What do you think about those who change their madhhab so as not to perform sunnah prayers?

The Details of the Question

There are some people who change their madhhab so as not to perform sunnah prayers probably because in some madhhabs, those who have missed (qada) prayers to perform do not perform sunnah prayers. What is your view about it?  
Is it permissible to change one’s madhhab in order to lead an easier life? What is your advice regarding the issue?

The Answer

Dear Brother / Sister,

If a person who has missed fard and wajib prayers without any excuse decides to imitate Shafii madhhab (to change his madhhab regarding the issue), it will not enable him to “lead an easy life” because he will have to perform missed (qada) prayers all the time except for his obligatory works. He will have to perform missed prayers day and night and he cannot be busy with the deeds that are not obligatory including sunnah prayers so as not to delay missed prayers any longer.  

According to other madhhabs, a person who has missed prayers can perform sunnah prayers.

Besides, the phrase “to change one’s madhhab in order to avoid worshipping and performing sunnah prayers and to lead an easy life” is not appropriate for the thought and intention of a slave of Allah.

The phrase “to change one’s madhhab” is not appropriate. Those who are not scholars practice their religion by asking those who know (receiving information/fatwa from a madhhab). If the ijtihads of a madhhab regarding a certain issue causes difficulty for a person due to his special state and if those difficulties do not exist in another madhhab, he can act in accordance with the ijtihad/fatwa of that madhhab regarding the issue. It does not mean to change one’s madhhab because such a person does not leave his madhhab in general; he keeps acting in accordance with his madhhab in general.   

Let us explain the issue of changing one’s madhhab so as not to perform sunnah prayers in detail:

Prayer (salah) is one of the most important commands of Islam. This worship is one of the five pillars of the religion; the one who performs it is described as the one who builds the Islamic building and the one who abandons it as the one who demolishes it. There is no doubt that abandoning prayer is one of the greatest religious crimes and offences if there is no excuse that makes it permissible to delay prayer.

A person who has not been able to perform a prayer on time and has missed it due to any reason has to perform it as qada (make up) as soon as he has the opportunity. Making up a prayer that has been missed without any excuse does not relieve a person of its responsibility fully; making up a prayer is one of the ways to compensate. Another way is to be determined not to miss it again, to ask forgiveness from Allah for delaying it, and to beg Allah for forgiveness.

After reaching an almost full consensus that it is obligatory for a person who has missed prayers to perform them as soon as possible as qada, the Islamic scholars focused on the issue of the reasons that could make it permissible for such a person to delay performing the missed prayers - even for a very short time. They limited those reasons as “working in order to obtain enough sustenance for him and his family and being busy with meeting his basic needs”.

In other words, a person who has missed fard prayers has to make up for those prayers as soon as he meets the vital needs of himself and his family.

At this point, another issue occurs: What will he do with his daily prayers?

There is no excuse that makes it permissible for a Muslim to miss a fard prayer deliberately except for unconscious states such as forgetting and sleeping. Even extraordinary states such as illness or actual war cannot be an excuse to miss the prayer; however, they are reasons for some mitigating permissions.

In that case, a person who has missed prayers has to perform the daily prayers first; after that, he has to perform the missed prayers. However, it has been discussed by scholars whether it is necessary to perform only fard and wajib daily prayers and whether one should perform missed prayers instead of performing sunnah prayers.

It will be useful to mention a subtle and important point related to that discussion:

The privilege of not performing the sunnah prayers is not granted to a person who has missed prayers; it has been discussed whether it is permissible to delay missed prayers for some more time by performing sunnah prayers. In other words, missing a fard prayer is such a big crime that it made mujtahids think whether it is permissible to delay the missed prayer, which will atone for that crime partly, a little more in order to perform sunnah prayers.

a) According to Hanafis: As it is known, the concept of supererogatory (nafilah) prayers includes sunnah prayers based on the practice and advice of the Prophet (pbuh) and free prayers that a person performs for the sake of Allah though there is no special advice about them.

According to Hanafis, performing the sunnah prayers before and after the fard prayers, and the sunnah prayers such as duha, tasbih and tahiyyatul-masjid prayers is better and virtuous and hence should be preferred - even if missed prayers are delayed because of them. As for absolute nafilah prayers other than the ones above, those who have missed prayers can perform them but it is better to perform missed prayers instead of them. (Ibn Abidin, Raddul-Muhtar, Maymaniyya, 1307, 1/542; al-Fiqhu alal-Madhahib, 1/378)

b) According to Malikis, if a person who has missed prayers delays them by being busy with nafilah prayers, he will be a sinner; however, sunnahs such as the sunnah of the morning prayer, witr, eid prayers and tahiyyatul-masjid prayers are excluded; Those who have missed prayers can perform them.

c) According to Hanbalis, it is haram for those who have missed prayers to be engaged in absolute nafilah prayers instead of making up for those missed prayers. Although it is permissible to perform the sunnahs performed together with the fard prayers and other sunnahs that are like them, it is better for those who have a lot of missed prayers to perform missed prayers instead of them. However, the sunnah of the morning prayer is exceptional; it is better for even those who have a lot of missed prayers to perform it.

d) According to Shafiis, it is haram for a person who has missed prayers to delay them by performing nafilah prayers - no matter what kind of nafilahs they are. (al-Fiqhu alal-Madhahib..., ibid)

As it is seen, according to three of the four madhhabs, it is permissible for people who have missed prayers to perform sunnah prayers, and according to Hanafis, it is better and they should be performed. However, Shafiis do not regard it permissible for a person who has missed prayers to perform sunnah and nafilah prayers; they do not find it appropriate to delay performing missed prayers even due to such deeds of worship.

Conclusion:

A person who has missed prayers without any excuse needs to perform five daily prayers - together with the sunnahs as much as possible; after that, he will be busy with meeting his basic needs; and when he has met his needs, he needs to start performing his missed prayers as soon as possible.

Abandoning the sunnahs that were practiced and advised by the Prophet (pbuh) due to a missed prayer is similar to the act of a person who needs to apologize for his crime to commit another crime instead of apologizing.

If a person does everything except his essential duties and even wastes time says, “It is not permissible for me to perform sunnah prayers because I have missed prayers”, it means he has misunderstood fiqh scholars.

Does a fiqh scholar who does not regard it permissible to perform even sunnah prayers for a person who has missed prayers regard it permissible to be engaged in unnecessary things instead of performing missed prayers?

Definitely not.

To sum up, such a person needs to perform the sunnah prayers as it is explained above and he needs to make up his previous prayers without wasting time.

Questions on Islam

Was this answer helpful?
Author:
Questions on Islam
Subject Categories:
Read 2 times
In order to make a comment, please login or register