Three Prayers

Question

I have some questions for your kind consideration. 1-Quran describes three times of prayer and the sunnah five times. Please put light in the light of shia argument by Holy Qur'an: Chapter 17, Verse 78). 2-If bidah in every religious practice is not in a way as sanctioned by Prophet (sws) so how would you justify the religious practices sanctioned by Hazrat Umar? Like addition in azan-e-fajar, praising the Congregational Prayer of tarawi and second azan in juma prayer? 3-If hijab is only covering chest as mentioned in Quran so it means women can wear short skirts, sleeveless garments and shake hand with men and how would you comment if you do not consider the covering whole body except face, hands and feet as perpetual religious practice of Muslim women (sunnah)? 4-How would you comment on the expansion of Muslim empire in the regime of khulafa rashideen? Was it defensive jihad or offensive please give detailed answer?


Answer

1. The fact is that this verse (17:78) and the verse of the Qur'an (11:114) that refer to times of prayers do not intend to specify the exact times of prayers (if this was the case, then these exact times were given so clearly that people could easily understand them. This is while there is no agreement between Shia and Sunni scholars about how these verses can be matched with the 5 (or 3) prayer times. Verse 17:78 in particular is not talking about 3 times for praying, rather it is giving us two time periods (noon till night and early morning before sunrise) during which prayers are read.

I would like to invite your attention to the fact that Shia scholars do not deny the fact that the five prayers are to be read separately in five times. In fact they consider it better to read the 5 prayers separately. They however hold that we are permitted to read them in 3 times even if we do not have any excuses.

This is from Shia Encyclopedia:

"We are allowed to pray noon and afternoon prayer one after another (without

a lot of delay between the two). Similarly we are allowed to pray sunset

prayer and night prayer one after another. Actually it is better to pray in

their own specific time (close to what Sunnis do), but it is not necessary.

Thus instead of five separate times, we can pray all the five daily prayers

only in three separate times."http://www.al-islam.org/encyclopedia/chapter7/5.html

Obviously if Shia scholars believed that the Qur'an directs us to read prayers in 3 times, then (as in the above quote) they did not consider it better to pray them in five times.

2. There are some Ahadith that suggest Umar (ra) directed to add "Prayer is better than sleeping" in the Azan and some that suggest the Prophet (sws) did that. The fact of the matter is that we do not have any strong evidences to prove that Azan (like verses of the Qur'an) was a divinely revealed call for prayers with all its words being instructed by God. After reading the history of Azan we can come to conclusion that the sentences of Azan were put together by the companions (and not even the Prophet - sws). As such we need to look at Azan from a pragmatic point of view. Therefore even if the aforementioned sentence was introduced by Umar (ra) I do not see any problems with it as it very nicely fits the purpose. This was not the case if we had reliable evidences to tell us that the sentences of Azan were revealed by the Almighty or were instructed strictly by the Prophet (sws).

Similar arguments go for second Azan issue. Again, it was once deemed to be needed in order to inform all people about the start of the Jumah prayer. People may continue to do this or they may stop it, as the circumstances require.

As for Taraweeh prayer if you read the Hadith related to it carefully you will come to understand that Umar (ra) never wanted to add anything to what people were already doing. He only organized it. People were already reading Tahajjud prayers in groups simply because not all of them knew the Qur'an (and we do not have any strong evidences to say that reading Nafl prayers in groups is forbidden). When Umar (ra) saw the disorganized and messy situation that this had created in the mosque ordered all to follow only one Imam in their Tahajjud prayer. When giving that order, it is narrated that Umar (ra) also said that what they are replacing it with this is better, that is Tahajjud in its original time (midnight to Fajr). There is no doubt that reading Tahajjud prayer alone is much better however what Umar (ra) did was only to organize people who wished to read the Qur'an extensively in their prayers and couldn't do it on their own.

3. Verse 24:31 includes the following directives:

- "And say to the believing women that they cast down their looks and guard their private parts"

- " do not display their ornaments except what appears thereof"

- "They should fold their shawls over their bosoms"

In the first sentence "guard their private parts" does not simply mean covering their sexual organs. Rather it means covering themselves appropriately and behaving appropriately so that no indecent sexual desires or attitudes occur.

In the second sentence where it says "except what appears thereof" the verse restricts what can be revealed to those parts of body that are usually open and appear.

In the third sentence covering bosoms is instructed obviously because not covering it can create indecency. It is obvious that other parts of the body that might be same or even more influential in this matter are to be covered by the same logic.

The totality of the above directives makes it absolutely out of question to wear short skirts or sleeveless dress.

4. The expansion of Islam at the time of the first four Khulafa was offensive Jihad specific for the companions of the Prophet as they were serving as witnesses to the truth for the rest of the nations and had been indirectly assigned with this mission by the Prophet (sws) when he sent letters of inviting to Islam to these lands. For details please read the following: http://www.monthly-renaissance.com/issue/query.aspx?id=353

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