Saturday, June 18, 2016

Ramadan 2016, Day 12 – Hadiths

I have now moved on to volume 2 of the Sunan Abu Dawud. I figured I had moved on from the chapters surrounding prayer only to find that continues in volume 2, for over 200 pages. The intricacies of when and how to pray are clearly a significant issue in Islam.

Some of the sections dealt with very specific types of prayer. The first chapter in volume 2 listed hadiths about prayers for rain. Praying for rain is one of the few instances outside of the regular daily prayers where groups of Muslims will get together to pray to Allah, and in this case for a specific thing. There are numerous hadiths discussing the Prophet Mohammed doing this type of prayer and in the Gulf organized prayers for rain still occur. In Qatar they are usually led by the Emir himself.

Next were hadiths discussing prayers that should occur during eclipses. A Muslim should pray during an eclipse (either lunar or solar), and the hadiths discuss how many Rakas etc are required. Other hadiths also mention that a Muslim should donate to charity when there is an eclipse, or free some slaves. Mosques in the Gulf will be open for prayer when an eclipse occurs.

Next was a short chapter (around 30 pages) of hadiths related to praying while traveling. There are a number of exceptions and modifications that Muslims can make to the obligatory prayers while they are traveling, such as shortening the prayer. If the Muslim is at war, in enemy territory, or in battle, there can be further exemptions. Not surprisingly, one is not expected to stop in the middle of a dangerous situation to perform prayer.

Finally, I came across a commentary on a hadith that I found interesting. It states:

There are only three Masjids (mosques) in the world for which one may make a journey with the intent to worship there for a higher reward. These are: Masjid Al-Haram in Mecca, the Prophet’s Masjid in Al-Medina, and the Masjid Al-Aqsa in Jerusalem.

Upon reflection I don't recall any of my Muslim friends mentioning making religious visits to anywhere else. Mecca is of course the most important place, but many Muslims who traveled to Mecca on a pilgrimage typically will then go onward to Medina to visit the Prophet’s Mosque. Visiting Jerusalem is a lot more difficult so I'm not sure how many non-Palestinian Muslims can make the journey. It is not a problem if they can’t, unlike performing the Hajj in Mecca there is no particular requirement for a Muslim to visit Jerusalem.

Note that this is a Sunni interpretation. Shi’a Muslims definitely hold those three mosques as holy but Shi’a Muslims also do pilgrimages to other holy sites, such as the Imam Ali Mosque in Najaf, Iraq, or the Imam Hussain Shrine in Karbala, Iraq.

More hadith reading to come . . .

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