Imam an-Nawawi (r.a.) & Ijma' on Making-Up Missed Swalah

بِسۡمِ ٱللهِ ٱلرَّحۡمَـٰنِ ٱلرَّحِيمِ

The following article was taken from Imam an-Nawawi (r.a.) on Making-Up Missed Prayers: A Scholarly Consensus, 22nd November, 2006.

In regards to the obligatory of making up missed prayers, Imam an-Nawawi (r.a.) stated in his al-Majmu` Sharh al-Muhadzdzab (3.86): “There is ijma` of the scholars whose opinion counts that whoever leaves a prayer intentionally must make it up.  Abu Muhammad ‘Ali ibn Hazm differed with them on this, saying that such an individual cannot ever make them up and it is not at all valid to make them up.  Rather, he said, one must do much good works and voluntary prayer in order that one’s scales be weighted on the Day of Judgement and one must seek Allah’s Forgiveness and Repent.  This position of his, along with being in opposition to ijma`, is invalid in terms of the proof.  Among the proofs for the obligation to make up is that if make-up prayers are obligatory for the one who left the prayer forgetfully, then doing so for the one who left the prayer deliberately is more obviously incumbent.”

Imam an-Nawawi (r.a.) is referring here to the hadits related by Anas (r.a.) that the Messenger of Allah (s.a.w.) said, “Whoever forgets a prayer must perform it when they remember it.”  This is recorded in both Swahih al-Bukhari and Swahih Muslim.

In Sharh Swahih Muslim, Imam an-Nawawi (r.a.) says, “This hadits contains evidence that the obligatory prayer which has been missed must be made up, regardless if one left it due to a valid excuse, such as sleep or forgetfulness or due to no valid excuse.  The hadits mentions only the excuse of forgetfulness due to it being said after the occurrence of a specific even but is to be applied generally.  If it is necessary for one who has a valid excuse to make up the prayer, it is even more so required for the one who has no valid excuse.  Therefore, the hadits is informing us of this by means of using the lesser thing to alert to the greater thing.”

Shaykh Nuh ‘Ali Salman (r.a.) said, the words of the Prophet (s.a.w.): “A debt to Allah has better right to be fulfilled,” a hadits related by Imam al-Bukhari (s.a.w.) and Imam Muslim (s.a.w.).  “The hadits’ context is that of making up another person’s hajj, the Prophet (s.a.w.) likened the missed worship to a debt, similar ahadits existing about fasting, proving that acts of worship when missed, regardless of the reason, become a debt that must be repaid just as other debts are, and with even better right.  We say ‘regardless of the reason’ because the Prophet (s.a.w.) did not ask the questioner about the reason for its having been missed.  And if this is established in relation to making up the worship of another, it hold with still a better right for making up one’s own missed acts of worship.”

Imam al-Qurthubi (r.a.) said, “The jurists of the four schools of thought agree it is obligatory to make up missed obligatory prayers, regardless of whether one left them due to a valid reason, such as sleep or forgetfulness, or out of negligence and laziness.”

To understand why it is wajib to make up missed swalah, we need to understand the conditions of tawbah, repentance.

‘Ali (k.w.), heard an Arab nomad say, “O Allah, I beg Your Forgiveness and I repent to You.”

‘Ali (k.w.) said, “O you there, slickness of the tongue in repentance is the repentance of liars!”

The Arab nomad then asked, “And what is repentance?”

‘Ali (k.w.) replied, “It includes six things: Remorse for sins committed in the past, renewed performance of obligatory religious duties, providing compensation for acts of criminal injustice, seeking pardon from the adversaries, resolving never to repeat the offence, dissolving your lower self in worshipful obedience to Allah, just as you caused it to grow in sinful obedience, just as you let it taste the sweetness of sinful acts of disobedience, until it comes to enjoy the sweetness and flavours of worshipful obedience.”

Shaykh Ahmad Fathullah Jami’ (r.a.) said, “According to the authors of Sharh al-Maqasid: If the offense was a violation of the right of Allah (s.w.t.), and His Alone, remorse is sufficient, as in the cases like fleeing from military advance, and failing to enjoin what is right and proper.  In certain matters, there may be an additional requirement, like submitting oneself to the legal penalty for drinking alcoholic liquor, paying what is outstanding from the zakat, and making up for the missed performance of swalah.”

Many have chosen to follow Imam ibn Hazm’s (r.a.) position mostly because they feel it is the easier position.  Many misunderstand his position, to mean that one does not have to fulfill the conditions of tawbah which states, “And he must correct the wrong act if he is able.”  And understand this to mean that because the fardh swalah is outside of its time, it is impossible to fulfill this condition of tawbah.  However, Imam ibn Hazm (r.a.) realised that this condition of tawbah must be met.  Imam ibn Hazm (r.a.) said in his al-Muhalla, “There is a certain amount of good in the fardh swalah and a certain amount in the nawafil, so the cumulative amount of good when many voluntary prayers are performed must equal or be more than the amount of obligatory prayer.”  Which means one has to do the amount of voluntary prayers that equal to or more than an obligatory prayer.  So practically speaking it is easier to follow the dominant position of the four schools which requires we only to make up the missed prayers as oppose to trying to fulfill that condition of tawbah by doing voluntary prayers that equal up to an obligatory prayer.


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