Question # 95: I heard Eid prayer is nawafil, its not a fard. Could you please answer with an authentic source. Jazakallah

bismi-llahi r-raḥmani r-raḥīm,

Assalamu ‘laikum warahmatullahi wabarakatuh,

All praise and thanks are due to Allah (سبحانه و تعالى), and peace and blessings be upon His Messenger (صلى الله عليه و سلم).

Dear questioner,

First of all, we implore Allah (سبحانه و تعالى) to help us serve His cause and render our work for His sake.

Shorter Answer:  The scholars differed concerning the ruling on Eid prayers – it is Sunnah mu’akkadah (a confirmed Sunnah) according to Imam Malik and Imam al-Shafi’i, fard kifaayah (communal obligation) according to Imam Ahmad, fard ‘ayn (an individual obligation) according to Imam Abu Hanifah and the scholars of the Ahl us-Sunnah wal-Jama’ah. Lastly, the fact that the Prophet (صلى الله عليه و سلم) commanded the men and women to go out to Eid prayer is a stronger evidence that it is obligatory.

Long Answer: The scholars differed concerning the ruling on Eid prayers. There are three scholarly viewpoints:

  1. Eid prayer is Sunnah mu’akkadah (a confirmed Sunnah). This is the view of Imam Malik and Imam al-Shafi’i.
  1. Eid prayer it is fard kifaayah (communal obligation). This is the view of Imam Ahmad (may Allah have mercy on him).
  1. Eid prayer is fard ‘ayn (an individual obligation), a duty for each Muslim and is obligatory for men; those who do not do it with no excuse are sinning thereby. This is the view of Imam Abu Hanifah (may Allah have mercy on him), and was also narrated from Imam Ahmad. Among those who favored this view were Shaykh al-Islam Ibn Taymiyah and al-Shawkaani (may Allah have mercy on them).

(al-Majmoo’; al-Mughni; al-Insaaf; al-Ikhtiyaaraat)

Those who held the third view quoted the several Qur’anic ayat and ahadith, including the following:

  • Allah (سبحانه و تعالى) says in the Qur’an: “Therefore turn in prayer to your Lord and sacrifice (to Him only)” (Soorah al-Kawthar, 108:2)

Ibn Qudaamah said in al-Mughni: The well-known view is that what is meant by this is the Eid prayer.

Some of the scholars were of the view that what is meant in this ayah is prayer in general, not just Eid prayer, so what the ayah means is that we are commanded to devote our prayer and sacrifice to Allah Alone, so it is like the ayah, where Allah (سبحانه و تعالى) says: “Say (O Muhammad): ‘Verily, my Salah (prayer), my sacrifice, my living, and my dying are for Allah, the Lord of the ‘Aalameen (mankind, jinn and all that exists)’” (Soorah al-An’am, 6:162)

This view concerning this meaning of the ayah was shared by Ibn Jarir and Ibn Kathir.

  • The fact that the Prophet (صلى الله عليه و سلم) commanded the people to go out to it (the Eid prayer) and even commanded the women to go out too. Al-Bukhari and Muslim narrated that Umm ‘Atiyyah (رضي الله عنه) said: The Messenger of Allah (صلى الله عليه و سلم) commanded us to bring them (women) out on (Eid) al-Fitr and (Eid) al-Adha, and to bring out adolescent girls, menstruating women and virgins, but the menstruating women were to stay away from the prayer, but were to witness goodness and the gathering of the Muslims. I said: “O Messenger of Allah, what if one of us does not have a jilbaab?” He said: “Let her sister lend her a jilbab.”

The evidence of this hadith that the Eid prayer is obligatory is stronger than the evidence of the ayah quoted above.

Shaykh Ibn ‘Uthaymeen said in Majmoo’ al-Fataawa: “What I think is that the Eid prayer is fard ‘ayn (an individual obligation), and that it is not permissible for men to miss it, rather they have to attend, because the Prophet (صلى الله عليه و سلم) enjoined that. He even commanded the women – including virgins and those who usually stayed in seclusion – to come out to the Eid prayer, and he commanded menstruating women to come out to the Eid prayer, but told them to keep away from the prayer-place itself. This indicates that it is confirmed.”

He also said: “What seems more likely to be correct in my view, based on the evidence, is that it is fard ‘ayn (an individual obligation), and that it is obligatory for every male to attend the Eid prayer apart from those who have an excuse.”

Shaykh Ibn Baaz said in Majmoo’ al-Fataawa concerning the view that it is fard ‘ayn: “This view is more likely to be correct, based on the evidence.”

(The above reply is based on answer provided by Shaykh Muhammad Saalih al-Munajjid on the topic)

DETAILED OPINIONS OF THE FOUR MADHAHIB 

  • According to the Shafi’is, the Eid prayers are an emphatically enjoined emulation of the Sunnah for each individual Muslim who is held accountable for performing ritual prayer; it is also an emulation of the Sunnah to perform them in community for all worshipers other than those who are performing the Hajj, or greater pilgrimage, in whose case the Sunnah dictates that they should be performed individually.
  • According to the Malikis, the Eid prayers are an emphatically enjoined Sunnah-based practice which is second only in importance to the witr. These prayers are an emulation of the Sunnah for all those who are required to perform the Friday congregational prayer provided that they are performed with an imam; for those who miss performing them with the imam, they are merely recommended, in which case recitation should be silent. The Eid prayers are also recommended for those who are not required to perform the Friday congregational prayer, such as young boys and slaves. An exception to this ruling is made for those performing the greater pilgrimage, who are not asked to perform the Eid prayers since their standing at the pilgrimage station at Muzdalifah (east of Mecca) is considered to take their place. At the same time, it is recommended that residents of Mina who are not on the pilgrimage perform the Eid prayers individually rather than communally, lest their performing them communally lead to the pilgrims’ praying with them.
  • According to the Hanafis, the two Eid prayers are a ‘duty’, properly speaking for those who are obliged to perform the Friday congregational prayer; moreover, the conditions which apply to the Friday congregational prayer apply likewise to the Eid prayer, be they conditions for its necessity or conditions for its validity. However, an exception is made for the condition which applies to the sermon, which precedes the prayer in the Friday congregational worship but follows it in the Eid gathering for worship. Another exception is made for the condition which applies to the number of worshipers required for a communal prayer, since the quorum for the Eid prayers, unlike the Friday congregational prayer, is one worshiper with the imam. Similarly with respect to the condition relating to whether the prayer is to be performed in community or not, we find that performance of the Eid prayers communally is obligatory in the sense that if one prays them individually, one incurs guilt; however, they still remain valid. The Friday congregational prayer, by contrast, is only valid if performed in community.
  • As for the Hanbalis, they rule that the Eid prayers are a collective obligation for those who are required to perform the Friday congregational prayer; moreover, the Eid prayers are only to be performed where the Friday congregational prayer is performed. However, the sermon is merely an emulation of the Sunnah on the Day of Fastbreaking and the Day of Sacrifice, whereas during the Friday congregational worship it is a condition for the prayer’s validity. In addition, the Eid prayer may be an emulation of the Sunnah for those who missed performing it with the imam…

(The opinions of the four madhahib is presented from the book ‘‘Islamic Jurisprudence According to the Four Sunni Schools’ by ‘Abd al-Rahman al-Jaziri’)

Allahu A’lam (Allah (سبحانه و تعالى) knows best) and all Perfections belong to Allah, and all mistakes belong to me alone. May Allah (سبحانه و تعالى) forgive me, Ameen.

Wassalaam