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Part II (Second Khutbah)
What Will Your Excuse Be Tomorrow Before Allah?
On the other hand, there are some sincere people who Allah knows that they did not do some of the things that were enjoined upon them because of something that prevented them from doing so. These are some examples:
It was reported from Anas (may Allah be pleased with him) that the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) was on a campaign and he said: “There are some people in Madinah and we did not travel through any valley or mountain pass but they were with us, and they were prevented from coming with us for a genuine reason.”
(Narrated by al-Bukhari, 2627).
Allah says (interpretation of the meaning):
“And those who made excuses from the Bedouins came (to you, O Prophet) asking your permission to exempt them (from the battle), and those who had lied to Allah and His Messenger sat at home (without asking the permission for it); a painful torment will seize those of them who disbelieve” [al-Taubah 9:90]
Ibn Kathir (may Allah have mercy on him) said:
Allah explained the situation of those who had excuses not to go out for jihad and who came to the Messenger of Allah (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) to make their excuses and explain to him that they were weak and unable to go out for jihad. They came from Arab tribes who lived around Madinah. Ad-Dahaak said that Ibn ‘Abbaas used to recite it “jaa’a al-ma’dharoon” – without a shaddah – meaning those who had excuses… This meaning is more apparent, because Allah then says: “and those who had lied to Allah and His Messenger sat at home” meaning, others from among the Bedouin stayed at home and did not come to offer excuses. Then Allah warned them of a painful torment and said: “a painful torment will seize those of them who disbelieve”.
(Tafseer Ibn Kathir).
It was reported from Ibn Abi Maleekah that Ibn ‘Abbaas recited (interpretation of the meaning):
“Except the weak ones among men, women and children” [al-Nisaa’ 4:98] He said: my mother and I were among those who were excused by Allah… (Narrated by al-Bukhari, 4222).
The Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) used to accept the excuse of those who had valid excuses. It was reported that al-Mugheerah ibn Shu’bah said: I ate garlic then I came to where the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) used to pray, and I had already missed one rak’ah. When I entered the mosque, the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) noticed the smell of garlic. When the Messenger of Allah (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) finished his prayer, he said, “Whoever has eaten from this plant, let him not come near us until the smell has gone away.” When I finished my prayer, I came to the Messenger of Allah (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) and said: “O Messenger of Allah, give me your hand.” And I put his hand inside the sleeve of my shirt so that he could feel the wrapper around my chest. He said, “You have an excuse.” (Narrated by Abu Dawood, 3330. Classed as saheeh by al-Albaani, may Allah have mercy on him; Saheeh Abi Dawood, 2/726).
“the wrapper around my chest” – their custom was that when a person was hungry, he would wrap something tightly around his stomach, and sometimes they would place a stone beneath the wrapper.
(Awn al-Ma’bood, Kitaab al-At’imah; transmitted from al-Nihaayah by Ibn al-Atheer).
Excuses have a great impact on the soundness of good deeds and the application of the rulings. Some texts were narrated concerning those who have excuses, and if these texts are not connected to people who have excuses they will be open to misinterpretation. An example of this is the hadeeth of Abu Hurayrah which states that the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) said; “Whoever catches up with one rak’ah of Subh (Fajr) prayer before the sun rises has caught up with Subh, and whoever catches up with one rak’ah of ‘Asr prayer before the sun sets has caught up with ‘Asr. (Narrated by al-Tirmidhi, who said: the hadeeth of Abu Hurayrah is a saheeh hasan hadeeth). This is the hadeeth on which our companions and al-Shaafa’i and Ahmad and Ishaq based their opinion. They interpreted this hadeeth as referring to a person who has an excuse, such as a man who sleeps and misses the prayer, or forgets it and then wakes up and remembers it just before the sun rises or sets. (Narrated by al-Bukhari, 545; al-Tirmidhi, 171 – this version was narrated by him).
Another example of how excuses affect the ruling on a matter:
Permissible excuses for missing prayer in jamaa’ah:
It was reported from Abu Hurayrah that the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) said: “I nearly decided to tell my servants to gather firewood, then I would have told them to give the iqaamah and start praying, then I would have burned the houses of people who did not attend the prayer.” (Narrated by al-Tirmidhi, 201; classed as saheeh by al-Albaani, may Allah have mercy on him; Saheeh al-Tirmidhi, 1/69).
Abu ‘Eesaa said: the hadeeth of Abu Hurayrah is a saheeh hasan hadeeth. It was also narrated from other companions of the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) that they said: “Whoever hears the call [to prayer] and does not respond, his prayer does not count.” Some of the scholars said: this is a strict emphasis: there are no concessions for not praying in jamaa’ah, except for those who have valid excuses.
What are the valid excuses for not attending prayer in jamaa’ah?
There are several valid excuses for not attending prayer in jamaa’ah, including the following:
Ibn al-Mundhir (may Allah have mercy on him) said: I do not know of any difference of opinion among the scholars concerning the fact that the sick person may not attend prayers in jamaa’ah because of his sickness.
Ibn ‘Abbaas narrated that the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) said: “Whoever hears the call (to prayer) and has no excuse not to respond to it -” They said: “What excuse could he have, O Messenger of Allah?” He said: “Fear or sickness, otherwise the prayer that he performed will not be accepted.” (Narrated by Abu Dawood, 464; classed as saheeh by al-Albaani, may Allah have mercy on him , without the phrase “What excuse could he have?”, in Saheeh Abi Dawood, 1/110)
Whatever the case, the sick person has a legitimate reason which means that he is excused from doing acts of worship or may make them up later. In al-Bukhari it was reported that when the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) was terminally ill, Bilaal would come to him and call him to pray, and he would say, “Tell Abu Bakr to lead the people in prayer.”
But not every sickness is an excuse for not praying in congregation. What is referred to here is debilitating sickness.
Shaykh Muhammad al-Saalih al-‘Uthaymeen said in al-Mumti’ (4/438-439): the sickness which excuses a person from attending prayers in jamaa’ah and Friday prayers is the sickness which will cause him great hardship if the person goes to pray.
The evidence (daleel) for that is as follows:
1. The ayah (interpretation of the meaning): “So keep your duty to Allah and fear Him as much as you can” [al-Taghaabun 64:16]
2. The ayah (interpretation of the meaning): “Allah burdens not a person beyond his scope” [al-Baqarah 2:286]
3. The ayah (interpretation of the meaning): “There is no restriction on the blind, nor any restriction on the lame, nor any restriction on the sick” [al-Noor 24:61]
The second excuse: heavy rainfall or strong winds:
Naafi’ said: Ibn ‘Umar gave the adhaan on a cold night in Dajnaan, then he said: Pray where you are. He told us that on a cold or rainy night during a journey, the Messenger of Allah (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) would to tell the muezzin to give the adhaan, then immediately afterwards he would say: pray where you are. (Narrated by al-Bukhari, 596).
It was reported that Jaabir said: we went out with the Messenger of Allah (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) on a journey, and it rained, so he said, “Let whoever among you wishes, pray where he is.” (Narrated by Ahmad, 13827; Muslim, 1127; Abu Dawood, 899).
It was reported that Ibn ‘Abbaas (may Allah be pleased with him) said to his muezzin on a rainy day: After you have said ‘Ashhadu anna Muhammadan Rasool-Allah (I bear witness that Muhammad is the Messenger of Allah), do not say ‘Hayya ‘ala’l-salaah (come to prayer); say ‘Sallu fi buyootikum (pray in your houses). It was as if the people found that strange, so he said: Do you find it strange when someone who is better than I did that? – meaning the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) – Calling people to pray Jumu’ah is emphatically obliged, but I did not want to make you come out to walk in the slippery mud. (Agreed upon. Al-Bukhari, 850; Muslim, 1128). According to a hadeeth narrated by Abu ‘Awaanah from Ibn ‘Umar: a cold or windy night.
The third excuse: fear
Because of the hadeeth of Ibn ‘Abaas quoted above – if it is saheeh – in which it says “ (the excuse of) Fear or sickness.”
Ibn Qudaamah said in al-Mughni (1/631):
Fear is of three types: fear for oneself, fear for one’s wealth or property, and fear for one's family.
1. Fear for oneself: when a person fears that he may be seized by a tyrant, enemy, thief or wild animal, etc., which would cause him harm.
2. Fear for one’s wealth or property: when a person fears a tyrant or thief and the like, or he fears that his house may be robbed or burned down etc., or he has bread in the oven or something cooking on the stove and he fears that it may burn if he goes and does something else, or he has some good which he left with another person, and if he does not catch up with him, he may disappear with his good. These and similar cases are valid excuses for not attending Jumu’ah prayers or prayers in jamaa’ah.
3. Fear that one’s child or family may be lost, or a person’s child is lost but there is the hope of finding him at that time, or he has a sick family member who needs him or he has to stay close to the sick person.
Ibn al-Mundhir said: It was reported that Ibn ‘Umar called upon Sa’eed ibn Zayd in the late morning, and he came to him in al-‘Aqeeq and missed the Jumu’ah prayer. This was the view of ‘Ataa, al-Hasan, al-Oozaa’i and al-Shaafa’i.
The fourth excuse: when food is ready.
Ibn ‘Umar (may Allah be pleased with him) said: the Messenger of Allah (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) said: “If any one of you is eating, let him not hasten (to finish eating) until he has eaten his fill, even if the iqaamah is being given.” (Narrated by al-Bukhari, 633)
Ibn Qudaamah said in al-Mughni (1/629):
If dinner is ready at the time of the prayer, it is mustahabb to eat first and then pray, because then one’s heart and mind will be more focused. Ibn ‘Umar ate even though he could hear the imam reciting (in the prayer).
Then he (may Allah have mercy on him) said:
Our companions said: eating dinner takes priority over the prayer in congregation if one is desperate to eat. Al-Shaafa’i also said something similar.
But this excuse will not be accepted from someone who deliberately serves food at the time of the prayer in jamaa’ah, because this is a trick.
The fifth excuse: urgent need to pass urine or stools.
Muslim (869) reported from ‘Aa’ishah that the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) said: “You should not pray if there is food ready or if you need to pass urine or stools.”
Ibn Qudaamah (al-Mughni 1/630) said: this means, if a person is suppressing (the urge to pass urine etc.), it is makrooh for him to pray until he has answered the “call of nature”, whether he fears that he will miss the prayer in jamaa’ah or not.
What this means is that if he stands up to pray and there is something that will distract him from having the proper attitude of humility and presence of mind, and he goes against that and prays anyway, his prayer will still be valid. This is the case in this situation (the need to pass urine or stools) and in the situation referred to above (when food is ready and one is very hungry).
The sixth excuse: when one feels very drowsy
Shaykh Muhammad ibn ‘Uthaymeen (al-Mumti’, 4/447) said: If a person feels very drowsy, he is excused if he does not attend Jumu’ah or a prayer in jamaa’ah. An example of that is a man who is very tired because of work or traveling, and he is overcome with drowsiness. He can do one of two things: either he can go and pray in jamaa’ah even though he is so sleepy and does not know what he is saying, or he can sleep so that the drowsiness will pass and then he can pray in a refreshed and relaxed manner. We say, do the latter, because you have a valid excuse.
For some people, doing wudoo’ gets rid of the drowsiness and refreshes them; in this case a person should not miss the prayer in jamaa’ah. The hadeeth is talking about overwhelming drowsiness.
The seventh excuse: strong cold winds on a dark night.
There are two conditions attached to this excuse:
1. The wind should be so cold that it is difficult to go out in it.
2. It should be a strong wind, because a gentle breeze does not cause any difficulty.
The excuse of ignorance
Islam excuses the person who is ignorant just as it excuses a person who forgets, or more so. The Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) excused a person who did not pray well because he did not know how to pray with the proper composure, and he did not order him to repeat his past prayers. He excused a pregnant woman who was experiencing istihaadah (irregular non-menstrual bleeding) because she did not know that prayer and fasting were obligatory upon her even though she was bleeding [because it was not menstrual blood], and he did not order her to make up what she had missed. He excused Udayy ibn Haatim for eating in Ramadan when he thought that he could distinguish between the (black and white) threads which he had placed beneath his pillow (to determine when the time to start fasting had come), and he did not command him to make up what he had missed. He excused Abu Dharr for not knowing that it was still obligatory to pray even when there was no water; he commanded him to do tayammum but he did not order him to make up what he had missed. He excused those who rolled in the dust like animals when they heard the command of tayammum, and he did not order them to repeat those prayers. He excused Mu’aawiyah ibn al-Hakam for speaking deliberately during the prayer, because he did not know that this was forbidden, and he did not order him to repeat the prayer. He excused the people of Qubaa’ for praying in the direction of al-Quds after this had been abrogated because they were unaware of this abrogation, and he did not order them to repeat their prayer. The Sahabah and the imams after them excused people for committing anything that was haraam if they were unaware of it being forbidden, and they did not impose any punishment for that.
(I’laam al-Muwaqqi’een, 1/273)
Allah excused the man whose joy, when he found his camel in a desolate land after he had despaired of seeing it again, was so great that he said, “O Allah, You are my slave and I am Your lord!” He did not count him as a kafir because of that, because he made a mistake that was due to his great joy.
(Shifaa’ al-‘Aleel, 1/138)
But we must note here that the ignorant person does not have a permanent excuse. Whoever is able to learn and does not do so, or is able to ask and seek fatawas and deliberately does not do so, has no excuse.
After looking at these excuses made by sinners and hypocrites, I thought that to complete the benefit (of this discussion), we should look at some of the excuses which good people make for not taking part in or doing things that are mustahabb, or even wajib. Some examples of that are:
In the field of dawah and seeking knowledge:
Some people give excuses for not attending worthwhile gatherings of good people and lessons by saying things such as the following:
1. Study and homework
3. Not feeling comfortable with the other participants
5. Fear of making an ongoing commitment
6. These gatherings and activities are viewed as being like going to school
7. Conflict between the time of the activity and something else that a person likes to do
8. Poor leisure program
9. Distractions at home
10. No variety in the program
11. Too many people attending the activity
12. The presence of new students whom the person does not know
13. Parents do not let the student go out
14. Attending to family needs
15. There is no one available to take care of younger siblings
16. Family visits
17. Attending courses for work
18. Have to do overtime at work
19. Do not want to stay overnight outside the home
21. Vague excuses such as “I have some problems”
22. No means of transportation
24. Not convinced that the activity or class matters
25. Busy with private tuition
27. Watching sports matches
28. Appointment to meet a friend
29. Do not feel that there is any benefit in the class
30. Has friends who are not involved in the activity and does not want to leave them
31. Needs of one’s wife and children
32. Claim that the class is a repeat
33. The sports/exercise program is limited and is not enough
34. Too few contests and cheap prizes
35. Not interested
These excuses vary in strength and validity. Some of them are valid, such as #s 14, 20 and 22; some of them are feeble, such as #s 9, 27, 32.
The problem is that many of those who do not attend do not appreciate how much they have missed and how much reward they have lost by not being there. If they understood what they have missed, they would do their utmost to resolve their situation and strive to remove the obstacles that are preventing them from attending.
Problems must be dealt with according to each individual case.
1 – In the case of those who have weak excuses:
They must be confronted, advised and dealt with according to the level of their excuses. Some people’s excuses may be accepted straight away, whilst still pointing out to them how much they are missing. Others may need to be questioned further in order to make them realize that their excuses are flimsy. Sometimes keeping quiet when a person makes an excuse may be the best response. It may also be useful to combine clear statements with hints.
It is also necessary to advise adults such as businessmen and employees who keep away from lessons and meetings for the purpose of worldly gains, and remind them that that which is with Allah is better and more lasting. They should be reminded that Allah says (interpretation of the meaning):
“Nay, you prefer the life of this world, Although the Hereafter is better and more lasting” [al-A'la 87:16-17]
They should be told how dangerous it is to be distracted by worldly things:
“Beautified for men is the love of things they covet; women, children, much of gold and silver (wealth), branded beautiful horses, cattle and well-tilled land. This is the pleasure of the present world’s life; but Allah has the excellent return (Paradise with flowing rivers) with Him” [Aal ‘Imraan 3:14 – interpretation of the meaning]
“Say: If your fathers, your sons, your brothers, your wives, your kindred, the wealth that you have gained, the commerce in which you fear a decline, and the dwellings in which you delight are dearer to you than Allah and His Messenger, and striving hard and fighting in His Cause, then wait until Allah brings about His Decision (torment). And Allah guides not the people who are Al‑Fasiqun (the rebellious, disobedient to Allah).” [al-Taubah 9:24 – interpretation of the meaning]
They should be reminded that being too busy with their family and children to learn the religion of Allah is a great loss. Allah has warned us against that: “O you who believe! Verily, among your wives and your children there are enemies for you (who may stop you from the obedience of Allah); therefore beware of them! But if you pardon (them) and overlook, and forgive (their faults), then verily, Allah is Oft‑Forgiving, Most Merciful” [al-Taghaabun 64:14 – interpretation of the meaning]
We have to be frank but polite. We can say to them, “If you wanted to come you would have prepared yourself and removed all obstacles. Pray to Allah that you will not be one of those whom He discourages and forsakes and to whom it will be said ‘Sit you among those who sit (at home)’ [al-Taubah 9:46].”
2 – Those who have valid excuses
There has to be cooperation between the daa’iyahs and those whom they are calling, between the teachers and those whom they are teaching, in order to remove and overcome the obstacles. There are different things that may be done to overcome the problems, including the following:
1- Explaining the importance of time and how to make the most of it. “And He it is Who has put the night and the day in succession, for such who desires to remember or desires to show his gratitude” [al-Furqan 25:62 – interpretation of the meaning].
2- Always having a plan to help achieve a balance between the various interests of Shari'ah as far as possible, because Shari'ah is based on achieving interests and achieving a balance between them as far as possible.
3- Paying attention to priorities. Things which are fardh ‘ayn [obligatory for each individual] come before those which are fardh kifaaya [obligatory upon the community, and if some people fulfill them the others are not held accountable]; things which are fardh kifaaya come before those which are generally recommended (mustahabb). We should know which things are more important than others so that we can give priority to those which are greater in virtue and reward when there is too much to be done.
4- Convincing parents that Islamic activities do not conflict with studies, by striving to achieve a high level in one's studies.
5- Helping students to overcome their shortcomings in their studies so that they will be able to attend activities.
6- Trying to bring forward or delay some family commitments so that one can attend Islamic activities.
7- Appropriate direct intervention on the part of the teacher or daa’iyah with the parent or guardian of the student, and intervening by seeking permission for the child to attend.
8- Coordinating timetables and seeking to reconcile family commitments with Islamic activities, such as taking a student to the activity after a family commitment or bringing him back from the activity before the commitment starts, so that although he may miss part of it he does not miss all of it.
9- Convincing the student that time is too precious to be wasted in gatherings in which there is no benefit, and that he should teach the people around him about how important time is to him so that they will not distract him with things that are of no benefit to him.
10-Explaining that attending these activities is a form of relaxation and a means of dispelling boredom, in addition to the benefits of increased faith and knowledge that they bring.
11-Preparing programs well and filling them with useful lectures and lessons and moving talks so that the people who attend will feel that they are really benefiting.
12-Using means of motivation in the program such as telling stories, giving examples and paying attention to exciting things that are permissible.
13-Striving to organize a schedule that will leave no room for excuses, such as reducing the number of days that the activity takes up, e.g. making it three or four times a week instead of every day.
14-Not going to extremes by making things obligatory that are not obligatory in Shari'ah, and accepting valid excuses.
15-Striving to resolve sensitive issues among friends and promoting an atmosphere of love. Teaching the participants about the brotherhood of faith by exhorting them and by setting the example.
16-Turning to Allah and asking Him to make things easy and to help us.
O Allah, we seek refuge in You lest on the Day of Resurrection we may be among those who will not be permitted to put forth any excuse (cf. Al-Mursalaat 77:36). We ask You to make us adhere firmly to Your commands and to follow Your guidance resolutely. May we make the most of all good activities and be safe from sin. Grant us the victory of Paradise and save us from the Fire.
May Allah bless our Prophet Muhammad and his family and companions, and grant them peace.
- End -
Muhammad Saalih al-Munajjid
P.O. Box 2999
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