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Narrative regarding delaying of Zuhr prayer

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روى أحد من الصحابة رضي الله عنهم: كنا مع النبي صلى الله عليه وسلم في سفر فأراد المؤذن أن يؤذن الظهر فقال له أبرد ثم أراد أن يؤذن ثم قال له أبرد ثم أراد أن يؤذن فقال له أبرد حتى ساوى الظل التلول فقال النبي صلى الله عليه وسلم إن شدة الحر من فيح جهنم فإذا اشتد الحر فأبردوا بالصلاة

It is reported by one of the companions: ‘We were on a journey with the Prophet (pbuh). [At the normal time of the afternoon prayer,] the caller for the prayers started preparing to give the call for the afternoon prayer. Seeing him, the Prophet said: ‘Allow it to cool down1‘. Then, some time later, the caller once again started preparing to make the call. The Prophet (pbuh) once again said: ‘Allow it to cool down’. Then once again, he started preparing for the call and the Prophet (pbuh) once again directed him to wait saying: ‘Allow it to cool down’. Till the time that the shadows of the hillocks became the same size as that of the hillocks themselves2. Then, [after offering the prayers,] the Prophet said: ‘Indeed scorching heat is [a worldly manifestation3] of the raging of hellfire4, therefore, when the heat intensifies, cool your prayers down5‘.

General Notes:

  1. Implying to allow the day to cool down a bit.

  2. This obviously is an estimation of the narrator of the report. It does not necessarily imply that the shadows of the hillocks were exactly the size of the hillocks themselves, but, on the contrary, that these shadows were more or less the same size as the hillocks themselves.

  3. For a true believer in God and in the eternal life of the hereafter, all the temporal pleasures and comforts are but a minor worldly manifestation of the real and everlasting pleasures and comforts in the life of the hereafter; and all the temporal discomforts and distresses are only a small worldly manifestation of the eternal punishment of the raging hellfire.

  4. The comparison of the temporal comforts and discomforts with those of the eternal pleasures and displeasures in the hereafter serves as a reminder of the fact that a) our desire to provide for these worldly comforts should prompt us of the fact that during the course of this life, we should always be more concerned about making the maximum provision of comforts for our everlasting life in the hereafter; and b) gathering the maximum comforts for oneself and saving oneself from all discomfort as far as possible – whether in the life of this world or in the hereafter – is a natural instinct of man and, therefore, there is nothing condemnable about it. The self-denying attitude of striving to restrain oneself from benefiting from worldly comforts and pleasures as a standard of piety is clearly not condoned by Islam.

  5. In carrying out the directives of the Shari`ah, as for example in organizing congregational prayers, there is absolutely no reason to put oneself and those participating in the congregation in any inconvenience, especially where the Shari`ah has allowed us the opportunity to take an easier and a more convenient route. Thus, in keeping with the principle of taking to the easier and more convenient course, the Prophet (pbuh) recommended that the afternoon prayers be delayed till a slightly cooler time, especially on a severely hot day. It should, however, be kept in mind that the prayers were only delayed to such a time that was within the time range prescribed for that prayer.

Notes on the Text of the Narrative:

This narrative or a part of it, with some variations, has been reported in Bukhariy (narrative no. 511, 603 and 3085), Muslim (narrative no. 616), Tirmidhi (narrative no. 158) Abu Dawood (narrative no. 401), Ibn Maajah (narrative no. 678, 679 and 681), Ahmad ibn Hanbal (narrative no. 21413, 21479 and 21573), Ibn Khuzaymah (328 and 394) and Bayhaqiy (narrative no. 1902 and 1903). The preferred text, except where otherwise specified, is the one reported in Bukhariy’s narrative no. 603.

The word الظهر (i.e. ‘the afternoon prayer’) has been taken from Bukhariy’s narrative no. 511.

In some narratives, as in Tirmidhi’s narrative no. 158, the referred caller for the prayers has been named as Bilal (ra).

In some narratives, as for instance in Bukhariy’s narrative no. 511, the sentence كنا مع النبي صلى الله عليه وسلم في سفر (i.e., ‘we were with the Prophet (pbuh) on a journey’) has been omitted.

In some narratives, as for instance in Bukhariy’s narrative no. 511, the words فأراد المؤذن أن … فقال له أبرد (i.e., ‘ the caller for the prayer started preparing… the Prophet once again directed him to wait saying: ‘Allow it to cool down’) have been replaced with أذن مؤذن النبي صلى الله عليه وسلم الظهر فقال أبرد أبرد أو قال انتظر انتظر (i.e., ‘the caller appointed by the Prophet announced the prayers, at which the Prophet called out: ‘cool it down, cool it down’ or ‘wait, wait’.

In some narratives, as for instance in Bukhariy’s narrative no. 511, the phrase حتى ساوى الظل التلول (i.e., ‘ Till the time that the shadows of the hillocks became the same size as that of the hillocks themselves’) has been reported as حتى رأينا فىء التلول (i.e., till we saw the shadows of the hillocks’) and in some other narratives, as in Bukhairy’s narrative no. 3085, as حتى فاء الفىء يعني للتلول (i.e., ’till the shadows – that is, of the hillocks – had spread’).

In some narratives, as for instance in Tirmidhi’s narrative no. 158, the words فأراد أن يؤذن (i.e., ‘then he started preparing for the call’) have been replaced with فأراد أن يقيم (i.e., ‘he started preparing gather the congregation’).

The words إن شدة الحر من فيح جهنم فإذا اشتد الحر فأبردوا بالصلاة (i.e., ‘Indeed scorching heat is [a manifestation] of the raging of hellfire, therefore, on severely hot days, cool your prayers down’) have been taken from Bukhariy’s narrative no. 511, except that Bukhariys’ narrative no. 511 the words فأبردوا بالصلاة (i.e., ‘therefore cool your prayers down’) – as reported in Bukhariy’s narrative no. 3085 – have been reported as فأبردوا عن الصلاة (i.e., ‘Cool it down staying away from prayer’).

In some narratives, as in Tirmidhi’s narrative no. 158, it is also mentioned that the Prophet (pbuh) stood up and offered his prayers at the time when people could visibly see the shadows of the hillocks. The relevant words of the narrative read as: فقال رسول الله صلى الله عليه وسلم أبرد في الظهر. قال حتى رأينا فيء التلول ثم أقام فصلى. (i.e., ‘The Prophet (pbuh) said: ‘cool off in the case of the afternoon prayer. [He kept delaying] till the time that we saw the shadows of the hillocks. Then he stood up and offered his prayers’).

The same subject matter has also been reported without the background of a journey or the caller’s initiative to start the call for prayers, giving the impression that the Prophet (pbuh) directed the people to delay the Zuh’r prayer, while not being on a journey, on a hot day. The narrative follows:

روي أنه قال رسول الله صلى الله عليه وسلم: إذا اشتد الحر فأبردوا بالصلاة فإن شدة الحر من فيح جهنم

‘It is reported that the Prophet (pbuh) said: ‘Cool down the prayers [by delaying them], in intense heat, for indeed scorching heat is [a manifestation] of the raging of hellfire.’

This narrative or a part of it, with some variations, has been reported in Bukhariy (narrative no. 510, 512, 513 and 3086), Muslim (narrative no. 615 and 617), Mu’atta Imam Maalik (narrative no. 27, 28 and 29), Tirmidhi (narrative no.157), Nasaa’iy (narrative no. 500 and 501), Abu Dawood (narrative no. 402), Ibn Maajah (narrative no. 678, 679 and 681), Ahmad ibn Hanbal (narrative no. 7130, 7245, 7468, 7602, 7816, 8205, 8568, 8887, 9094, 9115, 9181, 9324, 9956, 9957, 10513, 10600, 11508, 11514, 11515, 11590, 18332, 18333 and 23128), Sunan Al-Daarmiy (narrative no. 1207) Ibn Hibban (narrative no. 1506, 1507 and 1510), Ibn Khuzaymah (330 and 331), Sunan Al-Kubraa of Nasaa’iy (narrative no. 1487, 1488, 1489 and 1490) Bayhaqiy (narraive no. 1897, 1899, 1900 and 1901), and Abd al-Razzaq (narrative no. 2049) Abu Ya’laa (narrative no. 1309, 4656, 4949, 5258, 5871, 6074 and 6314) and Humaidiy (narrative no. 942). The preferred narrative is the one reported in Bukhariy’s narrative no. 512.

In some narratives, as in Muslim’s narrative no. 615-c, the phrase إذا اشتد الحر (i.e., when there is intense heat’) has been replaced by إذا كان اليوم الحار (i.e., ‘When the day is hot’).

In some narratives, as in Ahmad ibn Hanbal’s narrative no. 10600, the narrative as alternatively been reported as: أبردوا عن الصلاة في الحر (i.e., ‘Cool it down staying away from prayer during summers’).

In Muslim’s narrative no. 615-d, the Prophet (pbuh) is reported to have said: إن هذا الحر من فيح جهنم فأبردوا بالصلاة (i.e., ‘Indeed this heat is [a manifestation] of the raging of hellfire, therefore, cool down prayers’).

In some narratives, as in Bukhariy’s narrative no. 513, the phrase أبردوا بالصلاة (i.e., ‘cool your prayers down’) has been reported as أبردوا بالظهر (i.e., ‘cool the afternoon [prayers] down’) and in some other narratives, as in Ahmad ibn Hanbal’s narrative no. 18333, as أبردوا بصلاة الظهر (i.e., ‘cool the afternoon prayers down’). In some other narratives, as in Bukhariy’s narrative no. 510, the phrase has been reported as: أبردوا عن الصلاة (i.e., ‘(i.e., ‘Cool it down staying away from prayer’). in Muslim’s narrative no. 615-e, the Prophet (pbuh) is reported to have said: أبردوا عن الحر في الصلاة (i.e., ‘cool down, staying away from the heat, in the case of prayer’), . While in Ahmad ibn Hanbal’s narrative no. 8205, these words have been replaced with: أبردوا من الحر في الصلاة (i.e., ‘cool down, from the heat, in the case of prayer’).

In some narratives, as in Ibn Maajah’s narrative no. 679, the Prophet (pbuh) is reported to have said: أبردوا بالظهر فإن شدة الحر من فيح جهنم (i.e., ‘cool down the afternoon prayer, for indeed the severity of heat is [a manifestation] of the raging of hellfire’). In Ibn Khuzaymah’s narrative no. 331, these words have been reported as: أبردوا الظهر في الحر (i.e., ‘cool down the afternoon prayer during summer’) and in Abu Ya’laa’s narrative no. 1309 as: أبردوا بالظهر في الحر (i.e., ‘cool down the afternoon prayer in summer’) and as أبردوا بالظهر في شدة الحر (i.e., ‘cool down the afternoon prayer in the severity of summer’) in Abu Ya’laa’s narrative no. 4949. While in Ibn Maajah’s narrative no. 681, the whole narrative is reported merely as أبردوا بالظهر (i.e., ‘cool down the afternoon prayer’), omitting all other parts of the preferred text.

In some narratives, as in Nasaiy’s narrative no. 501, the words فإن شدة الحر من فيح جهنم (i.e., ‘for indeed the severity of heat is [a manifestation] of the raging of hellfire’) have been reported as: فإن الذي تجدون من الحر من فيح جهنم (i.e., ‘for indeed what you see of the heat is [a manifestation] of the rages of hellfire’). In some other narratives, as in Ahmad ibn Hanbal’s narrative no. 8887, these words have been replaced with فإن حرها من فيح جهنم (i.e., ‘for indeed the heat of the summer is [a manifestation] of the raging of hellfire’) and in Ahmad ibn Hanbal’s narrative no. 1504 by إن الحر من فيح جهنم (i.e., ‘indeed heat is [a manifestation] of the raging of hellfire’). While in some narratives, as in Ahmad ibn Hanbal’s narrative no. 9181, these words have been replaced with فإن فيحها من حر جهنم (i.e., ‘Indeed the raging of the heat is [a manifestation] of the heat of hellfire’).

In some narratives, as in Ahmad ibn Hanbal’s narrative no. 8567, the phrase من فيح جهنم (i.e., ‘of the raging of hellfire’) has been reported as من فور جهنم (i.e., of the fury of hellfire’), and in some other narratives, as in Ahmad ibn Hanbal’s narrative no. 11508, as من فوح جهنم (i.e., ‘of the rage of hellfire’). In some other narratives, as in Ahmad ibn Hanbal’s narrative no. 10600, the phrase has alternatively been reported as من فيح أبواب جهنم (i.e., ‘of the rages of the doors of hellfire’).

In some narratives, as in Ahmad ibn Hanbal’s narrative no. 7467, the saying of the Prophet (pbuh) has been reported with a minor variation as: إن شدة الحر من فيح جهنم فإذا اشتد الحر فأبردوا بالصلاة (i.e., ‘indeed the severity of heat is [a manifestation] of the raging of hellfire. Therefore, when the heat [of summer] intensifies, cool down your prayers’).

In some narratives, as for example in Bukhariy’s narrative no. 512, the following words are added to the reported saying of the Prophet (pbuh): واشتكت النار إلى ربها فقالت يا رب أكل بعضي بعضا فأذن لها بنفسين نفس في الشتاء ونفس الصيف فهو أشد ما تجدون من الحر و أشد ما تجدون من الزمهرير (i.e., ‘The hellfire complained to its Lord and said: Lord, parts of me eat away my other parts. At this God permitted her to take two breaths: one breath in the winters and the other in the summers. What you find severest in summers and that you find freezing cold in winters are in fact these breaths of the hellfire’), which apparently seems to be an erroneous addition on the part of one of the narrators to the reported saying of the Prophet (pbuh).

In some narratives, the narrator has specified that the Prophet (pbuh) and the Muslims with him used to offer Zuh’r prayers soon after the midday. This alternative text of the narrative is as follows:

 كنا نصلي مع رسول الله صلى الله عليه وسلم صلاة الظهر بالهاجرة ولم يكن يصلي صلاة أشد على أصحاب رسول الله صلى الله عليه وسلم منها فقال لنا أبردوا بالصلاة فإن شدة الحر من فيح جهنم.

‘We used to offer the afternoon prayer with the Prophet (pbuh) soon after midday. No other prayer was harder upon the companions of the Prophet (pbuh) than this one. Then the Prophet said to us: Cool your prayers down, for indeed the severity of the heat is [a manifestation] of the raging of hellfire.’

This narrative or a part of it, with some variations, has been reported in Ibn Majah (narrative no. 680), Abu Dawood (narrative no. 411), Ahmad ibn Hanbal (narrative no. 18210, 21635), Ibn Hibban (narrative no. 1505) Nasaiy’s Sunan al-Kubraa (narrative no. 357) and Bayhaqiy (narrative no. 1907 and 1992). The preferred narrative is the one reported in Ibn Majah’s narrative no. 680.

The words ولم يكن يصلي صلاة أشد على أصحاب رسول الله صلى عليه وسلم منها (i.e., ‘No other prayer was harder upon the companions of the Prophet (pbuh) than this one’) have been reported in Abu Dawood, narrative no. 411.

In some narratives, as in Abu Dawood’s narrative no. 411, the words فنزلت: ﴿حافظوا على الصلوت والصلاة الوسطى﴾ وقال إن قبلها صلاتين وبعدها صلاتين (i.e., ‘at that time, the words “Guard all your prayers, especially the middle prayer” were revealed. And the narrator says that there are two prayers before it – that is, the afternoon prayer –  and two prayers after it.’) have been added after the sentence:  ولم يكن يصلي صلاة أشد على أصحاب رسول الله صلى الله عليه وسلم (i.e., ‘No other prayer was harder upon the companions of the Prophet (pbuh) than this one’).

Moiz Amjad

UIUK

2003

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