Tahiyyatul Masjid prayer.

Q. Do you know of the Tahiyyatul Masjid prayer to be Fardh? I was in a cling with a Salafi and he claimed it to be Fardh. When I said to him Fardh prayers are only 5 and not 6 he encountered me with that Janazah Salaah is also Fardh. He said that Shawkani has also said and proved it (Tahiyyatul Masjid) to be Fardh and that nobody could and has refuted this view of his. Please advise me how to answer him.

A. From the ‘Salafus Saaliheen’ (the pious predecessors) there is none from among them who holds the position that Tahiyyatul masjid is Farz.

It is very clear in the traditions that the Prophet (S.A.S.) said, ‘When one of you enters the masjid, let him perform two rakaats before he sits’. (Recorded by Imam Bukhari A.R.). Similar traditions have been recorded by the compilers of Ahadith bearing the same meaning.

With respect to these traditions, it is the opinion of the general body of scholars that the performance of these two rakaats is sunnah.

Imam Nawawi states it is the Ijma (consensus) of the Muslims that these two rakaats are sunnah. Qazi Iyaaz says that it is only Dawood (the founder of the (literalists) dhahiriyah) and his followers who state that it is essential.

Hafiz ibn Hajar has stated in his famous commentary of Sahih Al Bukhari, that, ‘the Imams of Fatawa are unanimous on the issue that the order of the Prophet (S.A.S.) in these traditions indicate to a commendable act’. (Fathul Baari). In this regard these scholars have cited a number of traditions to prove that ‘Tahiyyatul masjid’ is not Farz or essential. Instead, it is Sunnah and commendable. (Fiqhul Islam Wa Adilatihi Pg. 1062).

In Jami Tirmizi, after quoting the hadith of Tahiyyatul masjid, Imam Tirmizi writes, ‘Practice is upon this hadith according to our companions (scholars), they have considered it mustahab (commendable) that when a person enters the masjid, he should not sit until he performs the two rakaats. (Tirmizi).

The great scholar, Ibn Rushd (520 – 595 A.H.) has written, ‘The general body of scholars have stated that “Tahiyyatul masjid” is commendable and not essential’. (Bidayatul Mujtahid Vol. 1 Pg. 212).

In the book Al Fiqh ala Mazahibil Arba’a, the author writes, ‘When a musali (one performing Salaah) enters the masjid, it is Sunnah for him to perform two rakaats with the intention of Tahiyyatul masjid’. (Al Fiqh ala Mazahibil Arba’a Vol.1 Pg. 332).

Ibn Qudama has also written in his famous work ‘Al Mugni’ (being a commentary of the mazhab of Imam Ahmad bin Hambal) that, ‘It is sunnah for one who enters the masjid that he should not sit until he performs two rakaats before sitting’. (Al Mugni Vol. 2 Pg. 135).

It is therefore clear from all the famous and authentic books that the pious predecessors all held the view that Tahiyyatul Masjid salaah was sunnah and not Farz.

No one from among the scholars have stated that Tahiyyatul masjid is Farz (compulsory). It is only Dawood bin Ali, the founder of the Dhahiriyah who has stated that it is Wajib (essential). His followers have adopted the same opinion.

With respect to Allama Shawkani, he has adopted the same opinion of Dawood bin Ali and has stated that it is Wajib. However, none of the great and relied upon scholars coming after him has accepted his opinion. Until now, the great and accepted scholars of Islam have all declared that the Tahiyyatul masjid rakaats are sunnah and commendable. In this regard, Sheikh bin Baz has stated, ‘Tahiyyatul masjid is a highly recommended sunnah’ (Fatawa Islamiyah Vol. 2 Pg. 289).

Having read the topic of Tahiyyatul masjid written by Allama Shawkani, I will not say that he has proven it to be Farz. Instead, he has adopted an opinion which is based on his personal deduction from the traditions. In this regard, he has simply used the imperative tense used in the words of the Prophet (S.A.S.) to indicate to an essential act. As such, he says that Tahiyyatul masjid is essential. However, all the other scholars and jurists from among the Sahabahs, Tabieen, Tab’ut Tabieen and others have stated that the imperative tense used in the words of the Prophet (S.A.S.) conveys the meaning of a commendable act and does not refer to an essential action. These scholars have shown that many Sahabahs entered the masjid and exited it without performing the Tahiyyatul masjid salaah. (As recorded in Musannaf Ibn Abi Shaiba).

It is due to the fact that Allama Shawkani’s opinion holds no weight in front of these opinions of all the other great scholars that no one after him from among the celebrated and relied upon scholars have followed him in his opinion.

While explaining that Tahiyyatul masjid is not farz/ wajib (essential) the scholars have shown many different proofs. Some of these are:

(1) The hadith which has been recorded by Ibn Abi Shaiba that states that ‘the companions of the Prophet (S.A.S.) used to enter the mosque and then come out from it without performing any salaah’. (Musannaf ibn Abi Shaiba).

It should be noted that if the companions (sahabahs) understood the Tahiyyatul masjid to be Farz (compulsory/ essential), then they would have performed it before exiting the mosque. But this was not the case.

(2) The tradition of Dhimam bin Tha’laba explains that he Dhimam came to the Prophet (S.A.S.) and asked ‘what has Allah made compulsory in Salaah’. The Prophet explained that Allah has made the five times Salaah compulsory. Upon this Dhimam said, ‘Is there anything besides these which is essential upon me’? The Prophet (S.A.S.) said, ‘No, except you do that which is optional’. (This tradition has been recorded by Imam Bukhari, Muslim, Malik in his Muatta, Abu Dawood, Nasai).

(3) Imam Bukhari has recorded the tradition of Abdullah bin Abas (R.A.) which states that, the Prophet (S.A.S.) performed twelve rakaats (as Tahajud), he then performed the witr Salaah and lied down until the muazin came for the morning prayer. He then stood up and performed two short rakaats (as the Sunnah of Fajr salaah). He then came to the masjid and performed the Farz salaah of Fajr. This tradition makes it clear that when the Prophet (S.A.S.) entered the masjid, he went straight into the Farz salaah of the Fajr prayer and did not engage himself with the Tahiyyatul masjid. Had it been Farz, He would have certainly performed it. (Bukhari – Kitabul Wazu).

(4) Imam Bukhari has also narrated the tradition in which it is stated that Uthman (R.A.) once came late for the Juma prayer. Upon this, Umar (R.A.) reprimanded him for arriving late and asked him why did he arrive late. Uthman explained his reason and then said he got only that amount of time to perform wazu. Umar continued to reprimand him by asking the reason for performing wazu when the Messenger of Allah spoke about taking a bath for Juma. This entire conversation took place between the both and Umar did not ask him to perform the two rakaats of Tahiyyatul masjid, nor did Uthman stand up to perform it. (Bukhari – Kitabul Juma).

The above shows that the sahabahs did not understand the performance of Tahiyyatul masjid to be Farz.

With respect to the words of the Prophet (S.A.S.) which have been used, that is, he said, ‘When any of you enters the masjid, let him perform two rakaats (of salaah) before he sits’.

The general body of the former and latter scholars have clearly stated that words of this nature do not normally bring about a compulsory act. As such, it is seen that there are many other narrations with similar words, where the imperative tense has been used, however, no one from among the scholars have stated that the action mentioned is Farz (essential).

In conclusion, it is established that the general body of scholars from the earliest period of Islam until present has classified the Tahiyyatul masjid as being sunnah and highly recommended.

Imam Nawawi states that there is Ijma upon this and Hafiz ibn Hajar has stated that all the Imams of Fatawa from among the great scholars are unanimous on this issue.

With respect to the opinion of Allama Shawkani, this is his personal judgement which has not been accepted by the scholars at his time nor has it been accepted by those after him. Hence, his sole opinion cannot be held as a proof nor can it be relied upon.

In fact, it is interesting to note that while discussing the topic of Salaah Al Istikharah, although similar words bearing the imperative tense has been used in the hadith Allama Shawkani did not allude to it being Farz/ Wajib (essential), instead, he indicated that it was a sunnah. His statement is, ‘And from that which indicates to the Salaah Al Istikharah not being wajib (essential) is the sound traditions which proves that the Farz Salaah is five, like the hadith in which the companion asked, ‘Is there anything besides this upon me? The Prophet said, ‘No! Except that which you perform optionally’. (Nailul Awtaar Vol. 3 Pg. 72).

Note, the words which come in the tradition of Salaah Al Istikharah are, ‘When anyone of you intends an affair then let him perform two rakaats’.

These are exactly the same words which have been used in the tradition of Tahiyyatul masjid. Although it has been used here in the section of Salaah Al Istikharah, Allama Shawkani has stated that other traditions have stated that the compulsory Salaah are only five, hence Salaah Al Istikharah cannot be compulsory. This is the same argument which the general scholars have given to prove that Tahiyyatul masjid is not compulsory.

And Allah knows best.

Mufti Waseem Khan