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Did you pray your Tahiyat ul Masjid?

2008 November 16

by Ml. Muhammad Shoayb

Q. We got some brothers that came to our masjid. They got employment in our area.  Everything we do is wrong [according to them]. Today was a big debate about how bad we are to not read Tahiyatul Masjid every time we enter the masjid.  I know to read all types of salah is great, but is Tahiyatul Masjid Fard? Is it worth fighting over?

A. Tahiyatul Masjid is not Fardh. It is part of those nafl (supergatory) or at best, Mustahab (preferred) actions that are highly rewarding when done. Rasulullah (Sallallaahu alayhi wa sallam) performed Tahiyat-al-Masjid and so did the Sahaba (radiAllahu anh) and those who came thereafter. It continues up to this day. However, some people forget that there is a time and place for it. It is not something you must perform and impose upon others. It is fair to state: it is a recommended practice, not an imposed practice.

Here are some great scholars who have commented regarding Tahiyat-al-Masjid:

Allamah Ayni has stated in Umdatul-Qari, (volume 4, page 202) that the Sahaba (radiAllahu anh) would enter the masjid after leaving it, and not read Tahiyat-al-Masjid upon re-entering. In other words, they did not bind themselves to always performing it. If they read it, well and good; if they did not perform this noble prayer, then it was not viewed as an act of transgression, nor was it viewed as an action to be debated or contested upon.

According to Imaan Allahmah Nawai (Al-Minhaaj volume 5, page 232) and Hajr Asqalani, (Fath-hul-Bari, volume 1, page number. 707 – Qadeemi) Tahiyat-al-Masjid is not Fardh. The most one can claim regarding it is that it is Mustahab.  This means, a preference for it does exist, not an obligation. A preference is not a demand.

Also, from the Quran and many Ahadith, including the one below, we learn that certain actions are Fard — binding upon Muslims. From the list of things that are binding upon Muslims, Tahiyat-al-Masjid was not one of them. Had Tahiyat-al-Masjid been made obligatory, then we would have to do a make up for it if missed, or always perform it upon entering the masjid. As we are aware, this is certainly not the case, even for those who are adamant upon it. However, such laxity does not apply to Fardh actions.

حدثنا ‏ ‏قتيبة بن سعيد ‏ ‏حدثنا ‏ ‏إسماعيل بن جعفر ‏ ‏عن ‏ ‏أبي سهيل ‏ ‏عن ‏ ‏أبيه ‏ ‏عن‏طلحة بن عبيد الله ‏
‏أن أعرابيا جاء إلى رسول الله ‏ ‏صلى الله عليه وسلم ‏ ‏ثائر ‏ ‏الرأس فقال يا رسول الله أخبرني ماذا فرض الله علي من الصلاة فقال ‏ ‏الصلوات الخمس إلا أن تطوع شيئا فقال أخبرني ما فرض الله علي من الصيام فقال شهر رمضان إلا أن تطوع شيئا فقال أخبرني بما فرض الله علي من الزكاة فقال فأخبره رسول الله ‏ ‏صلى الله عليه وسلم ‏ ‏شرائع الإسلام قال والذي أكرمك لا أتطوع شيئا ولا أنقص مما فرض الله علي شيئا فقال رسول الله ‏ ‏صلى الله عليه وسلم ‏ ‏أفلح إن صدق أو دخل الجنة إن صدق

Thus, from the above Hadith mentioned in Bukhari, we learn that when a Bedouin came to Rasulullah (Sallallaahu alayhi wa sallam) and asked regarding prayers, Rasulullah (Sallallaahu alayhi wa sallam) never mentioned that one must pray beyond the five daily prayers except for when that person voluntarily chooses to the performance of a Nafl (supergoatory prayer). Thus, to insist on having one perform Tahiyat-al-Masjid would be to insist on making an addition to Deen (religion). Such an insistence would be bid’ah (innovation). That would be plain wrong. Yes, had this action fallen into the category of even sunnat-muakkada (an emphasized sunnah for the Ummah), we would say it is worth debating. Or arrangements should be made to keep up with it without failure. But this is not the case. For now, the discussion should surround doing noble deeds, and Tahiyat-al-Masjid is from amongst those actions that enhance one’s nobility and closeness to Allah (subhanahu wa ta’aala).

Just as one cannot add to fardh salaah that which is not made obligatory, nor can one add to fasting that which is not called for. For example, should one wish to fast every Monday and Thursday, it is fine to do so, so long as he/she does not view such fasting as an act of fardh, nor does the person insist that others fast every Monday and Thursday. Likewise, for zakaat, if a person feels pious and wishers to give 20% instead of the prescribed 2.5%, then one can do so, so long as s/he does not want to bind others to their level of generosity. Islam never wants to overpower us; our trying to overpower it only demeans our religiosity.

It would be fair to say, when a person focuses on the essence of religion, the above Hadith gives brilliant praise to an individual wishing to abide by sunanh.  Islam is about holding onto the most basic and most pertinent and necessary of actions. Thus, Rasulullah (Sallallaahu alayhi wa sallam) mentioned regarding the questioner in the above Hadith, that if the questionnaire merely did the bare minimum for him to do, and obliged to it with sincerity and faithfulness, he would be awarded with paradise.

Thus, there is no need for debating with people who lack insight to simple Islamic prescriptions. Those who wish to make fardh that which is not fardh, let them involve themselves in actions of innovation (bid’ah). On the other hand, if you have the time, perform Tahiya-tul-Masjid, the reward of it is great, but just do not insist others become ’self-righteous’ like yourself.

Allah certainly knows best.

For your benefit, you are welcome to listen to a recording on the topic of bid’ah, which may be of help to you.

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