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Question:

Assalamualaikum Dato’ Seri SS Mufti. I have a question, is it permissible for me to invalidate my prayer (discontinuing it) in order for me to answer an important phone call?

Hope for an explanation from Mufti. Thank you.

 

Answer:

Waalaikumussalam wrt. wbt.

Alhamdulillah, praise and thanks to Allah for the countless blessings He has blessed us all with. Blessings and salutations to the Prophet Muhammad PBUH, his wives, his family, companions and all those that follow his teachings to the day of judgement.

Allah SWT prohibit Muslims from deliberately invalidating his worship without any reasons that are permissible for him to do so. Allah SWT state in the Quran:

يَا أَيُّهَا الَّذِينَ آمَنُوا أَطِيعُوا اللَّـهَ وَأَطِيعُوا الرَّسُولَ وَلَا تُبْطِلُوا أَعْمَالَكُمْ

“O you who have believed, obey Allah and obey the Messenger and do not invalidate your deeds.”

Surah Muhammad (33)

In this matter, scholars differentiate the situation of the person who wants to discontinue the prayer by considering whether the prayer is obligatory prayer or sunnah prayer as well as whether it is for reasons permitted by syarak or otherwise.

If the prayer is an obligatory prayer, then it is prohibited for a person to invalidate his prayer according to the above stated verse. In al-Mausu’ah al-Fiqhiyyah al-Kuwaitiyyah, it is stated:

قَطْعُ العِبَادَةِ الوَاجِبَةِ بَعْد الشُّرُوعِ فِيهَا بِلَا مَسُوغٌ شَرْعِي غَيْر جَائِز بِاتِّفَاقِ الفُقَهَاءِ؛ لِأَن قَطَعَهَا بِلَا مَسُوغٍ شَرْعِي عَبَثٌ يَتَنَافى مَعَ حُرْمَةِ العِبَادَةِ

The jurists have agreed that invalidating an obligatory worship after he has begun performing it without reasons permitted by syarak is impermissible. The reason is, invalidating a worship without reason permitted by syarak is a meaningless act and disgracing the honour of the worship of prayer. (Refer al-Mausu’ah al-Fiqhiyyah al-Kuwaitiyyah, 34:51)

However, if it is because of reasons permitted by syarak and in dire situations and emergencies such as to safe oneself or others from danger, then it is permissible according to the Islamic legal maxim:

الضَّرُورَةُ تُبِيحُ االمَحْظُورَاتِ

“Exigent situations make the impermissible, permissible.”

In al-Mausu’ah al-Fiqhiyyah al-Kuwaitiyyah, it is stated:

أَمَّا قَطَعَهَا بِمَسُوغٍ شَرْعِي فَمَشْرُوعٌ، فَتَقْطَعُ الصَّلَاةَ لِقَتْلِ حَيَّةٍ وَنَحْوِهَا لِلأَمْرِ بِقَتْلِهَا، وَخَوْف ضَيَاع مَال لَهُ قِيمَةٌ، لَهُ أَو لِغَيْرِهِ، وَلِإغَاثَةِ مَلْهُوف، وَتَنْبِيه غَافِل أَو نَائِمٍ قَصَدَتْ إِلَيهِ حَية ولَا يُمْكِن تَنْبِيهُهُ بِتَسْبِيح

“As for if it is invalidated due to reasons permitted by syarak, then it is permissible, such as invalidating prayer to kill a snake or asking others to kill it, or fearing the loss of one’s or others’ valuables, or saving another person who is asking for help, waking a sleeping or distracted person who is being approached by a poisonous snake where it is not enough for him to warn the person with just reciting tasbih.” (Refer al-Mausu’ah al-Fiqhiyyah al-Kuwaitiyyah, 34:51)

In fact, the same is applicable to save a disbeliever as stated in Kasysyaf al-Qina’:

وَيَجِبُ رَدُّ كَافِرٍ مَعْصُومٍ بِذِمَّةٍ أَو هدنَةٍ أَو أَمَانٍ عَن بِئْر، وَنَحْوِه، كَحَيَّةٍ تَقْصُدُهُ كَرَدِّ مُسْلِمٍ عَنْ ذَلِكَ بِجَامِعِ العِصْمَةِ، وَيَجِبُ إِنْقَاذُ غَرِيق وَنحوه كَحَرِيق، فَيَقْطَع الصَلَاةَ لِذَلِكَ فَرْضًا كَانَتْ الصَّلَاةُ، أَو نَفْلًا. وَظَاهِرُهُ: وَلَو ضَاقَ وَقْتُهَا، لِأَنَّه يُمْكِن تَدَارُكُهَا بِالقَضَاء، بِخِلَاف الغَرِيق وَنَحْوه ؛ (فَإِن أَبَى قَطْعُهَا) ، أَي الصَّلَاة لِإنْقَاذ الغَرِيق وَنَحْوِه : أَثِمَ. انتهى

It is obligatory to save a disbeliever whose blood is honoured due to protection and peace treaty from falling into a well and other similar situation, such as a snake approaching him, the same with saving a Muslim from such situations on the condition that his blood is honoured. It is also obligatory to save another person from drowning or burning. Hence, he should stop his prayer, regardless whether he is performing obligatory or sunnah prayer. The same goes for if the time for prayer is nearing its end, for it can be replaced (qadha’) which is different for dangerous situations, such as drowning and others. If he refused to discontinue his prayer to save the drowning person, then he is considered sinful.” (Refer Kasysyaf al-Qina’, 1:380)

Regarding this matter, Imam al-Izz Ibn Abd al-Salam RA said:

تَقْدِيمُ إِنْقَاذ الغَرْقَى المَعْصُومِين عَلَى أَدَاءِ الصَّلَاة لِأَنَّ إِنْقَاذُ الغَرْقَى المَعْصُومِينَ عِندَ اللهِ أَفْضَل مِن أَدَاءِ الصَّلَاة، وَالجَمع بَينَ المَصْلَحَتَين مُمْكِنٌ بِأَن يُنقِذَ الغَرِيق ثُمَّ يَقْضِي الصَّلَاة. وَمَعْلُومٌ أَنَّ مَا فَاتَهُ مِن مَصْلَحَةِ أَدَاءِ الصَّلَاة لَا يُقَارِبُ إِنْقَاذُ نَفْس مُسْلِمَة مِنَ الهَلَاك

“Saving a drowning person should be prioritized over prayer. The reason is, saving a drowning person is prioritized according to Allah SWT compared to performing prayer. And both can be performed by saving the drowning person first and then replacing the prayer. As it is known, if one misses the maslahah of performing prayer in its time, it is not the same with a greater maslahah of saving the life of another person from harm.” (Refer Qawa’id al-Ahkam fi Islah al-Anam, 1:96)

Whereas, if a person is performing a sunnah prayer, then in this situation, it is a lighter matter compared to obligatory prayer, the same with if a person is performing sunnah fasting. Scholars give an alleviation in situations such as this and ruled it permissible for a person to invalidate his prayer or fasting for a necessity. This is stated by Ibn Hajar in his book Tuhfat al-Muhtaj:

وَمَن تَلَبَّسَ بِصَومٍ تَطَوُّعٍ أو صَلَاةٍ أَو غَيْرِهِمَا مِن التَطَوُّعَات إِلّا النُّسُك، فَلَهُ قَطْعُهُمَا، لِلخَبَرِ الصَّحِيح: الصَّائِمُ الْمُتَطَوِّعُ أَمِيرُ نَفْسِهِ إِنْ شَاءَ صَامَ وَإِنْ شَاءَ أَفْطَرَ” وَقِيسَ بِهِ الصَّلَاة وَغَيرِهَا،فقوله تعالى:{وَلَا تُبْطِلُوا أَعْمَالَكُمْ} مَحَلُّهُ فِي الفَرْضِ

Whoever perform sunnah fasting or prayer and other similar worships from the sunnah worship except for hajj, then he can invalidate it according to an authentic hadith, “A person who is performing sunnah fasting, he has authority on himself, if he wishes to continue his fasting, he can and if he wants to break his fasting, then he is free to do so.”. Thus, it is analogically deduced (qiyas) to be the same with sunnah prayer and other similar worships. Thus, Allah SWT state, “And do not invalidate your worship refers to obligatory worship.” (Refer Tuhfat al-Muhtaj Syarh al-Minhaj, 3:459-460)

On another hand, the Prophet PBUH also instructed his ummah to perform prayer in calm and focused manner. Allah SWT state:

قَدْ أَفْلَحَ الْمُؤْمِنُونَ الَّذِينَ هُمْ فِي صَلَاتِهِمْ خَاشِعُونَ

“Certainly, will the believers have succeeded: They who are during their prayer humbly submissive.”

Surah al-Mukminun (1-2)

Imam al-Saadi in commenting on the above verse said, prayer without focus and concentration (khusyuk) and without presence of one’s heart, although it is valid and will be rewarded, the rewards will reflect the degree of khusyuk a person is during prayer. (Refer Tafsir Taysir al-Karim al-Rahman, 1:547)

Thus, it can be understood that we are commanded to be khusyuk in prayer and only focused in our prayer without thinking of other worldly matters. Ibn Kathir remark on this matter in his commentary:

وَالخُشُوعُ فِي الصَّلَاة إِنَّمَا يَحْصُلُ بِمَن فَرَغَ قَلْبُهُ لَهَا ، وَاشْتَغَلَّ بِهَا عَمَّا عَدَاهَا ، وَآثَرُهَا عَلَى غَيْرِهَا

“Khusyuk in prayer can only be attained in prayer by emptying our minds while praying, busying and focusing only on the actions and recitations of prayer and placing our prayer as our first priority compared to other matters.” (Refer Tafsir Ibn Kathir, 5:461)

Thus, we should focus and put our full concentration in prayer while praying, avoiding any distractions such as the sound of phone calls, television and others.

Conclusion

According to the above discussion and debate, we would like to conclude that if a person is performing obligatory prayer, then it is impermissible for him to invalidate his prayer except if there is an emergency and exigent situation such as to save another person’s life or valuable property from danger. Thus, in this matter, if one thinks the phone call received is an emergency or exigent call, then it is permissible for him to stop his prayer and answer the call.

However, if a person is performing sunnah prayer, then it is permissible for him to discontinue his prayer for important matters. However, it is best if he first completed his prayer before he deals with the important task in maintaining the honour of prayer and not ridiculing worship. May Allah SWT give us understanding in His religion and bless us with guidance to perform worship the best we could. Amin.

Wallahua’lam.