the main opinions about performing Isha, Fajr and Maghrib prayers in countries located in extreme latitudes. We have seen that all of these opinions are justified by valid proofs and at the same time they are not free from valid criticism. Consequently, this existent difference of opinions which is supported by authentic evidences places this matter into the realm of valid ijtihad. In consideration of this fact, Muslims facing this situation should apply a certain degree of flexibility when dealing with other Muslims who hold different opinions as a result of valid ijtihad in this regard especially when dealing in an inappropriate manner may lead to fitnah, a split, disunity or extreme hardship. I also advise Muslims to pray on time whenever possible. In situations of extreme hardship or invisibility of the legal signs for the start of any prayer, they should join the congregation in their localities unless they are excused from doing so such as the elderly or sick men, women, young children or very remote individuals. In this case they should strive to perform their prayers in a way very similar to the aim of the Shari’ah in distributing the five prayers thought the day and night.


Notes:
Source: http://www.islam21c.com

[1] There is a common misconception about the term midnight from an Islamic perspective. Many people think that it starts at 12:00 am while the correct time of midnight should be allocated by finding out the length of the night then adding half of it to the sunset –Maghrib- time. The length of the night can be calculated by finding the length between Maghrib and fajr. Thus, midnight in this sense actually does mean the middle of the night.

[2] As we have said before, astronomers differ in determining this time. This information cited here is based on Central London Mosque who in turn base their information on the data given to them by Greenwich Observatory.

[3] You might refer to Sahih al-Bukhari and Muslim for various narrations for this practice.

[4] 17:78

Written by Shaykh Haytham al-Haddaad