Did our Prophet cry while performing prayers?

The Details of the Question

- I have heard that crying while performing a prayer will invalidate prayer. However, they say that the Prophet cried while performing prayers. Is it true?

The Answer

Dear Brother / Sister,

Both issues mentioned in the question are true; the decree changes according to the place and situation.

1. Crying outside of a prayer (salah) for any reason and the resulting tears falling out of the eyes do not invalidate wudu.

However, crying during a prayer with worldly anxiety by making a sound invalidates one's prayer, not his wudu. (Marghinani, Hidaya, 2/4, 5)

Crying like that invalidates prayer.

2. Crying due to fear of Allah, remembering Paradise or Hell, etc. in prayer does not invalidate wudu or prayer.

Crying like that does not invalidate prayer. As a matter of fact, Abdullah Ibn Shihhir states the following:

“Once, I went to the Messenger of Allah, peace be upon him. He was performing a prayer; I heard sounds like a boiling cauldron coming from his chest because he was crying.” (Abu Davud, Salah 158)

The hadith above informs us that the Prophet (pbuh) cried when he performed prayers with great awe and humility. It is understood that fear of Allah and the desire to meet Allah should surround us completely during prayer, as in every occasion.

It means that crying with the love of Allah and the fear of the hereafter does not invalidate the prayer; on the contrary, it makes that prayer the most acceptable worship. So many great people were affected by the verses they recited in prayer and could not help but bursting into sobs especially when they read or heard the verses about Paradise and Hell.

Acting upon the hadith above, Islamic scholars hold the view that it is permissible to cry in prayer. As a matter of fact, Hz. Ali states that he saw the Prophet performing a prayer by crying under a tree the night before the Battle of Badr, and that he continued praying like that until the morning.

In that case, crying for an otherworldly reason such as fear of Allah and remembering Paradise or Hell does not invalidate prayer because it shows that person’s deep respect for Allah. Khushu’ (awe) is desirable in prayer; such cries are regarded as supplication and glorification.

However, if the reason for crying is a worldly problem, the prayer is invalidated.

Accordingly:

- The Prophet (pbuh) worshipped in awe. His sadness and crying continued in prayer too.

- Crying for otherworldly reasons and without uttering any syllables does not invalidate prayer.

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