What is amal kathir in prayer? I know that changing the place of things in prayer invalidates prayer. Is prayer invalidated if a person changes the place of things involuntarily?

Details of the Question

I know that changing the place of things in prayer invalidates prayer. Is prayer invalidated if a person changes the place of things involuntarily? For instance, a person performs a prayer in a narrow place; he hits the vase on the table with his hand/arm involuntarily and the place of the vase changes; or the prayer mat moves;  is his prayer invalidated? A person starts to follow the imam in congregation; how much can he move in order to make room for a person who comes late; should he move by dragging his feet or stepping aside?

The Answer

Dear Brother / Sister,

We can say that issues you mention in the question do not invalidate prayer.

A deed or act that is regarded as a lot, that is, amal kathir (a major deed) done while performing a prayer invalidates that prayer; amal qalil (a minor deed) does not invalidate that prayer. A major deed that does not belong to prayer and that is not related to the correction of prayer invalidates prayer. If a person from outside sees a person doing a deed does not doubt that he is not performing a prayer, it is regarded as a major deed (amal kathir). The opposite of it is amal qalil; when a person sees somebody doing it, he doubts whether he is in prayer or not:

For example: If a person who is praying picks a stone and throws it at a bird or something similar, his prayer is invalidated because it is a major deed. However, if he throws a stone that is next to him with one hand, his prayer is not invalidated because it is a minor deed. However, he is regarded to have committed a sin because he keeps busy with something else in prayer.

If a person takes at least three steps on end without interruption and without an excuse, his prayer is invalidated. If a person takes three steps involuntarily because somebody else hits him, his prayer is invalidated. If a person is removed from the place he is performing a prayer, his prayer is invalidated.

Prayer is not invalidated if a person removes his turban or garment from his head and puts it down with one hand or if he picks it up and wears it with one hand. However, if it necessitates a major deed to pick it and put on the head, prayer is invalidated.

If a person hits somebody who is performing a prayer with his hand or a whip, his prayer is invalidated because it is regarded as a major deed. However, if a person who is performing a prayer on an animal hits it once or twice, his prayer is not invalidated but if he hits it three times on end, his prayer is invalidated. This is the sound view.

To move one foot once or twice in order to make the animal move does not invalidate prayer but to move two feet invalidates prayer. Two feet are regarded as two hands.

If a person mounts an animal while he is performing a prayer, his prayer is invalidated but if he dismounts it, his prayer is not invalidated.

To wear a shoe with two hands in prayer invalidates prayer but to take off shoes easily does not invalidate prayer.

If a person eats a wheat kernel by mistake or deliberately, drinks a sip of water, tinges his eye with kohl, spreads oil on any part of his body, combs or plaits his hair and beard, his prayer is invalidated because they are regarded as major deeds. However, if he spreads the oil or something similar that he has in his hand on his head or another organ without holding with his other hand, his prayer is not invalidated because it is a minor deed.

To breastfeed a baby in prayer invalidates prayer. If a baby sucks his mother’s breast while she is performing a prayer on his own, her prayer is not invalidated if he sucks once or twice and no milk comes out. However, if milk comes out or if he sucks more than twice, her prayer is invalidated.

If a woman kisses or caresses her husband while he is in prayer, his prayer is not invalidated. However, if the man feels sexually excited, his prayer is invalidated. However, if a man caresses her husband with lust while she is in prayer or if he kisses her whether with lust or without lust, her prayer is invalidated. For, the deed of the husband is essential in terms of sexual approach.

If a person looks at a book that catches his eye in prayer or has a glance in order to see what is written in it, his prayer is not invalidated according to the sound view. However, if he reads the verses of the Quran from a mushaf in front of him or on the mihrab, his prayer is not invalidated if he knows those verses by heart. However, if he does not know them by heart, his prayer is invalidated if he reads at least one verse because it means learning. This is the view of Abu Hanifa. According to Imam Abu Yusuf and Imam Muhammad, his prayer is not invalidated even if he reads more verses. However, such a reading is makruh. It means resembling the People of the Book (Jews or Christians). (Ömer Nasuhi Bilmen, Büyük İslam İlmihali, Namazı Bozan ve Bozmayan Şeyler)

 

AMAL KATHIR

Major deed, a lot of deeds.

Amal lexically means deed, act, movement. Kathir means a lot, very much. As a compound, it means “a lot of deeds”. It is a fiqh term used to describe things that invalidate prayer. If a person is performing a prayer is seen doing extra deeds by somebody from outside and if that does not doubt that he is not performing a prayer, it is called amal kathir. If the person from outside doubts whether he is in prayer or not, it is called amal qalil. Amal kathir in prayer invalidates prayer. For instance, if a person takes off his jacket, puts on his shoes, talks to someone while he is in prayer, his prayer is invalidated. Rolling up the bottom part of the coat, straightening the cap or turban are regarded as amal qalil and they do not invalidate prayer. In addition, in Maliki, madhhab, amal qalil must not be from parts of prayer. It does not matter whether the deed is done deliberately or by mistake.

When a person makes an additional deed that is from parts of a prayer like performing more ruku’s and sajdahs, his prayer is invalidated if he does it deliberately whether it is amal qalil or kathir. If he has done it by mistake, his prayer is not invalidated. As a matter of fact, verbal additions like reading al-Fatiha twice do not invalidate prayer even if it is done deliberately. However, sajdah as-sahw is performed if it is done by mistake.

If the chest turns toward another direction except qiblah, prayer is invalidated. However, if a person is forced to do so or if he has done it due to something obligatory, his prayer is not invalidated unless he remains like that until a rukn is performed. If a person does it deliberately and without an excuse, his prayer is invalidated. Otherwise, turning the chest does not harm the prayer whether it is turned a little or a lot.  (al-Jaziri, Kitabul-Fiqh alal-Madhahibil-Arbaa, I, 305-306)

The following criteria are given about amal kathir and amal qalil in furu’ books:

1) If an onlooker who sees the deed done by a person who is performing a prayer does not doubt that he is not performing a prayer, that deed is regarded as amal kathir; if he doubts whether he is in prayer or not, that deed is regarded as amal qalil.

2) Something that is generally done by two hands is amal kathir. The decree does not change when it is done with one hand like wrapping a turban around the head and a piece of cloth around the waist. Something that is generally done by one hand is amal qalil like putting on or taking off a cap. However, if it is repeated three times, it becomes amal kathir.

3) If three deeds are done on end, it is regarded as amal kathir; otherwise, it is regarded as amal qalil.

4) Amal kathir is something that is done deliberately.

5) The decision is left to the opinion of the person who is performing the prayer. If he regards it as a lot, it is regarded as amal kathir; if he regards it as a little, it is regarded as amal qalil (Ibn Abidîn Translation, İstanbul 1982,II, 537, 538)

Hamdi DÖNDÜREN

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