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Reflections on Sūratu Yūsuf: Lessons For Everyday Life (3): Never bite the finger that Feeds You

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Never bite the finger that Feeds You

Yūsuf عليه السلام was a charming and irresistible young man. No sooner had he been brought in by his master than his master’s wife had a crush on him. She admired him greatly and was overwhelmed by his perfect look and impeccable character. Yūsuf was a cynosure of all eyes. And after failed attempts to impress and attract him to herself, she finally decided that it was time to shoot her shot. Allāh says:
وَرَاوَدَتْهُ الَّتِي هُوَ فِي بَيْتِهَا عَن نَّفْسِهِ وَغَلَّقَتِ الْأَبْوَابَ وَقَالَتْ هَيْتَ لَكَ ۚ
“And she, in whose house he was, attempted to seduce him.  She bolted the doors and said: Come!”
Here, Yūsuf was being seduced by the wife of his boss. It wasn’t a bait. It was lust. She couldn’t contain it anymore, having watched him grown into such a handsome and responsible young man. She offered him free sexual intercourse on a platter of gold. But what did the young Yūsuf say? He not only rejected the offer, but also made a profound statement thus:
قَالَ مَعَاذَ اللَّهِ ۖ إِنَّهُ رَبِّي أَحْسَنَ مَثْوَايَ ۖ إِنَّهُ لَا يُفْلِحُ الظَّالِمُونَ
“He said: I seek refuge in Allāh! Lo! he is my lord, who hath treated me honorably. Wrong- doers never prosper.”
Commentators on the Qur’ān have interpreted the expression, “he is my lord” here to mean Yūsuf’s master. That is, “your husband, my master, has treated me well. Why then should I betray his kindness by sleeping with you, his wife?” This is the closest and more probable meaning of the verse.
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Yūsuf عليه السلام could not bring himself to biting the finger that feeds him. How could he have sexual intercourse with the wife of the man that not only accommodated him in his house, but also treated him like his own son! Allāh says:
وَقَالَ الَّذِي اشْتَرَاهُ مِن مِّصْرَ لِامْرَأَتِهِ أَكْرِمِي مَثْوَاهُ عَسَىٰ أَن يَنفَعَنَا أَوْ نَتَّخِذَهُ وَلَدًا ۚ
“The man from Egypt who bought him said to his wife, “Take good care of him, perhaps he may be useful to us or we may adopt him as a son.” (verse 21)
Yūsuf عليه السلام made it clear that no one bites the finger that feeds him (betrays his benefactor) and succeeds. Such would live a wretched life and will be punished in the hereafter (if Allāh doesn’t forgive him). Perhaps this is why Islām lays emphasis on kindness to parents. There’s no greater benefactor of man than his parents. After man’s absolute obedience to Allāh comes obedience and dutifulness to one’s parents (except in matters of disobedience to Allāh).
Says Allāh:
وَقَضَى رَبُّكَ أَلاَّ تَعْبُدُواْ إِلاَّ إِيَّاهُ وَبِالْوَالِدَيْنِ إِحْسَانًا إِمَّا يَبْلُغَنَّ عِندَكَ الْكِبَرَ أَحَدُهُمَا أَوْ كِلاَهُمَا فَلاَ تَقُل لَّهُمَآ أُفٍّ وَلاَ تَنْهَرْهُمَا وَقُل لَّهُمَا قَوْلاً كَرِيمًا. وَاخْفِضْ لَهُمَا جَنَاحَ الذُّلِّ مِنَ الرَّحْمَةِ وَقُل رَّبِّ ارْحَمْهُمَا كَمَا رَبَّيَانِي صَغِيرًا
“Thy Lord hath decreed that ye worship none but Him, and that ye be kind to parents. Whether one or both of them attain old age in thy life, say not to them a word of contempt, nor repel them, but address them in terms of honour. And, out of kindness, lower to them the wing of humility, and say: “My Lord! bestow on them thy Mercy even as they cherished me in childhood.” (17:23-24)
The worst form of betrayals is disobedience and arrogance towards one’s parents. The Messenger of Allāh صلى الله عليه وسلم listed it among the most grievous sins.
عَنْ عَبْدِ الرَّحْمَنِ بْنِ أَبِي بَكْرَةَ، عَنْ أَبِيهِ قَالَ: قَالَ رَسُولُ اللَّهِ صَلَّى اللَّهُ عَلَيْهِ وَسَلَّمَ: «أَلَا أُحَدِّثُكُمْ بِأَكْبَرِ الكَبَائِرِ؟» قَالُوا: بَلَى يَا رَسُولَ اللَّهِ، قَالَ: «الإِشْرَاكُ بِاللَّهِ، وَعُقُوقُ الوَالِدَيْنِ
On the authority of Abdurrahmān bn Abī Bakrah, from his father, who said, the Messenger of Allāh said, “Shall I not inform you of the worst of the grave sins? They said, yes, O Apostle of Allāh! He said, “Associating partners in worship with Allāh and disobedience to one’s parents.”
May Allāh forgive us of our transgressions to our parents, rectify us and make us the coolness of their eyes.
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Equally evil is betraying the trust of one’s neigbhour by sleeping with his wife. Abdullāh bn Mas’ūd رضي الله عنه narrated that a man came to the Messenger of Allāh صلى الله عليه وسلم and said:
يا رسول الله، أي الذنب أكبر عند الله؟ قال: أن تدعو لله ندًّا وهو خلَقك، قال: ثم أي؟ قال: أن تقتل ولدَك مخافة أن يطعَمَ معك، قال: ثم أي؟ قال: أن تزانيَ حليلة جارك
“O Apostle of Allāh! Which is the greatest sin? He replied, “to set up a rival with Allāh while He it is alone that has created you.” He asked, then which? He replied: “To kill your son lest he should share your food with you.” He asked, “Then, which?” He said, “To commit illegal sexual intercourse with the wife of your neighbour.”
Thus, if having a secret affair with the wife of one’s neigbhour is third on the list of the most grievous sins, how evil will cheating on one’s benefactor with his wife be in the sight of Allāh?
How many friends today betray the bond of friendship by having affairs with the wives of their associates? Let those who engage in this filthy and heinous crimes know that they will never know peace or succeed in life.
Similarly, women who so betray their husbands by sleeping with husband’s employees (domestic workers), friends or relatives should fear Allāh and desist from such filthy habits. Betrayal in whatever form is evil and condemnable.
Finally, Yūsuf عليه السلام displayed one of the rare virtues of special candidates of Jannah. The Messenger of Allāh صلى الله عليه وسلم had said:
سبعة يظلهم الله في ظله يوم لا ظل إلا ظله
“Seven persons Allāh shall give protection under His Shade on the Day when there will be no shade except His Shade.”
Guess who one of those seven is?
رجل دعته امرأة ذات منصب وجمال، فقال‏:‏ إنى أخاف الله
“A man whom a beautiful and high ranking woman seduces (for illicit relation), but he (rejects this offer by saying): ‘I fear Allah’.”
May Allāh grant us the strength of faith to reject satanic temptations and evil machinations.

Avoid Evil at All Cost

Following her failed attempt to seduce Yūsuf to have sexual intercourse with her, Yūsuf’s master’s wife became the subject of gossip and ridicule among the high and low women of the society. They said:
وَقَالَ نِسۡوَةٌ فِى الۡمَدِيۡنَةِ امۡرَاَتُ الۡعَزِيۡزِ تُرَاوِدُ فَتٰٮهَا عَنۡ نَّـفۡسِهٖ​ۚ قَدۡ شَغَفَهَا حُبًّا​ ؕ اِنَّا لَـنَرٰٮهَا فِىۡ ضَلٰلٍ مُّبِيۡنٍ‏
“The wife of the ´Azîz (- Potiphar, the captain of king´s guard) seeks to seduce her young slave against his will. His love has indeed penetrated deep in her heart. Indeed, we see her in obvious error (in going too far in her love).” (verse 30)
Embarrassed by the public ridicule of her person, she organised a feast for her traducers in order to sway public opinion in her favour. Allāh says:
فَلَمَّا سَمِعَتۡ بِمَكۡرِهِنَّ اَرۡسَلَتۡ اِلَيۡهِنَّ وَاَعۡتَدَتۡ لَهُنَّ مُتَّكَـاً وَّاٰتَتۡ كُلَّ وَاحِدَةٍ مِّنۡهُنَّ سِكِّيۡنًا وَّقَالَتِ اخۡرُجۡ عَلَيۡهِنَّ​ۚ فَلَمَّا رَاَيۡنَهٗۤ اَكۡبَرۡنَهٗ وَقَطَّعۡنَ اَيۡدِيَهُنَّ وَقُلۡنَ حَاشَ لِلّٰهِ مَا هٰذَا بَشَرًا ؕ اِنۡ هٰذَاۤ اِلَّا مَلَكٌ كَرِيۡمٌ‏
“Hearing of their sly talk the chief’s wife sent for those ladies, and arranged for them a banquet, and got ready couches, and gave each guest a knife. Then, while they were cutting and eating the fruit, she signalled Yūsuf: “Come out to them.” When the ladies saw him they were so struck with admiration that they cut their hands, exclaiming: “Allāh preserve us. This is no mortal human. This is nothing but a noble angel!”
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Having won the women to her side, she declared a full-scale war on Yūsuf, saying,
قَالَتۡ فَذٰلِكُنَّ الَّذِىۡ لُمۡتُنَّنِىۡ فِيۡهِ​ؕ وَ لَـقَدۡ رَاوَدْتُّهٗ عَنۡ نَّـفۡسِهٖ فَاسۡتَعۡصَمَ​ؕ وَلَـئِنۡ لَّمۡ يَفۡعَلۡ مَاۤ اٰمُرُهٗ لَـيُسۡجَنَنَّ وَلَيَكُوۡنًا مِّنَ الصّٰغِرِيۡنَ‏
“She said: “So now you see! This is the one regarding whom you reproached me. Indeed I tried to tempt him to myself but he held back, although if he were not to follow my order, he would certainly be imprisoned and humiliated.”
Thus, Yūsuf عليه السلام was faced with a difficult choice; he either consents to sleeping with his master’s wife, or he will be disgraced and sent to prison. His master’s wife did not mince words when she openly declared her affection for him as well as her willingness to have him make love to her.
However, so strong was the īmān of the young man and so brave was he that he immediately turned to his Lord for succor, preferring to rather go to jail than have sexual intercourse with his boss’s wife. He prayed thus:
قَالَ رَبِّ السِّجۡنُ اَحَبُّ اِلَىَّ مِمَّا يَدۡعُوۡنَنِىۡۤ اِلَيۡهِ​ۚ وَاِلَّا تَصۡرِفۡ عَنِّىۡ كَيۡدَهُنَّ اَصۡبُ اِلَيۡهِنَّ وَاَكُنۡ مِّنَ الۡجٰهِلِيۡنَ‏
“He said: “My Lord! I prefer imprisonment to what they ask me to do. And if You do not avert from me the guile of these women, I will succumb to their attraction and lapse into ignorance.”
The young man prefers imprisonment to having sexual pleasure with his boss’s wife. He would rather rot in jail than take pleasure in illicit affairs. He was neither enticed by her elegance and position nor was he threatened by her wrath and fury. Prison is better and safer for me, he prayed.
The lesson here is that, no matter the circumstances, we must avoid evil and sin at all cost. So many people today are quick to trigger the doctrine of necessity even where it does not apply or even when resilience and more effort could have averted the evil. This is a sign of weakness.
How many times have we postponed the observance of Salāt just because we think it would be embarrassing to leave the meeting/tell.the commercial bus/car driver to pull over? The same driver that would pull over for people to answer the call of nature, cannot be told to pull over so that people can offer their Salāt?
How many times have we easily bowed to offering bribes or lying just to get through a situation that one could never have gotten through if it were not destined for one?
Recently, a friend told me how he turned down a ₦10,000,000 loan by someone who demanded to have sex with him via the anus as condition for the offer. And this was someone in so much distress and hardship that he can hardly feed his family. How many of us can be that strong in the face of calamity?
Some ladies have engaged in illicit affairs with their bosses to get promotion. Some students sleep with their lecturers to pass courses. Some people lie their way through to the top. All of these are evils that one must avoid at all cost.
The Messenger of Allāh صلى الله عليه وسلم said:
من ترك شيئاً لله عوضه الله خيراً منه
“Whoever leaves something for Allāh, Allāh will substitute for him something much better.”

Dr. Sanusi Lafiagi is a lecturer in Department of Islamic Studies, Al-Hikmah University Ilorin

Opinion

IGP tenure: Police affairs minister goofed, says rights group

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Inspector-General of Police, IGP Usman Alkali Baba

Rights and Freedom Advocates (RIFA) has faulted Minister of Police Affairs, Muhammad Maigari Dingyadi, for saying the current Inspector General of Police (IGP), Usman Alkali Baba, would not be retiring midway into the general elections.

The IGP was due to retire on March 1 this year. But the minister was quoted last Wednesday after leaving the Federal Executive Council (FEC) meeting that President Muhammadu Buhari had extended Baba’s tenure as IGP, citing Nigeria Police Act 2020 to indicate the current IGP would serve four-year tenure.

But RIFA, in a statement signed by its president, Luqman Soliu, said it viewed the minister’s position as inconsistent with the laws of the land.

It argued that the minister’s position ran contrary to the law and that the quoted Act was being misinterpreted, adding the tenure elongation could create a problem in the police force.

The statement read in part, “Usman Alkali Baba record at Nigeria Police Force showed his date of birth as March 1, 1963 while he enlisted into Nigeria Police Force on March 15, 1988 as Assistant Superintendent of Police and is expected to bow out of active service on March 1, 2023 when he would clock 60 years. Similarly, the IGP by March 15,2023 would clock 35 years in service. As a result, his post would be vacant effective March 1, 2023.

“However, the law is explicit on the tenure of any IGP and those qualified to be IGP.

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“The minister was said to be relying on Nigeria Police Act, 2020 Section 7(3) and (6) to arrive at his position.

“Also, the minister was further quoted to have said the IGP was appointed by the President on April 6,2021 but his appointment confirmed in June 2021 by the Nigeria Police Council in line with the laws of the land and so must spend four (4) years.

“Even though the tenure of the IGP has witnessed improved compliance with the laws of Nigeria and sanctioning/discipline of some errant police officers mostly reported by the media, that cannot warrant elongating his tenure beyond the constitutionally guaranteed period.

“On the issue of the IGP, the 1999 Constitution (as amended) is very clear on the appointment and removal of IGP when it states in section 215 (1) (a) that:“An Inspector-General of Police who, subject to section 216 (2) of this Constitution shall be appointed by the President on the advice of the Nigeria Police Council from among serving members of the Police Force”.

“In addition, section 216(2) provides that: “Before making any appointment to the office of the Inspector-General of Police or removing him from office the President shall consult the Nigeria Police Council”.

“Similarly, Nigeria Police Act 2020 states in Section 7(2)that ‘the person to be appointed as Inspector-General of Police shall be a senior police officer not below the rank of an Assistant Inspector-General of Police (AIG) with the requisite academic qualifications of not less than a first degree or its equivalent in addition to professional and management experience’; Section 7(3) of same Police Act states ‘The Inspector General of Police shall be appointed by the President on the advice of the Police Council from among serving members of the Police Force’. Also, Section 7(6) provides ‘The person appointed to the office of the Inspector-General of Police shall hold office for four years’. This subsection was what the minister was relying on to make his position. However, Section 18 (8) of Nigeria Police Act, 2020 is explicit on tenure of a police officer when it says, ‘Every police officer shall, on recruitment or appointment, serve in the Nigeria Police Force for a period of 35 years or until he attains the age of 60 years, whichever is earlier’. So, the law states that someone who is no longer a police officer or who is not a police officer cannot be IGP. So, if the law says by 60 years of age or by 35 years in police service, IGP Usman Alkali is no longer a police officer, how then can he be eligible to be IGP afterwards when the laws says only a serving police officer can be IGP?

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“With the above, the law is very clear on the tenure of a serving IGP and which the President or a Minister cannot override as the law is superior to occupant of any post in the land. Therefore, instead of the minister dissipating energy to seeking the extension of tenure of IGP Usman Alkali, he should focus his energy on searching for the next IGP before the end of February 2023 when Usman Alkali would cease to be a police officer.

“Similarly, the minister should occupy himself with how to convene the next Police Council meeting that would recommend a new IGP for appointment before March 1, 2023.

“Therefore, the minister and the government should stop contemplating on tenure elongation for the current IGP. Rather, the government should strive for improved policing that meets the yearnings of the populace and restore public confidence in the Force.”

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Opinion

Old age comes with aggression: Be patient with your parents (an appraisal of Qur’an17 : 23-24)

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Bismillaahir-rahmaanir-raheem (In the name of Allāh, Most Gracious, Most Merciful) 
Indeed, longevity of life is one of the greatest favours of Allāh that He bestows upon whomsoever He wills from amongst His servants. In Allah’s hands lies the power to create life and to take life; He rations it as He deems fit. Sometimes, He takes the life of the infant and the youthful, and grants respite to the aged and weak. Who dare questions His actions?  (لا يسأل عما يفعل وهم يسئلون)
Old age is a blessing and a curse. A popular adage in my mother tongue goes thus: “Rayi kpalo e wo gbata takechi”; meaning: (Long life heals all wounds). That’s the blessing part. Conversely, in Yoruba, the adage is, “o’ fe pe l’aye, o si fe k’oju re oribi, o f’owo mu kan ni” (You desire a long life, but hate to face travails; you would have to chose either of the two). That’s the curse. What will make us understand this theory better are the following verses:
a.
 وَمِنْكُمْ مَنْ يُتَوَفَّى وَمِنْكُمْ مَنْ يُرَدُّ إِلَى أَرْذَلِ الْعُمُرِ لِكَيْلَا يَعْلَمَ مِنْ بَعْدِ عِلْمٍ شَيْئًا
“And of you is he who is caused to die; and of you is he who is brought back to the worst part of life, so that after having knowledge he does not know anything… ” Q. 22:5
b.
 اللَّهُ الَّذِي خَلَقَكُمْ مِنْ ضَعْفٍ ثُمَّ جَعَلَ مِنْ بَعْدِ ضَعْفٍ قُوَّةً ثُمَّ جَعَلَ مِنْ بَعْدِ قُوَّةٍ ضَعْفًا وَشَيْبَةً يَخْلُقُ مَا يَشَاءُ وَهُوَ الْعَلِيمُ الْقَدِيرُ
” Allah He is who created you from a state of weakness, the  He gave (you) strength after weakness, then He ordained weakness a d hoary hair after strength; He creates what He pleases, and He is the Knowing, the Powerful.”  Q. 30:54
c.
وَمَنْ نُعَمِّرْهُ نُنَكِّسْهُ فِي الْخَلْقِ أَفَلا يَعْقِلُون
“And  he to whom We grant long life We reverse in creation (physical and mental capacity); so will they not understand?” Q. 36:66
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It is natural, therefore, that at times, or most times, old people reason and behave like toddlers; the more they get old, the worse they become. Some old people now wear pampers like infants; Some are fed like babies; Some defecate and urinate in their clothes; and almost all lose their memory of things that they hitherto knew. However, the worst form disposition that comes with old age is anger, harshness, and aggression. More than 2/3 of old people get aggressive at the slightest provocation and, sometimes, even without provocation. Like babies, old people feel vulnerable and unsafe due to their physical weakness. Most times, they feel lonely and abandoned; which is why they often turn talkative when they finally get someone to talk to.
Just before you feel bored by their oft-repeated, boring, meaningless, unnecessary and never-ending discussions; just before you start feeling like to throw up from the odoriferous smell oozing from the excreta of your mother in the potty; just before you get tired of bathing her all the time; remember how she endured all of these for you for several years.
[20/01, 06:51] Abdulfatai A. Ibrahim: It is based on the physical and mental weaknesses that characterized old age that Islam commands us to be gentle, decorous and compassionate while dealing with our parents. These injunctions, as we shall later explain apply to all manners of parents: non-Muslims, deadbeats, addicts, insane, nominal but non-practising Muslims, etc. No matter how lazy or lackadaisical or insensitive one’s parents are to one’s needs; even if they (both or one of them) abandoned one to struggle for survival, one MUST observe the provisions of these injunctions with them. Allah says:
وَقَضَى رَبُّكَ أَلَّا تَعْبُدُوا إِلَّا إِيَّاهُ وَبِالْوَالِدَيْنِ إِحْسَاناً إِمَّا يَبْلُغَنَّ عِنْدَكَ الْكِبَرَ أَحَدُهُمَا أَوْ كِلَاهُمَا فَلَا تَقُلْ لَهُمَا أُفٍّ وَلَا تَنْهَرْهُمَا وَقُلْ لَهُمَا قَوْلاً كَرِيماً * وَاخْفِضْ لَهُمَا جَنَاحَ الذُّلِّ مِنَ الرَّحْمَةِ وَقُلْ رَبِّ ارْحَمْهُمَا كَمَا رَبَّيَانِي صَغِيراً
“And your Lord has decreed that you worship not except Him, and give your parents good treatment. Whether one or both of them attain old age (while) with you (while you’re alive), say not to them uff (an expression of disapproval or irritation), and do not repel (shout at them) but speak to them a noble word. And lower to them the wing of humility out of compassion and say, “My Lord, have mercy upon them as they brought me up (when I was) small.” (Q. 17:23)
To underscore the significance of treating one’s parents with utmost respect, the Prophet (pbuh) mentioned disobedience to one’s parents as part of the most heinous crimes in Islam.
و عن عَبْدِ الرَّحْمَنِ بْنِ أَبِي بَكْرَةَ عَنْ أَبِيهِ رَضِي اللَّهُ عَنه قَالَ قَالَ النَّبِيُّ صَلَّى اللَّه عَلَيْهِ وَسَلَّمَ: أَلَا أُنَبِّئُكُمْ بِأَكْبَرِ الْكَبَائِرِ ثَلَاثًا؟ قَالُوا: بَلَى يَا رَسُولَ اللَّهِ، قَالَ: الْإِشْرَاكُ بِاللَّهِ وَعُقُوقُ الْوَالِدَيْنِ وَجَلَسَ وَكَانَ مُتَّكِئًا فَقَالَ: أَلَا وَقَوْلُ الزُّورِ قَالَ فَمَا زَالَ يُكَرِّرُهَا حَتَّى قُلْنَا لَيْتَهُ سَكَتَ
“The Prophet (pbuh) said: Should I inform you about the most heinous crimes (he said it thrice)? We said, yes, please. He said, “ascribing partners to Allah, disobedience to one’s parents (and he was reclining, so he sat up and continued) and making false statements. He said it so repeatedly that we wished he had kept quiet.”
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The verse quoted above has the following injunctions:
i. It is forbidden to say #uff to one’s old parents: According to Qur’ānic exegetes, uff means showing irritation at their excesses; such as  urination, excretion or the likes. Tabari wrote:
 قال: ثنا سفيان، عن ليث، عن مجاهد، في قوله) فَلا تَقُلْ لَهُمَا أُفٍّ وَلا تَنْهَرْهُمَا (قال: إن بلغا عندك من الكبر ما يبولان ويخرآن، فلا تقل لهما أف تقذّرهما.حدثنا القاسم، قال: ثنا الحسين ، قال: ثني حجاج،عن ابن جريج، عن مجاهد إما يَبْلُغانَّ عِندك الكبر فلا تَقُل لهما أف حين ترى الأذى، وتميط عنهما الخلاءوالبول ، كما كانا يميطانه عنك صغيرا، ولا تؤذهما.
(Summary) “When your parents have attained old age, do not show any sign of displeasure, discomfort or irritation at their excesses; even when they defecate or urinate on their body. You should gladly wash them with gentleness and tenderness like they washed you at your tender age.”
ii. It is forbidden to shout at them: According to the Mufassiruun, shouting at one’s parents include: raising one’s voice at them, interrupting them while they are talking, talking before them without the permission to do so, walking out on them when they are talking to one, showing displeasure at the way they address one harshly or shabbily, not paying attention to their discussion (such as receiving calls, pinging, or turning your back at them), etc. All of these are Haram.
iii. It is compulsory to address them in the most honourable way: Imagine what some of us would have done to our fathers if we were in Prophet Ibraheem’s shoes. In spite of the fact that his father was a Mushrik, Ibraheem was never harsh to him in his speech. In fact, he didn’t address him as يا أبي: my father; rather he said, يا أبت: my dear father! لا حول ولا قوة إلا بالله العلي العظيم! What a role model he is for us all!
Our parents are more honourable than any other being on earth. Yet, when we address them, we do so crudely in a manner that we can never address our teachers or even political godfathers. In fact, some people respect their friends more than they respect their parents! أعوذ بالله من الشيطان الرجيم!
iv. We must humble ourselves before our parents: No matter how rich, famous, knowledgeable, or highly-placed we are in the scheme of life, we must suspend all of those shenanigans while treating our parents. Our wealth must be put at their disposal anytime, any day. One day, a young man came to report his father to the Prophet (pbuh) saying:
عن جابر رضي الله عنه أن رجلاً قال: يا رسول الله إن لي مالاً وولداً ، وإن أبي يريد أن يجتاح مالي، فقال: “أنت ومالك لأبيك”.
“O Messenger of Allāh! I have wealth and children, and my father wants to take (from) my wealth. The Prophet replied him saying, “YOU, & YOUR WEALTH BELONG TO YOUR FATHER.”

Dr. Sanusi Lafiagi is a lecturer in Department of Islamic Studies, Al-Hikmah University Ilorin

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Towards understanding your religion: A short treatise on Sujūd as-sahw

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Introduction

Sujūd as-Sahw (prostration of forgetfulness) is a corrective measure legislated by Allāh to rectify certain unintended mistakes in Salāt. It is necessitated by any of the following 3 things:

1. Omission of an action of Salāt
2. Addition of an action of Salāt
3. Doubt over the performance or non-performance of an action of Salāt.

It is important to note that the action of Salāt that necessitates Sujūd as-Sahw is one that falls under any of the following categories:

1. Arkān
2. Wājibāt

The Arkān (pillars) of Salāt are:

1. Standing (for the one that is capable)
2. The opening Takbīrah
3. Recitation of Fātiha
4. Bowing
5. Rising from it
6. Being straight after rising
7. Prostration
8. Rising from it
9. Sitting in-between the two prostrations
10. Performing each pillar with accuracy
11. The last tashahhud (in a 3 or 4 raka’ah prayer & the only one in a two raka’ah prayer)
12. Sitting for the last tashahhud
13. The taslīm
14. Sequential order of the pillars

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The wājibāt (obligatory actions) of Salāt are as follows:
1. Any other Takbīrat apart from the opening Takbīrah
2. Saying of Sami’Allāhu liman hamidah
3. Saying of Rabbānā laka al-hamd
4. Saying of Subhāna rabī al-adhīm in bowing
5. Saying of Subhāna rabī al-A’lā in prostration
6. Saying of Rabbi ighfirlī in the sitting between sujūd
7. The first tashahhud
8. Sitting for the first tashahhud

These are the actions that necessitate the observance of Sujūd as-Sahw should one omit, add, or doubt their performance in Salāt forgetfully. It doesn’t matter if the Salāt were fard (obligatory) or nafl (supererogatory).

It’s important to note that this Sujūd applies to all persons observing Salāt (male/female, old/young, Imām/follower of an Imām/lone worshipper). It’s a compulsory action that’s needed to rectify an unintended mistake in Salāt.

A SHORT TREATISE ON SUJŪD AS-SAHW

Forms of Sujūd as-Sahw

Sujūd as-Sahw occurs at the tail end of Salāt after recitation of the final tashahhud. Depending on the incident that warrants it, it may be performed before the Taslīm (salutation of peace that ends Salāt)or after it.

‎If it is performed before the taslīm, it is termed ‘Qablī’, and if it is performed after taslīm, it is termed ‘Ba’dī’. The Arabic words قَبْلُ and بَعْدُ connote before & after respectively. Thus, the terms قَبْلِيٌّ & بَعْدِيٌّ are shortened forms of قبل التسليم/بعد التسليم.

Sujūd as-Sahwi is like the normal Sujūd of Salāt. It’s not special in any way. It consists of two Sajdah (prostration) with the normal adhkār of Sujūd; “Subhāna rabbiya’l-A’lā wa bihamdihī” or any other known adhkār of Sujūd (check Sifatu Salāti’n-Nabiyy by Al-Albānī)

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It is important to note that Muslim Jurists have expressed divergent views on whether Sujūd as-Sahw must be observed before the taslīm or after it, irrespective of whether the case was an omission, an addition or that of doubt. The summary of the views is as follows:

Hanafiyyah: All Sujūd as-Sahw must come after Taslīm.

Shāfi’iyyah: All Sujūd as-Sahw must come before Taslīm.

Hanābilah: All Sujūd as-Sahw must come before Taslīm save in 2 cases:

(i) If one makes Taslīm before completion of Salāt e.g. saying Taslīm after 2/3 raka’ats in dhuhr

(ii) If one doubts the exact number of raka’ah that he has prayed but decided to settle for the dominant number in his mind. In both instances, he must make the Sujūd after Taslīm.

Mālikiyyah: Sujūd as-Sahw can occur either before or after the Taslīm, depending on the case. Thus, if it’s a case of omission, it must come before Taslīm, and if it’s a case of addition, it must come after Taslīm. If, however, both omission & addition occur in the particular Salāt, then, the Sujūd must come before the Taslīm. These are the various views of the Jurists.

Sometimes, some people find themselves in a situation where they can not independently determine whether to do the Sujūd before Taslīm or after it. Before I go into specifics in the next thread, know this: Whichever if the Sujūd you do suffices, irrespective of the case.

Do not worry about whether the Sujūd was done before the Taslīm in a case of addition or that it was done after the Taslīm in a case of omission. What matters is that one does the Sujūd in order to rectify and make up for the unintended error committed in any of the acts of Salāt mentioned in the introduction to this treatise. That’s it. Your Salāt remains valid. Don’t let anyone confuse you & do not torture yourself trying to figure out what to do at when. Do I even need to go into specifics again? This is clear enough. I think.

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In conclusion, it’s important to note that after the Sujūd as-Sahw, there’s no need to repeat the tahiyyāt. One should immediately conclude the Salāt by uttering the Taslīm. If, however, one repeats the tahiyyāt either knowingly or unknowingly, his/her Salāt remains valid.

A SHORT TREATISE ON SUJŪD AS-SAHW

Categories of Worshippers With Regards to Sujūd as-Sahw

There are 3 categories of worshippers with regards to the Sujūd as-Sahw. They are:

1. The lone worshipper
2. The Imām
3. Follower of the Imām. This category is further divided into two:

a. The one that observed the prayer in full with the Imām
b. The one that missed a part of the prayer. This category is further divided into two:
a. The one that witnessed the mistake of the Imām
b. The one that joined the Salāt after the mistake has been made.

If a lone worshipper remembers after recitation of Fātiha but before observing rukū’ that he did not make the takbīrat al-Ihrām (opening Takbīrah), he must make the Takbīrah & continue his Salāt. In this situation, he’s not to make Sujūd as-Sahw. If, however, he remembers while on rukū’ or subsequent acts, he must return to the standing position, make the Takbīrat al-Ihrām, complete the Salāt and make the Sujūd as-Sahw after Taslīm.

Also, if he remembers after standing for the 2nd raka’ah, he must discard all that he has prayed immediately & start the Salāt afresh. After Taslīm, he must perform the Sujūd as-Sahw. This same rule applies to if the forgotten pillar were recitation of Fātiha. If he hasn’t reached the rukū’, he should recite Fātiha & no Sujūd as-Sahw is on him.

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If he has reached the rukū’, he must return to the standing position & recite Fātiha. After the Taslīm, he must make the Sujūd as-Sahw. If the lone worshipper recites Fātiha twice forgetfully, there’s nothing on him. If he recites loudly in a Salāt of silent recitation or vice versa, there’s no Sujūd on him. If he remembers in the middle of the recitation, he should continue from that verse without repeating all that he has recited earlier. If he unintentionally recites Fātiha twice, he’s not obliged to observe Sujūd as-Sahw according to the most authoritative view.

A SHORT TREATISE ON SUJŪD AS-SAHW

‪If the lone worshipper rises to an extra raka’ah (i.e. rising to a 3rd in Subh, or to a 4th in Maghrib, or to a 5th in Dhuhr, ‘Asr, or Ishā’), he must sit down immediately he realizes the error, recite the tahiyyāt, make Taslīm and prostrate twice thereafter. If he continues‬ ‪without sitting, his Salāt becomes invalid & he will start afresh.

If the lone worshipper forgets to make iqāmah before commencement of Salāt, his Salāt is valid & he doesn’t need to do any Sujūd. The iqāmah is neither a rukn (pillar) nor wājib(obligatory act) of Salāt.‬

‪If the lone worshipper forgets to say سمع الله لمن حمده or ربنا ولك الحمد, he must do the Sujūd before Taslīm. Once he has left the position where those statements are made, he needs not return to make it up. The Sujūd as-Sahw before Taslīm will take care of it.‬

‪If the lone worshipper forgets to say the adhkār of rukū’ or Sujūd at least once, he must do the Sujūd as-Sahw before Taslīm (in the view of the hanābilah). The majority of scholars regard those adhkār as Sunnah & as such no Sujūd is required. ‬

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‪A SHORT TREATISE ON SUJŪD AS-SAHW

If the lone worshipper remembers in the last raka’ah that he unintentionally omitted a pillar of Salāt (recitation of Fātiha or Rukū’, etc) in any of the previous raka’ah, he must discard that raka’ah and start counting from the one next to it. After the Taslīm, he must perform‬ ‪the Sujūd as-Sahw. Also, if he remembers in the last raka’ah that he omitted Fātiha in the first & rukū’ in the second, then, he must discard both raka’ahs & start counting from the raka’ah he’s on. In all of these, he must performs the Sujūd as-Sahw after Taslīm.‬

‪If the lone worshipper forgets to sit for the first Tashahhud but instead rose to the third raka’ah, here, there are three situations:‬

‪a. If he intends rising but is yet to rise. In this instance, he sits & recites the tashahhud & is not obliged to do Sujūd as-Sahw.‬

‪b. If he were on the rise but was yet to rise fully. In this instance, he must return back to the sitting position & recite the tahiyyāt.‬

‪c. If he had fully risen. Here, he must not return back to sitting. If he does, his Salāt becomes invalid (according to a view, another view is, he may return so long as he was yet to commence recitation of Fātiha. I favour the former view that he should not return once he’s fully risen). In both cases, he performs‬ ‪the Sujūd as-Sahw before Taslīm.

If the lone worshipper forgets to recite sūrah after Fātiha, his Salāt is valid & he doesn’t have to make any Sujūd as-Sahw. Recitation of sūrah after is not compulsory. If, however, he does the Sujūd as-Sahw before Taslīm, his Salāt remains valid.‬

Dr. Sanusi Lafiagi is a lecturer in Department of Islamic Studies, Al-Hikmah University Ilorin

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